I dated a man in DC for a while which brought me to the city quite a few times. While the sex was unthinkably bad, the food in the city was exceptionally good. I certainly wasn't going there for the orgasms, but the culinary landscape was worth the 4 hour trip. Our nation’s capital has had great food in its own right for years, and now ultra famous chefs like David Chang and Daniel Boulud are flocking there to cash in on this thriving scene. I appreciate that everyone’s “must eat” list varies by your taste, but below I’ve compiled some of my favorite spots from a humble hot dog joint to 4 star dining. You’ll find a list of DC spots that are 100% worth a visit and even a few northern Virginia locales that jutify the quick drive. In alphabetical order, I present to you my DC grub list:
Why: This isn't just good pizza, it's a whole experience. You can choose from one of their pre-selected "hits" or design your own pie as you walk down the ingredient buffet. Think Chipotle, for good pizza. The pie is popped into an oven and by the time you pay its ready, right before your eyes.
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Why: Because glazed doughnuts sliced open, stuffed with juicy fried chicken, and drown in Frank's Red Hot should be the national dish. Holy shit is this good!
Ben's Chili Bowl
Why: Because this chili slinging joint is an institution. But mostly because it's late and you're drunk
Why: Because Bon Appetite named this the #2 best new restaurant in the country. Need more reasons? Because Filipino food is under represented in this country and it is a show stopping combination of flavors and textures.
Bub & Pops
Why: Because every town needs an old school family sandwich shop that still does things right. Also, because they have a sandwich called "The Jewish Hoagie" and it brings me joy to order "the big jew." It's stuffed with corned beef, brisket, roast turkey, kosher salami, swiss cheese, spicy mustard, thousand island, & cole slaw. Their Italian hoagie is also not to be missed.
Why: Because it's dark, sexy, and full of Asian food. If that doesn't thrill you, I don't wanna know you . They serve a wide reange of Japanese comfort food served in a dimly lit, modern izayaka. Check out their other spots Daikaya Ramen (downstairs) and Bantam King for great ramen.
Why: Beause I like Jewish stuff and so should you. They serve all the brined, cured, smoked, and pickled traditional fare in a modern setting.
Why: Because it's deep fried carbs covered in sugar why the hell not
Why: Because a trip to DC wouldn't be complete without some Ethiopian food. They have the largest population of Ethiopian people outside of the country itself
Why: Because you need a little class in your life, and a sophisticated Italian seafood restaurant with a view is the way to do it.
Good Stuff Eatery
Why : Because who the hell wouldn't want to eat this monster?
Why: Because there's something about food from a tiny long-running Greek deli that just screams comfort. Also the spanakopita and avgolemono soup they make are FIRE
Why: Because I rarely walk out of dinner and think "every single dish I just had was delicious." The menu is globally influenced with tons to share in a sexy, relaxed ambiance. Their parent company, Neighborhood Restaurant Group, owns several other concepts including Red Apron Butcher on this list
Why: Because former top chef contestant Mike Isabella will bring you modern Greek cuisine loaded with grilled meats, seafood, and dips in this vibrant neighborhood restaurant.
Why: Because no one marries a hip bistro scene and killer french menu better than Mr. Stephen Starr. And because I could eat steak frites for 3 meals per day.
Why: Because hoards of people have already succumbed to waiting in line for an hour to eat at this intimate Northern Thai restaurant and you'll understand why once you gain entrée.
Old Ebbit Grill
Why: Because this is an American institution, having been open since 1856. And because you want a big fat steak and a bottle of California cab for dinner at their massive oak bar.
Why: Because how the hell could anyone say no to this perfectly charred, expertly sauced, fresh mozzarella dotted, Neapolitan style pie?
Why: Because Ray's has been repeatedly voted amongst the top burgers in the country, and Barack loves it.
Red Apron Butcher
Why: Because this artisan butcher shop is just one of the many spots Neighborhood Restaurant Group does well. They have a creative sandwich shop and gourmet market place if you're looking to pick up a few goodies on your way. The breakfast sandwiches are heavenly terrible for you.
Why: Because once you stop being pissed you just waited 2 hours for a table, you see what all the fuss is about. Rose's is rated amongst the top restaurants in the country time & time again for their small tapas plates and fresh seasonal fare served in a rustic converted townhouse.
Why: Because these tacos are too god damn amazing. The ingredients are top notch and there is massive selection. Look at that thing, it's a Mexican masterpiece
The Italian Store
Why: Because this old school Italian deli is as authentic as it gets. They have products lining the walls from Italy and all the regional specialties your heart could ever desire. Fresh mozzarella, hot stuffed peppers, and of course all the Italian meats fit for Tony Soprano.
Why: Because you've never had food from Lao and Southeast Asian food is a spice induced cuisine you have lived without long enough. You can seer your tastebuds off in this modern eatery.
Why: Because they have the best ramen in DC and they make it nearly impossible to find the entrance, which is extra cool obviously. Don't forget to order a few cans of their sake while slipping into a dumpling and noodle induced coma
Wiseguy NY Pizza
Why: Because everyone needs a New York buffalo slice in their life, even when in DC
Why: Because Jose Andres does tapas like no other. You could eat your way through this menu of dips, grilled seafood, and charred meats for days in the opulent setting.
Why: Because this isn't a restaurant, it's a culinary experience. This is a bustling food hall where you can stop off at multiple vendors and dine on tacos, bbq, biscuits, and ice cream without ever leaving. Block off several hours, you'll need it.