June 6th, 2021

storyteller doll

DC Travel Guide - Part 3: Restaurants

Here is a brief guide to some Washington D.C. restaurants. The focus is primarily on local flavor and things you might not be able to find somewhere else. For more ideas on where to eat, you can look at Tom Sietsema’s restaurant reviews in the Washington Post.

There are also some neighborhoods with a lot of restaurants, e.g. Penn Quarter (near the Gallery Place - Chinatown and Archives / Navy Memorial metro stations), U Street, H Street NE (a free streetcar ride from Union Station), the Wharf (shuttle bus from L'Enfant Plaza or walk from Waterfront metro), and Georgetown (reachable by Circulator bus). If you're in one of those areas, just wander around and see what looks (and smells!) good.

Celebrity Chefs:

There is no chef who is a bigger deal in D.C. than Jose Andres, both for his food and his philanthropy, which has included providing meals to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and restaurant workers displaced by the pandemic. His World Central Kitchen organization is a worthy charity. And his restaurants are justly popular. Since most of his focus is on small plates, it is best to go with a group so you can sample more dishes. These are all in the Penn Quarter area, near both the Gallery Place-Chinatown metro station on the Red and Yellow lines and Archives/Navy Memorial station on the Yellow line. Note that Minibar, which has two Michelin stars, is temporarily closed.

Zaytinya - 701 9th St NW (at G Street, across the street from the Smithsonian American Art Museum). Open Monday - Tuesday 4 pm to 9:30 pm, Wednesday - Thursday 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Friday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday 11am to 9:30 pm. Greek / Turkish small plates. About $30 a person without alcohol.

Jaleo - 480 7th St NW at E St NW. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 am to 9 pm, to 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. Spanish cuisine, including tapas and paella. About $30 a person for tapas (without alcohol), paella is $50 to $65. Good happy hour deals weekdays from 3 to 5:30 pm and all day Tuesday with $7 sangria, $8 wine, tapas from $5-7.

China Chicano - 418 7th St NW (between D and E St). Open Thursday and Sunday 4-9 pm, Friday and Saturday 4-10 pm. Peruvian, Japanese, and Asian food, along with several varieties of pisco and Japanese whiskeys. Don’t miss the “Aeropuerto,” a fried rice dish named that because everything lands in it. Figure on $35-50 a person.

Oyamel - 401 7th St NW (at D St). Open Wednesday and Thursday 4 - 10 pm, Friday 4-10:30 pm Saturday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Sunday 11:30 am to 10 pm. A wide range of Mexican food. They used to have grasshopper tacos on the menu but the pandemic seems to have stopped that for now. Figure about $30 a person without alcohol. Happy hour from 4 to 6 pm on Wednesday to Friday, with $5 beers, $6 wines by the glass, $7-8 margaritas, and snacks from $3-5 ($10 for ceviche).

Beefsteak - 800 22nd St NW (at I St, Foggy Bottom Metro). Open 11 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday. Several options for vegetable and grain bowls, though there are also options to add meat. The gazpacho is an excellent lunch on a hot day. About $10.


Michel Richard died in 2016, but his flagship restaurant, Central Michel Richard, lives on. It’s located at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 am to 7:30 pm. American food, with a French bistro accent. Appetizers run about $15, entrees about $25-30. Throw in $12 and up for a glass of wine.

Spike Mendelssohn is a Top Chef alumnus and responsible for two casual places, a step above fast food.

Good Stuff Eatery - 303 Pennsylvania Ave SE (near C St, Capital South metro), also in Georgetown at 3291 M St NW (at 33rd St). Pennsylvania Ave is open 11 am to 9 pm, Georgetown is open 11:30 am to 10 pm. Burgers, salads, fries, shakes. Don’t miss the various dips available for the fries, e.g. mango, chipotle, or sriracha mayonnaise.

We the Pizza - 303 Pennsylvania Ave SE (near C St, Capital South metro station). Open 11 am to 9:30 pm. pizza by the slice, salads, homemade soda. Has a vegan Sicilian option.

Ashok Bajaj is best known for his Indian restaurant, Rasika, but is also the force behind the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, which includes several other interesting places to eat:

Rasika - 633 D Street NW (near 7th St) and 1190 New Hampshire Avenue ( near M St and 22nd, about an 18 minute walk from the Westin). D Street branch is open for Lunch Sunday through Friday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, Dinner, Sunday 5 pm to 9 pm, to 10 pm Monday through Thursday, to 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday. West End (New Hampshire Ave) is ope for lunch Monday through Friday 11:39 am to 3:45 pm, Sunday 11 am to 3:45 pm, Dinner Sunday and Monday 4 pm to 9:30 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday to 10 pm, Thursday through Saturday to 10:30 pm Upscale Indian food. Entrees run $17 to $30. Don’t miss the palak chaat ($12), made from spinach, yogurt, tamarind, and dates. If you’re feeling splurgy, there’s a 4 course tasting menu for $60 vegetarian, $69 non-vegetarian, with the option of adding a $40 wine pairing.

Bombay Club - 815 Connecticut Ave NW (between H and I St, near Farragut Square metro station, abut a 15 minute walk from the Westin. Open for lunch 11:30 am to 2:30 pm Monday through Friday, dinner 5 pm to 9:00 pm Monday through Thursday, until 9:30 pm Friday and Saturday. More typical Indian food in a somewhat formal clubby atmosphere. Entrees about $20 to $30.

Bindaas - 3309 Connecticut Ave NW (near Cleveland Park metro and the National Zoo) and at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Foggy Bottom metro). Connecticut Avenue branch is open Sunday 11 am to 9 pm, Monday through Thursday 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday 5 pm to 11 pm, Saturday 11 am to 11 pm. Foggy Bottom branch is open Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:30 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday to 10 pm. Indian street food. The kathi rolls (about $12) are popular, curries and kebabs or uttapam will cost about $12.

Annabelle - 2132 Florida Ave NW (near R St between 21st and 22nd, Dupont Circle metro). Open Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday 5:30 pm to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday to 9:30 pm. Traditional American cuisine. A salad will run you $16, an entree is $35 to $40.

Modena - 1199 H St NW (at 12th St, Metro Center metro. about a 15 minute walk from the Westin) Open for lunch 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, Tuesday through Friday, Dinner Tuesday through Thursday 5 m to 9 pm, to 10 pm Friday and Saturday, Light Fare Monday through Friday 3 pm to 5 pm. Seasonal Italian food. Antipasti about $12-15, pasta about $20-25, entrees $25-35.

Sababa - 3311 Connecticut Ave NW (near Cleveland Park metro and the National Zoo). Open Monday and Tuesday 5 pm to 9 pm, Wednesday and Thursday to 9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday to 10 pm. Israeli food. Small plates about $12-14, large plates $20-26.

Iconic Local Spots / Restaurants for Politico Spotting:

Le Diplomate - 1601 14th St NW (just north of Q St, about a 10 minute walk from the Westin). Lunch Monday through Friday, noon to 5 pm, Dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 pm to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday to midnight. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 9:30 am to 4 pm, midday menu Saturday and Sunday 4-5 pm. This is where Joe and Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, and Doug Emhoff had lunch on Memorial Day. Upscale French cuisine. Appetizers or sandwiches run $14 to $23, entrees $21 to $35.

Las Gemelas - 1280 4th St NE (in Union Market, NoMa Gallaudet metro station). Open Monday through Friday 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am. Taqueria. Joe Biden gave them a grant and got a large order of tacos and quesadillas here; you can get the same bundle of tacos he ordered. Tacos run from $3.50 to $5.50, quesadillas from $7 to 11, tlayudos are $15, and sides are $3.

Call Your Mother - 3428 O St NW (near 35th St, use Circulator bus to Georgetown). There are other locations at 3301 Georgia Ave NW, 701 8th St SE, and in Bethesda, Maryland. Also available at several farmers’ markets. Open daily 8 am to 2 pm. President Biden’s motorcade made a stop to pick up sesame bagels with cream cheese at the Georgetown branch on his way back from church on a Sunday morning in January. They have a number of breakfast sandwiches and a smaller variety of lunch sandwiches, about $12. A bagel itself costs $2.50.

Immigrant Food - 1701 Pennsylvania Ave NW (at 17th St, near Farragut West metro, or about an 18 minute walk from the Westin). Also, a branch at Union Market (NoMa Gallaudet metro station). Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. Fusion bowls, sandwiches, and snacks, including the Madam VP’s Heritage Bowl which combines Jamaican and Indian food with curried chicken stew, chickpeas, potatoes and plantains over turmeric rice and spinach. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff is reported to get this as takeout. Other dishes include various Asian, Latin American, and West African flavors. About $15.

Old Ebbitt Grill - 675 15th St NW (between F and G St, about a 15 minute walk from the Westin). Open Sunday through Friday 11 am to 11 pm, from 10 am on Saturday. Old Ebbitt Grill claims to be the oldest saloon in Washington, DC, though it has not always been at the same location. Several former presidents frequented its bar and William McKinley lived there for a while. It’s known for its oyster bar (about $20 for a half dozen). The rest of the menu is pretty much standard American fare. Most appetizers are in the $8 to $15 range, while entrees cost $16 to $27. Cocktails are about $15. The beer list is remarkably pedestrian.

Martin’s Tavern - 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW (at N Street). Open Monday through Friday 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 10 am, Sunday from 9 am. Best bet is to take the 33 bus from I St and 15th St (towards Friendship Heights). Opened in 1933, this was where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie. Pretty standard American cuisine. Appetizers about $10-15, entrees $20 to $40. Not a lot of vegetarian options other than salads.

Fiola Mare - 3050 K Street NW (at Washington Harbor, take Circulator bus to M Street and 31st). Open Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 am to 9 pm , Friday and Saturday to 10 pm, Tuesday from 4 pm to 9 pm. Expensive Italian seafood. Antipasti $20-$25, Pasta $35 to $60, Entrees $30 to over $100. This is the place to go if you’ve just been appointed ambassador to Italy. But, since it is outdoors at the Harbor, you can people watch for free.

Tonic at Quigley - 2036 G St NW (near Foggy Bottom metro). Monday through Wednesday 11:30 am to 10 pm, Thursday and Friday to 11 pm., Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday 11 am to 10 pm. A former soda fountain, favored by Margaret Truman, this is also where John Lewis ate with Emmanuel Macron. The first floor is a hangout for students at George Washington University, while the upper levels are frequented by a wider range of quieter clientele. Sandwiches (with tater tots) about $15 to $20, main courses about $20, mac and cheese about $16.

Ben’s Chili Bowl - 1213 U St NW (Metro Green Line to U St). Open Sunday through Thursday 11 am to 9 pm, Friday to Saturday 11 am to 1 am. Also has other branches, including one inside Nationals Park and at National Airport (DCA). Everybody from Anthony Bourdain to Barack Obama, Serena Williams to Pope Francis has eaten at Ben’s. Basically they serve sausages (half-smokes) and chili (both meat and vegetarian) Under $10. Ben’s Next Door at 1211 U Street has more upscale food (e.g. seafood, pasta) for about twice the price and half the atmosphere.

Market Lunch - Inside Eastern Market, 225 7th St SE (metro Blue, Orange, or Silver Line to Eastern Market). Currently open Tuesday to Sunday 9 am to 2 pm for carryout, but included in hopes that it will fully reopen by con. The main appeal of Market Lunch (aside from good, cheap food) is that the communal table there is where all walks of life in Washington, from janitors to Congresscritters, meet. The don’t miss food items are the blue bucks (buckwheat pancakes with blueberries) and the crab cakes (sandwiches or platters).

Busboys & Poets - The closest branch to the Westin is 2021 14th St NW, near V St. (U St metro station or walk 22 minutes up 14th St. (There are several other branches, but this is also the original, as well as the closest.) Open Sunday through Thursday 9 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 9 am to 11 pm. This is an entertainment venue in normal times, as well as a small bookstore. Soups, sandwiches, pizzas, etc. with a lot of vegan options. Breakfast is about $15, lunch and dinner from $12 to $25.

Other Good Places to Try:

Teaism - The closest branch to the Westin is at 800 Connecticut Ave NW, (entrance on H St), about a 15 minute walk. There are other outlets in Dupont Circle (2009 R St NW) and in Penn Quarter (400 8th St NW). Open Monday through Friday 9 am to 4 pm. Aside from lots of different types of tea, they serve soups, sandwiches, bento boxes, and all day breakfasts. The okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage omelet) is particularly notable. Might be only carryout right now.

Supra -1205 11th St NW, just north of M Street (about 3 blocks from the Westin). Open Sunday 10 am to 9 pm, Monday through Thursday 5 pm to 9 pm, Friday to 10 pm, Saturday 10 am to 10 pm. Georgian food, best experienced with a group. Small plates about $8-$12, larger plates $16 to $30. Don’t miss the khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread) for $12 to $16. There’s a wide range of Georgian wines and soft drinks.

Swahili Village, The Consulate -1990 M Street (about 7 blocks west of the Westin). Open 11 am to midnight daily. Upscale Kenyan food. Starters about $7 to $10, entrees about $25 to $30.

Unconventional Diner - 1207 Ninth St NW, just north of M St, next to the Convention Center (about a 17 minute walk from the Westin). Open Monday through Friday 11 am to 9 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am. Upscale diner food, including meatloaf and fried chicken, along with Latin American and Lebanese dishes. About $20 to $30 for main courses.

Hill Country Barbecue - 410 7th St NW, between D and E St (Gallery Place - Chinatown or Archives / Navy Memorial metro). Open Sunday through Thursday noon to 8 pm, Friday and Saturday until 9 pm. Texas barbecue. About $15 to $30.

Nando’s Peri Peri - 1210 18th St NW, between M St and Jefferson Place, about a 10 minute walk from the Westin. Open daily 10:30 am to 9:30 pm. In South Africa, Nando’s is fast food. The DC metro area is one of two (along with Chicago) in the U.S. with Nando’s, and they’re a little fancier here. A half chicken and a side is about $15. Don’t forget to add sauce of your desired level of hotness.

Brew Pubs:

Astro Beer Hall - 1306 G St NW (between 13th and 14th, about a 16 minute walk from the Westin). Open Sunday 9 am to 2 am, Monday through Thursday 8 am to 2 am, Friday 8 am to 2 am, Saturday 9 am to 3 am. Fried chicken, donuts, and beer, including local drafts.
(You can also just get donuts and fried chicken to go next door.)

Capitol City Brewing - 1100 New York Ave NW. (Corner of 11th and H St, Metro Center metro station). Open Wed through Sunday 11 am to 9 pm. Amber Waves (amber ale) and Capitol Kolsch plus products of other breweries, plus pizzas, burgers and so on.

Right Proper Brewing Company - 624 T Street NW (near 7th St, Shaw-Howard U metro). Open Sunday through Thursday noon to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday to 11 pm. Their Raised by Wolves pale ale is available at many local bars. The brewpub also has the typical pub food, with sandwiches about $15.

Valor Brewpub - 723 8th St SE. (Eastern Market metro).

Red Bear Brewing Company - 200 M St NE. (NoMa-Gallaudet metro).

Bluejacket - 300 Tingey St SE. (Navy Yard metro, a good place to slake your thirst after a walk on the Anacostia River Trail).


Ice Cream and Sweets:

Thomas Sweet - 3214 P St NW (at Wisconsin Ave, take Metrobus 3 from I St and 15th St). Originated in New Jersey, but has been popular among Georgetown University students for many years.

Jeni’s Splendid Ic Cream - 1925 14th St NW (between T and U St). Ohio-based company, but there are always long lines here.

Ice Cream Jubilee - 1407 T St NW (west of 14th St). Also at 301 Water St SE (near Navy Yard metro). Local, handmade, with a few vegan options.

Dolcezza Gelato - 1704 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont Circle). The most authentic gelato in DC, with interesting flavors.

Dolci Gelati - 1420 Eight St NW (between O and P St).

Pitango Gelato - 413 7th St NW (Gallery Place / Chinatown metro).

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