Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
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1. Centrolina 974 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, 20001 (Chinatown)

Situated in Chinatown, Centrolina is a bright and stylish Italian restaurant with an on-site market, meaning you can either pick up coffee, prepared foods, and specialty groceries for an authentic Italian meal at home, or dine in with refined plates including gnocchi with beef ragu, and pappardelle with roasted mushrooms. The menu's standout items are those that are wood-grilled, such as lamb chops with celery root crema. Expect the utmost freshness at Centrolina, as the roster changes based on seasonal ingredients and the pasta is made in-house daily.

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2. Songbyrd Record Café 2475 18th St NW, Washington DC, 20009 (Adams Morgan)

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.

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3. Bar Civita 2609 24th St NW, Washington DC, 20008 (Woodley Park)

Murphy’s morph into Bar Civita was most welcome in Woodley Park. One step into the space and you’ll feel like you’re in a well-worn European bar that’s been welcoming locals for decades. The dark wood, fireplace and vintage tap heads do most of the work adding character to the place—the heart of which is 20-seat bar. “If I wanted to run away from the world, this bar is where I’d be,” Chef/Owner Liam Civita tells us. The chef who you know from Liberty Tavern put together a menu with familiar, comforting dishes with a twist like Ziti a la Vodka, a NY strip, and roast chicken, plus a really sexy charcuterie board. Pay close attention to the reasonably priced wine list divided into cutesy categories.

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4. 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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5. Melt Shop 1901 L St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Melt Shop is comfort food to the max. A variety of sandwich options are available, all of which are exceptionally cheesy and melty.

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6. Brick & Mortar 918 F St NW, Washington DC, 20004 (Chinatown)

Don’t let the black brick and sunken location fool you into thinking Brick & Mortar is a dank basement in which to drink away your summer sorrows. Rather, the bar serves beachy cocktails and playful bites like a B.L.T. on focaccia, American mezze and lobster rolls. One of the best sips is The Golden Age, which gets its hue from turmeric and combines Genever with lime juice, sugar and club soda. Find it in the former Living Social building, though no one will approach you offering crappy deals. The multi-floor space is now home to Prequel from EquityEats.

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7. The Royal 501 Florida Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Ledroit Park)

Owner Paul Carlson’s Colombian heritage is responsible for the Latin influence found in many of the dishes at this neighborhood spot in LeDroit Park. This cozy cafe offers everything from coffee to arepas -- not to mention a killer cocktail program. It's a great venue for a date, as the spot is spacious enough to talk comfortably.

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8. Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery 901 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Capitol Hill)

Find this temple to Southern cuisine inside a 150-year-old carriage house. Don’t leave without trying the beignets. They’re worth it. You’re worth it.

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9. Wunder Garten at NoMa 150 M St NE, Washington, DC 20003 (Noma)

The NoMa locale offers 10 beers, three hailing from Munich’s Hofbräuhaus plus grub from food trucks like DC Slices and Rocklands BBQ.

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10. Provision No. 14 2100 14th St NW, Washington, 20009 (U Street)

Located on the 14th St strip, Provision No. 14 has the trifecta of a sweet space, food that doesn’t hold back, and a trendy bar program. Sip frozen drinks on an enviable patio, or pound a burger that doesn’t hold back on luxury.

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