Food & Drink

50 Things You Need to Eat in DC Before You Die

Published On 08/12/2015 Published On 08/12/2015
Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Morbidity 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 being stuck at a GS-8 pay grade and make the bold decision to move to San Francisco.

1. Half smoke

Meats & Foods (address and info)
Sorry notorious place on U St, 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.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

2. Lambs & Clams

Rappahannock Oyster Bar (address and info)
Union Market
The Rappahannock guys rewrite sucky surf & turf with this bowl of crumbly merguez lamb sausage, succulent clams, and pigeon peas swimming around in a sofrito sauce. It’s briny, spicy, and savory.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

3. Khachapuri

Compass Rose (address and info)
14th Street
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.

Laura Hayes

4. Avgolemono soup

Greek Deli (address and info)
Farragut North
Did someone break your heart? Are you battling a flu so bad you’ve drawn up a living will? Sports team got you down? Greek Deli’s avgolemono soup will fix it for $4.50 (way cheaper than an eHarmony membership, trip to the doctor, or buying a new team’s jersey). Greek Chef Kostas Fostieris builds so much flavor from seemingly simple ingredients: celery, carrots, and onions, chicken, orzo, eggs, fresh lemon juice, and corn starch.

5. Roasted goat shoulder

Komi (address and info)
Dupont Circle
Yes, you have to fork over $135 and make it through course after course to get to this meatsterpiece that acts as the main event on the fight card, but you’ll obviously enjoy every step along the way given Komi continues to be one of the best tasting menus in town. The generous helping of tender goat shoulder is served with a buttery pita and Greek condiments like tzatziki sauce.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

6. 4 Meat Grinder

Stachowski Market (address and info)
Though not advertised as an eating contest, this sandwich the size of a bear cub should come with a reward for finishing it. Stachowski Market builds layers of salami, coppa, mortadella, soppressata, and provolone cheese before topping the meat pile with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, and house vinaigrette.

7. Chive dumplings

The Source (address and info)
Are there little old Chinese ladies with arthritic fingers pushing around dim sum carts at The Source? No. But, that doesn’t mean upscale dim sum is somehow lesser. One bite of Chef Scott Drewno’s chive dumplings and you’ll be convinced. Meat lovers should go for the version stuffed with both Kurobuta pork and Maryland crab, but note that there’s a vegetarian version too.

8. Margherita Extra

2 Amy’s (address and info)
Cleveland Park
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.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

9. Kitfo

Ethiopic (address and info)
H Street NE
The Ethiopian take on beef tartare is irresistible, especially at Ethiopic. 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.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

10. Avocado toast

Cork Wine Bar (address and info)
14th Street
The humble avocado is made flower-like on Cork Wine Bar’s signature, most-craved dish. Each bite of toast is improved by crumbled pistachios, toasted pistachio oil so fine it’s fit for a queen, and large granules of sea salt. You’ll inevitably try making it at home after cursing your way up and down the fancy oil section at Whole Foods.

11. Foie gras scrambled eggs with black truffle butter montadito

Estadio (address and info)
Logan Circle
You’ve had eggs. You’ve had eggs on toast. Maybe you’ve even had foie gras. But Estadio unconventionally combines these ingredients and then stirs in some truffle butter because it wasn’t quite decadent enough. Each bite is like someone’s making it rain with umami flavor.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

12. Five-ball falafel sandwich

Amsterdam Falafel (address 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 instead of Jumbo Slice. Even though Amsterdam Falafel shines brightest late night, its fried-to-perfection falafel and zippy toppings are good even when the sun's out.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

13. Pork lychee salad

Rose’s Luxury (address and info)
Barracks Row
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.

14. 12oz Strube Ranch rolled Wagyu skirt steak

Del Campo (address and info)
Everyone remembers their first. As in, the first time they tackled Del Campo’s best dish. Chef Victor Albisu stuffs tender skirt steak with Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, and burnt onions before rolling it up like a Cinnabon and braising it. Did we mention it’s Wagyu and often comes with bone marrow? Victor got the idea for this must-try steak from an Argentinian dish called matambre.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

15. Bacon & onion flammekueche

Mintwood Place (address and info)
Adams Morgan
It’s bacon pizza. Do you really need to know more? Don’t even worry about pronouncing it; just say you want the bacon pizza.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

16. Kimchi ramen

Toki Underground (address 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!).

17. Elvis Impersonator Cakecup

Baked & Wired (address and info)
There’s something oh so sinful about banana cake frosted with peanut butter and drizzled with chocolate. Primal even, but that’s probably the bananas talking. If you want to take this treat to the next level, ask for it “porked” because that means candied bacon on top. Get it Friday-Sunday only.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

18. Saganaki

Cava Mezze (address and info)
Barracks Row
Sure this Greek dish is cool because it comes with the chance your server could singe his eyebrows off (what drama!), but once the flame burns out, it’s what you’re left with that’s magical: salty, sweet, tangy, and warm kefalograviera cheese boosted by the flavors of lemon and brandy.

19. The Luther

Golden Brown Delicious (GBD) (address and info)
Dupont Circle
Get your fried chicken and donut fix in one dish at GBD -- home of The Luther. Let’s start with the fried brioche donut glazed in maple-chicken jus with buttered pecans. That baby serves as the bun for the restaurant’s signature boneless fried chicken and a slab of bacon.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

20. Duck laab

Thip Khao (address and info)
Columbia Heights
You used to have to drive to Bangkok Golden in Virginia to try Chef Seng’s laab, but with the opening of Thip Khao, you can get the Lao dish in Columbia Heights. If duck isn’t your taste, sub in another minced meat (chicken, pork, beef, or tofu) to form the base of a flavor-blasted salad with toasted rice, garlic, scallion, cilantro, and mint. Scoop it up with veggies or pinches of sticky rice.

21. Pork ribs

Little Serow (address and info)
Dupont Circle
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.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

22. The Patriot

Red Apron Butcher (address and info)
Penn Quarter
Bagels, English muffins, and even croissants will feel dull after you’ve experienced a breakfast sandwich on a tigelle -- a glutinous masterpiece from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. There are several options, but you’re getting The Patriot with bacon or sausage, egg, American cheese, and maple butter.

23. “G” Man

Mangialardo's (address and info)
Capitol Hill
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.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

24. Beef bourguignon

Le Diplomate (address and info)
Logan Circle
Nailing a classic deserves a major nod and Le Diplomate does it with its beef bourguignon. It’s so good we even downed it on Bastille Day despite soaring temps. Super-tender beef rubs up on crimini mushrooms, lardons, and veggies in a rich red wine sauce. But the real secret to this dish’s success is the textbook pommes purée. It’s like buttttahhh. Probably because it IS butter.

25. Old Black Salt Oysters

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace (address and info)
14th Street
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace has a proprietary oyster, and that’s pretty badass. The restaurant teamed up with the beloved Rappahannock River Oyster Company to harvest oysters from a small strip of water in Chincoteague, VA, where the water is especially salty. The end product is therefore one of the briniest oysters on Earth.


26. Sweet corn agnolotti

Graffiato (address and info)
We crave these pockets of pleasure all winter and when the warmer months arrive, we can’t stop eating them. Saffron, chanterelles, pine nuts, and Parmesan accentuate Chef Mike Isabella’s sweet corn agnolotti. But despite all these buzzword ingredients, the price is set at a cool $13.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

27. Super Grilled Cheese

Stoney’s (address and info)
Logan Circle
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.

28. Ebi Katsudon

Donburi (address and info)
Adams Morgan
Sorry pork and chicken fans, shrimp is the way to go when it comes to selecting a topping for your steaming bowl of Japanese comfort food at Donburi. Ebi have the most surface area for being coated by heavenly batter and you can pick them up by their tails and sling them into your mouth. Silky egg, sweet sauce, and funky pickles make them even tastier.

29. Loukamades

Cashion’s Eat Place (address and info)
Adams Morgan
We wouldn’t let you die without first eating some donuts. Of all the fried pastries the District has to offer, we dig the Greek variety at Cashion’s Eat Place. The golf ball-sized bites come with yogurt and honey. Like Pringles, once you pop...

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

30. Hamachi tataki

Crane & Turtle (address and info)
At Crane & Turtle, thick slices of hay-smoked yellowtail (this is as cool as it sounds) splay out on a bed of miso-cured egg yolk and creamy nuta dressing for a sophisticated dish. Garlic chips add crunch for a memorable start to a meal.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

31. Boozy ice cream

Ice Cream Jubilee (address and info)
Navy Yard
Ice Cream Jubilee’s frozen treats are next-level, especially the ones that double as a cocktail because they contain alcohol: Dark & Stormy; Fig, Port & Goat Cheese; Gin & Tonic; Grapefruit Campari Sorbet; and more. Just don’t buy one for your nephew.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

32. Slow-braised pork ragu over smoked polenta

Iron Gate (address and info)
Dupont Circle
This dish is the ultimate comfort food. Think favorite sweatpants on an overstuffed couch with a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s on your belly level of comfort. A savory ragu of pork is generously ladled over smoked polenta in whatever portion you deem reasonable. Because the dish is on the family-style section of the Iron Gate carriageway and patio menu, you can tell your server how many servings you’d like to inhale.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

33.  Oak-Fired Prime Steak Burger

Bourbon Steak Lounge (address and info)
Sometimes the original is better than all of its gussied-up iterations. I mean, did the world really need CSI: Cyber?!  Bourbon Steak Lounge’s classic burger is topped with pickles, Cabot clothbound cheddar cheese, and secret sauce. No funnel cake buns or foie gras here, just a really, really good cheeseburger.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

34. The Meaty Palmer

DCity Smokehouse (address and info)
This sandwich is everything. Literally everything. It’s a religion, it’s a work of art, and it’s a moving piece of literature. The DCity Smokehouse crew brings two of its signature meats together -- smoked turkey and pork belly -- on one sandwich before adding smashed avocado, tomatoes, chipotle aioli, and cilantro ranch. Basically, it’s a club sandwich on steroids served on Texas toast.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

35. Tater tots

ChurchKey (address and info)
Logan Circle
Every once in a while, a perfect specimen of an already-excellent food group is born. Yes, tater tots are their own food group and they’re at the top of our pyramid. Experience the best bundles of potato love in the city at ChurchKey. They’re hand-punched every morning.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

36. Reuben

DGS Delicatessen (address and info)
Dupont Circle
"We’re sorely lacking a solid Jewish deli in DC," said everyone before DGS Delicatessen opened. Thank you for rescuing the city from its dearth of pastrami and schmaltz. It’s essential that you consume its Reuben stuffed with house corned beef, Swiss cheese, Number 1 Sons sauerkraut and Russian dressing before your time is up on this Earth.

Michael J. Colella

37. Palak chaat

Rasika (address and info)
Penn Quarter
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.

38. Smoked salmon BLT

Neopol Smokery (address and info)
Union Market
There’s a reason the far right corner of Union Market smells the best. Neopol Smokery’s cranking out phenomenal salmon BLTs made from salmon from Wester Ross Fisheries in Scotland. Get yours on sunflower flax bread from Stonemill Bakery and you’ll never want a BLT that’s not a SBLT again.


39. Guacamole

Oyamel Cocina Mexican (address and info)
Penn Quarter
Yes, it’s that good. When your server approaches your table with their guacamole-making kit, don’t be surprised if an audible "oohh" or "aahh" slips out. Watch as they gently mash avocados with green tomatillos, Serrano chilies, and queso fresco and then dig in with a basket of fresh ships. Margaritas are optional, but are they really?

Scott Suchman

40. Boudin blanc

Marcel’s (address and info)
Foggy Bottom
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.

41. Chivito

Fast Gourmet (address and info)
14th Street
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.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

42. Risotto balls

Taylor Gourmet (address and info)
Multiple locations
Hoagies are dandy, but this Taylor Gourmet side dish keeps us coming back. We’re even guilty of sticking a candle in each ball for a birthday celebration in lieu of cake. For best results, eat them right away so the center of warm, gooey cheese stays, well, warm and gooey.


43. Kingston

SUNdeVICH (address and info)
The Kingston is one of SUNdeVICH’s biggest sellers. Here’s why: jerked chicken with a kick combines with pineapple salsa, greens, spicy slaw, and garlic mayo for a tropical vibe. We hear it’s what fueled the cast of Cool Runnings during filming, but that could just be a rumor. 

44. Dátiles con tocino

Jaleo (address and info)
Penn Quarter
Bacon-wrapped dates were a tapa in Spain before they were a hit at American cocktail parties in the ‘70s (when they were dubbed devils on horseback). Jaleo tricks out its dátiles by sending them into the deep fryer for a hot sec, creating a final product that should stir up memories of eating corn dogs at baseball games. Be sure to dip each date in the accompanying apple-mustard sauce.

Old Ebbitt Grill

45. The Orca Platter

Old Ebbitt Grill (address and info)
Plenty of newcomers like Le Diplomate, Fiola Mare, and Kapnos Taverna have debuted jaw-dropping seafood towers, but sometimes the original is the  best. The Orca Platter at Old Ebbitt comes with a lobster, six crab claws, six clams, 24 oysters, and 12 shrimp. You need to assemble a small team to finish it -- maybe that DC kickball team of yours.

46. Stuffed bone marrow

Ripple (address and info)
Cleveland Park
Marrow is addictive enough on it’s own, but Ripple takes things a step further by stuffing its bone canoe with treasures like house bacon, chimichurri, and whichever jam is in season, such as peach or apple butter. Scoop out a little and spread it on lightly charred bread.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

47. Taiwanese fried chicken

Maketto (address and info)
H Street NE
Maketto may still be a toddler in restaurant years, having only opened in April 2015, but Erik Bruner-Yang’s fried chicken 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 lap up sauce so good, you’ll develop romantic feelings for it.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

48. Fried peanut butter & jelly

Bub & Pop’s (address and info)
Dupont Circle
Sure, The Real Obama, Italian hoagie, and Bulgarian feta sandwiches are to die for, but when you really want to reward yourself at Bub & Pop’s, take on the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You can tell the peanut butter and jelly aren’t from jars (Jonathan Taub makes them in house). In fact, the only component he doesn’t make is the Pepperidge Farm cinnamon toast that gets dipped in funnel cake batter and fried. Dip your state fair-inspired food in crème anglaise.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

49. Peanut Butter Bacon Ted Tart

Ted’s Bulletin (address 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.

50. Spiced baby goat

G by Mike Isabella (address and info)
14th Street
Who’s not a sucker for carbs on carbs? The spiced baby goat at G by Mike Isabella piles lemony potatoes on crusty bread in addition to spit-roasted goat from Kapnos next door. A healthy amount of oregano and harissa make it crave-worthy.

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Meats & Foods 247 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Shaw)

Meats & Foods, from the people behind 13th St Meats, functions as a retail shop/restaurant combo on Florida Ave. They offer a variety of handmade sausages, chili, soups, and sides in an intimate setting. You can eat there, or take your food to go for home grilling.

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2. Rappahanock Oyster Bar 1309 5th St NE, Washington, 20002 (Noma)

This Union Market hangout is part of the family of restaurants from Rappahannock Oyster Company, so you can expect fresh seafood -- especially shellfish -- all from the Chesapeake Bay.

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3. Compass Rose 1346 T St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Logan Circle)

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.

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4. Greek Deli 1120 19th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Greek Deli has been going strong since 1990, serving hearty and loving portions of delicious Greek fare -- ranging from gyros and specialty veggie platters to a tasty avgolemono soup that comes with homemade bread.

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5. Komi 1509 17th St NW, Washington, 20036 (Dupont Circle)

Focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and flavors, particularly Greek, the chefs at Komi have created an incredible tasting menu. You're in for a surprise meal at this spot (they'll simply ask if you have any allergies or restrictions, and take it from there) as well as a hefty price tag -- it'll cost you a set $150 per person. It's worth the beautiful, flavorful meal, however, which comes with about a dozen dishes from small to large bites, most of which are seafood-based.

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6. Stachowski Market and Deli 1425 28th St NW , Washington, DC , DC 20007 (Georgetown)

A farmer's market vet now has the meatiest corner store of them all, with a pig chalkboard displaying daily sandwiches, and deli cases rocking gourmet options like chicken bratwurst (w/ a cider-soaked apple/ sage/ nutmeg), port- & juniper-spiced duck, and a bay leaf/ toasted oats pork they're calling "Banger, English style", so you'll want to eat it with the lights off, try not to move around too much, and wish each other well afterward with a firm handshake.

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7. The Source 575 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Penn Quarter)

The name Wolfgang Puck attached to this Penn Quarter restaurant should tell you two things right off the bat -- this place isn't messing around with its culinary technique, and dinner here isn't going for cheap. The sleek dining area, brightened by cheerful yellow accents and floor-to-ceiling windows, is always full of people (many of whom are tourists, given the location) vying for a taste of Asian-inspired cuisine like chili oil-poached Nordic Cod or soy-marinated lamb chops. On the other side of the restaurant, the bar and lounge are a little bit calmer and offer a slew of classic and specialty cocktails along with, of course, an impressive wine list.

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8. 2 Amys 3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

Proving that they're all about authenticity, the two Amys behind 2 Amys in DC have committed to serving only D.O.C. (Italian-origin certified) ingredients in their awesome pizza pies.

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9. Ethiopic 401 H Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 (H Street Ne)

Just-opened Ethiopic's run by a married couple of former consultants who left the corporate grind to bring Ethiopian cuisine to the one corner of DC missing it; the space is a bright, uncluttered 40+ seater, decorated with wall-hanging sculptures and squa

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10. Cork Wine Bar 1720 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Logan Circle)

Imagine you're at a swanky bar, where there is wine by the hundreds and above you a woman is explaining its origin and content, get this, unpretentiously. And then you decide you want to indulge your sweet tooth with a warm apple crostada topped with bourbon vanilla ice cream, you would be, my friend, at Cork Wine Bar.

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11. Estadio 1520 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 (U Street)

If you don't order a slushito at Estadio, you're doing it wrong. These frozen boozie slushies are the star of this vibrant spot, and come in two variations: cranberry, ginger, brandy, and cava, or pistachio, manzanilla, sherry, and gin. Be sure to dig into their scrumptious and colorful Spanish tapas and bocadillos (sandwiches), too, like the sautéed chorizo picante.

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12. Amsterdam Falafelshop 2425 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

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.

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13. Rose's Luxury 717 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Capitol Hill)

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.

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14. Del Campo 777 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Penn Quarter)

Using a wood-fired grill is one way to cook a steak, and at Del Campo, that smoke helps add another level of flavor to the meat. This upscale Argentinian restaurant in Chinatown is a beautiful tribute to Argentinian grilled meats, all served in an elegantly rustic space outfitted with oak wood floors and leather sling-back barstools- perfect for enjoying the 48oz ribeye on the menu.

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15. Mintwood Place 1813 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

The Mintwood Place is an American Restaurant that has an "Oregon Trail" vibe thanks to the wagon wheels on the wall, wood on the tables and bars, and cast iron gears. Pull a chair up to the bar for some draft beer or try any of the delectable tastes on the menu, including the cast iron chicken w/ cippolini shepherd's pie.

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16. Toki Underground 1234 H Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 (H Street Ne)

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.

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17. Baked and Wired 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (Georgetown)

Sweets take center stage at this Georgetown hotspot, where baked goods are made fresh daily. Get there as early as you can to find the best selection of cookies. But if you're not in the mood to break the calorie bank, Baked and Wired offers expertly pulled shots. They brew with beans from Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Ceremony Coffee Roasters, and more.

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18. Cava Mezze 527 8th St SE, Washington, 20003 (Barracks Row)

This spot, located near Capitol Hill, serves Greek meze (small plates). The menu includes dishes like a salad of watermelon, feta, mint, & olive puree and an assortment of dips like hummus, tzatziki, and 'Crazy Feta,' which is whipped with jalapeño.

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19. GBD 1323 Connecticut Ave NW , Washington, DC , DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

GBD, or "Golden Brown Delicious", is really a misnomer, as their food is actually way sweeter than even Betty White and Rue McClanahan combined. That's thanks to the crew from Birch & Barley, who're frying birds & doughnuts in this skinny Dupont spot split into three sections: counter-service in the front, bar in the middle, and pin-cushion booth seating (lit by fryer baskets!) in the back.

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20. Thip Khao 3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010 (Columbia Heights)

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.

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21. Little Serow 1511 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

Though you may have to brave a serious line (we're not kidding, get there early!), the family-style Thai meal that you'll encounter at Little Serow will be well worth the wait. They don't make any substitutions, so make sure you're adventurous, allergy-less, and ready to rumble.

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22. Red Apron Butcher 709 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004 (Penn Quarter)

Start with a quality butcher that's got all the meats and provisions you could ask for, add a delicious menu of specialty breakfast and lunch sandwiches, mix in some coffee from Ceremony, and you've got yourself Red Apron Butcher. Speaking of their breakfast sandwiches, all of them are served on tigelle -- a tasty Italian flatbread reminiscent of an English muffin -- and come in varieties that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in DC, like the Southern Comfort with tasso ham, egg, and spicy pimento cheese.

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23. Mangialardo's 1317 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, 20003 (Capitol Hill)

This sandwich spot is a staple of the area, with regulars coming back again & again for sandwiches like the "G" Man, the Super Sub, and the Beef Combo.

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24. Le Diplomate 1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC, DC 20009 (Logan Circle)

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.

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25. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black Jack 1612 14th St NW, Washington DC, DC 20005 (Logan Circle)

Who says you can't play bocce while shooting oysters and sipping seasonal craft cocktails? Enjoy the Southern hospitality and the rustic, ancient mariner-inspired interior, while the chef shucks the best mollusks the East and West Coasts have to offer. They also have a solid happy hour with vodka martinis and a wine list with plenty of bottles that'll pair just right with your shelled snacks.

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26. Graffiato 707 6th St, Washington, DC 20001 (Chinatown)

Opened by former "Top Chef" Mike Isabella, Graffiato is an innovative Italian eatery in Chinatown (yes, confusing). What's not confusing is the tastes or the fact that there is a ham bar where locally-cured meats are carved to perfection right in front of you. The open wooden bar-style kitchen allows you to converse with the chef as he kneads the dough for your personal wood-fired pie.

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27. Stoney's 1433 P St NW, Washington, DC 20005 (Logan Circle)

This unpretentious Logan Circle bar & grill offers American grub -- best topped with their famous sauce -- and good drinks.

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28. Donburi 2438 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

Donburi is a Japanese dish that basically translates to something awesome on top of rice -- so just hop on up to their counter and choose your something awesome: panko breaded shrimp, pork, sweet and savory sauce, half-cooked egg, pickled radish, and jalapeño are all in the mix.

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29. Cashion's Eat Place 1819 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, 20009 (Adams Morgan)

Located in Adams Morgan, Cashion's churns out inventive a local dishes from a menu that changes daily. Be sure to check out their Craft Beer Brunch, available at the bar.

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30. Crane & Turtle 828 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011 (Petworth)

This restaurant is eminiscent of a cool café in Japan, serving up French and Japanese-inspired cuisine like straw-smoked tatakis, a cool take on pork cheek ramen, charcoal-grilled short rib, and a scallop dish you’ll be talking about for days.

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31. Ice Cream Jubilee 301 Water St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Brought to you by a lawyer who wanted to get a taste of the REAL sweet life, Ice Cream Jubilee is a waterfront creamery with awesome small-batch flavors that appeal to your inner kid, PLUS BOOZE! Try out Banana Bourbon Caramel or Pear Brandy.

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32. Iron Gate 1734 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

This is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants in DC. From the lamp-lit stone entryway to the back courtyard complete with a gazebo, Iron Gate in Dupont Circle was made for dining al fresco. Chef Anthony Chittum has been in DC for a long time, winning multiple awards along the way, and his understated Mediterranean dishes are made just right. Wine Director Brent Kroll’s tightly curated wine list pairs perfectly with the food, focusing on Greek and Italian varietals. Ask for a table out back in the courtyard, go all-in with Chef Chittum’s tasting menu, then just point to the wine list and order a bottle.

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33. DCity Smokehouse 8 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Noma)

DCity Smokehouse hosts a four-seat BBQ joint led by pitmaster Rob Sonderman. You’ll find menu items like the chicken and red velvet waffles and Sondermans’ smoked meats, and you can get a protein grand tour with a smokehouse meat platter. As far as we are concerned, DCity is one of the best places to get BBQ in Washington DC.

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34. Birch & Barley 1337 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 (Logan Circle)

Birch & Barley is the restaurant located below infamous beer bar ChurchKey in Logan Circle. It serves a simple and elegant menu of seasonal American food, but its claim to fame is the 500-plus beer list that rivals anything in the area (except of course, its upstairs sibling). The upscale restaurant serves a multi-course tasting menu with an optional beer pairing, but you can also order à la carte. Brunch rocks too, especially the freshly-fried donut holes.

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35. DGS Delicatessen 1317 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

DGS Delicatessen takes the idea from your old Jewish grandmother's kitchen and elevates it with a modern and creative spin that gives this authentic deli-bar new flavor and energy with a homestyle base. Styled after the turn-of-the-century grocery stores, DGS Delicatessen house cures and smokes their all meats and fish as well as crafts their own duck fat matzo balls.

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36. Neopol Savory Smokery 1309 5th St NE, Washington, 20002 (Noma)

Neopol Smokery is serving their smoked & cured meats and fish from this corner of Union Market. Their Salmon BLT will change your life, because you'll probably never want to eat a standard BLT again.

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37. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana 401 7th St NW, Washington DC, 20004

Drawing on various aspects of Mexican culture, this DC destination serves up traditional Mexican small plates, ceviches, and tacos accompanied by creative margaritas and cocktails, plus serious tequila tastings.

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38. Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier 2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, 20037 (Foggy Bottom)

The menu at this classy French-Belgian spot by Chef Wiedmaier includes the option to do a four, five, six, or seven course meal -- selecting from three options per course.

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39. Fast Gourmet 1400 W St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

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.

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40. SUNdeVICH 1314 9th St NW, Washington, 20001

This sandwich shop takes wholesome, organic, ingredients and builds them into mouth-watering sandwiches (and some salads). The sandwiches are named after global cities, and each captures flavors of that area -- the Capri had pesto, mozzarella, basil, tomato, & balsamic while the Kingston is made up of jerk chicken pinneaple salsa, greens, spicy slaw, & garlic mayo.

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41. Jaleo 480 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 (Penn Quarter)

Small plates: you either love them or you hate them, but there’s no denying where the craze originated as far as DC goes. When Jaleo opened its doors to serve tapas in 1993, a new way to dine in DC was born. Some dishes from the original menu are still available today, like the gambas al ajillo and tortilla Española. In the years that followed Jaleo’s debut, DC saw small plates at Mexican, Mediterranean, Asian restaurants and beyond take hold.

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42. Old Ebbitt Grill 675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 (Downtown)

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.

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43. Ripple 3417 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008 (Cleveland Park)

Boasting a linen-lined, curtained rear dining room and a 40ft tiled bar backed by huge mirrors and flower-patterned lightboxes up front, Ripple's a casually airy, beige-walled winer n' diner.

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44. Maketto 1351 H St NE, Washington, 20002 (H Street Ne)

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.

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45. Bub and Pop's 1815 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

This charming mom & pop shop in Dupont Circle has a whole host of hearty hoagies at their disposal, like their traditional Italian, roast pork, or our favorite, Pop's Beef Brisket, with apple-horseradish cream, five-year-aged Gouda, and veal jus.

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46. Ted's Bulletin 1818 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

This casual brunch spot has three locations in DC and supplies classic American eats and breakfast throughout the day. Fan favorites are the homemade pop tarts and boozy milkshakes, with all the eats being perfectly worthy of Instagram. Try the Grasshopper milkshake with creme de menthe and Kahlua or The Nutty Professor with Hazlenut Liqueur. The space is open and modern, with ample seating.

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47. G by Mike Isabella 2201 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

Mike Isabella's grab 'n go sandwich shop "G" is doing up jaw-dropping meaty hoagies with most of the meat spit roasted next door at Kapnos.

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48. Rasika 633 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004 (Penn Quarter)

Rasika has some of, if not THE best Indian cuisine in DC, with all your favorites done right, plenty of dishes you probably haven't tried before, and reasonably priced tasting menus to let someone else decide for you.

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49. BOURBON STEAK DC 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, 20007 (Georgetown)

Bourbon Steak, located inside the Four Seasons Hotel, is a chic and modern restaurant brought to you by award winning Chef Michael Mina. It has a classy upscale hotel vibe, offering one of the most extensive selection of steaks, including dry-aged, grass-fed, corn-fed, and Japanese wagyu beef. However, it’s the kind of steakhouse where a trio of steak cuts can cost you up to three figures.