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8 Best Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

The city's best restaurants for every budget.
Last Updated
:
February 8, 2024
by
Editorial Staff
Ben’s Chili Bowl exterior
©
Ben’s Chili Bowl
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Let us let you in on a little secret – our nation’s capital is so much more than just suits, steaks, and politics. Beyond the museums and monuments lies a buzzing food scene that would delight even the pickiest foodie. Washington, D.C. has become a bonafide culinary destination faster than you can say “filibuster.”

With so many transplants from around the world calling D.C. home, you can eat your way through the continents without ever leaving the district. We’re talking melt-in-your-mouth empanadas, hearty Chinese dishes that give you immediate hugs, and gastronomic feats of molecular gastronomy. From the OG Washington power lunch to hip underground omakase experiences, this city serves it all.

Do these fancy Michelin-starred temples of gastronomy still require taking out a second mortgage to eat at? Well yes, unfortunately, that hasn’t changed. But fret not! This city also nails the hole-in-the-wall, no-frills, cash-only gems just as well. We’re dedicated to uncovering D.C.’s tastiest secrets from every neighborhood to satisfy every budget and craving.

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The 8 Best Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

In this blog, we’ll navigate you through the monuments of cuisine worth waiting in line for across this capital city. We promise no politics, no boring museum tours, just the most mouthwatering culinary hotspots that will have your tastebuds lobbying for more! So go ahead, loosen that belt buckle, and get ready to eat, D.C.!

Ben’s Chili Bowl interior
Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Address: 1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
  • Located near/in: –
  • Contact: (202) 667-0909
  • Hours: Mon – Wed (11:00 AM – 9:00 PM), Thu (11:00 AM – 11:00 PM), Fri – Sat (11:00 AM – 4:00 AM), Sun (11:00 AM – 10:00 PM)

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a black-owned original half-smoke restaurant that has been serving up delicious food for over six decades. It’s more than just a restaurant, though; it’s a hub for the community. Over the years, it has welcomed politicians, celebrities, and activists. This amazing list includes former President Barack Obama, former US Representative John Lewis, tennis player Serena Williams, and singer Bruno Mars. But it’s not just the famous faces that make Ben’s special. It’s the everyday people, the community members who have supported Ben’s through thick and thin, that truly defines the spirit of this establishment.

Historically, it was founded by newlyweds Ben and Virginia Ali in 1958, with $5,000 to begin renovating a building at 1213 U Street in Northwest Washington DC. All we can say is that this restaurant has weathered the storms of time, from the 1968 race riots to the urban renewal of the ’90s. Despite the challenges, Ben’s Chili Bowl has remained a steadfast symbol of resilience and community spirit.

As you can see, it’s not just a restaurant; it’s a celebration of DC’s African American history, culture, and character, and of course, the mouth-watering food. The menu features a variety of chilis, hotdogs, subs, sandwiches, vegetarian options, sides, and desserts. The star of the show, as the locals nearby already familiarize with it, is the Half Smoke, a breakfast sausage served in a hotdog bun, dressed up with mustard, onions, and their very own special chili sauce. It’s been voted DC’s Signature Dish and has been their most popular menu item ever since.

Service options: Dine-in | Kerbside pickup | No-contact delivery

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Ambar Capitol Hill

Ambar Capitol Hill interior
Ambar Restaurant
  • Address: 523 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
  • Located near/in: –
  • Contact: (202) 813-3039
  • Hours: Mon – Fri (12:00 PM – 3:30 PM) | (4:00 PM – 10:00 PM), Sat (10:00 AM – 3:30 PM) | (4:30 PM – 11:00 PM), Sun (10:00 AM – 3:30 PM) | (4:30 PM – 10:00 PM)

The redesigned restaurant Ambar has a 3,000-square-foot patio that meets the city’s Phase 1 outdoor dining restrictions. Guests can also enjoy the roof-top patio, which features movable teal slats. Ambar’s two outdoor dining areas can seat dozens of people.

If you’re wondering how to get to Ambar Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Moovit can help you get there fast. It provides free maps and live directions so you can navigate easily. Plus, Moovit tells you how much time it will take to get to your destination in real-time.

Ambar is open on weekends from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Brunch is served until 3 pm. The restaurant is well known for its attentive and professional service, excellent food, and affordable prices. In addition, it features fine decor and a Michelin star. The restaurant also has a new location in Clarendon.

Service options: Dine-in | Takeaway | Delivery

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Keren Restaurant

Keren Restaurant interior
Keren Restaurant
  • Address: 1780 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
  • Located near/in: –
  • Contact: (202) 265-5764
  • Hours: Mon – Sat (8:00 AM – 10:00 PM), Sun (8:00 AM – 9:00 PM)

If you’re looking for authentic Ethiopian or Eritrean food in Washington, D.C., Keren Restaurant is an excellent choice. The restaurant serves an extensive menu of traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes. Guests can also choose from a selection of vegetarian and meat dishes. The food is inexpensive, and the restaurant’s large portions can easily feed two to three people.

While the city is filled with attractions, there are also a variety of great restaurants. Although D.C. is known for its steakhouses and power lunch spots, the quality of the restaurants in the area has improved significantly in recent years. Although some famous names have opened their doors here, many top restaurants are run by homegrown talent.

The restaurant is located in Adams Morgan and serves Ethiopian cuisine. You can expect to eat fluffy injera and piping-hot ful (a mash of fava beans with garlic and American chili). The staff is friendly and the drinks are cheap.

Service options: Dine-in | Takeaway | Delivery

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Kinship Restaurant

Kinship Restaurant interior
Kinship
  • Address: 1015 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
  • Located near/in: –
  • Contact: (202) 737-7700
  • Hours: Mon – Tue (Closed), Wed – Thu (5:30 PM – 9:30 PM), Fri – Sat (5:30 PM – 10:00 PM), Sun (5:30 PM – 9:30 PM)

The Michelin-starred Kinship Restaurant in Washington D.C. is facing some negative press. A former server claims that she was called “stupid” four times while working at the restaurant three months ago. Last week, Klyn Jones staged a protest outside the restaurant. She is not alone.

The menu at Kinship features classic dishes as well as modern twists on familiar favorites. The restaurant is divided into three sections: history, ingredients, and indulgence. The dinner menu includes everything from lobster french toast to braised lamb shoulder. The dining room is stylish and reminiscent of a Restoration Hardware showroom.

The restaurant is owned by Chef Eric Ziebold, who has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants. Before opening Kinship, he was executive chef of CityZen from 2004 to 2014. His work at CityZen earned him several awards, including a James Beard Award. Ziebold began his career in the restaurant industry as a teenager, working at Cafe Maude. He later enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America.

Service options: Dine-in | Takeaway | Delivery

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Lafayette Restaurant

Lafayette Restaurant interior
Lafayette Restaurant
  • Address: 800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
  • Located near/in: The Hay-Adams
  • Contact: (202) 638-2570
  • Hours: Mon – Fri (6:30 AM – 11:00 AM) | (11:30 AM – 2:00 PM) | (5:30 PM – 9:00 PM), Sat (7:00 AM – 11:00 AM) | (11:30 AM – 2:00 PM) | (5:30 PM – 9:00 PM), Sun (7:00 AM – 11:00 AM) | (11:30 AM – 2:00 PM)

One of Washington’s most upscale restaurants, Lafayette Restaurant is a fine dining destination for power lunches and dinners. Located in the Hay-Adams Hotel across from the White House, the elegant setting boasts white tablecloths, overhead chandeliers, and uniformed waiters. The elegant menu showcases classy contemporary American cuisine.

In addition to its main dining room, The Lafayette offers a private dining room. This elegant room seats up to 24 people. It is a perfect place for business meetings. Guests can enjoy champagne, Merlot, Mimosas, and fresh juices. Lafayette also offers a wide variety of delicious desserts.

Guests can also choose to stay at the nearby Washington Plaza. This hotel is a quick walk from Lafayette Square and offers contactless check-in. Another excellent hotel is the Courtyard by Marriott, a hotel that sits next to Mount Vernon Square. Guests are also within 0.72 mi of Lafayette Park.

Service options: Dine-in | No delivery

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Del Mar

Del Mar Restaurant interior
Del Mar Restaurant
  • Address: 791 Wharf St SW, Washington, DC 20024
  • Located near/in: –
  • Contact: (202) 588-7272
  • Hours: Mon (4:00 PM – 10:00 PM), Tue – Thu (11:30 AM – 10:00 PM), Fri (11:30 AM – 10:30 PM), Sat (12:00 PM – 10:30 PM), Sun (12:00 PM – 10:00 PM)

Del Mar is located on the waterfront in District Wharf. It is owned by Michelin-starred chef Fabio Trabocchi and serves high-end Spanish seafood. Although it is quite pricey, it’s worth the trip for those who love Spanish cuisine. The menu offers a wide variety of seafood dishes, which are sure to please any seafood fan.

Del Mar is Spanish for “of the sea.” Their menu is focused on seafood that reflects the sea. Many of the dishes are made with unexpected ingredients. They include dishes such as kanpachi with salted kumquats and clams with cucumber. The menu also includes more traditional dishes, such as grilled red beets and potato omelet. Del Mar is owned by Maria Trabocchi, a restaurateur from Mallorca. Trabocchi has a total of eight restaurants, including Del Mar.

Service options: Dine-in | Kerbside pickup | Delivery

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Le Diplomate

Le Diplomate interior
Le Diplomate
  • Address: 1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
  • Located near/in: –
  • Contact: (202) 332-3333
  • Hours: Mon – Thu (12:00 PM – 3:00 PM) | (5:00 PM – 11:00 PM), Fri (12:00 PM – 3:00 PM) | (5:00 PM – 12:00 AM), Sat (9:30 AM – 3:00 PM) | (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM) | (5:00 PM – 12:00 AM), Sun (9:30 AM – 3:00 PM) | (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM) | (5:00 PM – 11:00 PM)

Le Diplomate is a French restaurant with a menu that is as expansive as its interior, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. The restaurant’s dishes include everything from onion soup to foie gras and steak-frites, and there’s also a wide variety of desserts.

For those who have a passion for seafood, Le Diplomate‘s seafood-based menu features fresh, grilled fish from the North Sea. The entrée costs $48 and comes in a Meunière (a small dish). There are no regular meals, so this special entree is only served on certain days of the week. This means that the waitstaff is always busy, and the restaurant is notoriously full.

Service options: Dine-in | Takeaway | Delivery

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Tonari

Tonari DC interior
Tonari
  • Address: 707 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
  • Located near/in: –
  • Contact: (202) 289-8900
  • Hours: Mon (5:00 PM – 9:00 PM), Tue – Sat (8:00 AM – 2:00 PM) | (5:00 PM – 10:00 PM), Sun (5:00 PM – 9:00 PM)

Tonari is an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant that is based in the Chinatown neighborhood. The menu includes fusion dishes and Wafu, or Japanese-style cooking inspired by Italian dishes. The chefs and owners of Tonari, Daisuke Utagawa, Yama Jewayni, and Katsuya Fukushima, promise to please diners with innovative combinations of flavors. The menu is relatively inexpensive, too.

Pizza is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and the menu at Tonari features a variety of different versions. You can try the popular Hawaiian pizza, which incorporates wakame and usukuchi, or try the Pepperoni. The Clam pizza is also delicious and features Japanese pineapple and dill.

Tonari‘s minimalist interior and monochromatic decor make it feel like an authentic Japanese restaurant. The first floor features light wood booths and a bar that faces the open kitchen. Guests are served their meals from servers who set them in front of them. Although the menu is not extensive, the meals are excellent. Menu items range from cod roe pasta to Hawaiian pizza.

Service options: Dine-in | Takeaway | Delivery

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