Everywhere You Need to Eat Right Now in Washington DC
Hangover cure sandwiches, 40-layer lasagna, and 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 the added COVID-19 considerations. And so many new restaurants have opened in the District lately, it’s enough to make our heads spin.
If all of that is making you lose your appetite, we’re here to help. We have updated our restaurant bible to feature a few excellent newcomers for 2021 and our never-fail favorites. Whether you need a quick and comforting weeknight takeout or a fine-dining experience to celebrate your ability to leave the house again, you’ll find something on this list that fits the bill.
The gist: This sleek and new Italian eatery in the Capitol Crossing development is from Chef David Deshaies (also with Unconventional Diner). It’s a massive space with 180 seats, including 20 at an elevated island bar, where you can see and be seen.
The food: The most Instagrammable dish on the menu is a lasagna that’s impossibly stacked. It’s 40-layers deep and might require two people to take down. Other early favorites at this wood-fired Italian joint include the bucatini alla carbonara and the Ocotrani pizza with pomodoro, smoked octopus, caciocavallo, plus cheese and basil.
The cost: Pizzas range from $18-23, pastas are $19-32, and family-style dishes are $48-$125
The gist: What started as a farmers market stall in 2019 has become a popular brick-and-mortar that’s serving hangover relief in the form of egg sandwiches. This opening has taken Cleveland Park by storm, plus there’s a food truck, and a Shaw location due up next.
The food: You’re here for breakfast sandwiches like “The Mayor,” served with cracked bacon, scrambled egg, American and cheddar cheese, and special sauce or the “Abe Froman,” made with Logan’s Sausage, scrambled egg, American and cheddar cheese, plus special sauce. The Cleveland Park location opens as early as 7 am and stays open until 8 pm, for either the early bird or severely hungover. Plus, there’s a heavy focus on a kid’s menu, and takeout and delivery options for when you don’t feel like leaving home.
The cost: $10-13 for an egg sandwich and the kid’s menu is $6-8.
The gist: Chef Matt Baker’s (Gravitas and Baker's Daughter) recently debuted a new French-American restaurant in the lobby of The Eaton DC Hotel. The restaurant is named after his late mother and pays homage to his French heritage and upbringing in Houston and New Orleans.
The food: At Michele’s, you can taste a wide array of cuisine from New American cooking to hometown influences, and signature French fare. From crawfish linguine to celery root tatin, each dish is bright, eclectic, and sourced locally according to season.
The cost: The menu is divided into veggie dishes ($14-18), seafood ($16-48), and meats ($34-$56)
The gist: Say hello, to the LINE Hotel’s newest restaurant, No Goodbyes. This restaurant, bar, and coffee shop all-in one is in the main lobby with 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 join for an intimate dinner.
The food: The menus feature an exciting, seasonal taste of Mid-Atlantic, 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, too. Pastry chef Alicia Wang serves up everything from an ice cream sundae to a semifreddo, and each is downright delicious.
The cost: Snacks range from $6-14 and starters run between $28-34. Desserts from $6-12.
The gist: Chef Jose Andres recently revamped his former, tapas-centric restaurant Jaleo into a more casual affair that specializes in an Iberian take to 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 a breakfast served all-day menu, including 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 includes Andres’ birthplace of Asturias, the northwest region of Spain with dishes like Fabana Asturiana, fabes stewed 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 cost: Like in Spain there is a three-course “menu del dia” for $30. Sandwiches go for $11-16 and mains range from $12-$18.
The gist: This hotly anticipated restaurant from Suresh Sundas and Dante Datta (both formerly with Rasika) is now open at the corner of Maryland Avenue and H Street, NE, and so far, the buzz has brought lines of people starting at the 5 pm seating 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 nontraditional “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.
The cost: Dishes range from $16-26. Sides are $6-12. Cocktails are $14, and dessert is $8.
How to book: Dinner is first-come, first-serve for indoor and patio dining from 5-10 pm.
The gist: Crazy Aunt Helen’s is a newer addition to Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row, and it brings a homey, eclectic vibe with Southern flair to the block. The vibe makes it feel as if you’re eating at your auntie’s house, and that means there’s tender love and care built into every dish.
The food: The menu includes family-inspired dishes like Bega’s Brisket, a version of chef Mykie Moll’s grandmother’s traditional Jewish-style brisket with horseradish aioli, mashed potatoes, and carrot vichy. In addition to comfort food, the menu reflects seasonal ingredients, as well as vegan options, like a vegan-style crab cake with smoked asparagus, redskin potatoes, and hollandaise sauce. Crazy Aunt Helen’s serves lunch and dinner, and starting this month, will host dinner-and-a-show performances on the second-floor stage.
The cost: Main dishes range from $16-$32.
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 recently introduced an expanded seven-course 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. Jacob Weinstein, Shilling's beverage director and general manager, 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 cost: The seven-course tasting menu is $95 with an optional beverage pairing for $55. Meanwhile, the three-course tasting menu is $55, plus $35 for beverage pairings. And main a-la-carte dishes range from $28-$46.
The gist: Salvadoran immigrants are smoking the best version of Texas-style barbecue in the DMV at this charming pithouse in Riverdale Park, which recently opened a 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 cost: Brisket starts at $12 per half-pound, a full rack of ribs is $27, and pulled pork by the pound is $13.99.
The gist: A lauded Levant-inspired restaurant also known for its sister bakery and cafe, Yellow’s flaky pastries, pita sandwiches, and tahini caramel brownies.
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 cost: Most dishes range from $15 to $38.
The gist: Meet your sushi date night spot over at The Wharf. The sleek, waterside digs have already become a mainstay since the restaurant and are only beat by Nara-Ya’s menu, which features Japanese cuisine from two extremely talented chefs—DC’s chef Kaz Okochi (KAZ Sushi Bistro) and Lucas Irwin, who studied under Iron Chef celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto.
The food: The menu is centered on modern and classic dishes from Japanese cuisine. Take for instance the umami-laden tofu and shitake mushroom steak, marinated in a lemongrass miso glaze, or the colorful vegetable futomaki, a mosaic-style sushi roll made with seasonal vegetables. Sake and Japanese whiskey tastings are also popular thanks to a versatile and extensive list.
The cost: Small plates range from $12-24. Entrees from $24-45. The five-course omakase is $85 per person and the chef’s luxury omakase is $155.
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 cost: Main dishes range from $14-$29. Wines are $14-$18 by the glass. Cocktails are $15.
The gist: As they say in New Orleans—lez le bon temps rouler! And the good times definitely roll at Dauphine’s, a new 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 with 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 cost: Entrees range from $14-29, and cocktails start at $12.
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. It’s the latest addition to The Roost and is the first standalone concept from the food hall.
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.
The cost: Appetizers from $10-$15, mains from $18-38, desserts $9-10.
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 to a soon-to-come takeout spot in Brookland.
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 cost: Most tacos range from $4-5 each. Sides and sweets like guac and chips, churros, and street corn range from $4-8.
The gist: A “sorta South American” cafe, restaurant, and bar with breakfast tacos and bagels that truly shine.
The food: Mercy Me is the brainchild of two restaurant industry couples—executive chef Johanna Hellrigl (formerly of Doi Moi) and beverage director Micah Wilder (co-owner of Chaplin’s), alongside co-founders Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira of Timber Pizza and Call Your Mother—so you can expect some seriously great eats. Whether you’re looking for breakfast tacos or a bacon, egg, and cheese served up on a CYM bagel for breakfast or anticuchos skewers made with juicy sirloin steak and a refreshing pina colada for happy hour, Mercy Me has you covered. The spot’s all-day vibe means you can order breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with free wifi and plenty of space to mingle with friends.
The cost: Bites range from $4-6, mains range from $10-26, and drinks are around $10 each.
The gist: A fresh culinary team is breathing new life into this fiery Michelin-starred restaurant that showcases the flavors of the Silk Road.
The food: Maydan is currently offering a prix-fixe “Tawle” experience. 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 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 cost: The Twale menu is $65 per person. Drinks range from $7-15.
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.
The cost: Dishes range from $4-14.
Rooster & Owl
The gist: The farmers’ 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 cost: The tasting menu is $75 per person with add-ons and beverage pairings available.
The gist: This neighborhood bar serves up quintessential wings and burgers, plus weekend brunch.
The food: Boundary Stone is as close as it gets to DC’s Cheers bar, so when it announced it was closing temporarily last year, several people were worried, and rightfully so. Thankfully, this neighborhood restaurant and pub, known for its signature wings, honey hot chicken sandwich, and build-your-own burgers, is back. The latest add-on is brunch, which features cinnamon rolls, French toast, and of course, a breakfast burger.
The cost: Dishes are $9-$24, and the weekend brunch menu features options from $5-21.
The gist: Immigrant Food showcases a global array of flavors, and the restaurant supports nonprofit causes channeling donors, volunteers, and groups 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 cost: Sandwiches, bowls, and sides at this fast-casual restaurant range from $8-15 each.
The gist: Nothing will fill you up more than hearty Georgian-style lasagna and cheesy, buttery khachapuri.
The food: This come-as-you-are eatery from the team behind Supra has a budget-friendly menu and quick service style that makes Tabla an all around winner. It’s also a choice spot for breakfast or brunch with a new breakfast khachapuri, adding roasted root vegetables and cheese topped with a fried egg. Also new is the achma, sometimes referred to as Georgian lasagna. It’s a traditional dish made with khachapuri-dough noodles, cheese and butter, and the kitchen at Tabla adds caramelized onions.
The cost: Dishes range $6-15. Add any bottle of wine for $30-60.
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 your food 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 fall tasting menu features a savory pecan mousse with broccoli, Asian pear, and radish, plus many other tasty vegetables and local oyster dishes. Pair it all with organic and biodynamic wines.
The cost: Tasting menu is $75 per person. Wine pairings are $55.
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 and fried chicken sandwich.
The cost: Food, coffee, wine, and pantry items range from $2-32.
The gist: The mother-daughter team formerly behind Toli Moli is continuing its mission to share Burmese food and culture at their full-service restaurant.
The food: The food draws from Burmese family traditions. Starters include cauliflower and onion fritters, chicken salad with fish sauce, and mont phet thoke, a cold rice noodle salad with fish sauce, cabbage, and roasted shrimp powder. A must-try main dish is the tandoori pan seared tofu served with roasted cauliflower and black sticky rice with sesame salt.
The cost: Dishes range from $10-25.