Where to Eat in Washington DC: The Best Restaurants and Bars

April 14, 2018 Trinity Boughner

Washington DC is a hub for American politics and history. Attracting as many school field trips as it does travelers the district offers a peek into the country’s democratic origin. There are plenty of free museums to take advantage of but the real draw here is the memorials and monuments dedicated to great American leaders. Spend some contemplative time at the Reflecting Pool within the National Mall, among the most patriotic places in the country.
Things to do in Washington DC

1. Barmini

501 9th St NW, Washington DC, DC 20004-2155 Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar Late Night, Drinks +1 202-393-4451
Excellent
85%
Good
11%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 210 reviews

Barmini

Reviewed By presscaught - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

I found Barmini here on TripAdvisor and all the reviews are right, this is a five star plus unique experience. Very cool/trendy/quirky atmosphere in the bar. Cozy, I think there are only 20 seats at most we saw multiple people rejected who didn't have reservations so I would recommend. I looked at the drink menu and the selection is awesome but high end I think $22 was the low, but these drinks are an experience.

The testing flight sitting at the bar is the way to go. $190 for two isn't cheap but worth it. My wife and I had the time of our lives. The skill and care the bartenders /mixologists take to produce each drink is unmatched. The techniques on display are incredible from liquid nitrogen to hibiscus clouds to smoked glasses and ice...it is an incredible journey.

Following the tasting they will taylor make a drink to your liking (if there isn't a seating after yours).

We could see into the micro restaurant minibar next door and that experience looks nothing short of amazing.

Highly highly recommend Barmini

2. Ambar Capitol Hill

523 8th St SE, Washington DC, DC 20003-2835 Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar Eastern European, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night, Drinks +1 202-813-3039
Excellent
78%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Ambar Capitol Hill

Reviewed By marc c - Charleston SC

Only meal we booked that required transportation in DC but the reviews made it seem worth it. #1 after all! The location is really neat. Nice upscale part of town. Residential area we hadn't been to before. Very cute. Atmosphere at restaurant were good. But hot. Cold night. Too hot inside. Waitress was hurried but nice enough. All tapas. All average.

We ordered about 12-14 different tapas and sadly not a one stood out. Odds alone have ONE of them being a hit. Or not. Brussel sprouts were bitter. Mussels were boring and mostly just onion flavored. The recommended sampler plate was bizzarre. It was supposed to be a uniquely Balkan spread assortment. A smoked trout, a mushroom and a something. It was basically one part creamed cheese, one part fish or mushroom essence and 98 parts air. An ice cold whipped air spread that smelled vaguely of what it was supposed to be. The lamb kabobs were two Bob Evans sausage links on a plate. But presumably lamb. The "steak and frites" was dried out shredded beef on potatoes. Meat pies were OK but mostly pastry. Lamb salami was closest to a "good". And another eight that aren't worth me finding them on the menu to reference. We are foodies that plan our trip meals in advance and live by the Tripadvisor reviews. We like unique experiences and foods. This was none of that. Just a disappointment. Average at best.

3. Lafayette Restaurant

800 16th St NW, Washington DC, DC 20006-4102 Parking Available, Valet Parking, Free Wifi, Reservations, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover, Accepts Credit Cards American, Gluten Free Options, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options Brunch, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner SGD 52 - SGD 66 +1 202-638-6600
Excellent
79%
Good
13%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 240 reviews

Lafayette Restaurant

Directly overlooking Lafayette Square towards the White House, The Lafayette is a destination restaurant in Washington, DC featuring a light-filled dining room and carefully prepared menu of upscale contemporary American cuisine. With an attentive staff, stately setting and meal service for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, The Lafayette provides a truly unique fine dining experience in Washington, D.C.

Reviewed By MannyG2000 - Barcelona, Spain

Located in the Hay-Adams Hotel, the Lafayette faces south toward the White House and is bright and sunny at breakfast time. The usual breakfast items are offered, at very reasonable prices for a 5-star hotel.

My companion very much liked his eggs Benedict, though I was disappointed with my eggs and soldiers (egg undercooked and not shelled, bread oily and not presented as batons which can be dipped in the egg). However, the interior decor was so lovely that I rate the overall experience a 5.

4. Joe's Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab

750 15th St NW, Washington DC, DC 20005-1018 Seating, Waitstaff, Street Parking, Valet Parking, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover, Reservations, Private Dining, Accepts Credit Cards Steakhouse, American, Seafood, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch +1 202-489-0140
Excellent
70%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Joe's Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab is the culmination of a partnership between Lettuce Entertain You and Joe's Stone Crab, the legendary seafood restaurant of Miami Beach. Joe's features an extensive selection of seafood, flown in fresh daily, to complement the world's finest Florida Stone Crab claws. Joe's features the signature 16 oz. Bone-In Filet Mignon and 22 oz. New York Strip Steak. Matched with Joe's famous side dishes, dinner only gets better when capped with a slice of key lime pie. Defined by a standard of hospitality born a century ago, Joe’s offers a dining experience that is timeless. Tuxedo-clad service provides a sense of tradition, while delivering the warmth and caring service that has defined Joe’s since 1913.

Reviewed By Gerryanne - Ipswich

What a fabulous meal we had this evening, luckily we booked a table as queues were huge.
The food was wonderful, we had delicious oysters, followed by a couple of pieces of stone crab. The filet mignonette with lobster tail was perfectly cooked and presented, the service was amazing particularly from Stephen, who took time to explain everything to us. An expensive but very worthwhile experience

5. Fiola

601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Ste 125N, Washington DC, DC 20004-2601 Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Valet Parking, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Free Wifi Italian, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner SGD 26 - SGD 216 +1 202-525-1402
Excellent
70%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 795 reviews

Fiola

Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s flagship restaurant, Fiola, opened in 2011 and since that time has evolved its cuisine and dining experience. Today, Fiola is a Michelin-starred fine dining Italian restaurant offering prix fixe tasting menus at dinner that drawing their inspiration from regional Italian classic dishes, local seasonal ingredients, and family traditions. Guests may also dine “a la carte” at the bar, in the lounge, or on the patio, or simply enjoy light snacks, a cocktail, or glass of wine. Fiola serves an a la carte menu at lunch. The restaurant features sophisticated private dining spaces for business and social events, and outdoor dining is available from spring through fall on the beautifully appointed patio and loggia.

Reviewed By DeborahCherrytree - Sao Paulo, SP

I spent a week visiting most Michelin one star restaurants of DC and this is definitely the best I've been to. Ordered the Canary Island Branzino as entrée. Right away, the waitress spoiled me with an appetizer consisting of a delicious salad of greens, white fresh aspargus, burratta, flowers and other delicious ingredients. As soon as I finished my courtesy appetizer, she brought me a delicious mocktail, again as a courtesy. Then the entrée, which stands as one of the best plates I've had in my life. The combination of branzino, calamari, leeks, prosecco zabaglione and caviar is a heavenly dish. As I thought I'd eaten enough and couldn't have dessert, the waitress pampered me again with a wonderful and delicate combination of sorbet, meringue and cream. Absolutely unforgettable experience. Wish I could try the whole menu. Can't wait to go back to DC to go there again. And, of course, couldn't help noticing other patrons astonished at what they were having...

6. Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier

2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC, DC 20037-1730 Reservations, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Valet Parking, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar French, European, International, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Late Night SGD 46 - SGD 66 +1 202-296-1166
Excellent
77%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 608 reviews

Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier

Since 1999, Chef Wiedmaier infuses his Belgian heritage into Marcel's elegant haute French flagship restaurant. Regularly topping the best-of-lists in the nation's capital, in 2011 and 2012, it was rated the top restaurant for food by Zagat as well as one of the top five restaurants for service.

Reviewed By P G - York, United Kingdom

Dinner for 2 on a Saturday night. The restaurant is upscale and for a change it was nice to be in a place where folks had made the effort to dress elegantly. The food was frankly excellent and beautifully presented. The service was also polite and professional . Not cheap but special never is.

7. Rose's Luxury

717 8th St SE, Washington DC, DC 20003 Outdoor Seating, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Contemporary, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Late Night 202-580-8889
Excellent
78%
Good
13%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 401 reviews

Rose's Luxury

Reviewed By rockwell121 - WDC

Not sure what the hype is about, as waiting in line for average service and food is not my idea of a good time. Four of us dined on a freezing weeknight, so the line was not long. Got in at the opening gun of 5pm and were ushered upstairs to - a high top table. Music was a bit loud and waitress had a beyond-rapid-fire-delivery, so that was not a helpful start. Food portions were not generous but the preparation was good and the meals were edible. Really annoying that servers repeatedly insisted on reaching across patrons to refill water glasses and serve/remove plates - go to Marcel's to learn how to keep your elbow out of my face: just step around the table! Drink specials @ $15 were not very special and, notably, an "on the rocks" order appeared sans ice. With so many quality choices on this strip and all over town, Most definitely will not be back.

8. The Capital Grille

601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC, DC 20004-2601 Reservations, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Valet Parking, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Free Wifi Steakhouse, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 33 - SGD 131 +1 202-737-6200
Excellent
68%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

The Capital Grille

You are cordially invited to join us for an evening or afternoon of relaxed elegance and exceptional cuisine. Our impressive menu of nationally renowned dry aged steaks and the freshest of seafood will ignite your culinary imagination as our award-winning wine list of more than 5,000 bottles awakens your inner sommelier. And as our gracious, knowledgeable servers delight you with their uncanny ability to anticipate your every need, you’ll experience firsthand why the American Culinary Federation recently bestowed upon us their “Achievement of Excellence Award.” Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or hosting a business luncheon or dinner, we can help you flawlessly pull off any private dining event. Our event planning staff has extensive experience and the ideal materials to work with—a capital setting, distinctive food and unmatched service. Located on the corner of 6th and Pennsylvania.

Reviewed By NYCTraderGirl - Westerly, Rhode Island

I tend not to like chain establishments, and the daytime bartender who was ten minutes from getting off his shift solidified why. The allure of this dark and handsome venue so close to the NW side of Smithsonian row beckons like sirens to seasick sailors. "Come crash into me," its brand says, and so we did. Dark paneling and taxidermy deer stared us down. I happened to notice because the bartender only wanted to stare out the window. I'm not sure which ship in the night passed him by, but I recommend you keep walking until you hit The Hamilton which is worth the extra walk. Bad beer selection only saved by good location for tired feet in need of a break.

9. The Bird

1337 11th St NW, Corner 11th & O NW, Washington DC, DC 20001-4219 Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Accepts Discover American, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Drinks SGD 13 - SGD 59 +1 202-518-3609
Excellent
75%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 191 reviews

The Bird

We serve cuisine that's unique and global in a fun and creative space. Our unique and global cuisine utilizes every part of the bird. Dinner service begins daily at 5 PM Monday - Thursday, 4 PM on Friday. Brunch is served on the weekends beginning at 9 AM. Our extensive wine list features New and Old World wines and highlights many sustainable, biodynamic or organic options. Craft cocktails featuring locally curated spirits are also available in addition to three local draft beers.

Reviewed By marc c - Charleston SC

This was our third restaurant by the same restaurant group in four days. The Commissary was excellent. Logan Tavern was also very good. This was a big swing and a miss.

We had a reservation which you will need. Those w out were told 45 minutes. I know this bc we "got" the table right at the door, right by the hostess station, right in the bar with loud drinkers behinds sharing our table with us. But that is luck of the draw. The overall atmosphere was great. Funky and eclectic. The hostess was very pleasant and our waitress was super friendly. All that was great. But the food...

We are a review reading, foodie family and had our meals planned out over a month in advance. This looked like a sure thing. Not so much. Apps....OK, the mambo sauce wings (a DC sauce apparently) were excellent. I'll figure out how to make that. The duck meatballs in curry sauce should have been....good. Eh. And the brussel sprouts? While there was some char on a couple, they were bitter and basically raw. The pomegranate seeds and sauce did nothing to save it.

Entrees...the half chicken was "moist" and was reportedly good but the accompanying potato wedges were raw inside and the broc limp and cold. Two of us had the shrimp, sausage stuffed quail and grits. We are from Charleston. This is different. The shrimp were good. The grits were more of a plate decoration than a base of a dish. You know that overdone schmeer of sauce that is more of a plate decoration? It was that. What little I could fork, was good enough. The quail? That was just a hot mess of not hot, dried out fowl. Maybe there was sausage. I can't say for sure. And the duck/beef burger? I'd still be laughing if it weren't $16. If you have a more expensive sense of humor, order this! Picture if you will a full-sized bun. Maybe even on the bigger side. And on top of it imagine two meatbals on the smaller side pressed into patties and stacked. Even if you put them side by side they would only fill half the bun. Should call it the McDuck burger.

Again, staff (maybe not the bored menu stacker at the door) but the rest of them were very nice. The atmosphere kinda cool. The food? A HUGE disappointment. Book Logan. Book Commissary. Do not bother with The Bird.

10. The Dabney

122 Blagden Alley North West, Washington DC, DC 20001 Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Dinner +1 202-450-1015
Excellent
72%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 160 reviews

The Dabney

Reviewed By Minutemen10 - Arlington, Virginia

I was finally able to go here for dinner and the Dabney lived up to the hype. Overall it was probably one of the best dinning experiences in DC. Every dish we ordered was different and all were fantastic. Service and atmosphere were great as well. Cant wait to go back.

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