Tourists descend on the White House and the surrounding area regularly in D.C. (during each spring in particular). But the iconic landmark is also located smack in the middle of D.C.’s bustling downtown neighborhood. As a result, the area holds restaurant destinations that go beyond medicore tourist-trap restaurants. Here is a selection of the best ones to try, representing a mix of prices and atmospheres (even if expense-account restaurants often reign supreme in this area).Read More
Where To Avoid Tourist Trap Restaurants Near the White House in D.C.
There are actually good places to eat near the landmark
Expect long lines at brunch at this longtime sandwich shop, which serves everythging from Merguez sausage sandwiches to salami and cheese on a baguette. Offerings change depending on the day of the week.
Teaism Lafayette Park
The underrated Teaism has been serving simple, Asian-dishes like cilantro scrambled eggs and udon for years. They also have a diverse selection of teas (naturally) and some sweets like their cult-favorite salty oatmeal cookie.
The Oval Room
Another higher-end offering from owner Ashok Bajaj, The Oval Room is now overseen by chef Bryan Moscatello. Dishes here tend to lean seasonal, and seafood is a sure bet. A $27 prix-fixe lunch, a $20 lunch at the bar and a $39 pre-theater menu can help prevent sticker shock among tourists.
Equinox was one the early pioneers of the local food movement in D.C. Today, Todd Gray’s new American restaurant also caters to vegans with a brunch and a tasting menu.
This high-end Indian institution from restaurateur Ashok Bajaj is a major destination for spotting D.C. power players. But discriminating diners head here for dishes like lamb vindaloo kale chaat, and thali sampler platters.
BLT Steak DC
This modern steakhouse chain puts a particular emphasis on Wagyu beef. Tuna tartare and those monster-sized popovers are other customer favorites.
Off the Record
Off the Record is the bar within the renowned Hay-Adams hotel. The walls are filled with political caricatures, and the seats are often filled with journalists or politicos, and it’s a place to order a martini or Manhattan and be satisfied. Hotel bars and old-school drinking dens are prominent in this neighborhood — also consider ordering a mint julep from the nearby Round Robin.
Rare Steakhouse & Tavern
Steaks and seafood, unsurprisingly, are aplenty at this import, which excels at service. Diners will find more affordable fare in the Tavern downstairs, including addictive fried cheese curds and other Midwestern touches.
This unpretentious bar is a relatively new addition to the neighborhood. It comes from the owners of some of D.C.’s most trusted watering holes, Solly’s and The Pug. Expect more neighborhood bar, less fancy cocktail den. Crowds appear at happy hour.
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Yet another steakhouse, yes, but one where diners can find stone crab, lobster-topped salads and attentive maitre d’s. Joe’s is much more affordable around cocktail hour, which starts at 2:30 p.m. but the secret is out, so skip out of work early to snag a table.
Old Ebbitt Grill
D.C.’s oldest restaurant is always filled with lobbyists, tourists, and even occasionally locals. Those locals, though, know that the restaurant is at its most consistent and most affordable during its raw bar happy hour.
Woodward Takeout Food
Woodward Takeout Food (cheekily nicknamed WTF) offers cheffy sandwiches ranging from fried chicken to cauliflower gyros, along with flatbreads and salads. There are breakfast sandwiches in the mornings, too.
Occidental Grill & Seafood Restaurant
The Occidental is one of those places that feels unequivocally D.C. Presidential portraits grace the walls, and the more than one-hundred-year-old restaurant has been the cause of political dramas and celebrity sightings for decades. Seafood’s a draw here; the patio is a festive bet in the warmer months for bison hot dogs and even a spin on D.C.’s half-smoke.
This newish addition to D.C.’s sushi scene offers pristine fish and intricate rolls. They’re on the expensive side, but the dollars invested can earn diners fuku (blowfish), an elegant chirashi sampler, and more.
Owned by Clyde’s Restaurant Group, the Hamilton is a crowd-pleaser, serving everything from wings to boozy milkshakes to even sushi (there’s a dedicated bar in the back of the restaurant). Despite the spacious layout, the restaurant (which doubles as an entertainment venue) fills up quickly.