Washington D.C. Restaurants
2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, West End
Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Downtown
This French-American bistro comes from one of DC's most celebrated chefs. Here, you'll find a more casual experience than MIchel Richard's formal flagship without compromising craft or quality. Central serves everything from French classics like frog’s legs, to playful takes on American comfort foods, to whimsical creations like the “faux gras,” made of chicken livers. The upscale bistro features lots of wood, pale leather, and exposed wine racks, and is almost always bustling. It's perfect for a fun lunch or celebratory dinner.
480 Seventh St. NW, Downtown
José Andrés laid the foundation for the Chinatown/Penn Quarter dining scene, with a number of unique restaurants within just a few blocks. (Mediterranean Zaytinya and Mexican-inspired Oyamel have also become neighborhood favorites.) Jaleo introduced authentic Spanish tapas to the city when it originally opened in 1993. The impressive menu remains, with a slight revamp including additions like black-footed Spanish pig’s feet and six new types of gin and tonics (one of Andrés’ favorite drinks). Barcelona-based designer and architect Juli Capella’s goal was to express the meaning of Jaleo (translation: merrymaking and revelry) and she succeeds. From the bright pops of color to copious beaded curtains, all that’s missing is Almodóvar.
Kaz Sushi Bistro
1915 I St. NW, Downtown
It’s all about the incredible sushi here, a fact that the business-heavy lunch crowd appreciates. The best seat in the house is the sushi bar, where you can watch the chefs preparing the excellent and inventive nigiri like the outrageously good seared salmon belly with sweet soy lemon or tuna with foie gras miso, and many more. They even blend their own low-sodium soy sauce, mixing in mirin and dashi. For what you get, the prices are great, and it manages keep a pretty low profile.
1511 17th St. NW, Dupont Circle
This is the little sister to Dupont Circle’s acclaimed Komi, which is also very much worth the visit if you have the budget. It's just as ambitious, though more affordable, and teeny tiny, where they offer a set $49 Isaan-style dinner, which is less of a tasting menu than it is a family-style meal. The menu changes weekly, and they only accept walk-ins.
4822 Macarthur Blvd. NW, Foxhall Crescent
Makoto is some of the best and most authentic Japanese in D.C., and perhaps the country. The multi-course tasting menu is a relative bargain for the gastronomy that arrives before you, course after course, in this shoebox of a space. The no-shoe rule means you can get a good look what socks the senator next to you is wearing. This is a true experience.
2007 14th St. NW, Cardozo
With a soundtrack of funk, ska, and jazz created by a member of Thievery Corporation, a menu that blends Belgian classics with the flavors of the neighborhood (think fried chicken with Belgian waffles), and a very happening year-round rooftop beer garden, Marvin is one of the coolest places on the block. Go upstairs on the weekend to party or downstairs for a relaxed meal during the week.
405 8th St. NW, Downtown
As a study in avant-garde cooking and molecular gastronomy, Minibar highlights Andrés’ time with Ferran Adrià of famed (and now former) El Bulli in Spain. Meals here are a delightful combination of imagination, science, and technique (and perhaps a bit of magic). Over the 27 courses you may try anything from cotton candy eel to popcorn blasted with liquid nitrogen. As weird as the dishes may sound, the inventiveness does not compromise taste. It’s not easy reservation to get and is pricey, but it’s more than a meal here—it’s one of the most exciting dining experiences around.
327 7th St. SE, Capitol Hill
Though the eponymous neighborhood is in Paris, the hearty French comfort food at this cozy bistro tucked away in Capitol Hill is decidedly from the South: succulent braised rabbit leg to classic cassoulet and more. The atmosphere is true bistro—intimate, inviting, and casual, which also describes the prices. The excellent brunch features mussels done four ways and a killer Eggs Benedict. For a perfect D.C. outing, pair with a pre-or-post stroll through nearby Eastern Market, which is full of farmer’s market stalls and local artisans on weekends.
Oddfellows Café + Bar
1525 10th Ave., Capitol Hill
We like this cozy spot for a laid-back brunch (no waiter service) or an easy dinner. It's hard to order wrong here, and we've never been disappointed by classics like homemade biscuits and eggs, Nicoise salads, and spiced caramel bread pudding. Note: Arrive early on weekend mornings, as they don't take reservations.
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