clock menu more-arrow no yes
A plate of penne pasta in vodka sauce on a white table
Penne alla vodka with peas and prosciutto at Caruso’s Grocery.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The 38 Essential Restaurants Around D.C.

Where to go now for seafood okra stew, kimchi grilled cheese, duck jambalaya, and more

View as Map
Penne alla vodka with peas and prosciutto at Caruso’s Grocery.
| Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

This winter, as D.C. restaurants start requiring proof of vaccination to dine indoors, 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 winter 2022 refresh, new additions to the 38 include Sushi Nakazawa, for pristine raw fish; Dauphine’s, for refined Creole creations from a vet New Orleans chef; Caruso’s Grocery, for a casual red sauce joint that delivers; Café Riggs, for all-day brasserie classics served in a stately setting; Appioo, for West African soups and stews; and Shabu Plus, for an interactive Japanese hot pot experience.

The following restaurants, while definitely still worth a trip, are leaving the 38: Sushi Taro, La Famosa, Unconventional Diner, Revelers Hour, Swahili Village, and Shibuya Eatery (to make way for its upstairs counterpart, Shabu Plus).

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.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. 2Fifty Texas BBQ (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
4700 Riverdale Rd
Riverdale Park, MD 20737
(240) 764-8763
Visit Website

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 Sunday 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. Muchas Gracias

Copy Link
5029 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 244-5000
Visit Website

Chef Christian Irabién started this Mexican pop-up in Upper Northwest to support relief efforts for refugee chefs and hungry hospitality workers. Now a permanent fixture, Muchas Gracias has amassed a steady following for its lunchtime burritos, full of braised short ribs or charred sweet potatoes, that pay homage to the filling lunches he ate growing up in Northern Mexico and West Texas. A dinner menu offers a mix of snacks like queso fundido with mezcal-flambéed Chihuahua cheese, seasonal specials like ramp enchiladas verdes, taco platters, and a standout tres leches cake covered in flowers and berries. Call or email to reserve outdoor tables positioned in the front and back.

Muchas Gracias [official]

3. Thip Khao

Copy Link
3462 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 387-5426
Visit Website

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.

4. Makan

Copy Link
3400 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 730-2295
Visit Website

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.

5. Ellē

Copy Link
3221 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 652-0040
Visit Website

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. Chef Brad DeBoy is the fermenter-in-chief in charge of an ambitious cafe menu that offers rotating items 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.

6. Martha Dear

Copy Link
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

7. Rooster & Owl

Copy Link
2436 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 813-3976
Visit Website

With a propensity to mix Asian, Italian, and Middle Eastern ingredients, Rooster & Owl navigates around fusion tropes that would trip up lesser restaurants. Chef Yuan Tang’s stunner has drawn a lot of notice in its first years, winning a Michelin star in last April. Four-course feasts ($75) feature dishes like salmon crudo with coconut dashi, cacio e pepe gnocchi with truffles and walnuts, and pig ears with pistachios and pears. Dining room and patio reservations are available on Resy.

Rooster & Owl executive chef Yuan Tang.
Rooster & Owl executive chef Yuan Tang
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

8. Zenebech Restaurant

Copy Link
2004, 2420 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-4700
Visit Website

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

9. Shabu Plus

Copy Link
2321 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 450-2151
Visit Website

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). There’s a $35 prix fixe lunch option, too. 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.

10. Maydan

Copy Link
1346 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 370-3696
Visit Website

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.

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

11. Appioo African Bar & Grill

Copy Link
1924 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 588-7366
Visit Website

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]

12. Anju

Copy Link
1805 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 845-8935
Visit Website

Situated between Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan, Anju serves Korean bar food with a refined touch from the restaurant group behind casual hit Chiko. 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.

13. Benitos Place

Copy Link
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

14. Lutèce

Copy Link
1522 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-8830
Visit Website

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

15. Oyster Oyster

Copy Link
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. The winter “cornucopia menu” includes a significant holdover, a bird’s nest of fried celery root that’s wrapped around a morsel of smoked tofu, and a shiitake chip cookie for dessert. Beverage director Sarah Horvitz selects a $55 pairing to go with an $85 meal. Reservations are available here.

16. St. Anselm

Copy Link
1250 5th St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 864-2199
Visit Website

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.

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

17. The Dabney

Copy Link
122 Blagden Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 450-1015
Visit Website

Jeremiah Langhorne’s focus on researching Mid-Atlantic recipes, deploying wood-fire 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 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 rutabaga, pear, black pepper, and whiskey; and sweet “Baked Virginia” with chocolate chess pie, peanut ice cream, and toasted meringue. Indoor and outdoor reservations are released in two-week blocks.

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

18. Dauphine’s

Copy Link
1100 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 758-3785
Visit Website

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

Copy Link
1124 23rd St NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 964-1012
Visit Website

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. Rose Ave Bakery

Copy Link
1110 Vermont Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

Rose Nguyen, owner of Eater DC’s 2021 Bakery of the Year, sends out spectacular sweet and savory pastries from a small stall in downtown food hall The Block. Her team solicits a frenzy of weekly online orders for rotating Asian-American delights like sweet potato brioche doughnuts stuffed with passion fruit curd, scallion pancake buns, and croissants stuffed with champorado (sweet chocolate rice pudding). One stall over at Pogiboy, former Bad Saint chefs Tom Cunanan and Paolo Dungca concoct their tribute to fast foods with a blend of Philippine and American comforts. Carryout-friendly dishes worth a try include a sweet pork tocino burger on an ube-purple steamed bun and a big bowl of spaghetti slathered in sweet hot dog bolognese.

21. Reverie

Copy Link
3201 Cherry Hill Ln
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 808-2952
Visit Website

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 Wellfleet oysters with whey and fig to Carolina gold rice with crab and egg to a pear granita with kombucha marshmallows. The menu 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 spring in Capitol Crossing.

22. Mélange

Copy Link
449 K St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 289-5471
Visit Website

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.

23. Baan Siam

Copy Link
425 I St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 588-5889
Visit Website

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.

24. Thamee

Copy Link
1320 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 750-6529
Visit Website

Retired schoolteacher Jocelyn Law-Yone is enjoying a phenomenal second career as the chef at this Burmese spot on H Street NE that unites Indian, Thai, and Chinese flavors. Law-Yone’s edible curriculum includes lessons on traditional dishes like a turmeric-tinged mohingar curry, brimming with noodles and stewed catfish, or lahpet thoke, a pickled tea leaf salad interspersed with crunchy broad beans. Colorful cocktails match the food for flavor and ingenuity. As of early January, the restaurant is open for take-out and delivery only.

Thamee chef Jocelyn Law-Yone, 68, is thrilled to welcome customers back inside her restaurant on H Street NE
Thamee chef Jocelyn Law-Yone shows off a tray of her Burmese dishes.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

25. Piccolina da Centrolina

Copy Link
963 Palmer Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 804-5713
Visit Website

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.

26. Maketto

Copy Link
1351 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 838-9972
Visit Website

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.

27. Cane

Copy Link
403 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 675-2011
Visit Website

Cane aims to recreate the close quarters and lively atmosphere of a Trinidadian rum shop, so last summer’s return to indoor dining marked a significant comeback. Pimento-smoked jerk wings from Eater DC’s 2019 Chef of the Year Peter Prime are a mandatory order. Customers at the narrow H Street NE space should also consider starting off meals with a plate of doubles, a street snack of fry bread topped with stewed chickpeas and spicy chutneys. Whole fried snapper escovitch and cumin-rich geera pork belly are ideal for sharing. Cane seats customers for walk-in dinner service only, but there’s also lunch and dinner available for takeout and delivery; order here.

Peter Prime cracks at coconut at Cane
Chef Peter Prime was named Eater D.C.’s 2019 Chef of the Year
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

28. Cranes

Copy Link
724 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 525-4900
Visit Website

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 $55 (with a beverage pairing for $30). At dinner, opt for a six-course omakase for just under $100. Tapas range from patatas bravas to duck rillete gyozas, and a la carte large plates offer steamed mussels in sake or paella studded with smoked eel.

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

29. Zaytinya

Copy Link
701 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 638-0800
Visit Website

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).

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

Copy Link
705 6th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 589-1600
Visit Website

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

31. Café Riggs

Copy Link
900 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 788-2800
Visit Website

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.

32. Rasika (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
633 D St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 637-1222
Visit Website

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.

33. Sushi Nakazawa

Copy Link
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 289-3515
Visit Website

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.

34. Officina (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
1120 Maine Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 747-5222
Visit Website

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. Stay tuned for Philotimo, Stefanelli’s ambitious Greek showpiece opening soon at Midtown Center.

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

35. Caruso's Grocery

Copy Link
914 14th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 661 0148
Visit Website

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.

36. Moon Rabbit DC

Copy Link
801 Wharf St SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 878-8566
Visit Website

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 serves thin slices of kombu-cured scallops in a lime and coconut tom kha broth. Mountainous portions of ga chien, an upscale riff on chicken wings sold by street vendors, stack crunchy legs and thighs dripping with a spicy-sticky coating of Virginia maple syrup, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and three different chiles. On the lighter side, a green mango salad leans on other sweet fruits with a welcome addition of lychee and stone fruit.

Scallop crudo comes in a Thai tom kha broth at Moon Rabbit
Scallop crudo comes in a Thai tom kha broth at Moon Rabbit
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

37. Albi

Copy Link
1346 4th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 921-9592
Visit Website

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.

38. Mama Chang

Copy Link
3251 Old Lee Hwy Ste101
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 268-5556
Visit Website

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

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 Sunday 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. Muchas Gracias

5029 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Muchas Gracias [official]

Chef Christian Irabién started this Mexican pop-up in Upper Northwest to support relief efforts for refugee chefs and hungry hospitality workers. Now a permanent fixture, Muchas Gracias has amassed a steady following for its lunchtime burritos, full of braised short ribs or charred sweet potatoes, that pay homage to the filling lunches he ate growing up in Northern Mexico and West Texas. A dinner menu offers a mix of snacks like queso fundido with mezcal-flambéed Chihuahua cheese, seasonal specials like ramp enchiladas verdes, taco platters, and a standout tres leches cake covered in flowers and berries. Call or email to reserve outdoor tables positioned in the front and back.

5029 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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. Chef Brad DeBoy is the fermenter-in-chief in charge of an ambitious cafe menu that offers rotating items 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

6. 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

7. Rooster & Owl

2436 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Rooster & Owl executive chef Yuan Tang.
Rooster & Owl executive chef Yuan Tang
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

With a propensity to mix Asian, Italian, and Middle Eastern ingredients, Rooster & Owl navigates around fusion tropes that would trip up lesser restaurants. Chef Yuan Tang’s stunner has drawn a lot of notice in its first years, winning a Michelin star in last April. Four-course feasts ($75) feature dishes like salmon crudo with coconut dashi, cacio e pepe gnocchi with truffles and walnuts, and pig ears with pistachios and pears. Dining room and patio reservations are available on Resy.

2436 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

8. 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

9. Shabu Plus

2321 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

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). There’s a $35 prix fixe lunch option, too. 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

10. 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.

1346 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009

11. Appioo African Bar & Grill

1924 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001