Table of Contents


1. El Presidente

Photograph by Thomas Birch.

Stephen Starr’s dramatically decorated Mexican restaurant has a high-energy scene and top-notch fish tacos.

 

2. Petite Cerise

Pretty pastries at Petite Cerise. Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Cheffy all-day cafes were big this year, and Dabney chef/owner Jeremiah Langhorne’s elegant French spot is one of the best.

 

3. Ellie Bird

Brunch at Ellie Bird. Photograph by Albert Ting.

Sit in a giant birdcage and dig into Vietnamese-­accented dishes such as French onion soup with pho broth.

 

Back to Top


1. Albi

Grilled octopus at Albi. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Pair elegant spins on Levantine dishes—hummus topped with duck leg and preserved ramps, grape-leaf-wrapped rockfish—with arak cocktails and Lebanese Cabernet.

 

2. Maydan

location_on 14th Street corridor

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Rose Previte’s fiery dining room is still packed—now you can wait at its new sibling cocktail bar, Medina, across the alley.

 

3. Lapis

Lapis’s chopawn. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Readers love this Afghan destination for its date-friendly vibe, creative cocktails, and dishes both meaty and vegetable-driven.

 

Back to Top


1. Bob’s Shanghai 66

Soup dumplings at Bob’s. Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Start your Chinese feast with the best soup dumplings in town, then wind down with a mountain of shaved ice.

 

2. 2Fifty

location_on Riverdale Park and Union Market

A barbecue feast at 2fifty. Photograph courtesy of 2fifty.

This Salvadoran-meets-Texan barbecue menu stars meltingly tender Wagyu brisket. A new DC location is slated for 2024.

 

3. Planta

Photograph courtesy of Planta.

Bethesda Row’s chic vegan restaurant—which has siblings in Toronto and Miami—serves watermelon “sushi” and carbonara with mushroom bacon.

 

Back to Top


1. Ruthie’s All Day

Brisket and eggs at Ruthie’s. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Breakfast biscuit sandwiches, meat-and-three barbecue plates, and a family-­friendly approachability are the draws.

 

2. Thompson Italian

location_on Falls Church and Alexandria

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

The newer Old Town location serves carefully crafted pastas, like the Falls Church original, but adds brunch and an attention-getting cacio e pepe gimlet.

 

3. The Inn at Little Washington

location_on Washington, Virginia

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

This 45-year-old bucolic getaway is the area’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant.

 

Back to Top


1. Le Diplomate

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

The brigade of servers have mastered quick, crisp service that doesn’t feel brusque.

 

2. Rose’s Luxury

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

“Ultra-personable” seems to be the top job requirement here.

 

3. Caruso’s Grocery

location_on Capitol Hill and North Bethesda

Photograph by Stacey Windsor.

These Little Italy–inspired places boast a generous, friendly vibe.

 

Back to Top


1. Iron Gate

location_on Dupont Circle

Photograph courtesy of Iron Gate.

Cozy up by a fire pit on the wisteria-­draped terrace.

 

2. Reveler’s Hour

Bucatini with tomato and anchovy at Reveler’s Hour. Photograph by Farrah Skeiky.

Moody lighting sets the tone—and there are hearty pastas and a fantastic wine list.

 

3. Lutèce

Photograph by Alex Lau.

The French bistro feels charmingly creaky and utterly Parisian.

 

Back to Top


1. The Green Zone

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

This Middle Eastern–inspired bar accents classic cocktails with ingredients such as dates, pistachios, and arak.

 

2. Jane Jane

Photograph by Jennifer Chase.

A styling (and tiny) hangout that marries old-school hits like the Martinez with newer takes such as a mezcal French 75.

 

3. Silver Lyan

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

This sophisticated basement den in the Riggs hotel comes from London cocktail star Ryan Chetiyawardana (a.k.a. “Mr. Lyan”).

 

Back to Top


1. Union Market

Photograph courtesy of EDENS.

The food hall that kick-started an entire neighborhood of development just added a pizza-and-oyster bar.

 

2. The Roost

Photograph by Stacey Windsor.

The low-ABV beer bar Shelter anchors this emporium, which also features tacos, sushi, and square pizza.

 

3. The Block

location_on North Bethesda and Annandale

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

These Asian food halls pack a lot into their smaller spaces, including stops for bubble tea, hibachi, and dumplings.

 

Back to Top


1. Call Your Mother

location_on Multiple area locations

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

The slightly sweet bagels work best for sandwiches, such as a pileup of mashed avocado, Fritos, jalapeños, and pickled vegetables.

 

2. La Tejana

location_on Mount Pleasant

Photograph by Jason Garza.

This tiny shop serves one thing only: made-to-order breakfast tacos on housemade flour tortillas.

 

3. Tatte

location_on Multiple area locations

Photograph courtesy of Tatte.

These Israeli-style bakeries, which started in Boston, just keep on coming. (Next up: Reston and Alexandria.)

 

Back to Top


1. Caruso’s Grocery

location_on Capitol Hill and North Bethesda

Bucatini with spicy Neapolitan ragu. Photograph courtesy of Caruso’s Grocery.

Matt Adler’s popular dining rooms turn out dreamy versions of all the garlicky, red-saucy Italian American standards. (Go for the scampi.)

 

2. Red Hen

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Home of the famous sausage rigatoni that Joe and Jill Biden each ordered on a date night. (We wouldn’t want to share it, either.)

 

3. L’Ardente

location_on Judiciary Square

L’Ardente lasagna with beef sugo and truffles. Photograph by Mike Fuentes Photography.

You’ve seen the head-turners—flaming tiramisu! 40-layer lasagna!—on Instagram, but even humbler plates, like a white veal ragu, deliver big flavor.

 

Back to Top


1. Residents Café & Bar

location_on Dupont Circle

Photograph by Hawkeye Johnson Photography.

This cocktail cafe, which changes its accents by the season, is currently dripping with autumnal leaves.

 

2. El Presidente

El Presidente’s theatrical dining room. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

A surrealist mural grabs your attention at the bar, while the back dining room features a velvet-curtained stage.

 

3. Maydan

location_on 14th Street corridor

Photograph by Rey Lopez.

This Mediterranean/Middle Eastern hot spot features a dramatic copper hearth and timeworn tapestries.

 

Back to Top


1. Rasika

location_on Penn Quarter and West End

Rasika’s luxe version of chicken makhani. Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

The curries at these refined Indian dining rooms travel very well.

 

2. Gemini (formerly Happy Gyro)

location_on Dupont Circle

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Pair “grandpa” pizza and Mediterranean snacks with natural wines and some of the city’s best ice cream.

 

3. Extra Fancy (formerly Rose’s at Home)

Photograph by Birch Thomas.

The catering arm of Rose’s Luxury will do anything from date-night meals for two to lavish at-home tasting menus.

 

Back to Top


1. Taqueria Habanero

location_on Columbia Heights, Edgewood, and College Park

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

.

The taqueria’s latest location—in Northeast DC’s Bryant Street Market food hall—also features a cocktail spot, Bar Alegria.

 

2. Oyamel

Photograph by Rey Lopez.

José Andrés’s 16-year-old gem is a favorite for queso and margs or a more elaborate feast of tacos, ceviches, and mod-Mex small plates.

 

3. dLeña

location_on Mount Vernon Triangle

Guacamole at dLeña. Photograph by Evy Mages

.

The wood-fired grill turns out a tomahawk steak flambéed with mezcal as well as charred avocado with chimichurri.

 

Back to Top


1. Sushi Taro

location_on Dupont Circle

Uni and prawns at Sushi Taro. Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

In the special-occasion-worthy omakase room, you’ll have a sushi chef all to yourself.

 

2. Raku and Rakuya

location_on Dupont Circle, Cathedral Heights, and Bethesda

Photograph by Evy Mages

.

It’s hard to beat the happy hours—and the lunchtime bento deals—at these fusion favorites.

 

3. Perry’s

Udon Carbonara. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The revamp-of-the-year award goes to this 39-year-old restaurant and drag-brunch destination, made relevant again by chef Masako Morishita.

 

Back to Top


1. Chang Chang

location_on Dupont Circle

Photograph by Melissa Hom.

Lauded chef Peter Chang’s first District restaurant offers a delicious dim sum brunch.

 

2. Tiger Fork

Shrimp with snow peas at Tiger Fork. Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

The chic Blagden Alley place is known for Chinese-medicine-inspired cocktails and a tasty char siu barbecue plate.

 

3. Han Palace

location_on Woodley Park, Capitol Hill, and Tysons

Photograph courtesy of Han Palace.

Dim sum is served all day at these Cantonese dining rooms, and the Barracks Row location has an all-you-can-eat option.

 

Back to Top


1. Anju

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Danny Lee, Scott Drewno, and Angel Barreto turn out gochujang-glazed fried chicken and prime beef galbi alongside housemade pickles and kimchi.

 

2. Chiko

location_on Capitol Hill, Dupont, Bethesda, Shirlington

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Danny Lee and Scott Drewno are also behind these fine-casual Chinese/Korean joints.

 

3. Kogiya

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

The modern, family-run KBBQ house grills up quality beef and pork.

 

Back to Top


1. Doi Moi

Photograph by Nunchi Creatives.

Match Vietnamese and Thai street food, noodle dishes, and banh mi with $8 dragonfruit daiquiris (on special until 8 PM).

 

2. Pho Viet

location_on Columbia Heights

Go for the spicy lemongrass pho at this longtime standby.

 

3. Rice Paper

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

The ever-popular Eden Center bistro offers nearly 100 dishes.

 

Back to Top


1. Rasika

location_on Penn Quarter and West End

Photograph by Shimmon Tamara Photography.

These lively dining rooms showcase luxe curries and truffle dosa.

 

2. Daru

location_on H Street Corridor

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

.

Beloved for both its spiced cocktails and mod-Indian food.

 

3. Indigo

The indoor/outdoor hangout is a haven for both vegetarians and chili fiends.

 

Back to Top


1. Andy’s Pizza

location_on Multiple area locations

Photograph courtesy of Andy’s Pizza.

The best New York–style slices and pies you’ll find in these parts.

 

2. 2 Amys

location_on Cathedral Heights

Photograph courtesy of 2 Amys.

This oft-packed dining room and bar has been spotlighting Neapolitan pies—and terrific small snacks and desserts—for more than two decades.

 

3. All-Purpose

location_on Shaw and Navy Yard

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

DC’s popular pizza-and-­Negroni destinations will soon get a Bethesda spinoff.

 

Back to Top


1. Duke’s Grocery

location_on Dupont Circle, Woodley Park, Foggy Bottom, and Navy Yard

Photograph courtesy of Scott Suchman

.

At these eclectic pubs, it’s all about the “proper burger,” laden with Gouda, charred onions, sweet chili sauce, and more.

 

2. Lucky Buns

location_on Adams Morgan, Union Market, and the Wharf

Photograph by Mack Ordaya.

Alex McCoy opened his biggest burger shop yet this year at the Wharf, with a waterfront patio and patties topped with, say, bacon XO jam or Hatch-chili relish.

 

3. Le Diplomate

Photograph by Danny Kim.

The double smash burger arrives with American cheese, pickles, onions, special sauce, and both French and American toothpick flags.

 

Back to Top


1. Rose Ave Bakery

Photograph courtesy of Rose Ave Bakery.

This minimalist cafe’s cases are filled with plump sugared doughnuts and savory croissants.

 

2. Bread Furst

Photograph by Scott Suchman

.

Mark Furstenburg’s neighborhood gathering place is a mecca for bread lovers (and apple-pie fans).

 

3. Yellow

location_on Navy Yard and Georgetown

Photograph courtesy of Rey Lopez.

Go for labneh croissants, “urfathing” bagel sandwiches, and—at the roomier Georgetown location—chef/owner Michael Rafidi’s pizza-like sourdough pies.

 

This article appears in the December 2023 issue of Washingtonian.