With the meat-and-potatoes crowd no longer dominating the DC restaurant scene, the main thing clogging up the heart of the city these days is traffic. Locally sourced ingredients and serious culinary ingenuity are the hallmarks of DC's food scene, so take a step back from Ben's Chili Bowl (just for, like, a day), and follow local editor Leo Schmid's guide to expanding your own beltway in the District's.
Best Chinese: What's the Source of the best Chinese in DC? Well, it's Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in the Newseum, where head chef Scott Dresnow kicks out crispy suckling pig with a black plum puree
Best Late-Night Eats: New Big Wong. This Chinese restaurant is consistently graced with the presence of post-shift DC chefs filling their belly with curried noodles and crispy beef
Best for Date Night: Women love Logan Circle and 14th Street. How do I know this? Because I've taken them to Cork restaurant & wine bar. Not only will they appreciate the real world wine descriptions, but they'll also swoon for the avocado crostini and goat-cheese cake
Best Drinking Brunch: L’Enfant Cafe & Bar’s "La Boum" (which translates to “house party”) locks the doors and blasts dance music while everyone sprays Champagne into the air like it was 1999, even though it's actually just 3 o'clock on a Saturda
1. Boqueria1837 M St NW, Washington
2. Fiola601 Penn Ave NW, Washington
3. Shake Shack1216 18th St NW, Washington
4. Fast Gourmet1400 W St NW, Washington
5. Wit and Wisdom200 International Dr, Baltimore
6. Taylor Gourmet7280 Woodmont Ave, Bethesda
7. Brasserie Beck1101 K St NW, Washington
8. Cork Wine Bar1720 14th St NW, Washington
9. Proof775 G St, NW , Washington, DC
10. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana401 7th St NW, Washington
11. L'Enfant Café2000 18th St NW, Washington
12. &Pizza1118 H St NE, Washington
13. Rasika West End1177 22nd Street NW, Washington
14. Garden District1801 14th St NW, Washington
15. The Source575 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington
This sexy Dupont Circle tapas bar boasts a vast selection of authentic small bites and great wines.
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.
It's a widely known fact that Shake Shack flips some of the best burgers in the nation. It's a straightforward, near-perfect creation: a Black Angus beef patty topped with American cheese, tomato, lettuce, and "Shack Sauce," served on a grilled potato bun -- for $5. The burgers are the true stars here, but don't overlook their fries, dogs, and especially their shakes. It's in the name, after all.
Sometimes lunchtime glory can be found in the most unexpected of places; in Fast Gourmet's case, alongside a grungy gas station. But instead of the expected cigarettes and chewing gum for sale as this roadside stop, visitors go past the conventional gas counter to find an eatery with green and black walls where the son of a former Uruguayan diplomat fuels the people with elevated sandwiches. The fare is described as "urban street food," and the chef's Latin background is a tastable influence in milanesa made with pounded and breaded NY strip and tilapia tacos drizzled with pico de gallo. Notable is the Chivito: beef tenderloin, black forest ham, bacon, green olives, melty mozzarella, hard-boiled egg, lettuce, tomato and a pepper-onion-garlic oil called escabeche on a doughy roll baked on location (yeast rises even when gas prices fall). It's better than the usual rotisserie hot dog, no? All the sandwiches come with a side of fries. Pump-your-own ketchup.
Located in the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, this upscale Michael Mina seafood establishment focuses on local flavors and contemporary cuisine for which the area is known.
Taylor's third spot's decked out with the familiar gas-barrel light fixtures and garage-door walls, and is serving up all the same Philly-themed 'wiches you know and love.
From noted chef Robert Wiedmaier comes the European-style Brasserie Beck in McPherson Square. Brews include classic Belgian styles like dubbels, tripels, and saisons, while eats count options like a ratatouille crepe, classic steak frites with bearnaise and bordelaise, and Maine lobster pappardelle. Maine is notably not in Belgium, but doesn't that sound damn good?
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.
Proof is an award-winning restaurant located in DC's Penn Quarter. Go for Mediterranean and Asian-influenced American cuisine, and try their famous crispy Peking duck breast. While you're at it, order a fine port from its thousand-plus wine list.
From Spanish native José Andrés comes Oyamel, a lively and bold Penn Quarter restaurant. The menu draws from Mexico's rich regional diversity, offering up a huge variety of small plates, tacos, and an Oxacan speciality called Chapulines that features -- get this -- sautéed grasshoppers. Dig in, bro.
If the miniature Eiffel Tower on the roof is any indication, this Adams Morgan bar and cafe is a little piece of Paris in DC. Open from 6pm to 12am during the week (and 1am on Fridays), L'Enfant is a great place to go for a glass of wine and a late bite (the menu is classic French with crepes, steak frites, and duck confit). Its claim to fame, though, is the weekend party brunch. The so-called La Boum Brunch is a three-hour Saturday and Sunday event that takes brunch to the next-level with a DJ, champagne, and plenty of dancing. Reservations are required and it fills up fast, so book a few weekends ahead of time.
This popular DC pizzeria is baking some of the best pies in the city and simultaneously giving your late-night slice conquests some legitimacy by also offering craft beers.
Rasika is an elegantly designed contemporary Indian restaurant with a boundary-pushing menu that still keeps its roots in traditional Indian cuisine. Its wine list also spans across the globe and is hand-selected to complement the menu.
A no frills beer and barbecue joint, Garden District has picnic-style dining and some seriously smokey sandwiches. They have an outdoor beer garden overflowing with German and Bavarian brews that pair perfectly with a rack of ribs, but make sure you get there early since everything is made in-house, they close early when they run out of BBQ.
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.