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The 19 Greatest Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a city rich with history and tradition — a trait that plays out in the city’s restaurants, many of which have been open for decades (or in some cases, a century!) and have played host to former presidents, foreign dignitaries, and a wealth of other impactful figures. There are refined options for the most important of situations, as well as relaxed hangouts for daily life.

Given its place as a global player, the restaurant scene also reflects D.C.’s diversity and connection to the rest of the world. Here, you can find a Japanese izakaya that now doubles as a convenience store, eat pupusas while catching a baseball game, sample some of the country’s best Ethiopian food, and order off-menu Indian alongside White House staffers.

These restaurants make up The Greats, the spots that have shaped and continue to shape how people dine in Washington, D.C.

A photo of Otlogo
Marion Brewer and Christabel Lobo
19 Restaurants
Updated April 04, 2022
Restaurants:Old Ebbitt Grill, Zaytinya, Central Michel Richard
Price Range:$$ - $$$
Cuisines:American, Mediterranean
Neighborhoods:Downtown, Penn Quarter
A photo of Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant

Old Ebbitt Grill

$$$$
American
Downtown
4.8
24982 reviews
Having operated (albeit in different locations) since 1856, Washington’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 over the last century. And despite its age, the restaurant maintains its popularity as a place “for everyone and every time,” as it was once described by its director of operations to The Washington Post. Tourists and bureaucrats alike head to the Victorian-style dining room to enjoy a large menu of American fare, but the restaurant is known for its seafood and, in particular, its oysters. Settle into a wood-paneled booth for a dozen freshly shucked bivalves, some crab cakes, a crisp glass of wine, and contemplate the historical figures who might have done the same.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Zaytinya restaurant

Zaytinya

$$$$
Mediterranean
Penn Quarter
4.7
17119 reviews
Chef and humanitarian José Andrés is known around the world, but D.C. is homebase. Andrés first won the hearts of D.C. residents with his tapas restaurant Jaleo, but when Zaytinya opened in 2002, he showed that his talents went beyond Spanish food, and the restaurant was quickly recognized as the best Mediterranean in the city, garnering praise from local critics and a Michelin Bib Gourmand award for four years and counting. The restaurant serves a menu of mezze (small plates) inspired by the cuisines of the Mediterranean in a modernist white room with soaring ceilings. Vegetarians will appreciate the large selection of meat-free dishes such as smoked beet salad with feta, pomegranate, roasted pistachios, and clementines, while meat and seafood lovers can choose from an array of kebabs or grilled Mediterranean octopus served over a yellow split pea purée. Be sure to explore the wine list, which organizes bottles from Lebanon and Greece into a user-friendly format under headers such as “wines like Chardonnay,” listed in order of lightest to fullest body.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Central Michel Richard restaurant

Central Michel Richard

$$$$
American
Penn Quarter
4.7
7460 reviews
The late James Beard Award-winning chef Michel Richard described his restaurant as “…my American bistro, with a French accent,” an apt way to capture the menu’s blend of French techniques and American cuisine. Though Richard was a classically trained French chef who ran top restaurants across the country, Central Michel Richard became popular because of its accessibility, offering well-made food at prices that rarely exceed $30 an entrée. The warm dining room centers around the open kitchen (one of the first on the East Coast) that produces dishes such as cheesy gougères, ahi tuna burgers, and steak au poivre — with excellent fries, of course.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Ambar Capitol Hill restaurant

Ambar Capitol Hill

$$$$
Balkan style
Capitol Hill
4.8
3949 reviews
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; beef short rib goulash; or sesame-crusted Atlantic salmon with eggplant jam. The knowledgeable staff delivers a bit of history with each dish, noting influences from Greece, Turkey, Austria, and Hungary. In 2020, the restaurant underwent a $3 million renovation, including a new rooftop with a retractable roof, adding a welcome year-round dining option.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Takeout available
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A photo of The Salt Line - Navy Yard restaurant

The Salt Line - Navy Yard

$$$$
Seafood
Navy Yard
4.6
2111 reviews
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 hot spot 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, diners can enjoy traditional preparations such as clam chowder and stuffed clams, along with original creations like rockfish tartare topped with pickled mustard seed, Worcestershire mayo, fried capers, and potato crisps.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Letena Ethiopian Restaurant restaurant

Letena Ethiopian Restaurant

$$$$
Ethiopian
Columbia Heights / Brightwood
4.9
55 reviews
D.C. is home to the largest Ethiopian population in the country, and subsequently, Ethipian food is easy to find. Among this crowded field, Letena stands out. Owner Yamrot Ezineh’s chemical engineering background informed her methodical approach to recipe development, testing every dish extensively and 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 wat braised in a ginger-forward sauce. The modern dining room is also replete with nods to Ezineh’s home country, with walls lined with brightly colored woven baskets and other Ethiopian artifacts.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Tabard Inn restaurant

Tabard Inn

$$$$
Contemporary American
Dupont Circle
4.6
2732 reviews
Another venerable name in D.C. dining, The Tabard Inn’s restaurant has been operating continuously for close to a century within the hotel of the same name, earning it landmark status in February of 2020. An employee-owned business, the hotel and restaurant are both known for their high-levels of service. The bar room hearkens back to earlier eras, with low-slung, wood-beamed ceilings and clusters of cushy chairs and couches that beg diners to settle into them with a house cocktail, such as the “Hours Before Dawn,” a warming mix of rye, bitter aperitivo, cardamom, and orange. Or, snag a seat in the sunlit dining room or ivy-walled patio for the restaurant’s famous brunch, where the famous cinnamon sugar donuts are basically a required side order with any dish.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of DAIKAYA 2F THE IZAKAYA restaurant

DAIKAYA 2F THE IZAKAYA

$$$$
Japanese
Penn Quarter
4.5
1884 reviews
When you want ramen in D.C., you head to Daikaya. In non-pandemic times, the restaurant is split into two levels: a ramen shop on the first floor, and an izakaya on the second floor. During the pandemic, the owners have merged the menus to offer a few izakaya favorites such as fried chicken nuggets alongside the restaurant’s famed ramen; a version of the dish that comes in its most traditional form — no creative garnishes, just deeply flavorful broths and toothsome noodles imported from Japan. Try the mugi-miso ramen, a dish native to Sapporo, Japan that uses barley miso as a base for the bright, scallion flecked broth.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Experiences available
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A photo of Alta Strada- DC restaurant

Alta Strada- DC

$$$$
Italian
Mt. Vernon Square
4.5
689 reviews
Rustic sauces with fresh in-house-made pasta, expertly crafted part-Roman, part-Neapolitan, part-New York-style pizzas, and a refreshing selection of Italian cocktails feature at Alta Strada. Neighborhood vibes reign supreme at Washington, D.C.’s first outpost of a popular Northeastern Italian chain by Boston-based, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Schlow—his third district establishment. The Chianti-colored booths and warm, olive green walls also make it intimate enough for diners looking to celebrate a special occasion or indulge in date night.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Experiences available
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A photo of Medium Rare - Cleveland Park restaurant

Medium Rare - Cleveland Park

$$$$
Steak
Cleveland Park
4.6
1671 reviews
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 item menu that consists of a $24.95 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. Inspired by the experiences that owners Mark Bucher and Tom Greg had in France, the aim was to create an accessible restaurant that served great food at a reasonable price point — an idea that proved so popular that the pair now own three locations around the Beltway. Another thing Medium Rare does well: give back to the community. Throughout the pandemic, the team has delivered free meals to elderly community members who had to quarantine, including free Thanksgiving dinners.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Le Diplomate restaurant

Le Diplomate

$$$$
French
Logan Circle
4.8
12313 reviews
Prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr operates restaurants all over the country, and his first foray into D.C. dining 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 guests at full capacity. Beloved by locals for its brunch, a classy mid-day break spot for tourists, and nice enough for client dinners, it’s one of the few restaurants that provides the perfect backdrop for almost any occasion. The interior details and precise renditions of French standards ground the restaurant, earning 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.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of The Prime Rib restaurant

The Prime Rib

$$$$
American
Downtown
4.9
3186 reviews
Stepping into The Prime Rib’s dining room is a throwback to an elevated era of dining and arguably D.C.’s most refined steakhouse. 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 — as the restaurant’s lengthy after-dinner drink menu indicates — settle in for a delightfully indulgent, leisurely meal.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Georgia Brown's restaurant

Georgia Brown's

$$$$
Low Country
Downtown
4.4
7435 reviews
Georgia Brown’s is the city’s premier destination for Southern comfort food, serving 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 through the additions of tropical plants and a lush color scheme. The cocktail menu has also been updated with a strong focus on American whiskey, but the food menu remains the same, focusing on the Southern staples such as Carolina gumbo, smothered pork chops, and peach cobbler a la mode that established Georgia Brown’s as a soul food institution. Though it’s currently on pause due to COVID, in normal times that restaurant’s soul food and jazz brunch is known as one of the most fun weekend meals in town.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Founding Farmers - DC restaurant

Founding Farmers - DC

$$$$
American
Foggy Bottom
4.4
30835 reviews
A farm-to-table menu featuring sustainably sourced produce and meats, freshly baked loaves of bread, and in-house distilled spirits make Founding Farmers one of Washington, D.C.’s most-reserved restaurants. Owned by the Farmers Restaurant Group, this local hotspot chain is frequented by Washingtonians for its weekend brunches, while out-of-towners prefer it for its ideal location, just three blocks away from the White House. Don’t miss a plate of Uncle Buck’s beignets that come with a choice of raspberry, chocolate, or caramel sauce.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Equinox - DC restaurant

Equinox - DC

$$$$
Contemporary American
Downtown
4.3
3106 reviews
Equinox surprised everyone in this red meat town when chef Todd Gray added a vegetarian tasting menu to the offerings of his American fine dining restaurant. The move immediately elevated Equinox further 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, completing the trifecta of five-course tasting menus that attract all types of diners looking to experience the chef’s deft handling of local ingredients. Vegetarian dishes include offerings such asHawaiian heart of palm cakes over a soba noodle salad dressed with Thai chile vinaigrette, while the carnivores in the room can enjoy sustainable meat and fish selections such as slow-cooked lamb shanks with fluffy couscous and red wine jus.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Takeout available
View Takeout Menu
A photo of 1789 Restaurant restaurant

1789 Restaurant

$$$$
American
Georgetown
4.7
5837 reviews
Housed in a low-slung Federal style home, 1789 feels both refined and cozy — 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 has been happening in this iconic spot 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. While many items on the seasonal American menu look familiar, chef Kyoo Eom weaves in unexpected flourishes, such as the addition of coconut panna cotta and cranberry jam to butternut squash soup, or a potato rösti base for the American wagyu tartare.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Bombay Club restaurant

Bombay Club

$$$$
Indian
Downtown
4.8
4652 reviews
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.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Takeout available
View Takeout Menu
A photo of Sushiko - Chevy Chase restaurant

Sushiko - Chevy Chase

$$$$
Sushi
Bethesda / Chevy Chase
4.8
1622 reviews
Before he brought Washingtonians perfect ramen at Daikaya, restaurateur Daisuke Utagawa introduced them to the wonders of raw fish at Sushiko: the city’s first sushi spot when it opened in 1976. Executive chef Piter Tjan prides himself on the restaurant’s top-notch a la carte sushi and commitment to traditional techniques, but he’s also willing to experiment and draw inspiration from other cuisines, such as a recent avocado roll that came topped with slices of smoked salmon and a ponzu “salsa.” When the restaurant is open for dining, it’s also worth investigating Kobo, the restaurant-within-a-restaurant at Sushiko that serves a vegan tasting menu so good, it earned three stars from The Washington Post.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Mi Vida, District Wharf restaurant

Mi Vida, District Wharf

$$$$
Mexican
Southwest Waterfront
4.6
1567 reviews
Chef Roberto Santibañez’s contemporary waterfront restaurant is stunning, both in its design (The Washington Post praised its “stunning interior”) and its ability to consistently produce some of the city’s best high-end Mexican food. The menu is a mix of faithful renditions of classics, as well as wholly original creations. For instance, freshly made guacamole is straightforward on its own, but the restaurant gives diners the option to add on blue cheese, grapes, or smoked almonds. For one of the city’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.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

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