The Best Food and Drink in Washington DC for 2018 from The Best Food and Drink in Washington DC for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Washington DC for 2018 Gallery
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The Best Food and Drink in Washington DC for 2018
You might not be happy with everything that’s going on in Washington, but you can be sure you’ll be happy with the food. It never disappoints. The city’s ever-changing food scene has enough hype to drown out the noise of everyone always arguing about politics — and once you dig in, politics won’t even seem to matter. We’ve rounded up the best of the state’s eats as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
These restaurants, food trucks, and farmers markets have won our votes with their impressive offerings. For your next trip to DC, plan a few foodie stops in between the museums and other sight-seeing. The real sights to see are served to you on a plate.
The nation’s capital serves up gourmet options at some of the country’s best restaurants. Washington’s proximity to the ocean and thriving food culture has attracted chefs from all over to set up shop in this expansive city. Every year, new neighborhoods become hot spots for tourists and other travelers.
Over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best hot dogs and farmers markets to its best dive bar and craft brewery in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs. We’ve compiled these into individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state.
Photo by Maureen H. via Yelp
Best Bar: Old Ebbitt Grill
Many people visit Washington, D.C., for its history, and so it makes sense that when looking for a drink, one should check out the oldest saloon in the city. Established in 1856, Old Ebbitt Grill has served most of our presidents since then, starting with Ulysses S. Grant. It’s moved several times over the years, but it’s currently less than a block from the White House itself. Old Ebbitt Grill bartenders can make nearly any cocktail, but there are a dozen seasonal cocktails on offer, too, like the signature Bloody Maryland. It’s the bar’s take on the classic Bloody Mary with the addition of a jumbo shrimp and a glass rimmed with Old Bay seasoning. The deep mahogany bar is a sight to behold: A beautiful antique stein collection runs along the top, punctuated by animal head trophies purportedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt. Try the oysters; there is an oyster happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. daily and again from 11 p.m. until close. Feeling fancy? Go for the wine, as Old Ebbitt won Wine Spectator magazine’s “Award of Excellence” for 18 years in a row, from 1998 to 2015.
Yelp / Greg J
Best Beer: DC Brau Brewing Co.’s On the Wings of Armageddon
DC Brau Brewing Co.’s On the Wings of Armageddon is a world-class imperial IPA. Though many imperial IPAs are held in high regard, this single-hopped beer has a marvelous mellow bitterness that does not give way to its weighty 9.2 percent ABV.
Best Burger: Ben's Chili Cheeseburger at Ben's Chili Bowl
The celebrity (and presidential) photos on the wall are clear indications of Ben's Chili Bowl's city landmark status, but the continuous lines out the door are evidence that the restaurant's chili cheese burgers and dogs are some of the best in the country. When you order the quarter-pound beef chili burger, you get a never-frozen all-beef patty that they suggest you top with chili, lettuce, and mayo; we highly recommend splurging for cheese for an additional 40 cents. As the U Street Corridor/Shaw neighborhood around it has become trendy, it's a more-than-50-year-old bastion of down-home D.C. where college kids, old-timers, and celebrities are all welcome as long as they're willing to stand in line like everybody else — though the President eats for free.
Photo by Valery C. via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: China Boy
Located in the heart of D.C.’s Chinatown, China Boy is a tiny hole in the wall that’s attracted droves of loyal devotees thanks to one thing: its authentic Chinese noodles. Find more details on China Boy here.
Chow foon (wide rice noodles), crêpes, and noodle soups with chicken, beef, shrimp, roast pork, or beef tripe is all you’ll find on the menu, but it’s made with such care and attention to detail that you’ll find yourself returning again and again, and turning everyone you know on to your new lunchtime destination.
Photo by Mayleen G. via Yelp
Best Cupcake: Red Velvet Cupcakery
Red Velvet Cupcakery has been delighting guests and patrons with elegant and understated cupcakes since 2008. Hungry customers can enjoy a variety of selections that not only surprise (like the peanut butter cup) but also tantalize (like the white and black velvet cake options). Click here to learn why Red Velvet Cake Is Red for All the Wrong Reasons.
Best Dive Bar: The Pug
“No politics, no bombs, no idiots” are the rules at The Pug. If you want to get away from the hoity-toity parts of D.C., take refuge here — just, seriously, don’t ask for an Irish Car Bomb. In addition to a pork rinds vending machine, you’ll also find a laid-back staff and reasonable prices — two true rarities in this town.
Best Farmers Market: Eastern Market
This farmers market is open every weekend, offering local fare. But from Tuesday through Sunday, the Eastern Market building is used to display local art, hold community meetings, and sell artisanal foods and wares. With more than 27,000 Twitter followers, Eastern Market is an integral part of the Capitol Hill community. Click here for more information about the market.
Best Food Truck: Red Hook Lobster Pound
This multi-city truck is owned by Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich — yes, the daughter of daytime TV star Maury Povich — and brings Maine-style lobster rolls and other seafood shack favorites to the masses. There are shrimp rolls, a lobster BLT, lobster bisque, and New England shrimp and corn chowder — but let’s face it, it’s about the lobster roll: lobster, served cold, with celery, spices, and a touch of homemade mayonnaise on a J.J. Nissen split-top bun (or Connecticut-style, warm and buttered). Don’t forget to wash it down with one of their Maine Root sodas (root beer, ginger brew, mandarin orange, blueberry, sarsaparilla, or lemon-lime). RHLP recently made the No. 3 spot in our list of the 20 best lobster rolls outside of Maine.
Yelp/ Yueh Yee W.
Best French Fries: Blue Duck Tavern
These are about the thickest fries you’re likely to ever see, but they’re no gimmick. Blue Duck’s hand-cut signature BDT Triple Fries are first boiled, then fried in oil, then finally fried one more time in duck fat before being tossed with salt and herbs. A great fry lets the potato shine, and these do just that.
Birch & Barley
Best Fried Chicken: Birch & Barley
Located near Logan Circle, Birch & Barley bases its diverse and deceptively simple dishes around the complex flavors of its collection of 555 artisanal beers. Since 2009, it’s been serving up a wide variety of styles and flavors, including a fair share of fried delights. Some might be drawn to the fried peach pie, but the real treat is the fried chicken and waffles with buttered pecans and maple-chicken jus served during brunch. Food & Wine rated it as some of the best fried chicken in the nation, and named chef Kyle Bailey the People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic. Famous patrons who couldn’t resist some down-home cookin’ include Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Kevin Blackistone, and Pauly Shore. It must be the sweet/savory balance that Birch & Barley so skillfully strikes, with its heavily breaded, flavorful chicken and the hearty pecan-waffle combination.
The Dubliner / Facebook
Best Irish Pub: The Dubliner
Opened more than 40 years ago by the son of the proprietor of Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub in Syracuse (also on on our nationwide list), The Dubliner, named for James Joyce’s famous collection of short stories, is our nation’s largest purveyor of Guinness, and the only place in the country you’ll find the bar’s exclusive Amber Ale and Irish Lager, brewed in County Kilkenny, Ireland, specially for The Dubliner. No wonder it's considered a must for St. Patrick's Day revelers in the nation's capital.
Best Italian Restaurant: Fiola
Chef Fabio Trabocchi and his upscale Penn Quarter trattoria Fiola have both won too many awards to mention here (including a 2017 Michelin star), and the reason is obvious: Just look at the menu, which changes daily based on what’s fresh and in-season. Sample menu items include beef cheek tortellini with bone marrow agrodolce, black garlic, and brodo; spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino with Santa Barbara abalone, razor clams, and ‘nduja; and Canary Island branzino with prosecco zabaglione, leeks, and osetra caviar. Can’t decide on what to order? Opt for the tasting menu, which comes with two, three, or four courses and dessert.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Oyamel
Spanish chef José Andrés is renowned for his dedication to learning other cultures’ cuisines. As he noted in 2013: “It was the galleon ships of Spain’s King Philip II that connected these two worlds hundreds of years ago. Those Spanish ships allowed for an exchange of foods, dishes, stories, and traditions.” He spent time in Mexico before opening Oyamel in 2004. Meals start as they should — with complimentary salsa and chips, made fresh and fried daily. Continue with antojitos (“the little dishes from the streets”), papas al mole, and tacos with handmade tortillas, especially chapulines — the Oaxacan specialty of sautéed grasshoppers — if you dare.
Photo by Jason S. via Yelp
Best Pizza: 2Amys
Once upon a time, the District of Columbia was a pizza desert, a land where khaki-wearers bided their time until the fortunes tied to two-, four-, or six-year cycles became clear, resigning themselves to late-night calls to Domino’s and hoping Manny & Olga’s wouldn’t turn them off pizza for good. They suffered locals’ misplaced love for Ledo’s and watched with frustration as Adams Morgan’s jumbo slices edged increasingly close to the half-smoke as one of the city’s signature dishes. Thankfully, those days are over. Thanks, 2Amys.
2Amys’ membership in the D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) means its pizzaiolos adhere to the guidelines of what the Italian government deems a pizza should be. When you take a bite, you know you are getting a quintessential, traditional pie. Their menu is broken into D.O.C pizza offerings, stuffed pizzas, and more traditional but uncertified options, but panelists voted the namesake pie (tomato sauce and mozzarella).
Minibar by José Andrés
Best Restaurant: Minibar
It’s also the most expensive restaurant in D.C.! They really have tried to make it easier on everyone, but getting into Minibar, where protean chef José Andrés channels Spanish avant-garde cuisine, is still difficult. The restaurant now accepts reservations on a seasonal basis (in three-month periods), with each season opening one month in advance. But you still need to send them an email a couple of months ahead of time and keep your fingers crossed. When you do get what is still essentially the reservation of a lifetime (let’s be honest here), you’ll perch at one of two counters that overlook the kitchen, which The Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema called "suggestive of an operating theater when you factor in the chefs in their whites, bending over dishes manipulated by tweezers, tongs, liquid nitrogen and cloches galore." Expect a "molecular gastronomy" experience filled with culinary hat tricks — think edible rubber duckies, popcorn that smokes in your mouth, and a churro made with veal tendon. Even with a price tag of $275 for 25 to 30 (mini) courses, it's a steal of a deal. The imaginative cuisine displayed at minibar scored chef José Andrés a 2011 James Beard Outstanding Chef Award. In 2013, Andrés opened the adjoining Barmini, his “culinary cocktail lab,” where more than 100 adventuresome cocktail creations adorn the menu. According to Sietsema, it is “home to some of the most fascinating liquids this city has ever sipped.”
Photo by CJ S. via Yelp
Best Sandwich: French Dip at MGM Roast Beef
Since 2008, MGM has been serving some of the finest roast beef sandwiches you’ll find anywhere, slow-roasted and hand-carved. You can enjoy your top round hot or cold, or topped with a variety of additions, but you’ll want to go for the French dip, topped with sautéed onions and melted Swiss, and served on an onion roll with a side of homemade jus. Paging Guy Fieri: This sandwich is winner, winner, roast beef dinner.
Yelp/ Sarah G.
Best Soup: Chicken Noodle at Ted’s Bulletin
This D.C. favorite boasts that it serves the “world’s best chicken noodle soup,” and while that may be an exaggeration, it’s definitely the best bowl of soup in town. This is chicken noodle soup the way it should be: a light but flavorful broth bursting with huge chunks of shredded chicken breast and tender celery and carrot, brightened with fresh herbs.
Best Sushi Bar: Sakedokoro Makoto
In the quiet of the Palisades just two miles up MacArthur Boulevard from Georgetown University, Sakedokoro Makoto has the power to transport you away from the nation’s capital and halfway around the world to Japan. The change in culture is immediate as soon as you step in and down off the street and into this D.C. stalwart that has been delighting sushi-lovers since 1992. You’re forced (in a good way), by the business casual dress code and the request not to use a cellphone or wear strong perfumes and colognes, to consciously engage in a calmer mindset. Take off your shoes and settle into your wooden bench in an intimate, traditional setting that fits just two dozen people. You’ll be quickly taken into the care of graceful and efficient servers whose service possesses a touch light enough to make you feel as if you’re being looked after in a traditional Kyoto ryokan. It’s important to note that though you’ll find expertly crafted sushi on the à la carte lunch menu and as part of the evening omakase, Makoto isn’t a sushi bar per se, but rather a place to enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine. Soft-shell crabs, small nests of noodles, grilled fish — these will all round out your sushi experience while jazz softly lilts in the background. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.