What if you woke up to learn you had one day left in DC and could never return? What would do you? More (actually most) importantly, what would you eat?
Suspend reality for a bit and pretend cost, calories, and geographic convenience are of zero consequence. This is only about getting as much deliciousness as you can in your belly. In fact, since DC has WAY too much good stuff for just one meal, here’s an entire day’s worth of DC eating planned out. Have something else in mind for your last day? Let us know in the comments.
Breakfast: Uncle Buck
Golden Brown Delicious (address and info)
GBD’s bacon, egg, and cheddar on a crème fraîche biscuit is OMFG good, making it your breakfast swan song. It costs what breakfast should -- $3.50 -- and combines salty and sweet quite skillfully. If you want something even more outrageous, hang on until 11am when The Luther enters the picture, sandwiching fried chicken between fried brioche donut halves glazed in maple-chicken jus. It’s a bit poetic that the Dupont Circle shop’s initials could also stand for Good Bye DC.
Lunch: Kimchi ramen
Toki Underground (address and info)
H Street NE
Can you get ramen wherever it is you’re headed? Probably, but it won’t near nirvana like Erik Bruner-Yang’s kimchi ramen. The noodles bite back when you slurp them into your mouth, almost bragging about their perfect texture. They sit in a hot tub of red broth bringing the right amount of heat, and that soft egg is so silky it’s almost sexual. Pulled pork, greens, sheets of cabbage kimchi, and pickled ginger join the party. The H Street NE hotspot is a little less competitive at lunchtime, which is important because your farewell tour agenda is demanding.
Afternoon snack: Burger and duck fat fries
Bourbon Steak (address and info)
Before you move (or moooove?!) on from DC, visit beef master Joe Palma in The Lounge at Bourbon Steak where six burgers are on offer along with a trio of duck fat fries. His classic Oak-Fired Prime Steak burger with pickles, Cabot cheddar, and secret sauce is worthy of your last afternoon snack. But, if you’re feeling wild, inquire about the burger of the month. That’s when Joe flies over the cuckoo's nest. April, for example, brought a patty topped with bacon, pimento cheese, and relish on a benne seed yeast donut. Since today is about decadence, pair your gut-busting sandwich with Bourbon Steak’s signature Barrel Aged Jefferson.
Dinner appetizer: Pork lychee salad
Rose's Luxury (address and info)
The dish that doesn’t seem like it should work because of its disparate ingredients and whack texture has won the hearts of Washingtonians. It’s so addictive that some order it for a starter and again as dessert. The dish uniting crumbled pork sausage with lychee halves, sliced red onion, coconut cream, and peanuts falls into the category of “would create homicidal maniacs if removed from menu.” It’s a trip to Southeast Asia for the price of an Uber ride to Barracks Row.
Charcuterie: Any board at The Partisan
The Partisan (address and info)
Creative charcuterie that you order like sushi is something you’ll want to remember, so fire up an order at The Partisan. The “Red Menace,” Greek fennel-lemon verbena salami, and “Saucisson de Strasbourg” are must-orders. While charcuterie captain Nathan Anda is probably referring to a European locale on that last one, we’d like to take this time to remind you that you’ll probably also miss Stephen Strasburg. Wash down your pig plate with “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” with Old Forester bourbon, Cocchi Rosa, Nardini Tagliatella, and lemon.
Dinner pasta course: Fiola Maine Lobster Ravioli
Fiola (address and info)
Fiola defends the $50 price tag of its Maine Lobster Ravioli by including the entire crustacean. You’ll find the tail swimming alongside pasta pockets stuffed with claw meat. It’s been Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s calling card for years -- meaning he has absolutely perfected the buttery, briny beast. All it needs as accelerants are ginger and chives. Try it at Fiola or Fiola Mare.
Dinner side: Palak Chaat
Rasika (address and info)
It took a culinary mastermind to make Washingtonians crave spinach. Frying it and rolling it around in a combination of sweet tamarind and tangy yogurt helped. Everyone with a frying pan and access to a grocery store has tried to recreate it, but no one does it like James Beard award-winning Chef Vikram Sunderam. Entrust him with leaving a lasting impression of the DC crowd-pleasing green machine.
Dinner entrée: Si Krong Muu
Little Serow (address and info)
Whiskey makes a lot of things better, like high school reunions, mandatory networking happy hours, and any cocktail that was previously made with vodka. Add pork ribs to that list as proven by Little Serow’s signature dish: Si Krong Muu. Chef Johnny Monis marinates ribs in Mekhong whiskey, magic, and dill, leaving behind meat that falls off the bone before it reaches your lips. You don’t have to remember how to say the name of the dish, but definitely commit the sweet and smoky flavor to memory.
Dessert: Apple pie
Blue Duck Tavern (address and info)
We pressed pause on reality, remember? That’s why you can still stomach a dessert the size of those buckets you used to make sandcastles with when you were a kid. Blue Duck Tavern’s famed dessert is as American as apple pie... errr as American as going to a baseball game on bobblehead night and drinking $9 beers. It’s said to be made for two, but we know you can do it, especially once the canister of ice cream arrives to make your a la mode dreams come true. What makes the pie so unforgettable is the sticky caramel and buttery crust.
After-dinner drink: Ode to Omaha
Dram & Grain (address and info)
Much of life in DC is about the show, so finish your nostalgia crawl with a drink that’s a little dramatic. Dram & Grain’s Ode to Omaha has been on the menu since opening night and isn’t going anywhere for good reason. It’s served in a smoke-filled orb with rum, blackberry cinnamon syrup, and bitters. One of the bar scientists will light up some wood chips and then trap the smoke, creating a mesquite aftertaste.
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1. GBD1323 Connecticut Ave NW , Washington, DC
2. Toki Underground1234 H Street NE, Washington
3. Rose's Luxury717 8th St SE, Washington
4. The Partisan709 D St NW, Washington
5. Fiola601 Penn Ave NW, Washington
6. Rasika633 D St NW, Washington
7. Little Serow1511 17th St NW, Washington
8. Blue Duck Tavern1201 24th St NW, Washington
9. Dram & Grain2007 18th St NW, Washington
10. BOURBON STEAK DC2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington
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.
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.
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.
With 30+ charcuterie options, medium plates like sausages and corned beef belly, and feasts like a whole roasted pig's head, The Partisan will cater to your meat cravings, no matter your appetite.
This modern Italian Trattoria has perpetually-changing lunch and dinner menus, an upscale cocktail list, and an extensive collection of wines compiled from Italy, Spain, France and the US.
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.
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.
A popular brunch, lunch, and dinner spot inside the West End's Park Hyatt, the Blue Duck Tavern offers up hearty fare with the likes of pork belly, short rib hash, and apple pie on the menu. Herald the arrival of spring by brunching al fresco on their outdoor patio, where you might sneak a peek at some seasonal flora and fauna (including a small family of those eponymous ducks!).
Dram & Grain is a badass underground whiskey den run by Trevor Frye and Nick Lowe of Jack Rose Dining Saloon (which just so happens to be on top of said whiskey den). If you can get the secret phone number via secret business card, you can text these guys on their burner phone (!) and get yourself into one of three seatings on Saturdays only. Expect creative cocktails (red-hot pokers, smoke-filled concoctions), whiskey on tap, and only one vodka drink called the Training Wheels.
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.