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Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill
R. Lopez

15 Tourist Trap Restaurants That Are Actually Great

Tourists tend to flock here, but so should you.

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Old Ebbitt Grill
| R. Lopez

Some parts of D.C. swell with tourists no matter the reason or the season. Streets surrounding the National Mall, U.S. Capitol, and the White House are especially thick with visitors. In all of these places, there are restaurants that cater to tourists — whether it’s students on an 8th grade field trip, lobbyists here for a Hill day “fly-in,” or a family of five visiting from Ohio.

Washingtonians tend to steer clear of tourist trap restaurants that cater to these crowds, but there are some reliable spots where the food and service is consistently good enough to draw in locals too.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Ben's Chili Bowl

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The half-smoke is one of Washington’s most essential dishes, and U Street is the place to go on a half-smoke crawl. Ben’s is indisputably the most iconic place that sells half-pork, half-beef sausage. Saddle up the counter and take a moment to savor the site, sounds, and smells of this near round-the-clock operation.

A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of D.C.’s classic restaurants
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Duccini's Pizza

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Jumbo slice is a novelty dish packed with grease-stained nostalgia. When in Adams Morgan, and especially after a long night of drinking, Duccini’s serves maybe the best version of this oversized pizza.

Ted's Bulletin (Multiple locations)

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Tourists know and love the place with the Insta-famous “Ted’s tart.” It’s a reliably solid option for diner food with slightly fancier flare and pricing.

Ted's Bulletin's iconic Ted's Tarts
Ted’s Bulletin’s iconic Ted’s Tarts
R. Lopez

Martin's Tavern

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This Georgetown stalwart has he most requested booth in town — booth no. 3 — because it’s supposedly where Jackie O said “I do” to John F. Kennedy. With this lore, plus many other stories of political visitors, Martin’s continues to be a popular place to drink beers or cocktails in an intimate environment.

Martin's Tavern
Martin’s Tavern
Martin’s Tavern [official]

Clyde's of Georgetown

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The namesake of a storied D.C. restaurant group, Clyde’s is popular with throngs of M Street shoppers and thirsty Georgetown students craving a beer, a burger, or an oyster. It’s a reliable option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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An American Bar, since 1963 #HappyFourthofJuly from #Clydes

A post shared by Clyde's (@clydes_restaurant) on

Baked & Wired

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In-the-know locals and visitors =bypass the half-block line of tourists waiting for Georgetown Cupcakes. There are arguably better cupcakes, plus jars of cookies, slices of pie, cinnamon rolls, and quality coffee waiting at Baked & Wired.

Life in Washington D.C.
Cupcakes at Baked & Wired
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Off the Record

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While you might think that a K Street crowd drinks here, but the clientele at the Hay Adams Hotel’s basement bar can be touristy. And it’s easy to see why. An atmosphere heavy on leather, velvet, and political caricatures is a nice place to enjoy classic cocktails and bar bites.

Off the Record
Off the Record
Off the Record [official]

Abe's Cafe

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Smack-dab in the middle of a tourist shop is where you’ll find one of the best bets downtown for a Vietnamese buffet, decently priced pho, and banh mi sandwiches.

Old Ebbitt Grill

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Old Ebbitt gets flooded with tourists because of its location, across the street from the White House, and its reputation as an institutional bar and restaurant. But the service and menu, which includes solid crab cakes and a happy hour with half-price oysters (3 to 6 p.m. weekdays) makes this a top pick for anyone in need of a seafood fix.

POV Rooftop Bar and Restaurant

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There’s no denying that the views, food, and drink options are incredible atop the W Hotel’s recently renovated rooftop bar. Just beware of the price points betting a place with lobster splashed all over the menu. Cocktails average to about $20 a glass.

POV

The Occidental

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This place is lined with portraits of presidents, plus pictures of celebrities who have eaten here or stayed at the Willard Hotel next-door. While popular with the out-of-town crowd, the Occidental is also a reliable place for a burger, a seafood tower, and a view of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
R. Lopez

Lincoln's Waffle Shop

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Across the street from Ford’s Theatre and DC’s Hard Rock Cafe, sits a greasy spoon diner, called Lincoln’s Waffle Shop. It’s one of the few legitimate diners in downtown D.C., and the helpings are extra large — one waffle takes up an entire plate.

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Getting bikini body ready.

A post shared by Sydney Kramer (@crepesofwrath) on

Capitol Lounge

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Hill interns, politicos, and lobbyists love to come here for happy hour specials. On Tuesdays, wings are 25 cents from 4 p.m. to 8 pm.

Good Stuff Eatery

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Whether it’s the draw of celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn’s, the thick and creamy marshmallow shake, or the Obama-approved burger, tourists can’t seem to get enough of this fast-casual joint on Capitol Hill.

The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
Marge Ely for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Market Lunch

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Throngs of tourists plus some Capitol Hill locals will wait shoulder-to-shoulder in line for The Market Lunch’s blueberry buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes. Why? Because they might just be the best flapjacks in town.

Ben's Chili Bowl

A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of D.C.’s classic restaurants
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The half-smoke is one of Washington’s most essential dishes, and U Street is the place to go on a half-smoke crawl. Ben’s is indisputably the most iconic place that sells half-pork, half-beef sausage. Saddle up the counter and take a moment to savor the site, sounds, and smells of this near round-the-clock operation.

A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of D.C.’s classic restaurants
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Duccini's Pizza

Jumbo slice is a novelty dish packed with grease-stained nostalgia. When in Adams Morgan, and especially after a long night of drinking, Duccini’s serves maybe the best version of this oversized pizza.

Ted's Bulletin (Multiple locations)

Ted's Bulletin's iconic Ted's Tarts
Ted’s Bulletin’s iconic Ted’s Tarts
R. Lopez

Tourists know and love the place with the Insta-famous “Ted’s tart.” It’s a reliably solid option for diner food with slightly fancier flare and pricing.

Ted's Bulletin's iconic Ted's Tarts
Ted’s Bulletin’s iconic Ted’s Tarts
R. Lopez

Martin's Tavern

Martin's Tavern
Martin’s Tavern
Martin’s Tavern [official]

This Georgetown stalwart has he most requested booth in town — booth no. 3 — because it’s supposedly where Jackie O said “I do” to John F. Kennedy. With this lore, plus many other stories of political visitors, Martin’s continues to be a popular place to drink beers or cocktails in an intimate environment.

Martin's Tavern
Martin’s Tavern
Martin’s Tavern [official]

Clyde's of Georgetown

The namesake of a storied D.C. restaurant group, Clyde’s is popular with throngs of M Street shoppers and thirsty Georgetown students craving a beer, a burger, or an oyster. It’s a reliable option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

View this post on Instagram

An American Bar, since 1963 #HappyFourthofJuly from #Clydes

A post shared by Clyde's (@clydes_restaurant) on

Baked & Wired

Life in Washington D.C.
Cupcakes at Baked & Wired
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

In-the-know locals and visitors =bypass the half-block line of tourists waiting for Georgetown Cupcakes. There are arguably better cupcakes, plus jars of cookies, slices of pie, cinnamon rolls, and quality coffee waiting at Baked & Wired.

Life in Washington D.C.
Cupcakes at Baked & Wired
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Off the Record

Off the Record
Off the Record
Off the Record [official]

While you might think that a K Street crowd drinks here, but the clientele at the Hay Adams Hotel’s basement bar can be touristy. And it’s easy to see why. An atmosphere heavy on leather, velvet, and political caricatures is a nice place to enjoy classic cocktails and bar bites.

Off the Record
Off the Record
Off the Record [official]

Abe's Cafe

Smack-dab in the middle of a tourist shop is where you’ll find one of the best bets downtown for a Vietnamese buffet, decently priced pho, and banh mi sandwiches.

Old Ebbitt Grill

Old Ebbitt gets flooded with tourists because of its location, across the street from the White House, and its reputation as an institutional bar and restaurant. But the service and menu, which includes solid crab cakes and a happy hour with half-price oysters (3 to 6 p.m. weekdays) makes this a top pick for anyone in need of a seafood fix.

POV Rooftop Bar and Restaurant

POV

There’s no denying that the views, food, and drink options are incredible atop the W Hotel’s recently renovated rooftop bar. Just beware of the price points betting a place with lobster splashed all over the menu. Cocktails average to about $20 a glass.

POV

The Occidental

Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
R. Lopez

This place is lined with portraits of presidents, plus pictures of celebrities who have eaten here or stayed at the Willard Hotel next-door. While popular with the out-of-town crowd, the Occidental is also a reliable place for a burger, a seafood tower, and a view of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
R. Lopez

Lincoln's Waffle Shop

Across the street from Ford’s Theatre and DC’s Hard Rock Cafe, sits a greasy spoon diner, called Lincoln’s Waffle Shop. It’s one of the few legitimate diners in downtown D.C., and the helpings are extra large — one waffle takes up an entire plate.

View this post on Instagram

Getting bikini body ready.

A post shared by Sydney Kramer (@crepesofwrath) on

Capitol Lounge

Hill interns, politicos, and lobbyists love to come here for happy hour specials. On Tuesdays, wings are 25 cents from 4 p.m. to 8 pm.

Good Stuff Eatery

The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
Marge Ely for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Whether it’s the draw of celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn’s, the thick and creamy marshmallow shake, or the Obama-approved burger, tourists can’t seem to get enough of this fast-casual joint on Capitol Hill.

The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
Marge Ely for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Market Lunch

Throngs of tourists plus some Capitol Hill locals will wait shoulder-to-shoulder in line for The Market Lunch’s blueberry buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes. Why? Because they might just be the best flapjacks in town.

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