Mortality is no one’s favorite topic, so let’s just call this exercise what it is: the ultimate DC bucket list of must-try foods. They’re delicious, iconic, and most of all, memorable. So make sure you try them before you punch out of life, or more realistically, until you get tired of everyone arguing politics all the time.
Meats & FoodsAddress and Info
Sorry Ben’s, the half smoke at Meats & Foods is the best in the city. The sausages are made daily in-house, are cooked to order, and come with a slightly startling amount of heat. Stick to the traditional toppings of chili, mustard, and onions diced so thin, a ninja mouse must have chopped them.
Compass RoseAddress and Info
Let’s be honest: eggs, butter, and cheese are the stuff dreams are made of. Kudos to the little country of Georgia for figuring out how to combine these ingredients oh so well in a big bread hot tub. Even bigger kudos to Compass Rose for perfecting the dish, so we don’t have to shell out a ticket to Tbilisi to try it.
2 Amy’sAddress and Info
No need to overcomplicate things at this Neapolitan pizzeria. Tomato, mozzarella di bufala, and cherry tomatoes do the trick. You probably care more about the taste than this footnote, but take note that 2 Amy’s pizza has D.O.C. status (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), meaning the Italian government has given it the nod that it's properly adhering to tradition.
EthiopicAddress and Info
H St NE
The Ethiopian take on beef tartare is irresistible, especially at Ethiopic now that Zenebech closed. Grab some sour, squishy injera bread and use it as a vehicle to get raw, seasoned beef to your mouth along with little scoops of greens and cottage cheese. If you’re squeamish about beef that hasn’t seen heat, there’s a fully cooked version too.
Amsterdam FalafelAddress and Info
Adams Morgan/14th Street
Congratulate yourself in the morning after settling on a five-ball falafel sandwich as your after-hours food last night. Even though Amsterdam Falafel shines brightest late night, its fried-to-perfection falafel and zippy toppings are good even when the sun's out.
Pork and lychee salad
Rose’s LuxuryAddress and Info
This dish really put Rose’s Luxury on the map. A map that everyone seemingly has, because the lines are as long as ever to try Aaron Silverman’s food. Maybe if you divulge your impending death situation, some nice Midwesterner will let you cut in. Aaron’s magic bowl contains pork sausage, plump lychees, creamy coconut, habanero peppers, and herbs.
Toki UndergroundAddress and Info
H Street NE
This bowl unites Japan and Korea -- not an easy feat these days. You’ll want to drink up the kimchi-infused broth that serves as a pool for pulled pork, greens, a soft egg, pickled ginger, sheets of cabbage kimchi, and whatever else you want to add on (Chicken oysters! Pork cheeks! Chicken butt!).
Little SerowAddress and Info
You like ribs. You like whiskey. Why? Because you’re an American. Now expand your horizons to try them together: Little Serow’s signature dish calls for pork ribs that have soaked in Mekhong spirit. The addition of smoke, a little sweetness, and fresh dill makes it a fitting grand finale to a Northern Thai feast.
Mangialardo'sAddress and Info
More specifically, you’re getting a fully loaded “G” Man from this DC institution and you’re getting it on a hard roll. That roll will contain ham, salami, mortadella, pepperoni, fontina, provolone, oregano, and if you ask for it, hot peppers. The funk of the fontina is what will bring you back for this sando again and again.
Super Grilled Cheese
Stoney’sAddress and Info
This after-school snack-turned bar food is a crowd pleaser because of the buttery crunch of the bread and melty American cheese that tastes very far from organic. Get the original, the Super (with tomato, bacon, and onion), or ask for your grilled cheese “Freddy Style” and see what happens.
Marcel’sAddress and Info
If this sausage were a hotel, it would be a five-star chateau in the Champagne region of France. For real, that’s where boudin blanc comes from, and it’s traditionally eaten during Christmas. Marcel’s currently serves its delectable version with celery root puree, Chanterelle mushrooms, foie gras poultry jus, and summer truffle.
Fast GourmetAddress and Info
The gas station that’s okay to eat in continues to churn out top-of-the line chivito sandwiches. A soft roll plays host to pork tenderloin, mozzarella, Black Forest ham, bacon, green olives, hard-boiled eggs, escabeche, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. They even urge you to order it with a fried egg on top. This seems like a particularly good idea on weekends when it stays open until 5am.
MakettoAddress and Info
H Street NE
Maketto continues to rack up the accolades, due in large part to Erik Bruner-Yang’s Taiwanese fried chicken and bread, which has proven to be an instant classic. It’s everything it should be: sweet, sticky, spicy, and crunchy. There’s even buttery bread to use to soak up sauce so good you’ll develop romantic feelings for it.
Homemade peanut butter bacon pop-tart
Ted’s BulletinAddress and Info
Barracks Row/14th Street
If you’re going to eat a retro treat, don’t settle for strawberry -- after all, those are the Pop-Tarts said to be the most flammable. Get the Peanut Butter Bacon Ted Tart instead and channel your inner Elvis.
Duffy’s Irish PubAddress and Info
U Street NW
Duffy’s has been a staple of “best wings in DC” lists for years. Surprisingly, they aren't your typical Frank’s-and-butter wing: Instead, Duffy’s ladles their sauce, a secret house blend, over the top of the crispy chicken. As you mow your way through the plate, the wings on the bottom get rolled about, soaking up the saucy goodness that gradually drips downward. Crunchy, creamy, delicious.
Granville Moore’sAddress and Info
H Street NE
Granville Moore’s has deservedly won Washington City Paper’s “Best Mussels in DC” for nine years running. Whether you decide on the classic Mariniere combo of white wine, garlic, and herbs, or a seasonal version like the Coconut Curry with lemongrass, ginger, tomatillo, pineapple, and poblano peppers, you’re guaranteed to get a heaping bowl of plump bivalves with none of the gross grit you often find in substandard shellfish.
Pizza MartAddress and Info
Sometimes after a night on the town, you just want a slice of pizza as big as your arm. No one’s saying this is one of the city’s best slices -- it isn’t -- but it is is a DC classic, the perfect vehicle to soak up the night’s regrets.
OyamelAddress and Info
José Andrés is a king in the DC food scene, and among his many restaurants, Oyamel remains one of the most consistent. From innovative tacos and table-side guacamole to margaritas with “salt air” foam, Andres takes classic Mexican cuisine and adds his own unique twist. A can’t-miss is his take on ceviche, the classic coastal Mexican dish of raw fish lightly marinated and cured in citrus, and combined with chili peppers and fresh vegetables. Fresh, tart, and spicy, Andres’ ceviche is the perfect snack.
Rappahannock Oyster BarAddress and Info
Rappahannock River Oysters is a local endeavor, started two generations ago by the Croxton family. The current owners, Ryan and Travis, renewed their grandfather’s riverbottom lease out of sentimental value, not planning on being more than just hobbyists. What started as a pastime became an obsession with cultivating the perfect oysters. Visit Rappahannock’s Union Market location and go nuts on their three different types of oysters: the original Rappahannock, the sweetest; the Stingray, a perfect balance of sweet and salty; or the Old Salt, the saltiest of the three, and a perfect match to a chilled glass of white wine.
Lox’d and Loaded Bagel
Buffalo & BergenAddress and Info
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better hangover cure than a classic Bloody Mary. Pair that with a nice bagel for some carbs, and you’re well on your way to healing. Mixologist Gina Chersevani takes her version to the extreme, combining the two into one supercure: the Bloody at Union Market’s Buffalo & Bergen is garnished with a full-sized, freshly baked New York-style bagel that’s packed with cream cheese, lox, and capers.
Sushi CapitolAddress and Info
A lot of people hear “sushi” and automatically think rolls. While Sushi Capitol certainly offers California and spider rolls, the real focus is on the restaurant’s incredibly affordable omakase meal. With this order, you’re letting Chef Minoru Ogawa decide the pacing and tone of your time at Sushi Capitol, and signing up for an onslaught of the freshest nigiri and sashimi, all for just $50. Supplement your tasting with some of the restaurant’s unique daily specialties, which often include such rarities as o-toro (fatty tuna belly) or live Maine or San Diego uni (sea urchin).
Tail Up GoatAddress and Info
Eater DC’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year was destined to be a success: the owners, Jon Sybert, Jill Tyler, and Bill Jensen, are all alums of Little Serow and Komi, and let’s just say they know a thing or two about delicious food and impeccable service. While the innovatively topped breads get most of the love, the restaurant’s signature lamb ribs have already reached iconic status in DC. A heaping pile of roasted and grilled, Middle Eastern-spiced lamb ribs is plated with sumac-yogurt onions, fava beans, a hazelnut dukkah, and a showering of fresh dill, mint, cilantro, and parsley.
GhibellinaAddress and Info
14th St NW
Ghibellina is an outstanding gastropub that also happens to serve some of DC’s best pizza. It combines two stand-out techniques: an atypical mix of flours, and a longer, lower-temperature cooking time. These factors prevent this from being boxed in as a "true Neapolitan" pizza; instead, it’s the restaurant’s own take on the style. A little crispier on the bottom, with a little less char, these pizzas are given time to develop that deep, yeasty flavor in the crust. Still not convinced? During the daily happy hour, it’s only $8.50, so you have very little to lose.
Panda GourmetAddress and Info
This is my desert island, death row, one food for the rest of my life meal: mapo doufu. Legend has it that the dish, translated as “Pockmarked Mother's Bean Curd” (“ma” means a person with pockmarks, and “po” means old woman), was invented in Chengdu, China during the Qing Dynasty by an old woman with a face scarred from smallpox. Regardless of provenance, this dish is perfect: Jiggly soft tofu is combined with a touch of ground pork, chili broad bean paste, fermented black beans, chili oil, garlic, green onions, and the all-important Szechuan peppercorn, ingestion of which leads to a numbing, buzzing, tingling of the lips and palate (a sensation known in Chinese as “mala”). And you don’t even have to leave DC to have the region’s best version -- you just have to head to a Day’s Inn in deep Northeast DC.
HimitsuAddress and Info
Himitsu, a relative newcomer to DC’s dining scene, has rapidly established itself as the go-to spot for innovative cocktails and modern Japanese-inspired cuisine. The restaurant’s pedigree is impressive: Chef Kevin Tien spent years working at sushi bars and fine-dining restaurants across the US, including a recent stint at Pineapple & Pearls, and Beverage Director Carlie Steiner is an alum of Minibar and her own Stir Bartending Co. One of the must-order items at Himitsu (and in DC, really) is Chef Tien’s take on karaage: a massive, buttermilk-brined chicken thigh that’s deep-fried, brushed with a Korean gochujang chili glaze, and served with sweet pickles and kewpie mayo. Crunchy, spicy, and impossibly juicy, this is the fried chicken of your dreams.
Peter ChangAddress and Info
The man, the myth, the legend: Peter Chang. When diners follow a chef based on the merest hints of his travels across the US you know he’s got at least some bucket list dishes on hand. Chef Chang set up shop in both Arlington and Rockville, and thankfully both locations serve his signature dry-fried eggplant. It starts with non-breaded eggplant, fried until crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside, then gets tossed with cilantro, chiles, and Szechuan peppercorns. The combination hits crunchy, creamy, spicy, and fresh notes.
Classic Italian sub
A. LitteriAddress and Info
A. Litteri is old-school, a gorgeous Italian market, packed to the brim with every manner of pasta, vinegar and oil, and sauces tucked in the back is one of DC’s best delis. Skip the hemming and hawing over the various cold cuts on display -- you’re here for one thing and one thing only, the Classic Italian Sub with capicola, genoa salami, mortadella, prosciutto, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, hot peppers, and Italian dressing. A 6in half soft roll is the perfect vehicle, but no one’s giving you the side eye if you go all out and get a footlong. These sandwiches are worth savoring for more than one meal.
Under the Sea
Fiola MareAddress and Info
You can’t have a DC bucket list that doesn’t include Fiola Mare. It’s one of, if not the, most beautiful dining rooms in the city, overlooking the Potomac on Georgetown’s riverfront. It’s DC’s premier restaurant for pristine seafood, simply prepared, and you’re bound to run into a celebrity dining there. When you can’t decide among the many options, your best bet is to just combine it all with the restaurant’s signature “Under the Sea,” a bowl of dashi broth containing langoustines, wild turbot, Icelandic cod, scallops, prawns, and foie gras. Over the top? Probably. One of DC’s most delicious dishes? Absolutely.
Red HenAddress and Info
The mezze rigatoni with a fennel sausage ragu from Red Hen is everything you want in an Italian dish: a hearty, tomato-based sauce; actual al dente pasta; and crumbles of sausage, aggressively spiced with fennel and sage. Pasta-wise, one would be hard-pressed to find a better plate in the city.
Espita MezcaleriaAddress and Info
Josh Phillips never set out to open DC’s best modern Mexican restaurant -- he just really loved mezcal. But as he fell deeper and deeper into the agave rabbit hole, eventually becoming a Master Mezcalier, he realized the niche that could be filled by introducing DC diners to both the boundless variety of mezcals out there and the underrepresented cuisine of Oaxaca and Southern Mexico. Since opening, Espita has crushed it, with diners out the door looking to learn more about mezcal and the deep, dark moles for which Oaxaca is justifiably famous.
Keren Restaurant and Coffee ShopAddress and Info
Ful, a dish made of chickpeas, cumin, and vegetable oil, is supposed to be a breakfast food but when something this savory and filling starts at just $5, you eat it at any and all times of the day. Keren’s ful, garnished with parsley, garlic, diced red onions, jalapeños, and a dollop of yogurt, easily makes for two meals. Add two hard-boiled eggs and you’re still under $6. Or, take a page out of our book and toss on a bunch of sardines -- still under $6. A small French bread loaf comes standard, but you can swap it out for injera.
Jessie Taylor SeafoodAddress and Info
It’d be tough to find something more DC than heading down to the Maine Avenue Fish Market, picking up a dozen Maryland blue crabs, having them steamed while you wait, then taking your paper bag and mallet to feast on them while looking out over the Washington Channel at East Potomac Park. Most people swear by Captain White’s Seafood, but I’m ride or die for Jessie’s. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Horace and Dickie’sAddress and Info
H Street NE
A long-standing neighborhood staple, Horace & Dickie’s is an H Street original, serving some of the city’s best soul food. The take-out-only joint offers delicious fried chicken and other seafood, but you haven’t fully embraced DC until you’ve gotten a container of the restaurant’s signature fried fish. It’s one of the most authentic eating experiences in DC, but fair warning: One order can feed a small family, so come prepared.
The Big BoardAddress and Info
H Street NE
The Big Board is H Street’s Cheers -- there’s sports talk, cheap beers, a barful of regulars, and everybody knows your name. But the real play when ordering isn’t to go with one of their all-star burgers -- it’s ponying up to the Jalisco Frito, a sandwich combining breaded, buttermilk-brined chicken breast, a sweet and spicy habanero barbecue sauce, pepper jack cheese, two strips of thick-cut bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Also worth mentioning: The thing’s the size of a hubcap. You know you’re getting your money’s worth when you’ve taken six bites and have yet to get to the bun.
Old Ebbitt GrillAddress and Info
Old Ebbitt Grill is an institution, allegedly the oldest restaurant in DC. Since opening in 1856, it’s played host to Presidents, Washington bigwigs, and flocks of tourists, each of whom are dying to get inside and sample some of the District’s best raw seafood. Locals know the best time to stop in is for the restaurant’s late-night happy hour where, after 11pm, all the oysters are only $1.
Pollo a la brasa
El Pollo RicoAddress and Info
With its sizable Peruvian population, DC is saturated with their take on rotisserie chicken (aka, pollo a la brasa). The best of the best is El Pollo Rico: seasoned with a marinade of garlic, cumin, paprika, black pepper, and other spices, the chicken is spit-roasted over a live fire, imparting the meat with a juicy smokiness that’s tough to beat. At just $8.25, the half chicken served with the restaurant’s house-made sauces is one of the best quality-to-price ratios you’ll find.
DaikayaAddress and Info
The Daikaya team -- Daisuke Utagawa, Chef Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni -- have built a ramen empire here with Bantam King, Haikan, and the original, Daikaya. The latter is still the best, offering Sapporo-style ramen that is distinguished by its Chintan stock, a clear soup base that requires over 16 hours of preparation to achieve its delicate and complex depth. Daikaya is also one of the only ramen-yas in DC not to use the ubiquitous Sun noodles, as they’re now one of only two ramen shops in the US that use the Nishiyama.
Duck noodle soup
Chinatown ExpressAddress and Info
Located on a grungy corner of Chinatown, the large plate glass window in the front of Chinatown Express tells you all you need to know about what you’re getting: freshly made, hand-pulled noodles. The no-frills hole in the wall plops them into a savory duck broth and tops them with wilted bok choy, sliced scallions, and crisp-skinned roast duck.
Pho VietAddress and Info
If you have the winter-weather blues, nothing quite beats a big bowl of pho to warm you up. Pho Viet is the District’s best, with a clear, almost consommé-like beef stock bulked up with ginger, onion, and long-simmered spices. The “Beef Special” bowl is enormous, combining eye round, well-done brisket, flank, soft tendon, and meatballs. Customize your bowl with accompanying bean sprouts, jalapeños, Asian basil, a few squirts of lime, and a shot of hoisin or Sriracha. The choice is all yours.
Xiao long bao
Bob’s Shanghai 66Address and Info
The go-to spot for dumplings, Bob’s Shanghai 66 is the best in the area at crafting xiao long bao, Chinese soup dumplings made with a cube of gelatinous pork stock that liquefies when they’re cooked, enveloping the ground pork and shrimp filling in a tasty broth. Pick one up with your spoon, bite a tiny hole in the side, and slurp the deeply flavored broth that comes pouring out before downing the dumpling itself. Patience is a virtue here -- letting the dumplings cool a bit before eating is key, lest you scald the holy hell out of your mouth.
Smoked & StackedAddress and Info
Marjorie Meek-Bradley won acclaim for, in order, being a kick-ass chef, dominating last season’s Top Chef competition, and crafting innovative new American cuisine at Cleveland Park’s Ripple and Adams Morgan’s Roofer’s Union. Now, she’s serving up some of the city’s best classic New York deli sandwiches at Smoked & Stacked. Take, for example, the Stacked: a milk-bread bun, dijon, and house-made slaw combine to form the perfect vehicle for showcasing Meek-Bradley’s meltingly tender smoked pastrami.
Sally’s Middle NameAddress and Info
H Street NE
Sally’s Middle Name has long been one of DC’s most vocal proponents of the local and sustainable food movement, going so far as to change their menu daily based on what’s fresh at local farmers markets. Thankfully, the crew at SMN listened to customers who indicated that they’d like at least a bit of consistency from night to night, which means that you can now always get their dynamite roasted squash dish bathed in green curry with coconut milk, jasmine rice, kaffir lime, thai basil, and cilantro.
Crispy rice salad
Thip KhaoAddress and Info
You used to have to drive to Bangkok Golden in Virginia to try Chef Seng’s nam khao, but with the opening of Thip Khao, you can get the Laotian dish in Columbia Heights. If the pig ears option from the “Jungle Menu” isn’t your style, go with the regular ol’ sour pork that forms the base of a flavor-blasted salad with crispy coconut rice, lime, scallions, peanuts, and cilantro, all served with lettuce wraps for scooping.
Bad SaintAddress and Info
Filipino food firmly established itself as the new “it” cuisine in 2016, and we’re lucky enough to have the best Filipino restaurant (and the second best new restaurant) in the US in Bad Saint. When dining, you can’t miss the ukoy -- a bright orange web of tangled sweet potato, freshwater shrimp, and cilantro.
Duke’s GroceryAddress and Info
There’s no way a DC bucket list can omit the Proper Burger at Duke’s Grocery. It’s a monster double decker, piled high with two griddled patties (kept thin to maximize the char) and topped with smoky Gouda, red onions, a Thai sweet chili sauce, dill pickles, arugula, and a garlic aioli. A thin, buttery bun balances out the ingredients, and stays durable enough throughout, without disintegrating into a sodden mess. The real question you’ll face: Should you add the chicken liver pate or a fried egg? In for a penny, in for a pound, you know?
RasikaAddress and Info
Remember when mom used you beg you not to eat the whole bag of Bugles in one sitting? Too bad that’s IMPOSSIBLE. The palak chaat at Rasika is no different -- especially because you get that same crispy fried crunch. But, instead of crappy corn whatever, you’re munching on lightly fried spinach leaves drizzled with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney. Expect to order it as an appetizer, a side to accompany your entrée, and again for dessert. Don’t worry, your waiter has seen it all.
Le DiplomateAddress and Info
Le Diplomate is one of the most consistent restaurants in DC, offering up French classics in a gorgeous setting. If you’re going all-out indulgent, send in an order for the petit plateau. The soaring tower of seafood includes lobster, king and snow crab, steamed shrimp, clams, mussels, East and West Coast oysters, whelks, and a divine crab salad.
Thai X-ingAddress and Info
Thai X-ing is a true gem, pairing outstanding Thai food with a quirky atmosphere. The new location by the 9:30 Club is good, but the original, in an old rowhouse on Florida Ave, is BYOB. Pair that with one of the city’s most fun (and cheapest, at $30!) all-vegetarian tasting menus, composed solely of what’s best depending on the season and market availability. Most of the dishes are both vegan and gluten-free, and the Sunday night vegetarian menu always includes chef/owner Taw Vigsittaboot‘s famous pumpkin curry.
Cantina MarinaAddress and Info
Let’s get one thing straight: Cantina Marina’s nachos are good, but the real pull here is the awesome view. The open air, dockside restaurant is best known for its margarita selection, but there’s not much that can beat gazing out at sailboats on the Washington Channel while pounding down an enormous platter of chips, chili, shrimp, steak, Andouille sausage, queso, pico de gallo, crema, avocado, and jalapeños.
Nok Noi at Alfie’s
To be honest, Chef Alex McCoy has three separate dishes that should be on your DC bucket list. Choosing one was tough, but we’re going with his version of khao soi, a mix of boiled egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, ground chillies fried in oil, and meat in a thin, curry-like sauce containing coconut milk. Top that off with deep-fried crispy egg noodles, and you’ve got yourself an authentic taste of Northern Thailand from a chef who intimately knows the cuisine.
Sign up here for our daily DC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.
1. Meats & Foods247 Florida Ave NW, Washington
2. 2 Amys3715 Macomb St NW, Washington
3. Toki Underground1234 H Street NE, Washington
4. Maketto1351 H St NE, Washington
5. Duffy's Irish Pub2106 Vermont Ave NW, Washington
6. Granville Moore's1238 H St NE, Washington
7. Pizza Mart2445 18th St NW, Washington
8. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana401 7th St NW, Washington DC
9. Rappahanock Oyster Bar1309 5th St NE, Washington
10. Buffalo & Bergen1309 5th St NE, Washington
11. Mangialardo's1317 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington
12. Sushi Capitol325 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington
13. Little Serow1511 17th St NW, Washington
14. Amsterdam Falafelshop2425 18th St NW, Washington
15. Tail Up Goat1827 Adams Mill Rd NW, Washington
16. Ghibellina1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC
17. Panda Gourmet2700 New York Ave NE, Washington
18. Rose's Luxury717 8th St SE, Washington
19. HIMITSUOne Buckhead Plaza, 3050 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta
20. A. Litteri, Inc.517 Morse St NE, Washington
21. Fiola Mare3050 K St NW, Washington
22. The Red Hen1822 1st St NW , Washington
23. Espita Mezcaleria1250 9th St NW, Washington
24. Keren Restaurant & Coffee Shop1780 Florida Ave NW, Washington
25. Jesse Taylor Seafood1100 Maine Ave SW, Washington
26. Horace & Dickie's Seafood809 12th St NE, Washington
27. The Big Board421 H Street NE, Washington, DC
28. Old Ebbitt Grill675 15th St NW, Washington
29. El Pollo Rico932 N Kenmore St, Arlington
30. Daikaya705 6th St NW, Washington
31. Chinatown Express746 6th St NW, Washington
32. Pho Viet3513 14th St NW, Washington
33. Ethiopic401 H Street NE, Washington
34. Bob's Shanghai 66305 N Washington St, Rockville
35. Smoked & Stacked1239 9th St NW, Washington
36. Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington
37. Sally's Middle Name1320 H St NE, Washington
38. Thip Khao3462 14th St NW, Washington
39. Bad Saint3226 11th St NW, Washington
40. Duke's Grocery1513 17th St NW, Washington
41. Rasika633 D St NW, Washington
42. Le Diplomate1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC
43. Compass Rose1346 T St NW, Washington
44. Thai X-ing515 Florida Ave NW, Washington
45. Ted's Bulletin1818 14th St NW, Washington
46. Cantina Marina600 Water St SW, Washington
47. Stoney's1433 P St NW, Washington
48. Fast Gourmet1400 W St NW, Washington
49. Peter Chang2503E N Harrison St, Arlington
Meats & Foods, from the people behind 13th St Meats, functions as a retail shop and restaurant combination on Florida Ave. On offer are a variety of handmade sausages, chili, soups, and, of course, sandwiches like the lemon-basil chicken sandwich, garlic pork sandwich, and roasted poblano sandwich in an intimate setting that’s enclosed by white tiled walls and lit by incandescent bulbs. Choose to eat at one of the coveted stools in the window, or take your food to go for home grilling.
There’s only one 2Amys, which opened in 2001 as DC’s first D.O.C. certified pizzeria, meaning that its Neapolitan pizza is authentic and adheres to rigorous requirements of ingredients and methods of preparation. With elements like Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di Bufala, and extra-virgin olive oil, 2Amys pizzas are also Delicious Of Course. Try a Vongole pizza with garlic, capers, parsley, hot pepper, and cockles, or a Calabrese with tomato, onions, anchovies, fresh mozzarella, parsley, and olives and finish your meal up with homemade ice creams and sorbets. The restaurant is charming with coffered ceilings, lemon yellow walls, and delicate ceiling fans -- a perfect spot for the whole family.
One of the first authentic ramen joints in DC, Toki Underground serves comforting noodle dishes inspired by Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s culinary memories -- whether it’s the Taipei ramen shop he worked at or the family-made dumplings he ate growing up. Made with that much TLC, the dishes here are well worth the occasionally long lunchtime wait. You’ll want to dig into the Toki Classic, a steaming bowl of ramen topped with pulled pork and a soft-boiled egg, and sip -- or bomb -- one of the specialty sakes.
Maketto combines a restaurant, coffeeshop, bar, and clothing store into one massive, 6,000sqft venue on H Street NE. The 60-seat restaurant focuses on Cambodian and Taiwanese food for lunch and dinner, and if you're in the business of brunching, be sure to put the Sunday dim sum brunch on your bucket list. The retail store showcases international brands at upscale price points, and even if the merch is beyond your budget, the sheer variety is worth checking out. The second floor cafe serves Vigilante Coffee and bread from Frenchie's Bakery, plus a few pastries baked in house.
Duffy’s Irish Pub has withstood the test of time, a dive bar bulwark in the face of burgeoning tapas and cocktail joints throughout the city. Check the pretension at the door and have a seat in front of the wall of upside down-mugs known as the Mug Club (reserved for only the most loyal regulars). Get down and dirty with a plate of Duffy’s highly acclaimed wings, and (post-napkin of course) try your hand at a game of darts.
Built into the crumbling skeleton of an abandoned H street building, this pocket-sized tavern is a local favorite for craft beer and contemporary Belgian eats. While "healthy Belgian food" might sound like a bit of an oxymoron, Granville pumps out way more than mayo-drenched thick-cut fries. The menu offers several mussel-centered small plates (think pork belly, spinach, and shelled mussels in a shallot-white wine sauce), a gnocchi-gouda mac & cheese, and a notoriously tasty house-made black bean burger. The rustic, warm-wooded eatery features a fully-stocked bar, a house-cocktail list to match, and an impressive selection of rotating beers on tap -- most of which are, surprisingly enough, Belgian.
It’s not that a slice of pizza bigger than your head doesn’t always sound good; it’s just that it’s consumption is slightly more justifiable after a night out on U Street (especially after that last round of tequila shots). In a sea of late-night eateries, Pizza Mart, the storied Adams Morgan pizzeria whose claim to fame is the original Jumbo Slice, stands out for posters screaming “Original!” and “Featured on the Travel Channel!” and its line of intoxicated revelers pouring out onto 18th Street. It’s worth a visit, even if the cheese is a little more rubbery than you would have liked.
Because an expertly-prepared cucumber-infused margarita is nothing without a plate of salsa verde-topped pork tacos, Oyamel is an essential D.C. destination for all varieties of Mexican cuisine. From the extensive menu of ceviches and traditional antojitos (Mexican small plates) to the wildly eclectic selection of available tacos -- ranging from sautéed Oaxacan grasshoppers to braised beef tongue and seared mahi-mahi -- the kitchen makes sure to pay homage to the miraculous diversity that defines traditional Mexican cooking. The corn tortillas are hand-made, the meats are smoked in-house, and the bar prepares all of its own creative infusions. And last but very very far from least, the colorful blue-tiled eatery offers a daily happy hour featuring 1$ beers, 2$ tacos, and 5$ margaritas (which means for 20$ you can have a balanced meal of three margaritas and two tacos).
This Union Market outpost is run by Rappahannock Oyster Company, so you can expect insanely fresh seafood -- especially shellfish -- from the Chesapeake Bay. Initially staffed exclusively by the spot's oyster farmers themselves, the gastrobar now maintains a server-team of well-educated oyster-mongers, fully prepared to talk you through the production and consumption of the slimy shellfish delicacy. While the kitchen offers tasty small plates and entrees like citrus-cured salmon roe or tuna tartare over fresh beets and sliced orange, you'd be remiss to skip out on the oysters -- served grilled in smoked-jalapeño-butter, raw on the half shell, or arranged in a perfectly-curated sampling plate. The beer and wine lists are impressive in length, the cocktail program is creative and well-rounded, and the historic spot offers a week-day happy hour for oysters and drinks.
Located inside of DC's Union Market, this diner-style spot is specializes in New York-style bagels and everything you can put in-between them. Every kind of bagel imaginable serves as your base for a breakfast or lunch sandwich that you can customize with a selection of meats and flavored cream cheeses. Or you can go for a signature style like the Foxy Loxy (self-explanatory) or something a little more daring like The Bandito with carnitas-style pulled pork and pickled peppers.
This unassuming, hole-in-the-wall Italian spot is among D.C.'s best kept sandwich secrets. On any given day, the line at the little counter-service joint will likely consist of a few cops, a construction worker, and the folks who live in the apartment next door -- the place is strictly local. Sandwiches like "The G-Man," (ham, salami, mortadella, pepperoni, fontina, provolone, and oregano on thick-cut Italian bread) make sure Mangialardo's customers always leave satisfied -- and if that four-meat combo doesn't to it, "The Big G" (same as "The G-Man" but with double the meat and double the cheese) will certainly do the trick. The cash-only eatery has prices that rarely exceed 10$, even when you add chips and a soda to your mountain of a sandwich, and the native D.C. meat-mongers who run the place are an integral part of its local charm.
This tiny D.C. restaurant is serving sushi for purists. Resistant to ingredient-heavy inventive house rolls, or chicken yakatori appetizers, this place is notorious for plating up some remarkably tasty raw seafood, where the chef's minimal (but brilliant) technique is overshadowed only by the exceptional quality of the ingredients themselves. The sleek, waterfront eatery offers a full menu of things like fatty cuts of bluefin belly, or San Diego bay live urchins, and the nigiri-style sushi is largely uncomplicated -- potent fish, brushed with a fine layer of sweet house nikiri sauce. The chef serves tuna and salmon flights, allowing guests a little taste of all the tastiest cuts, and an unrivaled omakase-tasting menu, only available at the bar-- it's just about the closest you can get to a Jiro-like dining experience anywhere for 50$.
At Little Serow, the standard wait for a table is no less than an hour. The spot's prix-fixe-only menu, updated every Tuesday, offers a different series of family-style plates each week, all of which are carefully curated to create a balanced spread of Northern Thai flavors (which means you get to skip out on the painful process of selecting your own entree). Typically, guests can choose between a meat-centric or seafood-heavy meal option, but otherwise, the place offers no substitutions (even for allergies). But while L.S. won't cater to picky guests, diners rarely complain after consuming plates of mud crab with coconut husk and shrimp paste, or whole market fish with fresh turmeric and house peanut sauce. And the best part: desert is mandatory.
Amsterdam Falafelshop slings everyones favorite deep-fried chickpea mash across Adams Morgan, and it's some of the best in the DC area. It comes with a big pile of fresh veggies wrapped up in a flatbread or in a bowl, and there's never even a slight ponderance over whether or not you should pair them with fries. They're Dutch-style, meaning they're thick cut, freshly fried for crunchy outside and light and fluffy insides.
This Michelin-starred Adams Morgan restaurant from Komi and Little Serow alums offers a funky Caribbean-meets-Mediterranean menu that'll encourage you to expand your culinary horizons. Admittedly, some of Tail Up Goat's dishes are wacky (goat lasagna with kale and anchovies), but they work. A portion of the menu is dedicated to creative bread preparations, like seaweed sourdough and bialys with trout roe, but the pasta and entrées are the real showstoppers. Try the cavatelli with spicy pork belly ragu and the tender lamb ribs... then savor the taste, you might never come across flavors this unique again.
At Ghibellina, each hand-crafted Neapolitan pizza is served with a set of sheers. While in most cases, diners are not held responsible for cutting their own pies, the team behind the doughy Italian delicacy at this Logan Circle eatery is changing the pizza rules in more ways than one. For starters, chef Johnathan Copeland believes that cutting a pie too early changes the texture of the crust (no one likes a droopy crust). The spot's (fully-stocked) white marble bar is flanked by piles of cut wood, ready to be tossed into the open kitchen, where each pizza, prepared with a high-gluten Italian-imported flour, is cooked in the wood-oven for precisely three-and-a-half minutes. With a little less crunch and a little more char, the perfectly blistered pizzas come with your choice of toppings like sweet Italian sausage, gorgonzola, and confit tomato -- every bit as picturesque as the rustic white-brick dining room.
One thing’s certain: You will be skeptical the first time you visit Panda Gourmet. It’s located on the ground floor of a Days Inn along New York Avenue in an area littered with pawn shops and strip clubs. It’s in a parking lot whose fountains dribble out decidedly unclean water, and in a lobby of decidedly unclean furniture. But, alas, you didn’t come for the fountain or the furniture; you came for Sichuan and Shaanxi food. And that, my friend, will not disappoint here. The Rouga Mo burger, with its spice-rubbed beef slipped into a house-made bun, is one of the fieriest items on a menu whose foundation is a lava red chili oil, which is saying a lot, while the biang biang noodles with toasted spices and scallions offers a variety of textures, with porous tofu and crunchy mung-bean sprouts, and should certainly be part of your meal.
Situated in a converted townhouse on Capitol Hill, Rose's Luxury is a twinkle-lit, farmhouse-chic restaurant that draws crowds for its bold small plates. Unfortunately for those crowds, it doesn't accept reservations. Get here early for dinner and you can nab a front-row seat at the chef's counter overlooking the open kitchen, where shareable dishes like Thai-marinated pork blade steak and boudin-stuffed jalapeño are prepared with precision.
Reservations are the only way you’ll get any refreshment at this super-exclusive cocktail parlor (the name literally means "secret") connected to sushi restaurant Umi. Once inside, enjoy sushi, sashimi, edamame hummus, and various cooked seafood, along with a solid list of cocktails. The bar is run by T. Fable Jeon (The Lawrence) and Shingo Gokan, who is behind New York's infamous Japanese speakeasy, Angel's Share.
You might be surprised that one of the best sandwich spots in DC is located in Union Market, where meat and produce distribution warehouses seem to outnumber people. A. Litteri was opened in 1926 and served as a wholesaler until 1988, when the family-owned spot made the switch to retail and began stocking Italian groceries. Today, the packed-like-sardines shelves swell with olive oil, roasted red peppers, pastas, vinegars, and a dizzying maze of imported wines. A. Litteri is best known for its deli counter, where sandwiches, soups, pizzas, and pasta dishes attract a diverse, loyal lunch crowd. The most common order? An Italian sub with all the fix-ins, from ham, mortadella, Genoa salami, and capicola to Swiss, mozzarella, pickles, and peppers.
Every city needs a baller restaurant, and in DC, that’s Fiola Mare, the shining gem of Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s empire, located along the Georgetown waterfront. Easily one of the most gorgeous dining rooms in DC, Fiola Mare does one thing perfectly: pristine seafood. It’s expensive as hell, sure, but it's a perfect spot for special occasions. Pro tip: if you can’t decide among all the fresh fish on display, go with the restaurant’s signature "Under the Sea," a ridiculously delicious stew of langoustines, scallops, turbot, prawns, and foie gras.
The open kitchen, bare brick walls, and simple, maple furnishing make you feel like you're in your own home when you eat at The Red Hen, as does the comfort of their classic Italian and American dishes. Just upscale of what you'd find in a chain, roasted chicken with black truffle polenta, house made cavatelli with spicy lamb, and grilled swordfish show impressive culinary chops but don't break the bank. They stick to simplicity here, even with its global wine list, and it works.
Decked out with street art on nearly every wall, Espita Mezcaleria is a serving up Southern Mexican fare and more than 85 mezcals with a hint of hipster flare in Shaw. Alongside excellent cocktails, the menu features everything from tacos and ceviches to seven different kinds of mole (go for the beef short rib option). There are a few shareable plates, too, like seared octopus with salsa, smoked barley, fried pabalo, and roasted cauliflower.
This family-run Eritrean spot, located at the foot of Adams Morgan, might just be the happiest restaurant in DC -- everyone is smiling, even those eagerly awaiting a table so they can chow down on the soft and sour injera, or a piping-hot, fan-favorite bowl of ful (a garlic-laced fava bean mash topped with garnishes reminiscent of American chili). The warm and welcoming staff will make you feel right at home while they serve it to you. A bonus? You'll find some of the cheapest beers in town here.
Jessie Taylor Seafood is named for the boat that Clayton Evans would drive as a child along with his father and brother when they would sell their fresh crabs, clams, oysters, and fish along the Potomac. But though the vesicle is no longer, business is still conducted on the water; Jessie Taylor Seafood is located on a long steel barge attached to a cement pier. Seafood is arranged into display cases that span the length of the shop, and you can just as easily pick out shrimp, crab legs, and black squid as you can herring, mackerel, frogs’ legs, and live snails. And if you’re looking for something a little less raw, ask for a taste of the New England clam chowder, which bubbles and brims in pots like a witch’s cauldron concoction.
Horace & Dickie’s is an H Street original, serving down-home soul food that'll have you convinced you're much farther below the Mason-Dixon line than DC's Atlas District. A tiny, white-and-blue takeout shack, it offers juicy fried chicken and plenty of seafood including catfish and crab cakes, but you're not a true Washingtonian until you’ve devoured this hole in the wall's signature fried fish -- either on a platter or in the fan-favorite "jumbo" sandwich. Fair warning: One order can feed a small family, so come hungry (ravenous, really). There's no doubt you'll be hooked on this golden-brown DC delicacy immediately, so if you're in need of seating the next time a craving hits, head to the sit-down Takoma Park outpost.
Equipped with a screen that displays their changing, demand-based beer prices in real time, brew and burger joint Big Board fleshes out the Wall Street feel with mahogany park benches, a tile "sidewalk" running around its perimeter, and dark gray angular columns meant to evoke skyscrapers. Made with hand-pattied local beef, their burgers are nothing fancy, but they're some of the best in DC, like the Great Chicago Fire burger (chipotle powder, habanero jack cheese, sweet & spicy mango-habanero salsa).
Depending on your tastes, it will either be extremely appealing or off-putting that the Old Ebbitt Grill is the oldest saloon in Washington, once frequented by Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Roosevelt, and McKinley. Just steps away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Old Ebbitt’s Beaux-Arts façade begs you to enter for a cocktail, while its mahogany and velvet booths and bars set in marble, brass, and beveled glass implore you to stay for a few more as you imagine what kind of political secrets and scandals were shared here. As you’re doing your best Woodward and Bernstein impressions, munch on breakfast, lunch, brunch (if you’re there on a weekend), or dinner. The menus certainly have a Southern slant (chicken and waffles, crab cakes, shrimp and grits), though you can also opt for house-made cannelloni, pappardelle, and ravioli or flash-fried swordfish tacos.
While El Pollo Rico is no sight for sore eyes, it is a dream for your taste buds, and that’s what counts, right? With some of the best Peruvian chicken around (char-broiled with crispy skin flecked with garlic, cumin, and citrus, and amped up by house-made sauces), this Arlington joint is no stranger to lines out the door. But don’t let that deter you -- service is quick, friendly, and will pass off your meal to you in no time at all. Close with something sweet, like alfajores, flan, or milhojas, the cherry on top of your delectable Peruvian meal.
Don’t let the wait for this Chinatown ramen shop deter you: it’s more than worth it for the chewy noodles imported from Japan and the chicken, pork, and beef Chintan stock that’s cooked over 16 hours for extra richness. An unsuspecting standout among the Sapporo-style ramen on offer is the vegan version topped with Brussels sprouts, snow peas, carrots, and braised shiitake mushrooms. As if the ramen didn’t already, Daikaya’s wooden accents, dangling lightbulbs, and blue- and yellow-striped walls will have you feeling warm and cozy.
Nestled into an unsuspecting corner of Chinatown, this family-run joint offers plump dumplings and steamed pork buns, but the green storefront's large glass window showcases the true star at this hole in the wall: You'll see chefs in tall white hats hand-pulling long strands of dough for the restaurant's perfectly chewy noodles. The best way to consume them is in the duck noodle soup, which drops the noodles into a savory duck broth and tops them with wilted bok choy, sliced scallions, and succulent, crisp-skinned roast duck.
Columbia Heights’ Pho Viet elevates DC’s relatively sparse Vietnamese food scene with its uncomplicated menu of honey-glazed grilled pork, chicken, shrimp, and noodles and rice. The menu’s star is, of course, the pho, which comes in 10 varieties. The difference at Pho Viet is the broth’s clarity; apart from the mess of noodles swirling around, you can see straight through the liquid to the bottom of the bowl. With low ceilings and large portions, Pho Viet is homey, the type of place you’ll regularly want to make rounds at.
At Ethiopic, you are meant to eat with your hands. And while forks and knives are available, the authentic Ethiopian eatery remains dedicated to bringing tasty, traditional African eats (and eating customs) to H street. Named for a classical African language dating back as far as the fourth century, the trendy spot offers contemporary iterations of time-honored Ethiopian dishes like the chef's widely acclaimed lamb tibs (tender marinated leg of lamb in tomato-rosemary stew) and herbed lentil salad. The dining room is a bright, uncluttered 40+ seater, decorated with wall-hanging sculptures and printed lines of ancient Ethiopic liturgy, and for those who don't know their way around an Ethiopian menu too well, the kitchen assembles both vegetarian and meat-centric sampling plates.
While dumplings and trays of dim sum are typically served glittering with hot grease and MSG, the plates at Bob's Shanghai 66, are tasty, inexpensive, and if you can believe it -- healthy. Prepared in a white-tiled open kitchen (implying the chefs don't have any oil-saturated secrets), you can watch the skilled cooks hand-stretch the dough for soup dumplings and the spot's famous pan-fried pork buns. The menu -- two full pages crammed with endless oddly-titled entrees -- is certainly intimidating, but with a variety of plates teeming with buttery pork belly, shredded snow-peas, chili-glazed shrimp, and not an ounce of excess oil, it's hard to go wrong (unless you decide against ordering the soup dumplings).
Smoked & Stacked is bringing Shaw some much-needed pastrami sandwiches. The breakfast and lunch spot is inspired by both Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley's California upbringing and her adoptive New York taste. Breakfast options include the clean-eating Cali Girl made with cured salmon, a fried egg, avocado, and sprouts, and the New Yorker, featuring thick & smoky pastrami, a fried egg, comte cheese, and hot pepper jelly. Build your own sandwich at lunch or keep it simple (but heavy) with the pastrami and Dijon mustard Stacked.
With a menu the size of an impressive coffee table book, Marcel's offers a prix fixe with as many as seven courses. The standard meal here consists of five separate plates off the seasonal tasting menu, beginning with a spread of finely-curated charcuterie, and finishing with some truly picturesque desert. The in-between plates range from things like vermouth-thyme sea urchin flan and brandied-cherry venison, to smoked bacon-butternut squash -- eats meant to address just about every flavor variety out there, without sacrificing creativity. With white leather seats, massive regal chandeliers, and an elegant marble-topped bar, the place certainly offers an elevated dining experience -- and as is essential for all upscale eateries, the bartenders make a mean Manhattan.
This D.C. eatery puts restaurants serving "seasonal fare" to shame, offering all-new brunch and dinner menus almost nightly. The rotating food rosters, while limited in scope, are miraculously fresh, offering the best of local meats and veggies. With small plates like peach and goat-feta salad, in addition to sizable entrees like fried catfish battered in Maryland IPA, the kitchen manages to toy with an impressive range of techniques and flavor palettes, while still exclusively making use of the absolute freshest ingredients available. The minimal, white-tiled space is lined with cherrywood tables, all of which are topped with delicate flower arrangements and block-printed cloth napkins, and like the kitchen, the bar maintains a garden-to-glass policy, offering house cocktails crafted with local herbs, spirits and sweeteners.
Named for the basket used to make Laotian sticky rice, Thip Khao comes from Chef Seng Luangrath (of the famous Thai-Lao restaurant Bangkok Golden in NoVa), who brings Southeast Asian cuisine and expert cocktails to DC with this sleek Columbia Heights spot. On the concise menu, you'll find specialties like grilled chicken thigh skewers with lemongrass and snakefish head steamed inside banana leaves with red curry. To cut the spice of your meal (feel free to let the waiter know how much heat you can tolerate), order the Phak Tai, a Laos-inspired cocktail with gin, mint, lemon, and sparkling sake.
This tiny 24-seat Filipino restaurant made waves in the restaurant world when it opened in 2016, earning a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, a spot on Bon Appétit’s Hot 10 list, and a rave review from The New York Times. Bad Saint's family-style dishes are hard to describe: they're traditional but different from all other Filipino food that classifies as traditional. The menu -- split between vegetables, fish, and meat -- changes often, but expect to find ukoy shrimp fritters, ceviche-like kinilaw, and air-dried cured beef with a runny farm egg. Getting a table at the no-reservations spot is historically not easy (on peak nights, you have to stand in line for more than an hour) but the experience is worth it.
You're in for some monster sandwiches and burgers at this bi-level East London-inspired spot in Dupont. Take the Proper Burger, for example, which is stacked with two griddled patties and topped with a list of flavorful ingredients that includes smoked Gouda, charred red onions, and a Thai sweet chili sauce. Beyond the Proper, their chalkboard menu offers an array of tasty dishes -- from curries to homemade pastas -- that are all made from scratch in their cozy kitchen. The laid-back neighborhood-pub vibe lets you kick back while you sip on a craft brew or cocktail.
Make a reservation well in advance for this Indian fine-dining experience in Penn Quarter, where, after more than a decade on the culinary scene (it more than fills DC's "upscale Indian" gap), the contemporary restaurant still gets packed with professionals both young and old, and plenty of client-wooing dinners. That said, you'll want to eschew jeans on your special night out at Rasika, and perhaps anything white as well, considering you'll be indulging in saucy plates of expertly made classics like chicken tikka masala, tandoori lamb chops, and duck vindaloo. You'd be remiss not to order a side of the fan-favorite palak chaat, too: crisp, lightly fried spinach leaves drizzled with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney. The white tablecloth? It's a goner.
Le Diplomate is a Logan Circle brasserie from acclaimed restaurateur Stephen Starr, meaning you can count on its traditional French dishes to be consistently excellent. From hors d'oeuvres like fresh oysters and steak tartare with quail egg to entrees including moules frites and beef bourguignon, the menu is brimming with classic, perfectly executed plates. There's even a killer cheeseburger on a house-baked brioche bun. Be sure to secure a sidewalk seat for that extra Parisian feel.
Compass Rose’s culinary muse is, simply put, the globe. Its menu of sharing plates synthesizes street and market food from around the world, conflating Danish smorrebord with house-cured steelhead, dill-caper remoulade, troute roe, rye bread, and flowers with Indian bhel puri chaat, a dish of baby kale, puffed rice, sev, potato, tomato, peanuts, mango, mint, and tamarind chutney. Going to Compass Rose without trying the Georgian khachapuri is like going to Moscow and skipping the vodka -- it’s simply unthinkable. Resembling an almond-shaped eye, the delicacy has a crusty, bready lid, a bubbling, cheesy retina, and, best of all, an egg yolk pupil in the center of all the action, staring right at you.
Situated in an old rowhouse on Florida Ave, this quirky Thai spot is BYOB (!), so be sure to bring along your favorite beers, wines, and spirits. Boasting one of the best and cheapest all-vegetarian tasting menus in DC, Thai X-ing serves market-fresh, vegan, and gluten-free dishes, plus a Sunday night vegetarian menu that -- lucky for you -- always includes chef/owner Taw Vigsittaboot‘s signature pumpkin curry, featuring a special kind of squash called kabocha that makes for a creamy concoction with just the right amount of heat.
Why choose between vices like ice cream and alcohol when you can indulge in both at once? At Ted's Bulletin, "adult milkshakes" are a crowd favorite -- towering glasses of blended home-made ice cream spiked with things like peppermint schnapps, Irish cream and coconut rum. And for those who can stomach more than a boozy shake, the D.C. mainstay offers a full menu of morning and afternoon eats. Best known for its brunch, the place boasts home-made pop tarts, hefty egg plates, and a "Walk Of Shame Burrito," stuffed with sausage, cheese and hash-browns. The trendy, leather-booth-lined space is equally as appealing as the entrées (and equally instragrammable), and the bar offers plenty of coffee, and a traditional cocktail menu, for when the dairy-liquor combo doesn't necessarily appeal.
Southwest DC’s Cantina Marina is the culinary embodiment of Margaritaville, from its nautical theme to its beach bites-style menu. The Cajun-meets-Tex-Mex joint is built to resemble a beach shack; with cerulean blue and lemon yellow wood paneling dotted with decorative plaster fish, Cantina Marina would be less conspicuous in sunny Key West than the District. Embrace your temporary vacation, though, and comb through the platter of “Super” nachos to rescue the shrimp, steak, and Andouille sausage that’s smothered by chili, pico de gallo, crema, avocado, and jalapeno. The salads, entrees, and sandwiches offer Creole options, like Jambalaya pasta and the Bayou burger. You’ll want to wash your savory plates down with an ice-cold beer, a margarita, or a sweet specialty cocktail, like the blueberry lemonade. With a location right on the water, it’s likely you’ll pour hours into this place; and you know, it’s your own damn fault.
This handsome yet understated Logan Circle sports bar serves up wing platters, nachos, pizzas, and cheap domestic brews -- all the comforting grease and suds you'll need while you watch the latest NFL game. Stoney's has a laid-back neighborhood feel that locals love, but things do tend to get rowdy during game day, particularly when the Denver Broncos, the bar's team of choice, are playing. As you're glued to one of the many TVs, you'll want to indulge in the legendary Super Grilled Cheese, an after-school snack turned bar food with an addictive buttery crunch and obviously-fake-but-obviously-tasty American cheese. Order the original Super (with tomato, bacon, and onion), or ask for it “Freddy Style" and, well, see what happens.
Sometimes lunchtime glory can be found in the most unexpected of places, and in Fast Gourmet's case, that's alongside a grungy gas station. Instead of cigarettes and lottery tickets, you'll find a counter serving Latin-influenced "urban street food," which means sandwiches like the Milanesa with New York strip, golden empanadas, and pulled pork with pineapple and lemongrass slaw. All the sandwiches come with a side of fries, and the only thing you have to pump is your ketchup.
The salmon walls of this simple, 120-seat Chinese restaurant in Arlington's Lee Harrison Shopping Center act as a soothing backdrop for the not-at-all-soothing plates crafted by cult-favorite chef and namesake Peter Chang, who's known for his numbingly hot Sichuan cuisine. Dried chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns are the arsonists behind the flaming flavor of Chang's beloved dishes, including dry-fried eggplant, beef brisket stewed with tofu skins and leeks, and grandma's spicy Hunan flounder. Orders of rich bao and airy scallion bubble pancakes will help extinguish the heat -- but not your love of Chang's masterful work. You'll quickly become a devoted member of his fan club that's followed him from Virginia to Tennessee to Georgia and back to Virginia, at this, the seventh outpost of his acclaimed culinary network.