Today, I’m beyond excited to share my DC local friend Jenna Brayton’s favorite foodie spots in the capitol. (P.S. if you’re on the hunt for our insider’s guide to DC – look no further!) Hope you’re hungry. Take it away Jenna!
So you’ve booked your trip to our nation’s capitol. I can’t even express to you how lucky you are to be in Washington, DC now… instead of in 2012! Since I’ve moved here, the food scene in DC has changed dramatically over the past seven years. Washington has a Michelin guide now… which would have been truly unheard of 7 years ago! Here are some of my absolute favorite spots around the city.
My Favorite Restaurants Right Now
- Maketto – Get the fried chicken!
- All Purpose – Great pizza and amazing garlic bread.
- The Salt Line – Fantastic oysters and an amazing view of the river. You absolutely must spend time exploring the Wharf area. It’s brand new and such a great addition to DC. I absolutely love it!
- Elle – The farro salad is wild and so worth it. Come for breakfast or lunch.
- The Columbia Room – Amazing drinks. Do the drink tasting!
- The Dabney – Delicious and a great environment.
- Tiger Fork – This is a really good Chinese food (technically Hong Kong, I think). A word to the wise – sit at the bar. It’s faster and there’s no wait!
- Maydan – I don’t have words to express how much I love this place. The spreads are all amazing. The fire in the middle of the room is great and really sets the atmosphere.
- Sfoglina – The cutest place ever! Great vibe and really, really good pastas.
- Fiola – Great oysters, especially for any seafood lovers.
- Fiola Mare – Another great seafood option. I love looking at the water (…this is definitely the best Georgetown waterfront restaurant. Don’t bother with the others).
- The Royal – Great breakfast. Really historic looking interior. Love getting my morning coffees here.
- Bad Saint – I think they take reservations now which is huge – you used to have to wait in line for hours. Great Filipino food. Not super expensive.
- Tail Up Goat – The breads are a must. Order their trio of breads as an appetizer you will not regret it. The rest is really good too.
- Himitsu – This place has a really great Japanese experience. Highly recommend although it’s a bit small.
Classic Washington, DC Restaurants
- Ben’s Chili Bowl – President Obama has visited, Bill Cosby has visited, and it’s a DC staple.
- Taylor Gourmet – This sandwich chain is scattered across DC. They have AMAZING sandwiches and amazing sodas – made right on sight. It’s a very popular DC lunch spot.
- Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill – Affordable Mexican food, set on a “historic” meeting place… because it’s where Paul Ryan struck a secret budget deal with other members of the Republican caucus. And a lot of Hill folks do the same now today, in their room downstairs.
- Georgetown Cupcake – Go here for the original Georgetown Cupcakes the TV show was filmed at! It’s in Georgetown on M Street. Worth the wait!
- Old Ebbit Grill – Notorious DC celebrity spot – lobbyists are here always. It’s right across the street from the White House & the Treasury, so its a neat view!
- Lauriol Plaza – Delicious Mexican food. Located in Dupont near Florida Avenue. Really neat location – the restaurant is beautiful and has a great patio if its nice out.
- Ted’s Bulletin – Make sure you get the pop-tarts! They’re homemade. And they have these crazy boozy milkshakes that are perfect.
- Marvin’s Tavern – This is where JFK proposed to Jackie and they have a booth you can request to sit in. Love Marvin’s!
Other Things To Do
For things to do, there is literally nothing you can’t do here! Obviously, go see the White House. Go see all the monuments – Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Washington are the best, as is the Reflecting Pond near the Lincoln Memorial. When you’re there, walk across the bridge and go explore Georgetown. Love doing my shopping on M Street & Wisconsin Ave.
There’s also a ton of JFK sights to see in Georgetown, which is neat to track dow!. You can go see the House he lived in when he was a Senator (3307 N Street), and the house Jackie moved into after he was killed (3017 N Street). Also go to Marvin’s, above, because it’s neat to sit in their booth! Go to the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and go see a show there. If you do see a show, make sure and go up to the roof afterwards because you can see across the Potomac River to Virginia… it is so, so beautiful.
Also it’s really worth doing some of the museums and some of the art scene. Go to the National Portrait Gallery and see the Obama’s portraits. Go to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture – it’s incredible. Go to Renwick – it’s got some really great installations. The Smithsonians are all good too, though I’d say they’re good and not great. The biggest upside is that they’re all free! And you can see the Constitution and Declaration of Independence if you go to the National Archives, which is neat.
If you have extra time and want to explore outside of Washington DC boundaries, go to Alexandria, Virginia, especially Old Towne. It’s a 15 minute metro ride outside of DC, across the river. Old Towne is absolutely beautiful. You feel like you’re in another time there – I love the cobblestone streets and all the historic homes. There are so many cute restaurants there it’s hard to pick – basically you just want to walk up and down King Street and you’ll find all of them.
If you go to Alexandria you can turn it into a half day trip where you go see Mt. Vernon too, if you want to check out President Washington’s estate. I’m a big fan of history, so I love doing stuff like that. Also, Bethesda Maryland is a 10 minute metro ride outside of DC up the red line and is also beautiful. It’s a very cute little city center with good shopping. Most importantly, have a blast! Exploring Washington DC is sure to fill you with lots of pride in our nation’s history.