What is Washington D.C.’s dining scene like?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Mary Beth Albright

Washington’s dining scene is as diverse as its residents. On one level, there are the up-in-bright-lights fine dining restaurants in busy areas that capture the glitterati’s imaginations and get almost as much ink as Kate Middleton’s pregnancy. Some of them are worthy of the hype – I’m thinking of Komi, Bourbon Steak, and The Source.

DC has terrific off-the-beaten-path choices too, like the outdoor garden at The Tabard Inn (or the cozy dining room in winter) and Palena in Cleveland Park for both high-end dining or the busy no-reservations café which serves the city’s greatest roast chicken and hamburgers, in addition to delicate consommés and crudo.

Don’t neglect niche restaurants that are positively crave worthy. Amsterdam Falafel Shop in Adams Morgan makes such great chickpea patties, they didn’t need to make some of the city’s best French fries too…but they do, served steaming in a paper bag that keeps these crunchy potatoes hot until you devour them on your walk home. Etete serves terrific Ethiopian food.

For outdoor dining, head for the firepits and Southern comforts of Art & Soul, with a direct view of the Capitol Dome. This summer, it’s offering alfresco supers the second Saturday of each month, with a reception, four-course meal and drink pairings. The past couple of suppers have boasted whole roasted lamb and clambake, so come hungry. Often a great view means mediocre food, but waterfront dining alfresco in Georgetown is as good as it gets at Farmers Fishers Bakers, with a New American menu showcasing the country’s best ingredients.

McLean Robbins

Once known as a steak-and-potatoes town, Washington D.C. has evolved over the past decade to offer visitors and locals alike a vibrant dining scene filled with celebrity chefs, innovative cooking techniques, ethnic flair and plenty of power dining hotspots. From James Beard awards to molecular gastronomy to fancy food trucks, Washington, D.C. has quickly become a dining capital in its own right. While the city will never be New York or San Francisco, it has emerged in recent years to offer up some of the East Coast’s best culinary experiences.

To experience a quintessential Washington, D.C. experience, one must dine at one of the city’s many luxury hotels --- Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C. offers a BOURBON Steak for the traditional crowd, while Adour at The St. Regis features the modern French fare of Alain Ducasse with a twist. CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental is always a crowd pleaser for a special tasting menu as well. If it’s something a bit more experimental, test the Mediterranean-inspired flavors of Komi, spectacular Indian fare at Rasika or a modern Mexican experience at Jose Andres’ Minibar.

When it comes to notable cuisine found mostly in Washington, diners should consider trying Ethiopian. The city offers more people of Ethiopian descent than any country outside of Africa. 

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