12 gorgeous Washington DC restaurants that will blow you away

Photo credit: The Bazaar by José Andrés
Two rows of red chairs with tassels inside a reimagined post office at The Bazaar by José Andrés in Washington, DC

A knockout meal in Washington, DC, isn’t just about the flavors on your plate—it’s also about the overall vibe. The capital’s most beautiful restaurants are the ones that serve outstanding cuisine alongside drop-dead gorgeous interiors. 

A dramatic arched skylight steals the scene at a garden-like hotel restaurant. A MICHELIN-starred Indian spot channels a palace with lavish jade and mother-of-pearl accents. In a Victorian-era dining room, beautifully preserved paintings tell stories about DC’s illustrious past. 

From timeless restaurants in historic settings to contemporary spaces that pair innovation with elegance, these places deliver on all fronts. Read on for a guide to the District’s 12 most gorgeous restaurants.

Old Ebbitt Grill (Downtown)


Step into the Victorian-era dining room at DC’s oldest saloon and you’ll be transported to a time when regulars included past presidents like Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. Ornate chandeliers and gas-lit lamps cast a glow on mahogany panels and plush velvet booths, lighting up historic paintings. Whether you go for seafood brunch or late-night oyster happy hour, the food is nothing short of stellar—after all, Old Ebbitt Grill has been doing this since 1856.

Ottoman Taverna (Mount Vernon Square)

Istanbul comes to DC via white-trellised walls and ceilings with honeycomb-like patterns at Ottoman Taverna. | Credit: Ottoman Taverna

Celebrated restaurateur Hakan Ilhan brings Istanbul to DC at Ottoman Taverna, a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand restaurant where you can dine on Turkish staples like grape leaves, fall-off-the-bone lamb shank, and char-grilled kebabs. The dining room is equally inspired by Turkey, featuring an impressive mural of the Hagia Sophia, white-trellised walls, and wood-beamed ceilings with mesmerizing honeycomb-like patterns.

The Greenhouse at The Jefferson, DC (Downtown)

The arched skylight at this garden-inspired restaurant is the indisputable centerpiece. | Credit: The Greenhouse at The Jefferson, DC

Ornate plasterwork and lush floral arrangements create a garden-like environment at this opulent Beaux-Arts restaurant. Its crowning jewel: a dramatic arched skylight that floods the space with natural light, creating a vibe that is both airy and opulent. It’s a setting that makes the coastal Italian food, like black-ink risotto with lobster and ricotta gnocchi with smoked mozzarella foam, truly shine.

dLeña (Mount Vernon Square)

The sultry earth-toned interiors at dLeña include leather booths and tasseled chandeliers. | Credit: Zeph Colombatto

dLeña is a love letter to traditional Mexican craftsmanship, featuring rustic beams and a sleek, walnut-lined mezcal lounge. The sexy and sophisticated earth-toned interiors are decked with handcrafted chandeliers, which provide just the right kind of mood lighting as you settle into a cozy leather booth. Dine on next-gen Mexican dishes like guacamole with sushi-grade tuna and Wagyu beef empanadas with truffle cheese and chimichurri. 

Iron Gate (Dupont Circle)

 Iron Gate’s dining room was once a carriage house. | Credit: Iron Gate

Iron Gate’s wisteria-covered courtyard is a year-round star. It’s adorned with twinkling lights and especially photogenic in the spring, when flowers bloom in every corner. The fire pits come to life in the fall, keeping things cozy on cooler nights. Inside, there’s an iconic red-brick fireplace that warms the former carriage house dining room as you dig into bison carpaccio and goat cheese agnolotti—part of a three-course Mediterranean dinner by James Beard Award semi-finalist Anthony Chittum.

Rania DC (Penn Quarter)

India’s royal palaces inspired the interiors at Rania. | Credit: Rania DC

Rania is Sanskrit for “queen,” which explains its extra-ornate interiors: The MICHELIN-starred spot resembles a royal palace with splashes of gold, lots of mother-of-pearl inlay, and a carved piece of pink sandstone that tops the bar. Not to mention the innovative dishes by Indian Accent alum Chetan Shetty. From a chana masala panisse to ghee-roasted lamb with tangy buttermilk mousse, every dish at this regal escape pushes the envelope on Indian food. 

The Bazaar by José Andrés (Penn Quarter)

The Bazaar by José Andrés transformed a former post office into an avant-garde restaurant. | Credit: The Bazaar by José Andrés

Dining at The Bazaar by José Andrés is as much about the larger-than-life setting as it is about the meal. Surrealist art, Salvador Dalí-inspired fabrics, and a metal mailbox backsplash at the bar—a hat-tip to its post-office past—set an ambitious tone that matches the menu. US history inspires many of Andrés’s signature dishes, like the Eisenhower stew with beef cheeks (a tribute to the 34th president’s favorite meal), and the crab Louie cone, a modern riff on the West Coast classic. 

La Vie (Southwest Waterfront)

La Vie’s grand interiors take cues from Mediterranean villas. | Credit: La Vie

There’s not a bad seat at this villa-inspired restaurant, thanks to four distinct dining areas and panoramic wharf views. For a bright and airy meal, head to the blue, white, and sand-colored dining room; things get more dark and dramatic in the conservatory, which has green velvet banquettes, rose vines creeping up the walls, and a striking long bar. On the menu, expect seafood dishes like branzino fillets with eggplant caponata and citrus beurre blanc and lobster risotto with seafood ragu.

Sax (Penn Quarter)

With its gold-leaf motifs and chandeliers, Sax channels a Baroque-era theater. | Credit: Sax

Sax evokes a Baroque-era theater with its gold-leaf motifs, ornate chandeliers, and mirrored surfaces. Buckle in for an immersive theatrical experience—the main draw here is the large central stage (visible from wherever you’re dining), where live cabaret, burlesque, and acrobatic performances unfold from Wednesday to Saturday. There’s a snacky French menu served during the week, but until Sax’s full dinner menu returns, go for the bottomless mimosa brunch on Sunday.

Moonraker (Southwest Waterfront)

The elegant circular bar at Moonraker overlooks the Potomac River. | Credit: Moonraker

It’s all about the details at this rooftop hideaway. Natural materials like wood and stone are subtle nods to its name—”moonraker” refers to the highest sail on a boat. Warm pendant lights dangle above an elegant circular bar, which excels at Japanese-inspired cocktails like the Umamitini, a gin-based martini with dashi and pickled sakura blossoms. In the warmer months, retractable terrace doors open up, offering stunning views of the sun setting over the Potomac. 

Brasserie Liberté (Georgetown)

Brasserie Liberté‘s egg-shaped booth is a sought-after celebration spot. | Credit: Brasserie Liberté

This Georgetown brasserie is known for comforting bowls of French onion soup and a killer macaroni au gratin. But Brasserie Liberté also stands out for its glamorous interiors, which include a rustic-chic French farmhouse-inspired bar and a navy-paneled dining room with a candle-lit fireplace. Special occasions call for the restaurant’s sought-after egg-shaped booth lined with delicate floral tapestries and a lipstick-red banquette.

Taberna del Alabardero (Downtown)

Vintage photographs adorn this royal Spanish restaurant. | Credit: Taberna del Alabardero

You’ll feel like you’re dining in an opulent Spanish castle when you’re at this vibey downtown institution. Tiled floors, richly colored fabrics, and antique decor set the scene for a classic tapas and seafood paella feast, best paired with pitchers of refreshing sangria. For a full-fledged Spanish atmosphere, come on Fridays and Saturdays when there are flamenco performances.

Christabel Lobo is a food and travel writer, illustrator, and guidebook author based between Washington, DC, and Abu Dhabi. Her writing has appeared in publications including Insider and Lonely Planet.

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