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Plates at Maïz64 hold red-tinged roasted octopus al pastor, a grilled piece of pineapple, and blue and yellow tortillas.
Maïz64’s version of al pastor plates coal-roasted octopus alongside grilled pineapple relish.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The 38 Essential Restaurants Around D.C.

Where to go now for smoked eel-studded paella, layered lasagna, pork and kimchi dumplings, and more

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Maïz64’s version of al pastor plates coal-roasted octopus alongside grilled pineapple relish.
| Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

With a D.C. restaurant industry emerging from a two-year pandemic, going out to eat now comes with a semblance of normality. The Eater 38 offers a selection of defining culinary destinations that showcase the diversity of D.C. (and its many suburbs). While recent versions of this map recognized the limits of dining out during a pandemic with a focus on comfort, takeout, and outdoor dining, the latest edition eases those restrictions. Restaurants on this map must be open for at least six months. For the most exciting new restaurants in town, check out the heatmap.

For the spring 2022 refresh, new additions to the 38 include L’Ardente, for pristine pizzas in stylish downtown digs; No Goodbyes, for a bounty of local, wood-fired ingredients in a hot Adams Morgan hotel; Maïz64, for a refined, masa-obsessed Mexican menu in Logan Circle; and Daru, for blue cheese chicken kebabs and high-class cocktails off H Street.

The following restaurants, while definitely still worth a trip, are leaving the 38: Muchas Gracias, Rooster & Owl, Cane, and Rose Ave Bakery.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. 2Fifty Texas BBQ (Multiple locations)

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4700 Riverdale Rd
Riverdale Park, MD 20737
(240) 764-8763
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For D.C. residents, sampling the most tantalizing brisket inside the Beltway requires a drive into Riverdale Park, Maryland. Fernando González and Debby Portillo, the couple that own and operate 2Fifty, pay homage to Central Texas by using oak smoke to develop a dark bark on fatty hunks of prime and American wagyu beef that jiggle on the chopping block. Beef ribs, pulled pork, sliced turkey, and St. Louis-style ribs are all available, too. Daily specials like brisket tacos and barbecue pupusas give the kitchen a creative outlet. Sides such as red kidney beans braised with brisket, caramelized pineapple, and coleslaw interspersed with raisins nod to the owners’ Salvadoran heritage. Diners can preorder for pickup Wednesday through Saturday with the option to dine there or take it to go. In June, 2Fifty expanded into D.C. with a small stall inside Union Market.

A platter of meats and Salvadoran-influenced sides from 2Fifty Texas BBQ
A platter of meats and Salvadoran-influenced sides from 2Fifty Texas BBQ
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

2. Thip Khao

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3462 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 387-5426
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Considered the standard-bearer for Lao cuisine in D.C., Thip Khao comes from mother-and-son chefs Seng Luangrath and Boby Pradachith. Their Columbia Heights standby continues to satisfy heat-seekers with a menu full of fermented fish sauce, a heavy dose of chiles, offal, and cured meats. Hit orders include crispy tamarind glazed wings, grilled pork shoulder with lemongrass, and a fiery Lao papaya salad. The restaurant opens Wednesday to Sunday (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) with carryout, indoor dining, and outdoor service across a cozy tented patio (90-minute limit with a $20 deposit charged via Tock).

Muu som, a dish of rice-cured, fermented pork from Thip Khao
Muu som, a dish of rice-cured, fermented pork from Thip Khao
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

3. Makan

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3400 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 730-2295
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At this Malaysian restaurant in Columbia Heights, chef James Wozniuk navigates a balance of pungent, spicy-sweet, and funky umami flavors that vary in intensity but never veer out of control. Wozniuk’s condiments — sambal made from bird’s eye chiles, palm sugar, tamarind, and fried anchovies; appetite-piquing pickled limes with prune and golden raisin; peanut-based satay sauce — assert themselves in an array of rice and noodle dishes. The bar mixes complex tropical cocktails, like a blackstrap rum and pineapple Jungle Bird, that vie for attention. Order takeout or delivery online. Tables are available in a breezy dining room or on a patio. 

Nasi campur, or “with rice,” dishes at Makan include beef rendang, center; pajeri nenas (pineapple currry), top; ayam goreng (fried chicken with salted duck yolk and curry leaf), right, and okra in sambal.
Nasi campur, or “with rice,” dishes at Makan include beef rendang, center; pajeri nenas (pineapple currry), top; ayam goreng (fried chicken with salted duck yolk and curry leaf), right, and okra in sambal.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

4. Ellē

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3221 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 652-0040
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This destination bakery and all-day cafe is housed inside the historic Heller’s Bakery building in sleepy Mount Pleasant. A takeout window operates from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, offering regulars a chance to stop by for a coffee, pastrami breakfast sandwiches, a guava turnover, or a mini goat cheese cheesecake. The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and reservations for indoor and strategy dining go live one month in advance. Rotating items include beet ’nduja lettuce wraps, kimchi grilled cheese, and curry pickled cauliflower with koji-cured radish. Ellē owners Nick Pimentel and Lizzy Evelyn will soon expand across the city with a second all-day cafe inside Western Market food hall in Foggy Bottom. 

A pastrami breakfast sandwich from Ellē.
A breakfast sandwich from Ellē
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

5. Martha Dear

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3110 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010

Inside a narrow, dark basement underneath an ice cream shop in Mount Pleasant, Martha Dear owners Tara Smith and Demetri Mechelis serve a style of Greek pizza that’s unlike anything else in D.C. Mechelis mans a domed oven that fires round, naturally leavened pies studded with salty Mediterranean cheeses; the white pizza boasts crumbly myzithra and hard kefalograviera, while Mechelis’s take on pantzarosalata dots the classic roasted beet and yogurt salad with candied hazelnuts and herbs. Slices of exceptionally soft chocolate olive oil cake bring brownie batter to mind, albeit one made with a first-press fat sourced from one of Mechelis’s uncles in Greece. There are patio tables out front.

Martha Dear’s “Sausage + Peppers” sourdough pizza with tomato, mozzarella, onions, peppers, and ‘nduja sausage.
Martha Dear’s “Sausage + Peppers” sourdough pizza with tomato, mozzarella, onions, peppers, and ‘nduja sausage.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

6. No Goodbyes

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1770 Euclid St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 864-4180
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Chef Opie Crooks champions Mid-Atlantic farmers, fishers, and small-time ranchers at his wood-burning magnet for locavores that landed inside the retooled Line hotel last summer. Crooks sprinkles seasonal delicacies all over his breakout Adams Morgan menu, and spring ramps currently appear in pickled form in smoked trout toast or delicately fried alongside slow-cooked brisket. Plump Chesapeake oysters flecked with a house hot sauce warm up diners to an abundant charcuterie “salthouse board” with black pepper biscuits and homemade pickles. Childhood favorites get a grown-up edge here, as seen in his paper-thin potato chips dusted in crab spice and sticks of “hush doggies” bursting with bratwurst. Cocktails from D.C. bar vet Lukas Smith include a black walnut Old Fashioned and refreshing gin and tonic jazzed up with blood orange.

7. Zenebech Restaurant

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2004, 2420 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-4700
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In a city renowned for Ethiopian cuisine, Zenebech has survived as an annual favorite thanks to the sharp, fresh flavors overseen by its namesake matriarch, Zenebech Dessu. The restaurant relocated from Shaw to Adams Morgan in 2017, then temporarily closed after a devastating fire before reclaiming its place as the city’s gold standard for vegetarian combo platters and awaze tibs.

Dining Review - Zenebech Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

8. Shabu Plus

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2321 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 450-2151
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The final piece of chef Darren Norris’s three-part Japanese complex in Adams Morgan debuted in July with a focus on shabu shabu and kaiseki small plates that call back to his days running acclaimed izakaya Kushi. The middle floor, lined with large sake barrels and dragon artwork, invites seated customers to cook an assortment of top-notch meats like A7 Australian wagyu, local poultry, and sustainable seafoods in a bubbling dashi broth of choice (Norris suggests the duck bone collagen). Reserve a seat on Resy. The versatile project also includes a penthouse cocktail bar (Death Punch) and walk-in Shibuya Eatery in the basement, where Norris sends out sushi starring North Pacific blue fin tuna and yellowtail, succulent short rib skewers grilled over binchotan charcoal, build-your-own bento boxes, and donburi bowls.

A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin, duck bone dashi, konbu dashi, seasonal mushrooms, daikon greens, napa, and soft tofu from Shabu Plus
A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin and duck bone dashi.
Havar Espedal/Shabu Plus

9. Maydan

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1346 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 370-3696
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Maydan sets an Arabic table with communal plates like zucchini baba ghanoush, chicken shish taouk kebabs, and ribeye seasoned with blue fenugreek, all complemented by an array of condiments such as toum, tahina sauce, and zhug. In addition to a dining room built around a theatrical wood-burning hearth, Maydan covered the alleyway leading to its doorway with patterned carpets that add an inviting touch to its outdoor setup. Owners Rose Previte and Mike Schuster (Compass Rose) secured future brick-and-mortar homes in Fairfax and Clarendon for Tawle, their Middle Eastern, family-style menu offshoot born at Maydan.

Lamb shoulder at Maydan
Lamb shoulder at Maydan
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

10. Appioo African Bar & Grill

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1924 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 588-7366
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Descend a set of stairs to discover this longstanding West African gem in Shaw. Chef-owner Prince Matey draws inspiration from his grandmother’s Ghanaian recipes while creating flavors that cater to native Washingtonians. Slow-cooked seafood okra is a destination dish, but Matey’s hearty egusi soup, jollof rice, and red red (stewed black eye peas in palm oil) are also not to miss. Much of the menu goes well with his expert preparations of goat, oxtail, and fufu — Ghana’s doughy starch staple made of mashed plantain flour. Diners in the know flock here for one of the top vegan dishes in town: an off-menu garden egg stew.

A seafood okra stew in a white bowl next to fufu at Appioo
Seafood okra stew and fufu at Appioo.
Appioo [official]

11. Anju

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1805 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 845-8935
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Situated between Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan, Anju serves Korean bar food with a refined touch from the restaurant group behind casual hit Chiko. James Beard Award-nominated chef Angel Barreto leads a kitchen that plates up standouts ranging from pork and kimchi mandu (dumplings) and fried chicken with white barbecue sauce to a seafood fried rice bokum bap and seared ribeye galbi boards. Weekend brunches bring on breakfast sandwiches and a grit bowl that riffs on juk.

Anju chef Angel Barreto
Anju chef Angel Barreto
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

12. Benitos Place

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1437 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 299-0977

This tiny, versatile restaurant in Logan Circle provides an essential service to homesick customers from throughout Central America. Telma Majano’s kitchen does justice to Honduran staples like plate-sized flour tortilla baleadas, full of refried beans and salty crema, or fried chicken drizzled with mayonnaise dressing, cabbage, pickled beets, and a mountainous portion of thick plantain chips. There are also Salvadoran pupusas and pan con pollo (stewed chicken subs with potato and boiled eggs) as well an impressive selection of Mexican dishes like a rich, porky white pozole, a rich chicken mole Poblano, and tacos served with sweat-inducing verde and habanero salsas. Call for takeout orders or walk in to sit in the small dining room.

Chicken mole Poblano at Benito’s Place
Chicken mole Poblano at Benito’s Place
Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

13. Lutèce

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1522 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-8830
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At this casual, cozy “neo-bistro” in Georgetown, chef Matt Conroy adopts a French appreciation for market produce. The chef’s restraint exudes confidence in dishes made with a handful of ingredients, like the pillowy Parisian gnocchi that Lutèce offered with corn and poblano pepper on one visit, and with chanterelles and leeks on another. Reservations for a chef’s table menu ($65 per person) include four courses and a view of the kitchen.

 Parisian gnocchi from Lutece
 Parisian gnocchi from Lutece
Scott Suchman for The Washington Post via Getty Images

14. Oyster Oyster

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1440 8th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Chef Rob Rubba puts vegetables on a pedestal, so Oyster Oyster’s presence in Shaw is fantastic news for diners who don’t eat meat but still want to enjoy an avant-garde tasting menu. Rubba, who attracted D.C. critics’ attention as the former chef at Hazel, partnered with Estadio owner Max Kuller on this venture prioritizing sustainability that’s up for a 2022 James Beard Award for best new restaurant of the year. The latest menu includes a significant holdover, a bird’s nest of fried celery root that’s wrapped around a morsel of smoked tofu, roasted sweet potato with pickled ramp shoots, and a shiitake chip cookie for dessert. A $55 selected wine pairing goes with an $85 meal. Reservations are available here.

Oyster Oyster chef Rob Rubba shows off a fresh batch of mushrooms
Oyster Oyster chef Rob Rubba shows off a fresh batch of mushrooms.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

15. Maïz64

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1324 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 450-4962
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This flashy Mexican restaurant from Oaxaca-born, Mexico City-based chef Alam Méndez Florián entered Logan Circle’s competitive dining landscape last fall, instantly impressing with tangy ceviches, cactus salads, cilantro-and-tomatillo margaritas, marinated octopus roasted over coals, and expert applications of its namesake ingredient with use of a gas-fired comal up front. Blue corn from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala builds a tortilla for a suckling pig terrine taco, while a crunchy tostada relies on yellow corn to balance a medley of veggies on top. Head below to a candle-lit mezcal den to pair rare pours with grasshopper tacos. Brunch just joined the mix, too.

A tuna tostada from Maiz 64
A tuna tostada from Maïz64.
Maïz64

16. St. Anselm

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1250 5th St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 864-2199
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Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley smashes the city’s stuffy steakhouse conventions with a menu at this Union Market tavern that gives vegetables equal billing. Her butter-packed biscuits with pimento cheese have become the stuff of legend, and a salmon collar practically melting under a butter-lemon bath has its own cult following. Ax-handle ribeyes and pork chops are priced by the ounce for communal feasts. Like sibling spot Le Diplomate, St. Anselm built nifty dining nooks on the street. Stephen Starr’s blockbuster NYC bistro Pastis is slated to join St. Anselm in the budding industrial complex.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
St. Anselm chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

17. The Dabney

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122 Blagden Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 450-1015
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Jeremiah Langhorne’s focus on researching Mid-Atlantic recipes, deploying hearth-fueled cooking, and working with local purveyors has paid off with national accolades from Michelin and the James Beard Foundation. The Dabney ditched takeout earlier than many local hotspots, instead focusing on four-course prix fixe menus ($95 each) that require advanced planning for anyone hoping to snag a reservation in Shaw. Customers can expect to find dishes like Autumn Olive Farm pork with young collard greens, mustard, and sarsaparilla; and fluke with pea shoot pistou. Indoor and outdoor reservations are released in two-week blocks, with a la carte eats at the bar.

A portrait of chef Jeremiah Langhorne at the Dabney
The Dabney chef Jeremiah Langhorne
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

18. Dauphine’s

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1100 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 758-3785
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It’s well known that New Orleanians cock an eyebrow when anyone who tries to translate the Crescent City’s iconic cuisine in another place, but veteran New Orleans chef Kristen Essig’s uniquely capable hands help Dauphine’s spin dishes worthy of the Crescent City herself. Essig’s dedication to sourcing items like light and crispy po’boy bread from Leidenheimer Baking Company in New Orleans means that dishes like the Peacemaker po’boy (roast beef debris plus fried oysters) taste authentic. Fried hogs head cheese suggests a knowledge of Louisiana cuisine that steps beyond just the greatest hits. And sauerkraut and cracklins on the sharable duck jambalaya demonstrates that Essig’s knowledge runs deep enough that she can veer from tradition in welcome and thoughtful ways.

Duck jambalaya with roasted duck breast, fresh duck and jalapeño sausage, sauerkraut, and duck skin cracklins.
Duck jambalaya includes roasted duck breast, fresh duck and jalapeño sausage, sauerkraut, and duck skin cracklins.
Dauphine’s/Facebook

19. Imperfecto

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1124 23rd St NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 964-1012
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Venezuelan chef Enrique Limardo’s follow-up to scene-y, tropically appointed Seven Reasons brings the West End a new fine dining venue for Mediterranean-Latin fusion full of surreal plating and modernist technique. Sturdy staples like a moussaka cigar — with crispy phyllo dough, smoked eggplant, ground lamb, and goat-manchego cream — and fried Spanish octopus with Amazonian chimichurri anchor the rotating dinner menu. Go a la carte or choose the 10-course, omakase tasting experience at the chef’s counter. A soaring white bar lined with soft cranberry stools sends out stylish cocktails with Mediterranean ingredients like Greek olives, truffle honey, and limoncello.

Crispy phyllo dough cylinders sit on a plate next to a white dipping sauce.
Moussaka cigars are filled with smoked eggplant, ground lamb, and goat-manchego cream at Imperfecto.
Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post via Getty Images

20. Reverie

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3201 Cherry Hill Ln
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 808-2952
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Reverie chef and owner Johnny Spero draws inspiration and techniques from Nordic countries, Japan, and Maryland. Reverie’s 10- to 15-course prix fixes in the open-kitchen dining room or on a ventilated, covered patio in the back might include anything from sunchoke miso ice cream and caviar to Carolina gold rice with crab and egg. The seafood-centric tasting menu ($205 per person) changes based on availability. Next up for the well-traveled chef: Bar Spero, a lively tribute to the nightlife in Spain’s Basque country opening this summer in Capitol Crossing.

A look inside Reverie’s kitchen.
A look inside Reverie’s kitchen.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

21. Mélange

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449 K St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 289-5471
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Chef Elias Taddesse dresses freshly ground Maryland beef patties with brown butter aioli to make a cheeseburger as fine as any that can be found around the District, but that’s just an entry point to Mélange. Ethiopian spices stored in translucent containers inside the ordering counter in Mt. Vernon Triangle clue customers into more inventive options that mix up Taddesse’s East African heritage, haute cuisine background, and nostalgia for American drive-thrus. Do not miss the National, a berbere-marinated and dry-spiced fried chicken sandwich reminiscent of doro wat stew. Takeout pints of ice cream in simple flavors like milk or toast are also exceptional. Walk in or order online.

The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

22. Baan Siam

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425 I St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 588-5889
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At this roomy Thai restaurant in Mt. Vernon Triangle, chef Jeeraporn Poksupthon has a kitchen worthy of her skill and ambition. Poksupthon led large catering kitchens in Thailand before she helped usher a wave of chile-fueled Northern and Northeastern cooking into D.C. at now-closed Baan Thai in Logan Circle. At Baan Siam, she’s playing the hits — creamy, crunchy, and complex khao soi; tapioca skin dumplings with ground chicken, peanuts, and sweet fermented radish; all sorts of spicy-sweet salads — while exploring sour-leaning dishes from her home country’s interior and ultra-hot curries from the South. Order for pickup or in-house delivery here, or reserve a table for indoor or outdoor dining here.

Chef Jeeraporn Poksupthong is expanding her repertoire at Baan Siam
Baan Siam chef Jeeraporn Poksupthong
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

23. Piccolina da Centrolina

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963 Palmer Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 804-5713
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A wood-burning oven imported from France is the workhorse inside Amy Brandwein’s Italian cafe in CityCenter, an everyday alternative to Centrolina, her dressier osteria across the street. The chef and her crew pull ratatouille omelets out of long-handled frying pans that sizzle next to glowing red logs. There’s phenomenal focaccia here, and the 10-layer eggplant Parmesan is a showstopper, but eating light is painless, too, with choices like a charred chicken and escarole salad. Plus, Brandwein recently added wood-fired pizzas to the mix. Order takeout online or get delivery via Caviar from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday). Brandwein just revealed plans to expand into the next-door space this summer.

Piccolina wood-burning oven
Most of Piccolina’s menu takes a trip through its wood-burning oven.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

24. Maketto

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1351 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 838-9972
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H Street’s cool cafe, streetwear shop, and, now, record store, continues to stay relevant five years in thanks to a loyal following for its Taiwanese fried chicken, dim sum, crystal shrimp dumplings, and lo mein topped with pork shoulder and chicken confit. Prolific D.C. chef Erik Bruner-Yang wasted no time when the pandemic hit, launching ambitious crowdfunding system Power of 10 to put restaurant workers back on the job and feed communities in need at the same time. Book a table or order pickup and delivery online.

25. Daru

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1451 Maryland Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 388-1848
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Dante Datta and Suresh Sundas, a respective drink expert and chef who met while working together at Rasika West End, reunited under one roof last summer with an anticipated Indian restaurant and cocktail bar at a corner just south of H Street NE. Sundas likes to combine Northern and Southern Indian cooking styles with some unorthodox touches: Think za’atar olive naan, chicken tikka tacos, chimichurri chutneys, or grilled chicken reshmi kebabs with a hint of blue cheese. Datta and bar manager Tom Martinez, both alums of now-closed Columbia Room, collaborate on inventive riffs on classics. Book a seat online for service after 5 p.m. or order takeout and delivery for both lunch and dinner.

Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru
Daru’s striped bass paturi boasts a turmeric-yellow coat and a marinade that folds in Makrut lime leaves, lime juice, coconut powder, and Kashmiri chile.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

26. L'Ardente

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200 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

Chef David Deshaies (Unconventional DinerCentral) and business partner Eric Edens unveiled their soaring, “glam Italian” restaurant in the shiny new Capitol Crossing development last fall. The buzzy showstopper, framed with shimmering Missoni drapes and abstract art, has amassed a fast following for pizzas crisped to perfection in a gold-plated oven, a 40-layer lasagna that begs to be photographed, and Florentine steaks fired up on an imported grill from Spain’s Costa Brava region. Other highlights include generous orbs of saffron-accented arancini, grilled cabbage adorned with creamy beurre blanc and glistening trout roe, and mini shots of duck ravioli served in claw-footed vessels. Starting at 5 p.m., fight for a spot at its scene-y bar to order a spot-on negroni and decadent espresso martini. Reserve a seat in the dining room or order takeout and delivery, with lunch and brunch coming soon.

A charred, split chicken cooks on a wood-fired grill at L’Ardente.
A charred, split chicken cooks on a wood-fired grill at L’Ardente.
Rey Lopez/For L’Ardente

27. Cranes

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724 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 525-4900
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Business lunchers, beware. Anyone who orders a Spanish gin and tonic will likely find themselves thirsty for an eminently refreshing refill. Chef Pepe Moncayo, a Spaniard who spent a large chunk of his career cooking in Singapore, oversees this Michelin-starred Iberian-Japanese melting pot that makes people feel welcome in many ways. There’s $38 bento boxes available weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. An omakase version handpicked by the chef is $60 (with a beverage pairing for $30). At dinner, opt for a 10-course omakase for $118. Tapas range from patatas bravas to duck rillete gyozas, and a la carte large plates offer yellowfin tuna with shiso pesto or paella studded with smoked eel.

Mushroom rice from Cranes
Mushroom rice from Cranes
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

28. Zaytinya

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701 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 638-0800
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Since opening in 2002, José Andrés’s mega Mediterranean complex in Penn Quarter has amassed a devoted fan base for crispy Brussels sprouts with coriander seed and barberries, impressive kebabs, billowing pita breads, and Greek yogurt cheesecakes. Chef Michael Costa offers family-style tasting menus for $45 a person. A “meze ora” (4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday) includes $5 pide and $8 cocktails. There’s a four-course meze brunch with rosé flights, too ($75 for two).

29. Daikaya 1F + Daikaya, The Izakaya 2F

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705 6th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 589-1600
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This is the flagship restaurant for Daikaya Group, D.C.’s foremost experts experts in ramen. The ground floor houses a first-come, first-served ramen shop that imports bouncy noodles from Sapporo. On the second level, its experimental izakaya gives chef Katsuya Fukushima a platform to present playful dishes like a new wagyu beef tartare with rice crackers and kimchi, a classic fried eggplant and miso rice ball, or a beloved mentaiko (spicy cod roe) burrata with orange zest and grilled toast. During the pandemic, the company put considerable thought into takeout and delivery, which remains an option. Customers can order par-cooked noodles for a quick nuke in the microwave, or uncooked if they want to boil their own.

Magazine dining column on Daikaya
Vegetarian ramen from Daikaya
Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post via Getty Images

30. Café Riggs

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900 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 788-2800
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Tucked inside a historic bank building, Penn Quarter’s opulent, all-day hotel brasserie unveiled right before the pandemic has really hit its stride. Tourists and locals alike come for a consistently impressive raw bar selection, creative cocktails, and all-day omelettes engineered with beautifully buttery Vaughan Cheese. Decadent bar bites like puffy gougères or a bright bowl of caviar and cucumber with fresh potato chips are discounted during its weekday “Banker’s Hour”. Eater Young Gun Patrick Curran (‘16), who’s big on partnerships with local purveyors, also offers a three-course, family-style Sunday supper with whole roasted chicken. The stately space now extends outdoors onto a year-round patio garden terrace. Take a trip to the depths of the bank for martini service at Silver Lyan, the cocktail lair from world-famous bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana.

Dramatic, plum-colored drapes are one design piece at Cafe Riggs
Cafe Riggs serves an elegant American menu in a lavish setting.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

31. Rasika (Multiple locations)

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633 D St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 637-1222
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James Beard award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam plays liberally with spicy chiles and sour fruits to make Rasika one of the most celebrated Indian restaurants in the country. His palak chaat, a fried baby spinach dish decorated with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney, has inspired imitators around town. Dal makhani slowly simmered in a decadent, buttery gravy is another signature. Both the Penn Quarter flagship and its West End sibling are ideal venues for vegetarian diners, too.

32. Sushi Nakazawa

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1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 289-3515
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When NYC-import Sushi Nakazawa opened in the Trump International Hotel right after José Andrés stormed out of a contract in the same location, it became the most controversial sushi bar in D.C. Less up for debate is the 20-course, nigiri-sushi omakase that stuns in the expert hands of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” chef Masaaki Uchino. There’s no dinner menu, which leaves more time to linger over an impressive list of Japanese whiskey and sake. The most coveted seats are at the 10-seat sushi bar that offers the best view of the action. Fortunately for the restaurant, Trump International Hotel is in the hands of new owners who have stripped it of the Trump name.

33. Officina (Multiple locations)

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1120 Maine Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 747-5222
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The name means “workshop,” but this three-level Italian complex on the Southwest Waterfront is an impressive multi-hyphenate: cafe-market-butcher-shop-amaro-bar-trattoria-rooftop-lounge. Restaurateur Nicholas Stefanelli, who holds a Michelin star at tasting menu destination Masseria, offers classed-up standards like bucatini all’Amatriciana, Manilla clams with saffron linguine, and stuffed pork chops. During the course of the pandemic, Officina added sibling locations downtown and in Georgetown. Philotimo, Stefanelli’s ambitious Greek tasting spot, opened in Midtown Center in January.

A grilled shrimp is surrounded by squid and fish on a white plate.
A mixed plate of grilled seafood from Officina at the Wharf.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

34. Caruso's Grocery

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914 14th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 661 0148
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Matt Adler’s decidedly unmodern tribute to classic red sauce joints takes diners on a well-worn path that carefully steers clear of the contrived. Dishes heavy on nostalgia, quality ingredients, and technique are served in a red banquette lined, vintage photo-laden dining room that buzzes with hospitality and delight. Tender chicken parm with a light breading gets tucked under a zingy marina, hunky garlic bread arrives with a bowl of four-cheese sauce for dipping, and shrimp scampi gets splashed with house-made limoncello. Drinks, like a Manhattan with an amaretto rinse, receive equally attentive treatment. Keeping with theme, the menu is surprisingly affordable.

Chicken Parm from Caruso’s Grocery
Chicken parm from Caruso’s Grocery gets pounded thin every morning before service
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

35. Moon Rabbit DC

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801 Wharf St SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 878-8566
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Anyone who’s followed Kevin Tien’s career in D.C. restaurants should know well enough to order crudo and fried chicken wherever he’s cooking. At Moon Rabbit, like at short-lived Emilie’s and nationally regarded Himitsu, Tien delivers on those signatures with aplomb. At the modern Vietnamese restaurant inside a luxe hotel on the Southwest Waterfront, he also serves five-spice foie mousse with onion jam on brioche and cornmeal-fried catfish dressed with pea leaves and fermented mustard greens. On the lighter side, a green mango salad gets a sweet kick from lychee. The sleek bar sends out spins on a Boulevardier and espresso martini engineered with chicory drip coffee.

36. Albi

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1346 4th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 921-9592
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Albi chef Michael Rafidi manipulates smoke with a master’s touch, sending out dishes from the wood-burning hearth at his high-end Levantine restaurant that have a way of commanding a diner’s full attention. The Maryland native’s Middle Eastern menu tweaks dishes to incorporate peak produce — see the smashed pumpkin labneh or apple and pear fattoush for fall — but the snack-sized lamb kefta kebabs speared on cinnamon sticks should never go out of style. A lengthy wine list full of hard-to-find Eastern Mediterranean labels, cocktails, and desserts all rise to the occasion. Albi recently added the title of one of Eater’s 11 Best New Restaurants in America to its growing accolades. For something more affordable, head next-door to sibling bakery and cafe, Yellow.

A plate of ground duck sfeeha (meat pies) served with pine nuts, lemon, and a side of whipped garlic toum at Albi
A plate of ground duck sfeeha (meat pies) served with pine nuts, lemon, and a side of whipped garlic toum at Albi
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

37. Mama Chang

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3251 Old Lee Hwy Ste101
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 268-5556
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The “home-style” Chinese restaurant in Peter Chang’s portfolio pays tribute to the women that influenced the legendary former embassy chef, with fiery dishes that call back his childhood in the Hubei province of central China and his home life in Virginia. Chang, a master of numbing spice, has woven in Sichuan and Hunan techniques into a menu of vegetable-heavy plates, dim sum, and family-style orders. There’s dine-in seating across its plant-filled, zen dining room in Fairfax. Order takeout here or get and delivery via Uber Eats.

Four crispy pastries topped with sesame seeds.
Sesame shaobing from Mama Chang
Rey Lopez/For Mama Chang

38. Nasime Japanese Restaurant

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1209 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-1848
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Tiny Nasime feels like a restaurant you might stumble on while wandering the corridors of Tokyo, with its intimate atmosphere and small, convivial sushi counter. But the daily prix fixe menu reaches beyond sushi (that said, its otsukuri sashimi course is universally pristine). For $95, find a selection of six carefully prepared courses (plus dessert) with seasonal touches, usually including something grilled, something fried, and a communal soup or stew (broiled lamb chop and a duck and mushroom udon, for example, both figure on the current menu). Largely a two-person operation led by chef/owner Yuh Shimomura, service is consistently sunny and personable. During the pandemic, the restaurant ventured into high-end bento boxes, available for $48 per person.

1. 2Fifty Texas BBQ (Multiple locations)

4700 Riverdale Rd, Riverdale Park, MD 20737
A platter of meats and Salvadoran-influenced sides from 2Fifty Texas BBQ
A platter of meats and Salvadoran-influenced sides from 2Fifty Texas BBQ
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

For D.C. residents, sampling the most tantalizing brisket inside the Beltway requires a drive into Riverdale Park, Maryland. Fernando González and Debby Portillo, the couple that own and operate 2Fifty, pay homage to Central Texas by using oak smoke to develop a dark bark on fatty hunks of prime and American wagyu beef that jiggle on the chopping block. Beef ribs, pulled pork, sliced turkey, and St. Louis-style ribs are all available, too. Daily specials like brisket tacos and barbecue pupusas give the kitchen a creative outlet. Sides such as red kidney beans braised with brisket, caramelized pineapple, and coleslaw interspersed with raisins nod to the owners’ Salvadoran heritage. Diners can preorder for pickup Wednesday through Saturday with the option to dine there or take it to go. In June, 2Fifty expanded into D.C. with a small stall inside Union Market.

4700 Riverdale Rd
Riverdale Park, MD 20737

2. Thip Khao

3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Muu som, a dish of rice-cured, fermented pork from Thip Khao
Muu som, a dish of rice-cured, fermented pork from Thip Khao
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Considered the standard-bearer for Lao cuisine in D.C., Thip Khao comes from mother-and-son chefs Seng Luangrath and Boby Pradachith. Their Columbia Heights standby continues to satisfy heat-seekers with a menu full of fermented fish sauce, a heavy dose of chiles, offal, and cured meats. Hit orders include crispy tamarind glazed wings, grilled pork shoulder with lemongrass, and a fiery Lao papaya salad. The restaurant opens Wednesday to Sunday (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) with carryout, indoor dining, and outdoor service across a cozy tented patio (90-minute limit with a $20 deposit charged via Tock).

3462 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

3. Makan

3400 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Nasi campur, or “with rice,” dishes at Makan include beef rendang, center; pajeri nenas (pineapple currry), top; ayam goreng (fried chicken with salted duck yolk and curry leaf), right, and okra in sambal.
Nasi campur, or “with rice,” dishes at Makan include beef rendang, center; pajeri nenas (pineapple currry), top; ayam goreng (fried chicken with salted duck yolk and curry leaf), right, and okra in sambal.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

At this Malaysian restaurant in Columbia Heights, chef James Wozniuk navigates a balance of pungent, spicy-sweet, and funky umami flavors that vary in intensity but never veer out of control. Wozniuk’s condiments — sambal made from bird’s eye chiles, palm sugar, tamarind, and fried anchovies; appetite-piquing pickled limes with prune and golden raisin; peanut-based satay sauce — assert themselves in an array of rice and noodle dishes. The bar mixes complex tropical cocktails, like a blackstrap rum and pineapple Jungle Bird, that vie for attention. Order takeout or delivery online. Tables are available in a breezy dining room or on a patio. 

3400 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

4. Ellē

3221 Mt Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC 20010
A pastrami breakfast sandwich from Ellē.
A breakfast sandwich from Ellē
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

This destination bakery and all-day cafe is housed inside the historic Heller’s Bakery building in sleepy Mount Pleasant. A takeout window operates from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, offering regulars a chance to stop by for a coffee, pastrami breakfast sandwiches, a guava turnover, or a mini goat cheese cheesecake. The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and reservations for indoor and strategy dining go live one month in advance. Rotating items include beet ’nduja lettuce wraps, kimchi grilled cheese, and curry pickled cauliflower with koji-cured radish. Ellē owners Nick Pimentel and Lizzy Evelyn will soon expand across the city with a second all-day cafe inside Western Market food hall in Foggy Bottom. 

3221 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010

5. Martha Dear

3110 Mt Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Martha Dear’s “Sausage + Peppers” sourdough pizza with tomato, mozzarella, onions, peppers, and ‘nduja sausage.
Martha Dear’s “Sausage + Peppers” sourdough pizza with tomato, mozzarella, onions, peppers, and ‘nduja sausage.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Inside a narrow, dark basement underneath an ice cream shop in Mount Pleasant, Martha Dear owners Tara Smith and Demetri Mechelis serve a style of Greek pizza that’s unlike anything else in D.C. Mechelis mans a domed oven that fires round, naturally leavened pies studded with salty Mediterranean cheeses; the white pizza boasts crumbly myzithra and hard kefalograviera, while Mechelis’s take on pantzarosalata dots the classic roasted beet and yogurt salad with candied hazelnuts and herbs. Slices of exceptionally soft chocolate olive oil cake bring brownie batter to mind, albeit one made with a first-press fat sourced from one of Mechelis’s uncles in Greece. There are patio tables out front.

3110 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010

6. No Goodbyes

1770 Euclid St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Chef Opie Crooks champions Mid-Atlantic farmers, fishers, and small-time ranchers at his wood-burning magnet for locavores that landed inside the retooled Line hotel last summer. Crooks sprinkles seasonal delicacies all over his breakout Adams Morgan menu, and spring ramps currently appear in pickled form in smoked trout toast or delicately fried alongside slow-cooked brisket. Plump Chesapeake oysters flecked with a house hot sauce warm up diners to an abundant charcuterie “salthouse board” with black pepper biscuits and homemade pickles. Childhood favorites get a grown-up edge here, as seen in his paper-thin potato chips dusted in crab spice and sticks of “hush doggies” bursting with bratwurst. Cocktails from D.C. bar vet Lukas Smith include a black walnut Old Fashioned and refreshing gin and tonic jazzed up with blood orange.

1770 Euclid St NW
Washington, DC 20009

7. Zenebech Restaurant

2004, 2420 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Dining Review - Zenebech Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

In a city renowned for Ethiopian cuisine, Zenebech has survived as an annual favorite thanks to the sharp, fresh flavors overseen by its namesake matriarch, Zenebech Dessu. The restaurant relocated from Shaw to Adams Morgan in 2017, then temporarily closed after a devastating fire before reclaiming its place as the city’s gold standard for vegetarian combo platters and awaze tibs.

2004, 2420 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

8. Shabu Plus

2321 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin, duck bone dashi, konbu dashi, seasonal mushrooms, daikon greens, napa, and soft tofu from Shabu Plus
A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin and duck bone dashi.
Havar Espedal/Shabu Plus

The final piece of chef Darren Norris’s three-part Japanese complex in Adams Morgan debuted in July with a focus on shabu shabu and kaiseki small plates that call back to his days running acclaimed izakaya Kushi. The middle floor, lined with large sake barrels and dragon artwork, invites seated customers to cook an assortment of top-notch meats like A7 Australian wagyu, local poultry, and sustainable seafoods in a bubbling dashi broth of choice (Norris suggests the duck bone collagen). Reserve a seat on Resy. The versatile project also includes a penthouse cocktail bar (Death Punch) and walk-in Shibuya Eatery in the basement, where Norris sends out sushi starring North Pacific blue fin tuna and yellowtail, succulent short rib skewers grilled over binchotan charcoal, build-your-own bento boxes, and donburi bowls.

2321 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

9. Maydan

1346 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
Lamb shoulder at Maydan
Lamb shoulder at Maydan
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Maydan sets an Arabic table with communal plates like zucchini baba ghanoush, chicken shish taouk kebabs, and ribeye seasoned with blue fenugreek, all complemented by an array of condiments such as toum, tahina sauce, and zhug. In addition to a dining room built around a theatrical wood-burning hearth, Maydan covered the alleyway leading to its doorway with patterned carpets that add an inviting touch to its outdoor setup. Owners Rose Previte and Mike Schuster (Compass Rose) secured future brick-and-mortar homes in Fairfax and Clarendon for Tawle, their Middle Eastern, family-style menu offshoot born at Maydan.

1346 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009

10. Appioo African Bar & Grill

1924 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001