Dining in Washington D.C.
If you’re considering a trip to Washington, D.C., it’s most likely for the national history, inspiring monuments or plethora of museums. Experiencing the District’s vibrant culinary scene may not be on your radar at all.
However, your stay in the capital would be even more enjoyable if complemented by stellar meals at noteworthy restaurants. We have you covered with our top recommendations for making the most of D.C.’s robust food scene.
Old Ebbitt Grill
Now located in its third venue, this former saloon first opened its doors in 1856—making it the oldest restaurant in the city. It’s a local landmark, which means evening crowds, so consider making reservations or dropping in for lunch. The oysters and other seafood options are very popular here. Don’t miss: Enjoy your ascent up the marble stairs, a feature repurposed from the bank building that stood next door.
If you happen to venture over to Georgetown during your stay, check out this fourth generation establishment, which has been a D.C. fixture since the Depression era. Their claim to fame (other than their delectable, classic cuisine) is that they have served every U.S. President from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. Don’t Miss: If you’re a romantic, ask for the “engagement booth” where John F. Kennedy proposed to his wife, Jackie, in 1953.
Pictured above, Martin’s Tavern is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike as a D.C. landmark. Photo credit: Sam Kittner / Georgetown BID
Ramen is big in D.C., and one of the best spots for this inexpensive Japanese noodle-and-broth bowl is Daikaya, just blocks north of the National Mall. Located across 6th from the Capital One Arena, it offers plenty of options, including vegetarian and gluten-free. Choose among two dining locations: a street-level noodle shop or, one story above, a more upscale tavern. Pro Tip: If you like heat, be sure to add the “spice bomb” to your order.
For delicious, no-nonsense, diner-style food right on Capitol Hill, search no further than Tune Inn. This old school pub is known for its decorative taxidermy and pop culture memorabilia along with its just-greasy-enough cheeseburger and fries. Food for thought: Tune Inn is located is on Pennsylvania Avenue, and known to be frequented by “locals”…Any thoughts on who you might run into?
The Capital Grille
A D.C. landmark with a stunning view of the Capitol building just down the street, the Washington location is probably the best-known of this 5-Star steakhouse chain. It may be pricey, but the atmosphere and food are worth it. Keep your eyes peeled: It’s known as a meeting place for Republican legislators and lobbyists.
It’s located in Georgetown (almost four miles from the National Mall) but this classic ice creamery and sweet shop is worth the trip. Established in 1979, Thomas’s has been frequented by locals—from neighborhood students to the occasional American president. Its staff serves up generous portions of homemade flavors and blends them with delicious mix-ins. You can also order coffee, frozen yogurt, fudge, truffles and more.
If you’re looking for desserts closer to the museums and memorials, try Goodies, a walk-up soda bar inside the Division of Family and Children Services (DCFS) building on Independence Avenue. Here you can combine frozen custard with just about anything you can imagine. Quick Tip: In a pinch, look for the Goodies food truck near the National Mall!
In the mood for baked goods? Try the Red Velvet Cupcakery on 7th Street. It’s new on the scene and donates all unsold cupcakes to local shelters and schools.
Anything sound good to you? Whatever your tastes, we trust your travel experience in D.C. will be one to savor. And if you have a favorite Washington eatery not mentioned here, share it with your fellow travelers below!