Fortunately for us Washingtonians the D.C. food scene has continued to level up over the years and is now considered one of the best cities for food in the entire country! In fact, it’s gotten so much attention recently that it even earned D.C. a top spot on a list of places in North America you have to visit in 2024. In addition to the two new Michelin Star restaurants that D.C. accumulated this past year, the city was also mentioned on Michelin Guide’s most anticipated restaurants list for 2024!
Overall, the dining scene in Washington D.C. covers an incredibly wide scope of styles, flavors, cultures, and costs, making it a truly unique and accessible dining scene that has something for everyone! In any case, we’ve taken the liberty of listing what we believe to be our top 16 restaurants across D.C., but since it’s too hard for us to truly rank them, they aren’t listed in a random order.
1. Filafel Inc., Georgetown
Featured in the country’s Yelp Top 100 best restaurants for a reason, this place is an incredible blend between affordable prices, incredible flavors, and great convenience. It may not be the fanciest place to eat or as much of a “sit-down” restauant as some of the other restaurants on this list, but its certainly a city-wide favorite and as such has earned its right to be on this list. The space inside their Georgetown location may be limited and there could be a bit of a line depending on when you go, but its easily one of the best deals you can get in the realm of D.C. dining, making it a unique experience that we consider extremely charming.
2. Jaleo by José Andrés, Penn Quarter
Authentic Spanish food prepared by one of Spain’s most highly regarded celebrity chefs, this restaurant is truly a cultural vacation to Sunny Spain without ever having to step out of the city. The quality of the ingredients is incredibly evident in each bite and the paella honestly might change your life, but if you really want to taste one of the best things that you can eat in D.C., then you will asbolutely want to order the “Croquetas de pollo”.
3. Filomena Ristorante, Georgetown
This Italian spot has been serving Washingtonians for over 40 years now and is famous for its traditional recipes, fine wine, and an authentic Italian dining experience that is driven by its lovely ambiance and punctuated by its incredible staff. If you want to have a dining experience in D.C. where you can enjoy those iconic Italian recipes done right, or would like to browse an incredible wine list, then this restaurant is perfect for you. While this restaurant lays a little more on the fine-dining side of the D.C. dining spectrum it truly is one of the top restaurants in D.C. and the well-rounded dining experience makes it well worth the effort.
4. Le Diplomate, Logan Circle
This iconic Parisian-style brasserie on 14th Street is one of our favorite places in town, and we cannot recommend the French Onion Soup and Steak Frites enough! Aside from the delicious menu filled with classic French dishes, Le Diplomate also boasts a well-rounded wine menu, and an incredible list of cocktails to choose from. That being said, the best part about this restaurant, at least to us, is that it truly does feel like you’ve been transported to Paris with its incredible well-built ambiance and its beautiful outdoor-dining space.
5. Fiola Mare, Georgetown Waterfront
An Italian restaurant centered around seafood, Fiola Mare’s chef, Fabio Trabocchi, uses authentic Italian ingredients to develop recipes inspired by or plucked directly from, his upbringing along coastal Italy. Here you’ll find all the same ingredients you would in the restaurants along the Amalfi Coast, Sicily, or Forte Dei Marmi! Located by the Waterfront in Georgetown, this restaurant and its dishes are visually striking, making for an incredibly memorable experience before you’ve even taken your first bite!
6. Pisco y Nazca, Dupont Circle
The incredible Peruvian cuisine at Pisco y Nazca, in our opinion, makes for one of the best meals in the entire city! The fantastic atmosphere and friendly staff are always enough to get you in a good mood as soon as you get seated, but the delicious food and craft cocktails are really what have gotten them their spot on this list! In addition to their great dinner and lunch menus, one of our favorite ways to enjoy Pisco y Nazca is with their specialty brunch that they host on the weekends, and while they do have bottomless options for sangrias and mimosas, their brunch menu has some incredibly unique items.
7. Old Ebbitt Grill, Penn Quarter
As if you were going to find a restaurant list in D.C. that didn’t include the Old Ebbit Grill, seriously? Of course, we have to include the oldest saloon in Washington, which was founded back in 1856 and has hosted presidents, generals, foreign nationals, and so many more along its rich history as one of the best spots to eat in the District of Columbia. This local institution is iconic for having one of the best burgers in the entire city, but you couldn’t go wrong getting a steak, ordering oysters, or even trying one of their highly regarded crab cakes!
8. Sushi Taro, Dupont Circle
This upscale sushi spot on 17th Street is about as high-end and high-quality as it gets in D.C., particularly when it comes to sushi. The restaurant’s iconic “Omakase Counter” gives diners an interactive dining course consisting of 4 – 6 small dishes, followed by seasonal sushi and sashimi that are prepared by the expert chef, but if you prefer to dine at your own pace and order off of their menu, that’s totally an option too! The menu here naturally includes high-quality sushi and sashimi, but also offers some of the most delicious noodles you can order in town and some delicious Waygu that you should try at least once.
9. Iron Gate, Dupont Circle
This incredible spot offers a Mediterranean-inspired menu in one of the most romantic and intimate dining atmospheres in town! If you can, spring for a reservation on their wisteria-covered and heated patio for outdoor dining that is perfect for almost any evening throughout the year. Their dinner menu offers a complete three-course meal for around $80 per person, and its worth every penny with each dish being a great portion to share with those that you are dining with. This is one of our top recommendations for date night dining, but if you’d like to check it out with friends, or with a a group, the experience will still be just as enjoyable.
10. The Dabney, Shaw
While ‘The Dabney‘ is the first Michelin-starred spot that we’ve mentioned on this list, it certainly won’t be the last. This incredible restaurant possesses a charming contemporary farmhouse aesthetic and serves up incredible Contemporary / American-style dishes using seasonal ingredients from quality local farms, watermen, and purveyors. The price point per head of this spot is a little more on the high-end side of the spectrum for D.C., but given its accolades and critical reception, $235 per person isn’t unfathomable for what’s consistently been ranked the #1 best restaurant in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area.
11. Apéro, Georgetown
Tucked inside of a cozy brownstone right in Georgetown, this comfy little French restaurant is one of our favorite daytime spots for an incredible lunch that will put you in a blissful mood for the rest of the day! The classic French cooking is done to perfection and the charcuterie board options are perfect for meals amongst friends, however, the real show stopper is its one-two punch combination between the delicious caviar and Champagne, which is what makes this spot one of our favorites!
12. Bresca, 14th Street
This Michelin-Starred Parisian-style bistro has consistently been one of the best spots to eat in D.C. for years, having had and maintained its Michelin Star since it first received back in 2019. The dining experience is refreshingly easy-going for how high quality it is, meaning that you don’t get a sense of imposter syndrome or feel like you’re being judged as you do at some other high-end spots around town. The Chef’s tasting menu is charged at $158 per person, which isn’t obscene for a restaurant of this caliber, but it’s certainly a price point that takes this spot a bit out of reach for the average Washingtonian. That being said, the experience is worth the price, so while it may not be an every-week type of establishment, it’s a great spot to plan a meaningful and memorable meal.
13. District Winery, Navy Yard
This unique, modern restaurant is one of D.C.’s very first wineries. So in addition to a selection of tasty locally made wines to choose from, you also get to select from a creatively built and very unique menu to round out one of the most delicious and romantic dining experiences you can have in in town. Our favorite thing to order is for sure the “Chef’s Whim”, which is an on-the-spot charcuterie board creation prepared by the chef’s choice of cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables, and accompaniments. Each time the dish is unique, sometimes very different and other times only slightly, but it becomes an incredibly fun experience to share with others at the table, giving you something you talk about and enjoy with those that you’re dining with.
14. The Alex at the Graham Hotel, Georgetown
The Alex is one of the more beautiful and delightfully intimate speakeasy bar locations in D.C., also offers a fantastic dining experience for those interested in a unique yet memorable meal in the nation’s capital. The menu changes often but is often filled with creative dishes that reflect a fusion of foreign recipes or a heavy influence of seasonal ingredients. If you are interested in a quiet, romantic dining atmosphere that has live music performing on Fridays and Saturdays, then this spot is exactly what you’re looking for.
15. Ben’s Chili Bowl, U Street Corridor
Far from fancy but famous for a reason, Ben’s Chili Bowl is a local D.C. institution that has been winning over the hearts and filling the stomachs of Washingtonians since it opened in 1958. It truly is a right of passage to enjoy a half-smoke covered with Ben’s spicy homemade chili sauce, and while no Michelin stars are coming for this spot any time soon, it’s definitely earned a nod as one of the best restaurants to eat in D.C. based on legacy and cultural impact alone.
Secret D.C. bonus pick
Dining in the Dark is quite frankly such an unorthodox date night idea that D.C. has but it works so well! Yes, it is a little uncomfortable to be outside your comfort zone and eat a meal blindfolded, but it makes the meal itself and your conversations that much better! You truly get to connect with those that you’re with and it quickly turns into a funny and memorable evening that you won’t forget.
It’s also worth noting that the meals can be adapted to your preferences, so whether it’s a medical matter like a gluten allergy or just a matter of making sure you don’t get something you don’t like, rest assured that these factors are all taken into consideration when preparing your meal. As a general matter, you can choose between three plates as a base for your order, Red Menu (meat), Blue Menu (Seafood), or Green Menu (Vegan).
Currently, only two restaurants host Dining in the Dark events in D.C., and they are: