Brunch gets more airtime than Donald Trump and dinner is a must, you know, because of that whole dating thing. Or that whole networking thing. Wait, aren’t they the same? What doesn’t get enough love is lunch -- a prime opportunity to experience fancy-pants restaurants for less, or toss down something quick without sacrificing quality. Here are the best places to head midday in 17 DC neighborhoods.
Woodward Takeout FoodAddress and Info
What you’re getting: The Piggly-Wiggly
“I get the hype,” you’ll likely utter after your first bite of the Chick Chick or the Piggly-Wiggly (pictured). The latter packs smoked ham, pork shoulder, pimento cheese, chow-chow, and bacon aioli on ciabatta for a Cuban sandwich-meets-the South filler-upper. The sandwiches are superb, especially when paired with pistachio lemonade. See if you can escape without bringing baked goods back to the office to win your boss’ good graces and overlook the cheesy “WTF Is for Lunch” slogan. Woodward Takeout Food is open weekdays from 7:30am-4:30pm.
BeefsteakAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Whatever bowl your heart desires
Remember to call mom after you leave Beefsteak to tell her you ate all your vegetables and you didn’t hate it for one second. The nature’s candy-focused restaurant from José Andrés features blanched veggies, healthy grains, and killer toppings. If decision making requires a Xanax for you, opt for one of the predetermined bowls with cheeky names like the Kimchi-wa or Frida Kale instead of building your own. Beefsteak opens for lunch daily at 10:30am.
MuncheezAddress and Info
What you’re getting: So much shawarma
(Insert stoner joke). Okay, let’s move on and talk about this Lebanese eatery and food truck. If you’re in Georgetown, you’re probably on the go looking for the Frye boots that will define your social status senior year, so you don’t want a long, ornate lunch. Enter Muncheez, which serves up shawarma, mankeesh, salads, mezze, wraps, pizza, and more. Big Lebowski fans should order “The Dude” pizza, while anyone in your group who actually utters the word “’Muricah” should get the brisket cheesesteak wrap. Muncheez opens daily at 11am.
Red Apron ButcheryAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Porkstrami and beef-fat fries
Maybe you’re one of the 10,000 overachievers who woke up this morning and ran six miles before the sun even showed up. Or better yet, you’re in the November Club. Reward yourself with a Red Apron Butchery sandwich because you’ll replenish those spent calories in no time. Chorizo burger? Beef & cheddar? Porkstrami? Yeah, looks like you’ll have to make multiple visits. And as if we had to tell you, beef-fat fries. Weekday lunch is served from 11am-2:30pm.
Bonchon ChickenAddress and Info
What you’re getting: The $9 lunch special
Impossibly addictive double-fried wings? Yes, please. The $9 lunch deal gets you your choice of wings, drums, strips, or a combo in the flavor of your choosing, plus a side such as kimchi coleslaw or fries. You’ll leave full, happy, and sticky, so get off your “death to chain restaurants” soapbox just this once. Bonchon Chicken opens daily at 11:30am.
Sushi TaroAddress and Info
What you’re getting: A bento box
Lunch at Sushi Taro is the stuff dreams are made of -- maybe even Jiro’s dreams. That’s because a midday meal is the most economical way to experience DC’s iconic Japanese restaurant. Bento boxes with sashimi and tempura among other things run $12.95. Or tried cooked entrees like pork katsudon or udon noodles, which also clock in at $13 or less. This is not a secret though, so make a reservation if you’re better at commitment than The Bride and Bill. Lunch is served weekdays from 11:30am-2pm.
Cava GrillAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Lamb sliders... and more
You know when you download the song whose lyrics you’ve been stalking and then you binge listen for a week only to be nauseated by said song two weeks later? No matter how many times you hit up Cava Grill this will not happen to you. Bop back and forth between salads, rice bowls, and pitas punctuated by proteins like lamb sliders grilled feet away from the assembly line. Then load up on scoops of zesty dips like hummus and tzatziki, or bring the heat with harissa. Its proximity to the Verizon Center means an awesome pre-game or pre-movie meal (that might fit in your purse, but we didn’t say that). Cava Grill opens daily at 11am.
Market LunchAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Crab cakes and fried green tomatoes
“More than blueberry pancakes” should be the Market Lunch slogan come lunchtime. That’s because the crab cakes, oyster sandwiches, and no-frills burgers are classics. Add a side of fried green tomatoes FTW and look up from your phone because you never know who you might be rubbing elbows with at the communal table. Market Lunch, inside Eastern Market, is open from 7:30am-2:30pm Tues-Friday; 8am-3pm Sat; and 9am-3pm Sunday.
H Street NE
Toki UndergroundAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Kimchi ramen
The often reiterated tip of hitting Toki Underground for lunch instead of dinner to avoid lines rings true. But there are other pluses, like the fact that you’ll feel full enough to require only a liquid dinner of happy hour beers. Get your daytime ramen fix Monday-Saturday starting at 11:30am. Flavors these days include Toki classic, Taipei curry chicken, vegetarian, red miso, and kimchi (pictured).
Room 11Address and Info
What you’re getting: The Room 11 grilled cheese
You like breakfast for lunch on days other than Saturday and Sunday? Room 11 has your back. You like day drinking with lunch? Yep, it's got that too, and don’t forget the top-notch coffee program. Try the Room 11 grilled cheese washed down with locally produced Thunder Beast root beer for a taste of childhood, or go grown-up with the bleu cheese biscuit burger paired with the IPA of the day. The charming space is filled with light, not Wi-Fi, so expect to read a book or converse. Room 11 opens daily at 8am.
Brookland’s FinestAddress and Info
What you’re getting: The porchetta sandwich
It know it's rocking the best lunch eats in the neighborhood with a name like Brookland’s Finest. It would be braggadocio if it weren’t 100% true. How about a porchetta sandwich with suckling pig, sausage, arugula, mozzarella, and mustard on a pretzel bun to break up your day? The Colonel burger (pictured) with tempura onion rings is also a hit. Make it a working lunch thanks to Wi-Fi and strong coffee. Brookland’s Finest opens at 11am weekdays and 10am on weekends.
Greek DeliAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Avgolemono soup and lamb souvlaki
Home to one of DC’s signature dishes -- avgolemono soup -- Greek Deli is an institution that has been drawing lines since 1990. Owner Kostas Fostieris’ service is warm but brisk so stop comparing him to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. Especially since that episode didn’t air until 1995. Be sure to try his lamb souvlaki, pastitsio, and believe it or not, green beans. Greek Deli is open weekdays from 7am-4pm.
Macon Bistro & LarderAddress and Info
What you’re getting: So many possibilities... but definitely biscuits
Find yourself in Upper Northwest during the day? Treat yo self to a Southern snack like fried green tomatoes topped with deviled crab (pictured) before moving on to a mammoth burger or a simple-but-tasty city ham sandwich. Don’t bother saying you’ve eaten at Macon unless you’ve ordered Essie’s biscuits with honey butter and pepper jelly. Just don’t. Spring for a lemonade because somehow it’s in a league of its own. Lunch is served Tues-Friday 11:30am-2pm.
Maki ShopAddress and Info
What you’re getting: All the rolls and Sriracha mayo
You can get in and out of Maki Shop in five minutes with rolls in hand. Yes, rolls, plural, because one is not enough to fill you up. We tried, then hit the office vending machine HARD. You don’t need chopsticks for the rolled maki, just follow the unwrapping instructions and dip away in sauces from the sauce bar --the most addictive of which is Sriracha mayo. Because Sriracha. The sauces may not be authentic to Japan, but that’s where the resto gets its rice-rolling machines. Try the California crab, poke tuna, and beef short rib. Maki Shop opens daily at 11am.
Boundary StoneAddress and Info
What you’re getting: A chili-cheese half smoke and fried pickles
It’s a shame your only memories of Boundary Stone are hazy thanks to the fine whiskey selection because the food is tasty too. Fix that by popping into this beloved watering hole while the sun’s still out. It serves lunch starting at 11am and follows the something-for-everyone approach. You’re starting with fried pickle spears and honey hot wings before a grand finale of a chili-cheese half smoke or a DC Brau chicken sandwich.
SUNdeVICHAddress and Info
What you’re getting: The Kingston
It will take you four workweeks to make your way through SUNdeVICH’s globally inspired menu of 20 sandwiches. Challenge accepted? We thought so. Start with the signature Kingston, which, you guessed it, is filled with jerk chicken and maybe even reggae music. Also good: the Istanbul that’s basically a gyro. Don’t forget that four of the 20 sandos are of the breakfast variety, like the Mexico City with ham, avocado, eggs, tomato, and chipotle butter, and they’re available all day long. SUNdeVICH opens daily at noon (closed Sundays).
Songbyrd Record CafeAddress and Info
What you’re getting: A Mumbo slice
You’d have to be fresh to DC to call Adams Morgan a daytime destination, unless you count the MacBook Air-toting tribe of teleworkers headed to Tryst. But a few spots have cropped up lately making heading up 18th St for lunch quite appealing, like Donburi and Songbyrd Record Cafe. The latter got a lot of buzz for its DC Frankenfood -- the Mumbo slice -- but also try the Kraftwerk with chicken schnitzel inside and any of the burgers as you take in some vinyl. Songbyrd Record Cafe opens daily at 10am (closed Monday).
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1. Woodward Takeout Food1426 H St NW, Washington
2. Beefsteak800 22nd St NW, Washington
3. Muncheez1071 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington
4. Red Apron Butcher709 D St NW, Washington
5. Bonchon Chicken1015 Half St SE, Washington
6. Sushi Taro1503 17th St NW, Washington
7. Cava Grill707 H Street NW, Washington
8. Market Lunch225 7th St SE, Washington
9. Toki Underground1234 H Street NE, Washington
10. Room 113234 11th St NW, Washington
11. Brookland's Finest Bar & Kitchen3128 12th St NE, Washington
12. Greek Deli1120 19th St NW, Washington
13. Macon Bistro & Larder5520 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington
14. Maki Shop1522 14th St NW, Washington
15. Boundary Stone116 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington
16. SUNdeVICH1314 9th Street NW, Washington
17. Songbyrd Record Café2475 18th St NW, Washington DC
Thinking about breakfast on your morning commute? Look no further than Woodward Takeout Food. Their food is so good it'll have you saying, "WTF, why haven't I been here before?"
Considering its name, you'd expect this Foggy Bottom-adjacent spot to be a masculine, meat-centric spots where artery-clogging, beefy burgers and juicy steaks reign supreme. However, it's quite the contrary -- this goofy, cartoon-like restaurant serves up fare that's healthy and predominately vegetarian and vegan -- like their bowls, which come with a grain base (bulgur, quinoa, or rice) and veggies, sauces, meat or meat substitutes, and burgers that ditch greasy beef patties and opt for ripe and juicy tomato slices instead.
If you're looking for authentic Lebanese street food, this vibrant spot covers all the bases: schwarma, manakeesh, crepes, and large and small mezze (appetizers like hummus, grape leaves, and zaatar).
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.
Double-fried Korean chicken wings replace Cracker Jack as the most craved baseball snack thanks to this Bonchon location just blocks from Nationals Park. Along with drums, wings, and strips, order the bulgogi sliders and salmon-avocado balls at the Busan import with locations in six countries. Ice-cold beer from both far-off lands and here at home will tame your mouth after a trip aboard the spicy-hot-garlic wing-train. Bonchon is open for lunch Monday-Friday (plus game days) and dinner seven nights a week. Expect to be envious of others’ patio seats.
Sushi Taro doles out authentic Japanese and seafood, and during their happy hour, you can get half-price regular sushi and alcohol!
This laid back chain is like Chipotle, but with big fat Greek bowls—start with a base (salad, basmati rice, or both), add a pita and sauce (hummus, tzatziki, eggplant and red pepper), pick your protein (falafel, braised lamb, chicken), and then throw in some toppings and dressings.
Located inside Eastern Market—a hub of eateries, stores, and entertainment—Market Lunch is a counter-serve breakfast and lunch spot. Guests can enjoy blueberry buckwheat pancakes, oyster sandwiches, burgers, and other no-frills nosh while sitting at long, communal tables.
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.
Room 11 is a neighborhood restaurant, bakery, coffee shop, and wine bar in Columbia Heights. The small den has an ultra-relaxed atmosphere, with end-grain wood flooring cut from 80-year-old yellow pine, a pearl-colored zinc bar, and walls with inlaid wine racks. The American menu consists of cheese and charcuterie boards and large plates, like miso pork belly and grilled strip steak. Here, you can order both standard cocktails and inventive house recipes with exciting twists and flavors, like “When Rails Fall,” with Jamaican rum, Punt e Mes, fig, lime, and burlesque bitters.
Brookland's Finest uses local, seasonal ingredients to craft a rotating menu that features refined American classics like biscuits and gravy, fried catfish, porcini-rubbed steak, and bacon mac 'n' cheese.
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.
This bistro introduces Macon, Georgia to Macon, France by way of a sophisticated menu that merges American comfort food and French cuisine. Craft cocktails, microbrews, and elegant homestyle eats are just a few of the highlights at this Chevy Chase hotspot.
Although pre-packaged sushi sounds like a terrible idea, Maki makes their rolls daily with fresh, local ingredients. "Fast-food" doesn't do this place justice.
Named for the mile markers that once shaped the city, Boundary Stone encapsulates DC style with exposed brick, original tin ceilings, oak bars, and even a stained glass DC flag. The Bloomingdale American restaurant boasts a menu of snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees, with favorites including daily changing deviled eggs and the honey hot chicken with honey hot sauce, bleu cheese, lettuce, and fries. Try one of the eight drafts on tap as you slide into one of the rustic, charcoal-colored wooden booths.
A sandwich shop tucked behind Seasonal Pantry and Lamont Bishop Gallery, SUNdeVICH's got more plants than seats, and serves up nine sammies named after international cities, like the ground beef & lamb/ yogurt/ sumac onions Istanbul, the skirt steak/ fried onions/ chimichurri Buneos Aires, and the hummus/ cucumber/ brined veggies Cairo.
When you’re done geeking out over Songbyrd Café’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph, step up to the counter and order a Frankenfood of DC snacks dubbed the Mumbo Slice. The chef tops focaccia with mumbo sauce, chopped pork, pineapple, Provolone, shaved onions and basil for a hearty bite. Though there’s no beer to pair with pizza or all-day breakfast sandwiches, there is coffee and a stack of vinyl to thumb through and purchase. You can opt to plug into iPads made to look old-timey or take a seat in the “conversation pit” styled with seats that should remind you of Charles De Gaulle Airport. Expect to leave and immediately phone your coolest friend to say you’ve found a place they’ll love.