Where to Eat Near the National Mall
From grab-and-go eateries to steakhouses and oyster bars, these are the best restaurants in DC near the National Mall.
Between the famed cherry blossoms adding color to the area each spring, awe-inspiring monuments, and Smithsonian museums that are completely free to visit, there are plenty of reasons to visit the National Mall for tourists and locals alike.
After a day walking around and sightseeing in our nation’s capital, it’s guaranteed you’ll work up an appetite. Luckily, DC is also a destination for dining, so look beyond the food trucks lining the tourist-covered walkways and you’ll find plenty of great restaurants located along the National Mall and near major attractions—if you know where to find them. From some of the area’s top steakhouses and sushi restaurants to more casual spots to enjoy happy hour, here are the best restaurants near the National Mall.
If you meander from the Tidal Basin over to The Wharf, an excellent spot for waterfront dining is at The Grill, which recently opened to critical acclaim. Chef Roberto Santibañez offers a menu focused on grilling over charcoal and pecan with a heavy emphasis on steak. Alongside cuts like a petit filet mignon and New York strip, the chef pays homage to his Mexican roots with a chimichurri sauce that’s an essential accompaniment to any order.
Immigrant Food showcases a global array of flavors, and the restaurant supports nonprofit causes channeling donors, volunteers, and groups that support immigrants. Chef Enrique Limardo draws most of his inspiration from coastal cuisine in his home country of Venezuela and Caracas street food, but his menu at Immigrant Food is truly global and reflects on his work in kitchens around the world. From a Viet Vibes bowl that highlights Vietnamese and Caribbean cuisine to a weekend brunch with Mediterranean mezze, Canadian poutine, and Cuban sandwiches, you can explore multiple cuisines in a single meal at Immigrant Food’s locations downtown and inside the Planet Word Museum.
How to book: Via website.
José Andrés, the lauded chef, restaurateur, and humanitarian, has become a DC celebrity in his own right. But before he had several restaurants in the area and even more outposts across the country, he had Jaleo. The Penn Quarter restaurant has been a staple since 1993 and features a slate of Spanish tapas like pan con tomate, patatas bravas, and flamenquines, plus flowing sangria, perfect for sharing after a long day of exploring The District. If you’re in town looking for a taste of the chef’s empire, go to the restaurant that started it all in DC.
Located just steps from the White House, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, & Stone Crab is a buzzy and sleek steakhouse with excellent cuts and a deal-driven happy hour. During the week from 2:30 to 6 pm after you're worn out from a museum tip, get half-priced oysters, signature cocktails, and heavily discounted wines and beer by the glass. Stay for dinner and order the surf & turf. It’s a filet Oscar stuffed with Alaskan king crab, asparagus, and bearnaise sauce—aka a delightful old-school classic.
This bright yellow townhouse stands out for the marble surroundings of Capitol Hill, and it’s situated within view of the U.S. Capitol, making it a perfect lunch or dinner option by the National Mall. The menu offers fresh seafood and steak options, including premium Angus beef and spicy lump crab imperial served with sliced avocado. It’s an authentic and old-school American steakhouse with a full-service bar, and this elegant eatery also has quite the track record. It’s been a fixture for Capitol Hill politico-types since 1960, and you’re more than likely to spot members of Congress as you dine.
Old Ebbitt Grill
Located right across from DC’s most famous address is one of the most iconic restaurants in The District. Old Ebbitt Grill is an institution known best for oysters and other raw bar favorites, which also recently reopened its atrium and has ample dining space for larger parties. You simply can’t beat the happy hour specials. A dozen oysters on the half-shell and a half-dozen are $12 are $24 from 4 to 5 pm daily, perfect for capping off a day exploring the National Mall. The oysters come from up and down the East Coast, including Moondance oysters from Maine, Blish Point oysters from Massachusetts, and Standish Shore oysters from New York. Beyond the old-school restaurant’s raw bar offerings, you’ll find burgers, jumbo lump crab cakes, and other classic American dishes that can be enjoyed in the sprawling dining room or saddled up to the bar.
The best al-fresco dining on the National Mall is at the National Gallery of Art’s beloved Sculpture Garden. Expect a bistro-like setting with great people watching, plus modernist sculptures and the chance to cool off by the central fountain. The restaurant recently rolled out a feature that allows guests to order online, which is a great way to skip the lines during peak tourism season. Top dishes include grab-and-go specials like a prosciutto sandwich, vegetarian Asian salad, and a slate of coffee bar and pastry options.
This any-time diner is a reliable and affordable option on Capitol HIll that is also a favorite with members of Congress rising early for flapjacks or bacon and eggs. What most diners might not realize is beyond diner classics and breakfast served all day, this mom-and-pop restaurant offers a selection of Korean fare, including spicy bulgogi bowls served as a special.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar
What started as an oyster shucking outpost in DC’s Union Market has now turned into a flagship restaurant in The Wharf neighborhood, the location of the historic Southwest Municipal Fish Market. Rappahannock Oyster Company is one of the most lauded oyster producers in the Chesapeake Bay region, hailing from Virginia’s Northern Neck region. Expect tasty small plates and entrees, including arguably the best crab cakes in town, as well as tuna tartare and oysters served on the half shell or fried to perfection. The beer and wine lists are impressive, and the cocktail program highlights seasonal flavors and local distillers.
In a city of stand-out sushi spots, this omakase menu is among the best. The nigiri-exclusive menu at Sushi Nakazawa consists of almost two dozen pieces of sushi, with several seafood cuts sourced directly from Japan and flown in daily. Partner Alessandro Borgognone and chef Daisuke Nakazawa are the forces behind this destination restaurant, and it just so happens the latter apprenticed at Sukiyabashi Jiro, under Jiro Ono of Jiro Dreams of Sushi himself. The omakase experience is worth the splurge at $180 per person at the counter and $150 in the dining room. Just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time—you won’t be able to stumble off the Mall and into a seat at this bucket-list worthy restaurant.
Sweet Home Cafe
Tune Inn Restaurant & Bar
Tune Inn is a Capitol Hill institution and dive bar serving juicy burgers and other bar fare favorites. In addition to famous mozzarella sticks, mac-n-cheese wedges, and buffalo wings, the most eye-catching dish on the menu is the deep-fried, Beer-battered burger that even Guy Fieri has tried. Tune Inn also offers breakfast starting at 9 am on weekends and offered as an all-day option for those who prefer to sleep in.
If you’re over by the Lincoln Memorial, take an easy walk north to The Kennedy Center to a park that opened in 2020 featuring ample greenspace, a performing arts venue, and a wine and beer garden, called Ventura Park. You can bring a picnic blanket or even a leashed furry friend to this venue with plenty of outdoor seating. The grilling station features simple but tasty options from brats to burgers and chicken sandwiches, and new this year, Victura Park has expanded to indoor dining for when the weather turns sour. In addition to a phenomenal drink list, this is also the perfect place to post selfies in front of some iconic sculptures and architecture.