Enable JavaScript to run this app.
Skip to main content
OpenTable logo

18 restaurants that define dining in Washington, D.C.

A photo of Red logo
by Christabel Lobo
Updated March 29, 2023

Washington, D.C.’s best restaurants are defined by global flavors. There are storied spots that have hosted former presidents, foreign dignitaries, and a cavalcade of other changemakers. But the District’s dining all-stars also include relaxed hangouts for laid-back everyday moments.

Head to Georgetown for a mid-Atlantic seafood feast at one of the city’s oldest fine-dining restaurants. Share crispy spinach chaat at an acclaimed Indian spot in Penn Quarter. Tuck into an all-you-can-eat Balkan spread at a Capitol Hill favorite.

Sample the tastes that are essential to Washington, D.C. by booking a table at one of the city’s 18 greatest restaurants right now.

A photo of Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant
4.8
4.8 (28500)
$30 and under
American
Downtown
About the restaurant

Having operated since 1856 (albeit in different locations), D.C.’s oldest saloon is the restaurant equivalent of Forrest Gump—a presence that has consistently butted up against American history, hosting figures such as Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. Despite its age, the Old Ebbitt Grill maintains its popularity as a place “for everyone and every time,” as its director of operations once described to The Washington Post. Tourists and bureaucrats fill the Victorian-style dining room to enjoy a large menu of American classics. But the restaurant is especially known for its seafood, particularly its oysters. Settle into a wood-paneled booth for a dozen freshly shucked bivalves, some crab cakes, and a crisp glass of wine, and contemplate the historical figures who might have done the same.


Top review
zsofi
Dined 3 days ago
We had an amazing breakfast and Ross was an excellent server. He told us a bit about the history of the restaurant and was very attentive. Food was great, excellent cappuccino, freshly squeezed orange juice.
A photo of Ambar Capitol Hill restaurant
4.7
4.7 (4795)
$30 and under
Balkan style
Capitol Hill
About the restaurant

Most people associate the phrase “all you can eat” with quantity over quality. Ambar Capitol Hill challenges that assumption, offering limitless, made-to-order Balkan dishes for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Far from a gimmick, the “Balkan experience” is a great way to try dishes such as ajvar, a roasted pepper and eggplant spread, ćevapi, or grilled Balkan kebabs, and sesame-crusted Atlantic salmon with eggplant jam. The knowledgeable staff shares a bit of history with each dish, noting influences from Greece, Turkey, Austria, and Hungary.


Top review
MichelleV
Dined 7 days ago
I love gathering with coworkers and friends at Ambar. I know the quality of food and service will be excellent and I love the inclusive pricing model.
A photo of The Salt Line - Navy Yard restaurant
4.5
4.5 (2501)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Navy Yard
About the restaurant

The Salt Line might be steps from Nationals Park, but it feels like it should be perched on the New England coast. The spacious patio and interior mix of weathered wood and tile bring a seaside vibe to the banks of the Anacostia River, making it a hotspot for D.C. residents on warm days and game days alike. But it’s the food that landed the restaurant a spot on The Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list. Focusing on sustainable seafood, the menu here showcases time-honored dishes such as clam chowder and stuffed clams, along with more original creations including rockfish tartare topped with pickled mustard seed, Worcestershire mayo, fried capers, and potato crisps.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 2 days ago
Great! A very kind, present and quick service! Meal excellent! Very noisy overall but our place was quieter! Thank you to all the Team and compliments to the Chief(s) With best wishes
A photo of Letena Ethiopian Restaurant restaurant
4.8
4.8 (93)
$30 and under
Ethiopian
Columbia Heights / Brightwood
About the restaurant

D.C. is home to the largest Ethiopian population in the country, so Ethiopian cuisine is an important part of the city’s eclectic restaurant scene. Letena stands out in this crowded field. Owner Yamrot Ezineh’s chemical engineering background informed her methodical approach to recipe development as she tested every dish extensively, even traveling back to her native Ethiopia to consult with some of the country’s top chefs. The result is a menu full of precisely prepared Ethiopian standards made with all-natural ingredients such as richly spiced goat wot, a stew braised in a ginger-forward sauce. Vegetarians shouldn’t miss the carrot wot flavored with chiles, garlic, and warming spices such as cinnamon. Letena’s modern dining room is full of nods to Ezineh’s home country, featuring walls lined with brightly colored woven baskets and other Ethiopian artifacts.


Top review
jillr
Dined 5 days ago
We will definitely be back. Best Ethiopian food I’ve had in a long time.
A photo of Tabard Inn restaurant
4.6
4.6 (3561)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Dupont Circle
About the restaurant

The Tabard Inn’s restaurant is a venerable name in D.C. dining and has operated continuously since 1922 within the namesake hotel, earning it landmark status in February 2020. The hotel and restaurant are both employee-owned businesses and known for their high levels of service. The bar room evokes a bygone era with low-slung, wood-beamed ceilings and clusters of cushy chairs and couches. The seats urge diners to settle in with a house cocktail, such as Here Comes the General!, an intense mix of blackstrap rum, Madeira wine, maple cinnamon, and chocolate. Snag a seat in the sunlit dining room or ivy-walled patio for the restaurant’s famous brunch, where the renowned cinnamon sugar donuts are practically mandatory with any dish.


Top review
susangvip
Dined 3 days ago
This was a lovely restaurant with historic significance and a lovely patio out back with beautiful sculpture surrounding the tables. The service was great and the food superb. The experience was very special as we were visiting in town and looking for a nice place to dine. It was a very relaxing dinner.
A photo of Medium Rare - Cleveland Park restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2010)
$30 and under
Steak
Cleveland Park
About the restaurant

In a city of high-roller steakhouses where loaner jackets hang in the closet to maintain the dress code, Medium Rare has a cult following for offering exactly the opposite: a single menu item that is a $28.95 prix-fixe meal. For that price, diners receive a signature culotte steak cooked to their liking, hand-cut fries, crusty bread, and a simple green salad. Owners Mark Bucher and Tom Greg were determined to deliver the simple but elegant dining experiences they had in France. The idea of creating an accessible restaurant that served great food at a reasonable price point proved so popular, the pair now own three locations around the Beltway. The restaurant is also known for giving back to the community: Throughout the pandemic, the Medium Rare team delivered free meals to elderly community members who had to quarantine, including free Thanksgiving dinners.


Top review
Janice
Dined 4 days ago
Great food, service, and delicious blackberry sangria — wonderful way to celebrate a special birthday.
A photo of Le Diplomate restaurant
$31 to $50
French
Logan Circle
About the restaurant

Prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr operates restaurants all over the country, and his first foray into D.C. dining in 2013 was an immediate hit. Le Diplomate is a sprawling love letter to France, with red banquettes and marble bistro tables that can seat almost 300 diners at full capacity. Since 2013, it’s served as a popular brunch place for locals, a classy mid-day break spot for tourists, and a restaurant nice enough for client dinners. The interior details and careful renditions of French standards ground the place and earned it three stars in a Washington Post review. Vintage cycling jerseys sit above the lengthy zinc bar where diners can sip a French spritz made of Lillet blanc, sparkling wine, sour orange, and rhubarb—a great way to contemplate whether to start with a chilled seafood tower, escargot bathed in garlic parsley butter, or both.


Top review
KDTT
Dined on Jan 1, 2023
Meal was fantastic as usual. Highly recommend the escargot and the quiche.
A photo of The Prime Rib restaurant
4.7
4.7 (3394)
$50 and over
American
Downtown
About the restaurant

The Prime Rib’s dining room offers a throwback to an elevated era of dining. The restaurant’s dramatic black walls and tufted black leather seating contrast with the stark white table clothes, creating a luxe environment befitting of a restaurant that has trademarked the slogan “The Civilized Steak House.” Jackets are required, but the pomp and circumstance is all part of the experience. The restaurant’s exacting standards apply to ingredients as well: The beef is USDA prime, sourced from a single farm in Kansas, and the caviar is Armenia’s finest. Start with an ice cold martini, The Prime Rib’s famous potato skin basket, and settle in for a delightfully indulgent, leisurely meal.


Top review
aandsqvip
Dined 5 days ago
One order of prime rib was overcooked. Should have sent it back
A photo of Georgia Brown's restaurant
4.3
4.3 (8539)
$31 to $50
Low Country
Downtown
About the restaurant

Georgia Brown’s is the city’s premier destination for Southern comfort food and has served low-country cuisine in Downtown D.C. since 1993. During the pandemic, the owners renovated the space, brightening the interiors and creating a warm weather vibe to match the Southern menu with additions such as tropical plants and a lush color scheme. The cocktail menu was also updated with a strong focus on American whiskey, but the food menu remains the same, prioritizing Southern staples such as Carolina gumbo, smothered pork chops, and peach cobbler a la mode. The restaurant’s soul food and jazz brunch is known as one of the most enjoyable weekend meals in town.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
Diamond our server was amazing !!!! She took great care of us - made menu suggestion’s She was kind and pleasant !!
A photo of Founding Farmers DC: Foggy Bottom restaurant
4.4
4.4 (33725)
$30 and under
American
Foggy Bottom
About the restaurant

A farm-to-table menu featuring sustainably sourced produce and meats, freshly baked loaves of bread, and in-house distilled spirits makes Founding Farmers one of Washington, D.C.’s most-reserved restaurants. Owned by the Farmers Restaurant Group, this local hotspot chain is loved by Washingtonians for its weekend brunches while out-of-towners prefer it for its ideal location, just three blocks away from the White House. Another crowd pleaser: Uncle Buck’s beignets that come with a choice of raspberry, chocolate, or caramel sauce.


Top review
Isabellavip
Dined 3 days ago
First time I came here was 8 years ago, and I knew I was going to come back. One of my favorite restaurants ever! And it didn't disappoint when I came back (2 times) this trip!
A photo of Equinox - DC restaurant
4.6
4.6 (3359)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
Downtown
About the restaurant

Equinox’s chef Todd Gray surprised everyone in this red meat town by adding a vegetarian tasting menu to the offerings at his swanky New American spot. The move immediately pushed Equinox further ahead in D.C.’s competitive fine-dining scene, earning the restaurant a two-and-a-half star review from The Washington Post. Gray has since added vegan options as well, attracting all types of diners looking to experience the chef’s deft treatment of local ingredients. Standout vegetarian dishes include sesame-glazed eggplant and crispy tofu with sweet peppers and a cucumber papaya slaw served over a bed of basmati rice. Carnivores can enjoy sustainable meat and fish selections, such as red miso-glazed salmon with braised celery, warm soba noodles, and shishito peppers. Also of note: the restaurant’s nearly zero-waste kitchen which composts and regrows ingredients used in day-to-day operations.


Top review
ChristineAvip
Dined 6 days ago
The food and service were amazing. Two very loud groups which made it uncomfortable as it is a pretty small space. The staff seemed to understand our discomfort and moved one group without any request from us. Ultimately everyone was happy as they got the private room.
A photo of 1789 Restaurant restaurant
4.6
4.6 (6220)
$31 to $50
American
Georgetown
About the restaurant

Housed in a low-slung Federal-style home, 1789 feels both refined and cozy. It’s the type of place where one expects to find professors from nearby Georgetown University sipping cocktails or exchanging ideas over foie gras-dotted pheasant ballotine. And that’s exactly what’s unfolded since it opened in 1962, making it one of D.C.’s oldest fine-dining destinations. The space, like the food, is timeless—a formula that has served it well over the years. CIA-trained chef Adam Howard (who was most recently the executive chef at Blue Duck Tavern) is all about sourcing bounty from the mid-Atlantic region. That regional commitment shines in dishes such as rockfish with delicata squash caponata and fairy tale eggplant and a farmhouse salad with Shenandoah pears, fennel, almonds, brioche, and honeycrisp dressing.


Top review
SwissCottageFoodievip
Dined on Dec 19, 2023
Wonderful experience. Great service and beautiful ambience for the holiday season. Strolling carolers - what more could you want!
A photo of Bombay Club restaurant
4.8
4.8 (5137)
$31 to $50
Indian
Downtown
About the restaurant
Bombay Club has been a fixture in Downtown D.C.’s dining scene since it opened three decades ago, where owner Ashok Bajaj is known as a consummate host to the city’s power brokers — the restaurant is across the street from the White House, after all. Bajaj is responsible for being one of the first to introduce Indian fine dining to D.C., establishing himself as a major player in the city’s restaurant scene and opening nine other restaurants since. Here, the decor and menu don’t chase trends, relying instead on tried-and-true white table cloths and consistent preparations of dishes from across India’s vast culinary landscape. For the true Bombay Club experience, order the off-menu favorite, tandoori salmon, or one of the house thalis, which present an assortment of dishes on a silver, leaf-shaped platter.
Top review
Salamander3
Dined 3 days ago
This was my 2nd visit, and it didn’t disappoint. I was disappointed that I couldn’t indulge in the Cobra Coffee on this visit, but look forward to it on my next visit. Also noticed that there was no pianist playing this time around. Otherwise, the visit was great. The Crispy Kale, Spinach & Garlic Chili Naan are my FAVORITES!
A photo of Sushiko - Chevy Chase restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1777)
$50 and over
Sushi
Chevy Chase
About the restaurant

Before he brought Washingtonians flawless ramen at Daikaya, restaurateur Daisuke Utagawa introduced them to the wonders of raw fish in 1976 at Sushiko, the city’s first sushi spot. Executive chef Piter Tjan commits to traditional techniques, but he’s also willing to experiment and draw inspiration from other cuisines. Case in point: a recent avocado roll was topped with slices of smoked salmon and a ponzu “salsa.” Throw in some striking wall art, intimate booths, and a central chef’s table, and Sushiko’s got all the trappings of a sophisticated city standby.


Top review
HELLIE
Dined 5 days ago
Food was really fresh; service was outstanding; really knowledgable waitress for two very picky eaters. Expensive but really good value. will go there again. . . .and again.
A photo of Mi Vida, District Wharf restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2191)
$31 to $50
Mexican
Southwest Waterfront
About the restaurant

Chef Roberto Santibañez’s contemporary waterfront restaurant is stunning, both in its design and its ability to consistently produce some of the city’s best Mexican food. The menu is a mix of faithful renditions of classics plus wholly original creations. For instance, freshly made guacamole is straightforward on its own, but the restaurant lets diners add blue cheese, grapes, or smoked almonds. For one of the District’s best seafood dishes, order the pescado a la talla, a butterflied hearth-roasted branzino that’s covered on one half with red adobo, and on the other with green adobo, creating a photogenic and delicious plate.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
Great experience. All the snacks and apps were delicious. Devil eggs, spiced oranges, chips and Salsa, guacamole, Burria was to die for, tomahawk steak, tacos and carne asade. All great choices. All tequila cocktails were a hit too. No complaints! Perfect choice for my business dinner and was able to walk around the pier afterwards. Parking garage was pricey at $24 for 2 hrs, but that’s not the restaurants fault
A photo of Peacock Café restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1874)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Georgetown
About the restaurant

This Georgetown stalwart has served a faithful lineup of salads, pastas, and sandwiches along with Persian specialties since 1991. The latter offerings reflect chefs Maziar and Sahab Farivar’s Iranian heritage. The duo introduced the neighborhood to their Middle Eastern roots through crowd pleasers such as pistachio-crusted cod with a sweet and sour sauce of dried apricots, figs, sour cherries, and shaved almond and qaymeh, a hearty lamb stew. On weekends, Washingtonians come for made-to-order fruit juices and brunch classics, including top-notch steak and eggs.


Top review
dms11vip
Dined 5 days ago
It seems like it's been a long time since everything went right in a restaurant but this was that experience. The service and food were all great...not one bad note or criticism possible. They start you with a warm muffin and butter. Our appetizers were Bruschetta (yum!!!), Dolme and a small salad. All were excellent. Similarly, main course of risotto, salmon cake salad and the lamb burger were all equally scrumptious. And the service was impeccable as well. We would--and will--go back here in a heartbeat. And I'm already looking forward to it!
A photo of Jaleo - DC restaurant
4.7
4.7 (10423)
$31 to $50
Spanish
Penn Quarter
About the restaurant

When chef and humanitarian José Andrés debuted Jaleo in 1993, he challenged the idea that a fine meal had to be a prim and proper one. That very accessible ethos still steers the lively tapas spot. Groups gather here to share plates such as croquetas de pollo, crispy golden chicken fritters filled with creamy bechamel sauce (the labor-intensive dish takes three days to prep). Order the José’s Way tasting menu and graze on the chef’s favorites as you take in the transportive Mediterranean interiors, all wooden beaded curtains, mounted bull heads, and azulejo-tiled floors.


Top review
Satnightsvip
Dined 2 days ago
Went for a weeknight dinner with a colleague. The restaurant was packed for a Tuesday evening. Enjoyed the tapas and cocktails. We were seated in a nook, That was a little bit separated from the main dining area therefore enjoyed a slightly more serene ambience. The restaurant is beautifully set up. Service was efficient with good hospitality. Had a great time. 
A photo of Floriana restaurant
4.7
4.7 (3748)
$30 and under
Italian
Dupont Circle
About the restaurant

This Italian gem scored fan-favorite status soon after opening in 1979. Locals flock to the historic red-brick rowhouse for its intimate interiors and attentive staff. But it’s the superb seasonal plates that seal the deal, such as a milestone-worthy beef lasagna with housemade mozzarella and hand-made paccheri pasta with a hearty tomato-based meat sauce of pork belly, short rib, and sausage.


Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 3 days ago
Don’t miss out on the butternut squash ravioli. Delicious!
Discover
OpenTable
  • About Us
  • Blog
  • Careers
  • Press
More
Businesses
  • Restaurant reservation software
  • Industry insights
  • Hospitality resources
  • Marketing resources
  • Operation resources
  • How to open a restaurant
  • For restaurants
  • For restaurant groups
Join us on
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Cookies and Interest-Based Ads
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information
  • Cookie Preferences
Copyright © 2024 OpenTable, Inc. 1 Montgomery St Ste 500, San Francisco CA 94104 - All rights reserved.
OpenTable is part of Booking Holdings, the world leader in online travel and related services.
Booking Logo
Priceline Logo
KAYAK Logo
Agoda Logo
OpenTable Logo