Ben's Chili Bowl
In recent years, Washington, D.C.'s restaurant scene has steadily increased its number of up-and-coming dining options. From quaint cafés to rooftop bars to food trucks, D.C. is now a bustling hub of charming and colorful eateries that offer endless helpings of great food and drink.
Just in time for election season, The Daily Meal has rounded up a list of five great places to grab a bite while exploring the city's historic streets. Whether you find yourself lost in Little Ethiopia, stomping up the steps of Capitol Hill, or touring the vibrant sidewalks of U Street, D.C's neighborhoods offer distinct dining options to satisfy all palates and cravings.
Breakfast: If you're looking for a morning pick me up, Peregrine is an ideal spot to grab a coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha, or your preference of microbrews. The café is conveniently located along a side stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue (yes, the same street at The White House), and thus is a great starting point for a day of sight-seeing. Typical (but delicious) coffee shop pastries like croissants and muffins are also available to round out your morning meal.
Lunch: Southern comfort food die-hards rejoice at the Texas-style barbecue dished out at Hill Country. Grab a meal ticket and order up a cafeteria-style feast of tangy cucumber salad, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, ribs, and, of course, their signature brisket, which is slathered in a barbecue sauce made of vinegar, ketchup, and peach preserves. Desserts include a banana pudding and a jaw-dropping 1-pound serving of red velvet cake. Hill Country also hosts vibrant happy hours from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from 10 p.m. until close, where diners and party-goers can head downstairs to the live music stage to gulp down a round of drinks and enjoy the tunes of great, foot-stomping bands.
Drinks: Jaleo, the Spanish restaurant of José Andrés, is the perfect spot to grab a couple of cocktails along with plates of scrumptious tapas. The restaurant has a colorful, eclectic interior, which includes foosball tables, and the bar at Jaleo has iPad menus where guests not only select their choices but can read about the originating region and production of their drink. The gin and tonics are the signature drink, along with a collection of concoctions that infuse ingredients like coriander blossom, grapefruit, white pepper, and tarragon.
Dinner: If Indian food is what you crave, spice up your dinner plans by making a reservation at Rasika West End. The atmosphere is upscale but youthful and the food is indisputably memorable. Try the restaurant's signature palak chaat to start, crispy spinach leaves that are blanched and coated with chickpea flour, tamarind, and yogurt. The tamarind black cod and Malai fish curry are certain to win over the hearts of seafood lovers, while the gulab jamun dessert is delightful.
Midnight Snack: Ben's Chili Bowl is a culinary and historic landmark in Washington and should grace the itineraries of all D.C. visitors. This U Street neighborhood joint, which famously kept its doors open during the civil rights movement, is dear to the hearts of locals as well as luminaries like actor Bill Cosby and President Obama, and was a regular hangout for the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., the late jazz musician Miles Davis, and the late jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. Ben's Chili Bowl is open until 2 a.m. during the week and until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, giving hungry late-night diners the chance to chow down on the signature chili hot dogs, half smokes, salmon cakes, and scrapple until the wee hours of the morning.
Clare Sheehan is Junior Writer at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @clare_sheehan