Where To Eat in Washington, D.C.

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This is how your seven-course meal begins at Little Serow, with pig skin, fish dip, and a giant basket of local herbs and crudite.


Most New Yorkers find themselves in D.C. from time to time for business reasons, to visit friends, or as patriotic sightseers. I found myself in the nation's capital last week for the first time in a couple of years to receive an award on behalf of Fork in the Road at the Association of Food Journalists. I shouldn't have waited so long to visit.


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Who could resist a place that looks like this late at night?


I hit the ground running on Wednesday and, apart from some convention-related events, never stopped eating till I boarded the Bolt Bus ($13 down, $17 back!) on Saturday afternoon, eating more than a dozen restaurant meals in the process.

I found a new energy to the food scene there and almost didn't have a single bad bite. In fact, Washington, with its eclectic mix of eateries in all price ranges, beats New York in a few categories, though it pains me to admit it.

Washington hasn't always enjoyed a reputation as a great food town. Years ago, I traveled there on behalf of Gourmet to seek out West African restaurants, of which D.C. has a greater range than New York. Even before that, I'd gone to Washington and surrounding areas to eat Vietnamese and Ethiopian food -- the city has always been unsurpassed in these categories on the Eastern seaboard.


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And don't miss the ML King National Memorial, best viewed at night.


But oftentimes, I found the food lackluster there. Adams Morgan, known for its multiplicity of ethnic restaurants, had few really good ones, and the prices were elevated, and while the lettered streets north of the White House had plenty of places aimed at lobbyists, legislators, and visiting business people, most of these -- with the exception of a Jose Andres place or two like Minibar -- were rather unmemorable and more expensive than they should have been. Sadly, other restaurants were branches of places headquartered in other cities. And much of Washington was simply too poor to have many restaurants of any sort. (I've seen the same thing other places: Jackson, Mississippi, for example.)

But this visit, I tweeted requests for recommendations, consulted with friends and colleagues, and assembled a list of places that turned out to be rather amazing. Here are my suggestions for what to eat in D.C. right now.


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The Metro is asset number one in getting around -- though so deep underground, it takes forever to get to the platform.


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14 comments
markreyburn
markreyburn

sorry but if you say ben's chili bowl as a top place to eat in DC obviously you have no clue about good food. you had a million better places to choose from; why not burger king or KFC? ben's chili bowl is doctored up cheezwiz and canned hormel beans. clogged arteries are its specialties. do you also like waffle house?

VADCMD
VADCMD

Next time, try Restaurant Eve, Virtue Feed & Grain, and Vermillion in Alexandria, Komi, Rasika, Zaytinya, Ethiopic, Vidalia, Obelisk, Palena, Cashion's, Blue Duck, Proof....I could go on.  I concur 100% on Fast Gourmet.  Felafel is excellent there, too.

agliopiccante
agliopiccante topcommenter

Robert Sietsema = Ruth Bourdain

Bohemian_Palate
Bohemian_Palate

@robertsietsema Great suggestions for sandwiches and ethnic food. Were you impressed by any DC chefs who didn't fit into these categories?

linesandwaves
linesandwaves

@totalvibration Hope you dig heat b/c Serow brings the thunder. Some of those dishes are legit endurance tests.

marthajmiller
marthajmiller

@robertsietsema Glad you enjoyed your trip and pleasure meeting you. Looks like you hit some of our best spots!

houseofstang
houseofstang

@robertsietsema Little Serow is one of the best meals I've had all year.

MotherWouldKnow
MotherWouldKnow

Also worth a visit - Two Amys and Comet Pizza (tho New Yorkers have no dearth of pizza places) and Granville Moore's on H St and Et Voila in the Palisades for mussels.

TheHipTip
TheHipTip

@robertsietsema we just booked our trip...mouth watering until then.

will.i.was
will.i.was

 @markreyburn You are seriously comparing Ben's Chili Bowl to KFC or Burger King??? That is one clueless statement. The half smoke is heaven. If you don't get it then you are obviously among the few. The longevity of (and lines at) Ben's speaks for itself.

Marcissist
Marcissist

@redonionrecords @totalvibration former late-period No Waver, was in Mofungo. now food crit at Village Volce. (& bro of Tom).

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