Everywhere You Need to Eat in DC Right Now
A chill pizzeria-brewery hybrid, opulent Indian fare, and so much more.
Making a decision about where to eat these days is a serious ordeal. On top of the normal decision paralysis of figuring out what you’re in the mood for, there are added considerations like: How do I score a reservation? Do they have outdoor dining? Can I book a table for a larger group? Or is there a to-go option? Plus with so many new restaurants opening in the District lately, it’s enough to make our heads spin.
If all of that is enough to make you lose your appetite, don’t worry because we’re here to help. Our ultimate DC restaurant guide is updated to feature a few excellent newcomers that have already wowed us in 2022, and our never-fail favorites that provide some of the city’s most iconic eating experiences. So, whether you need a quick and comforting weeknight option or a fine-dining experience to celebrate, you’ll find something on this list that fits the bill.
The gist: Known for luxe Indian dining that took the District by storm in 2019, Punjab Grill reopened with a new look, name, and menu. RANIA held onto the former restaurant’s opulent feel to serve up unexpected takes on Indian cuisine in a dining room with sleek finishes like an Onyx bar and bone inlay tables.
The menu: Executive Chef Chetan Shetty has sourced rare spices and ingredients for each menu offering like chile spice blends from Delhi and special garlic blends from Maharashtra. For $75 or $90, guests can select from a three- or four-course menu, each with a handful of options, including early favorites like 18-hour sous vide lamb wrapped in cheela, a savory Indian pancake, or chicken kofta topped with an excessive amount of white truffle for added decadence. Coming soon is a chef’s tasting menu offered at $125 per person.
How to book: Reservations via Tock
The gist: This family-style Italian restaurant sticks to a simple menu of pasta, antipasti, and hearty mains sure to leave everyone at the table happy. There’s also a “bambini” menu for the kids and a lush patio overlooking Eastern Market, making this an enticing place to sit and linger as Italians do.
The menu: Start with a glass (or jar for sharing) of the grapefruit Aperol spritz. Then order up a few antipasti dishes—the dry-aged beef carpaccio and housemade burrata offer a nice salty-savory combination. For mains, it’s hard not to load up on pasta, from the thick and creamy cacio e pepe bucatini to the rigatoni and lamb. You must always save room for dessert, the vanilla panna cotta comes topped with rhubarb and fresh basil from the herb garden on the patio.
The gist: Chef and owner Thomas Harvey’s goal for his new 2,600-square-foot counter service restaurant is to become the go-to neighborhood spot in Falls Church. To aid that mission, the all-day restaurant cafe is stocked with house-made sandwiches, pastries, pastas, and other dishes prepared over the open flame.
The menu: Locally sourced seasonal ingredients drive the menu. Guests can look forward to entrees like cedar plank salmon with hot honey roasted root vegetables, fennel, and Cippolini chutney, or the porter-braised Seven Hills beef short ribs with parmesan polenta, mushrooms, and green beans and topped with braised jus. Save room for one of the tempting desserts which include honey cake and a killer banana split, incorporating topplings like honey roasted peanuts, popcorn, and chocolate and caramel sauce.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, order ahead on Tock.
The gist: This long-awaited second act for the team from Cane, including Jeanine Prime and chef Emma Hernandez, offers guests a taste of the Caribbean with African, East Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, and French influences.
The menu: Find several island staples like callaloo soup which has pureed spinach, chilies, and coconut milk, and is topped with lump crab meat. Larger formatted plates are meant for sharing, including the Trini-style taro dumplings and pepper shrimp served with a scotch bonnet and pimento chili sauce and creamy corn-based puree called coo coo. Do not miss out on the paratha platter, which for $60 features an assortment of duck, beef, and vegetable curries served with murtani, a spicy mix of roasted okra, tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic.
Nighthawk Brewery & Pizza
The gist: Lauded chef Johnny Spero went casual for this pizza parlor that channels the ‘80s. With help from Aslin Beer Company, Nighthawk is a pizzeria and brewery hybrid dishing out tavern-style pizza and top-notch brews.
The menu: First and foremost, the happy hour menu is inflation-proof. Find $5 drafts, rail drinks, and wines, plus $8 pies and half-off all starters and salads. Beyond the weekday 3 to 6 pm window, you’ll still find an eclectic mix of decently priced pies—from hot honey and clam pizza to standard bearers like sausage and pepperoni. The OKC onion burger and smoked chicken sandwich are can’t miss orders and come served with a side of tots.
The gist: Chef Nicholas Stefanelli may be best known for Italian fare at Officina and the Michelin-starred tasting room experience at Masseria, but his recently opened crown jewel is a Greek concept called Philotimo that is quickly winning the hearts of DC food lovers.
The menu: The five-course menu covers Greek fine dining and is served in a chic dining room setting that feels as if you’ve been transported to Milos. This restaurant also imports specialty cheeses, wild herbs, and olive oil from the homeland, plus it has an extensive wine menu representing Greek regions from Thessaloniki to the island of Crete.
How to book: Via Tock
The gist: This Italian-Japanese restaurant was first credited with bringing “wafu” (Japanese-style) pasta and pizza to Washington. Earlier this year, it reopened after an almost two-year-long pandemic pause, and we can’t think of two better seats in town to book than the bar overlooking the pizza prep station.
The food: Tonari’s menu features pasta made in Sapporo, Japan and includes several variations to choose from like noodles covered in XO sauce and topped with bonito and Spam, or a tagliatelle bolognese with nduja and Japan’s S&B brand curry. Katsuya Fukushima is one of the city’s most celebrated chefs, and his team is loyal to wafu-style pizzas, like the pepperoni pie with Japanese brick cheese and shoyu-pickled jalapenos. Small plate dishes include confit sunchokes with dill and orange and vinegar-poached beets with endives in a yuzu-oregano dressing over fonduta.
Ruthie’s All Day
The gist: Ruthie’s All Day is an all-day, any-day kind of hangout with a comfort food menu that centers on dishes from a custom-built, wood-burning hearth.
The menu: Come for coffee or free wifi but stay to indulge whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Mr. W’s biscuit is one of the best bets at breakfast—this sausage and scrambled egg biscuit comes with the option to top it with cheddar or goat cheese. Or get messy in a juicy “rad” burger (on both the lunch or dinner menu) or some finger-licking good smoked spare ribs.
The gist: Rob Sonderman’s latest fried chicken concept in Petworth channels the vibes of a spot “where funky meets fancy,” and he’s delivering buckets of fun with mouthwatering and crispy-fried chicken.
The menu: Honeymoon Chicken transports diners with sandwiches like the honey garlic chicken banh mi and a crispy mushroom sandwich that’s veggie-friendly. This new eatery occupies what was once the Formica-countertop diner known as Slim’s. It’s still got plenty of retro-flare, but the menu has changed its tune thanks to Sonderman, who is also The Federalist Pig’s pitmaster.
The gist: What started as a farmer’s market stall in 2019 has become a popular brick-and-mortar serving hangover relief in the form of egg sandwiches. This somewhat-new opening has taken Cleveland Park by storm and recently opened a second location in Shaw.
The food: It’s simple: You’re here for breakfast sandwiches. The Mayor is served with cracked bacon, scrambled egg, American and cheddar cheeses, and slathered in special sauce, while the Abe Froman is made with Logan’s Sausage, scrambled egg, American and cheddar cheeses, plus special sauce. With more than a dozen options all served on fluffy toasted challah, there’s something for everyone.
The gist: Say hello to the LINE Hotel’s restaurant, No Goodbyes. This restaurant, bar, and coffee shop all-in-one in the main lobby delivers a lively mix of casual dining options for morning, noon, and night. Pop in daily for breakfast and lunch at the counter service coffee shop, dine and drink at the bar any day of the week, or book a seat for an intimate dinner.
The food: The menus feature an exciting, seasonal taste of Mid Atlantic- and Bay-inspired dishes and drinks from executive chef Opie Crooks. His not-to-miss dishes include a crab dip and Chesapeake oysters. Save room for dessert, as pastry chef Alicia Wang serves up everything from an epic ice cream sundae to a semifreddo, and each is downright delicious.
The gist: Chef Jose Andres recently revamped his former, tapas-centric restaurant Jaleo into a more casual affair that specializes in an Iberian take on the American diner, complete with jamon and fried eggs and other fresh takes on greasy spoon classics.
The food: Chefs Nicolas Lopez and Daniel Lugo offer breakfast served all day with dishes like Spain’s famed huevos rotos casa lucio. Translation: Eggs fried in olive oil served atop crispy potatoes, as one does in Madrid. The menu also highlights Andres’ birthplace of Asturias, the northwest region of Spain, with dishes like fabada asturiana, a bean stew with morcilla, chorizo, and smoked Iberico pork bacon. The beverage program, guided by bartender Miguel Lancha, features Spanish favorites including several gin and tonics, sangrias, and Spanish beers and wines.
The gist: Suresh Sundas and Dante Datta (formerly of Rasika) teamed up at the corner of Maryland Avenue and H Street, NE for a buzzy restaurant that has brought lines of people starting at 5 pm and continuing all night long.
The food: Daru is inspired by the history, culture, and flavors of India. The menu has classic dishes like chicken tikka masala, paneer pesto korma, and wild mushroom biryani. But there are also several “Indian-ish” takes, like desi guacamole served with naan chips and a roasted sweet potato and cauliflower salad. The bridge to India also extends to the bar, where spices and flavors transform cocktails, like the Hari Daiquiri which calls for rum, lime, mint, cilantro, and kefir—it’s a drink inspired by the taste of green chutney.
How to book: Via Tock
Shilling Canning Company
The gist: An outstanding seasonally driven menu featuring sustainably sourced produce from the Mid-Atlantic plus several house-made preserves.
The food: Shilling Canning Company serves a tasting menu at the chef's counter, similar to the three-course menu available in the dining room and on the garden patio. The tasting menu changes each week and features local fishermen in the Chesapeake region, as well as partner farms from Maryland and Virginia. Alexandra Bookless Turner, Shilling's beverage director, has designed an optional beverage pairing that adeptly picks from a variety of wines, spirits, and cocktails—several of which incorporate leftovers from the kitchen, so no ingredient goes to waste.
The gist: Salvadoran immigrants are smoking the best version of Texas-style barbecue in the DMV at this charming pithouse in Riverdale Park, with a smaller vendor stall in Union Market.
The food: You’re here for the wagyu brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and sausage links. It’s also strongly encouraged that you order in advance or else risk the inevitable sell outs that happen on these dishes daily. A favorite dish, by far, is the brisket pupusa, which seamlessly blends two cooking traditions together—Salvadoran and American-style barbecue.
The gist: A Levant-inspired restaurant also known for its sister bakery and cafe, Yellow, which doles out flaky pastries, pita sandwiches, and tahini caramel brownies all day. The bakery recently expanded with a second shop in Georgetown.
The food: Much of the food at Albi comes from the coals of the hearth, like prawns with harissa garlic butter and smoked chicken with corn succotash and pepper tahini. There are also Turkish-style Manti dumplings from chef Michael Rafidi, while the beverage team has curated an impressive selection of Middle Eastern wines and cocktails, like the Jaffa Orange—a citrus-based drink with vodka, orange juice, Don Ciccio & Figli Mandarinetto, and orange blossom.
The gist: This husband and wife team runs a Cantonese-style restaurant serving Hong Kong cuisine with a twist. The dining room is well dressed and the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion.
The food: Chef Henji Cheung grew up eating and cooking traditional Cantonese and Hakkanese dishes with his family, and his menu reflects this upbringing. Expect fresh seafood, housemade silken tofu, and Hong Kong pin noodles. Meanwhile, Sarah Thompson curates an extensive list of natural wines to match the flavors of the menu. Several bottles come from small family vineyards using minimal invention in their wine-making process.
The gist: As they say in New Orleans—lez le bon temps rouler! And the good times definitely roll at Dauphine’s, a restaurant that pays homage to the Crescent City.
The food: Expect an abundance of New Orleans-themed dishes, like lightly dusted beignets, seafood gumbo, and a raw bar that greets you at the door. Chef Kristen Essig called the Big Easy home for more than two decades and developed the menu and concept alongside chef and partner Kyle Bailey (also of The Salt Line). The duo utilizes Mid-Atlantic seafood including soft shell crabs, Chesapeake oysters, and rockfish. Order up a hurricane, and you might feel as if you’ve been transported to the French Quarter, and you can also find other expertly crafted cocktails from Neal Bodenheimer, owner of Cure, a top bar in New Orleans, and beverage director Donato Alvarez (The Salt Line).
The gist: Modeled off a classic red-sauce joint, Caruso’s Grocery features classic Italian fare like you might order in The Bronx, Brooklyn, or Bergen County.
The food: Find handmade pastas dressed up in dishes like rigatoni alla vodka and five cheese ravioli, plus hand-pulled mozzarella with basil marinated tomatoes, chicken parmigiana, pork chops pizzaiola-style to round out the menu by chef Matt Adler. The restaurant also offers dessert classics, like New York-style cheesecake with strawberry preserves and a transcendent tiramisu.
Little Miner Taco
The gist: After garnering a devoted following for its trendy birria tacos, Little Miner is rapidly expanding across the DMV from food hall stalls in North Bethesda and Brentwood, plus a roaming food truck.
The food: Little Miner is best known for its birria tacos, which you can purchase individually alongside a cup of savory beef consomme. But don’t miss other standouts like carne asada fries and queso-wrapped burritos. Each location has unique appeal with exclusive menu items like birria ramen at Pike & Rose and birria steak and cheese available from the roving food truck that makes its way through Baltimore.
The gist: This fiery Michelin-starred restaurant showcases the flavors of the Silk Road.
The food: In addition to an a la carte menu with dips, kebabs, and fire-roasted proteins, Maydan currently has a prix-fixe “Tawle” experience that ensures your table features all of the menu’s stars. Meaning “table” in Arabic, this family-style menu is intended to be shared with a group and features spreads, small plates, vegetables, and meats from the hearth, as well as a center plate that is your choice of whole grilled fish, ribeye, or lamb shank. Everything pairs beautifully with the assortment of spice-laden condiments and fresh Georgian bread, and it can be enjoyed at the restaurant or in your own home.
The gist: This takeout kitchen offers tasty fried chicken sandwiches alongside vegan-friendly dishes.
The food: Expect a made-from-scratch meal served up in minutes from this takeout spot in Anacostia that is a family affair run by Abigail Opare and her three sons. Crab bites are a nice nod to the region, and you can start off with a few side orders, several of which are vegan friendly, including plantains, sauteed kale with lemon vinegar, and coconut rice. The main attractions are heartier dishes, like fried chicken sandwiches, shrimp and grits, mac n’ cheese, and vegan options like peanut soup and spinach stew.
Rooster & Owl
The gist: The farmer’s market dictates the menu at this build-your-own tasting menu restaurant where sharing is encouraged.
The food: The offerings change based on what’s in season, but each guest gets to choose their courses for the tasting menu from a selection of vegetable-forward dishes. Right now, highlights include watermelon with green curry and herbs, ravioli with grilled corn and lemon beurre fondue, seafood paella, and a cornflake bakewell tart.
The gist: Immigrant Food showcases a global array of flavors, and the restaurant supports nonprofit causes that support immigrants.
The food: 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. Limardo has worked in kitchens around the world and his restaurant’s food reflects that with dishes like Madam VP’s heritage bowl that fuses Jamaican and Indian flavors and a Viet Vibes bowl that highlights Vietnamese and Caribbean cuisine. The latest addition is a weekend brunch with Mediterranean mezze, Canadian poutine, and Cuban sandwiches, and the restaurant recently opened its second location inside the Planet Word Museum.
The gist: This innovative restaurant and bar is thriving on U Street with sustainability in mind, from the preparation of each dish to the way takeout is packed and delivered to avoid excessive waste.
The food: Mid-Atlantic vegetables take center stage at Oyster Oyster. Chef Rob Rubba honors producers who share an ethos of environmentally friendly farming and ingredients that are sourced and foraged locally. The summer tasting menu features savory whole roasted lion’s mane mushrooms with black garlic, pickles, and lettuce, plus many other tasty vegetables and local oyster dishes. Pair it all with organic and biodynamic wines.
The gist: This all-day cafe situated in the former Heller’s Bakery space is celebrated for more than its baked goods.
The food: Ellē has always been a go-to for daytime fare like coffee, quiche, sandwiches, salads, and a unique selection of sweet and savory pastries and breads, from scones and hand pies to country sourdough and caraway rye loaves. But the restaurant’s dinner service has returned, so you can enjoy chef Brad Deboy’s lauded kimchi toast, fried chicken sandwich, and ever-changing specials.