DC, like any major city has a pretty good selection of food, and because it’s a fairly metropolitan place, you’ve got restaurants serving food from all over the world. I’m a very adventurous eater, but sometimes I also just like to stick to good old American classics. Whatever you’re in the mood for, DC is bound to have it. Here is a list of the best places in & around DC to grab a bite!
The Majestic is our home away from home. It is our guilty pleasure. We never end up staying there for the duration of time we promise ourselves. One hour always turns into three. This has got to be one of the friendliest bars in Old Town and it’s conveniently located down King Street. If you want to learn more about King Street and what it has to offer, check out The Best Streets in DC! The majestic was the first place in King Street where I found my coveted duck breast, and man does the Majestic do it well! The Majestic has a wide range of cocktails, and specializes in one of a kind spirits. All of their cocktails are hand crafted by their bartenders (who are fantastic by the way!) and their food is superb. To learn more about the Majestic bar scene, head on over to Best Bars In DC That Only The Locals Know About. If you’re looking for a good place to start, try to their buffalo cauliflower tacos from their bar bites menu, the butternut squash soup during the fall (only $5!!), and finish everything off with their famous coconut cake. As one fo the oldest establishments in Old Town, this restaurant is a must if you’re visiting the DC area.
I can’t believe I found this restaurant so late. I wish my coworkers had told me about this place when I first moved to DC, not 2 months before I left, but I digress… go here! Not only is the food scrumptious, it’s shows up to your table in spectacular displays. It’s almost so pretty you don’t want to eat it. When my husband and I first visited Punjab Grill, we decided to just go on a food tour of their lighter plates and cocktails. Don’t ask how much we spent, but it was totally worth it! The owner of the restaurant was also so gracious to give us a tour of the restaurant and give us a detailed overview of the detailed architecture and the inspiration for the restaurant. Punjab Grill will bring new meaning and kickstart your love for Indian food (if you hadn’t already fallen in love).
I was late to the game with Sonoma Cellars and only found it a few months before I left DC. Although technically not “in” DC, it’s off the metro lines… which is how I dictate if something is “in” DC or not. But anyways, their wine selection is awesome, and their food is light and delicious. Not only a bar, it is a great place to grab a drink and a small plate to satisfy a small appetite. If you want to learn more about their bar scene check out Best Bars In DC That Only The Locals Know About. I’m always looking for affordable small plates because I don’t always want to order a dinner the size of a football. So if you’re considering your waist line, anything on their menu is going to be yummy and small. Try their Turkey Burger, their crab cake sliders and their Tuna Poke! Click on the link above to see their full menu. The next best part about Sanoma cellars is their seating options. You can either sit at the bar or at a hightop by the window looking out onto King Street, you can go in the back garden during warmer months under their string lights and have a cozy evening, or you can go upstairs for a more formal setting.
If I was to move into DC, I would figure out how to live within walking distance of Kramer’s. The official name is Kramerbooks & Afterwards cafe, which gives you a pretty good idea of what this place entails…. but oh wait! It is so much cooler! So Kramer’s is indeed a bookstore with a section on politics/foreign affairs (it’s DC after-all), it’s got a section for kids, it’s got fiction and non fiction and it is super close to the Dupont Metro stop. Since I’ve moved away from DC, I truly miss this bookstore. In fact I try fly back just to get books here! But I digress, the food scene has everything you want. While the kids run around the children’s section, the bar welcomes the parents and adults just needing a highball glass in one hand and a book in the other to escape the daily grind. In the back of the bookstore you have both patio and indoor seating where you can order full meals. And if you climb the stairs, there’s a sitting area up above to look down onto the bookstore below. After 10 years I honestly didn’t know this existed, and only recently looked up from the pages of a book to realize “oh wow… I can sit up there!” If you are looking to grab a bite, I highly recommend any of their salads, their seared scallops, Pow Pow Chicken bites and their homemade sodas (you may have to ask for the selection if they’re not on the menu). You won’t go wrong ordering anything, it’s our number one place to eat in the city.
We’ve been told Succotash has the best selection of whiskey’s in DC. I have no idea if this is accurate, and haven’t bothered to verify this information, but it does have a great selection. This place is known for it’s southern fare, and classy atmosphere. Although a little expensive, especially when ordering unique whiskey’s, they have less expensive small plates like chicken & biscuit sliders which will fill you up quickly. I only need one, as the biscuits and gravy “stick to your guts.” I personally like to sit at the bar, but upstairs has a gorgeous seating area that looks out onto what used to be the historic Equitable Bank building. If you’re daring, try their steak tartar which is fabulous.
More wine… I know! Down King Street… not again! Lol, I’m realizing you may just want to skip DC and stay in Old Town. Is that considered biased or factual? But seriously, the Fromagerie is a cute sit-down joint serving up a huge selection of wine, and some tasty bites. I wasn’t a big fan of their escargot, but their Hanger steak totally made up for it. I’m not a big steak person, I’m very picky and usually find them too heavy on my stomach, but their hanger steak was just perfect. The Fromagerie is really known for their charcuterie boards, and boy are they good. You get to pick what you want on your board. They do offer suggestions, which can be really helpful, but you get the liberty to mix and match as you like. If I may, please try their “The Cask of Adonis,” assuming you like “dark” cocktails, your mind will be blown!
Famous, famous, famous! Old Ebbit’s is very close to the White House, so you’ll regularly find Secret Service as well as Congressmen & Congresswomen sitting down for a drink. Even if they’re not elected officials, the amount of public servants who pour into this place for happy hour or lunch is astounding. This of course makes Old Ebbit a tourist hang out, trying to catch a glimpse of DC’s elite. This makes it a bit annoying and a bit crowded, but the food makes up for it. Plus if you sit at the bar, you’ll probably spark up a conversation with some very interesting people. I actually have thrown some retirement parties here, and I can’t speak highly enough of the staff, the drinks and the food. This place is a gem and is best on a weeknight in the fall and winter, when big DC tours aren’t in town. Pro Tip: Old Ebbit’s is known for their crab cakes, and they are delicious!
Fig & Olive
If you’re looking for a great place to have brunch or happy hour in the city, especially after some high end shopping, Fig & Olive can be found in City Center and serves some of the best crostini’s! I’m going to be real with you, I’ve never had anything other than their cocktails and their crostini’s whether that is before noon or after, but Fig & Olive will not disappoint your taste buds. Although a bit expensive, those crostini’s are to die for! My husband really liked the Smoked Salmon Crostini, but I preferred the sweeter Manchego Crostini with Marcona almond and fig. I’ve always wanted to try their avocado and quail egg toast… so please comment below with a picture of it if you’ve ever tried it!
Whiskey & Oyster
A little out of the way, in the hidden residential (or corporate?) Carlyle area of Alexandria, Whiskey and Oysters is a restaurant I’ve been raving about. The place is actually quite new (as of the Summer of 2019), but it is within a 5 minute walking distance from the King Street Metro, so hopefully it gains more attraction! The locals have figured this place out, and it truly does cater to a local clientele. The location used to be an old dry cleaner’s so the spirits circle around on the dry-cleaning conveyer belt in the ceiling. The artwork on the walls are from local artists who have galleries at the old torpedo factory at the end of King Street (check out The Best Streets in DC to find out more!). The food is delicious and their unique cocktails will make you order seconds and thirds. I would recommend their crab dip (ask for more pita) as well as their crispy duck spring rolls. The crispy duck spring rolls run out quick, so try to get their early for happy hour. Their W+O Roast is massive and oh so good, so share this one with a friend! I don’t see it on the menu anymore, and I’m trying to remember if it was even on the menu when I ordered it, but I had their black squid ink linguini with Ahi Tuna.. and oh my gawwwwd it was so good. It wasn’t super fishy at all, and black squid ink fascinates me… so I had a good all around time. I would ask for it anyways and see if they can make it for you.
We just kept receiving recommendations from our friends and acquaintances to try this place, so we went with a group of people, and we're glad we did, because...variety! The food there can get a bit pricey, but it is cooked in a truly authentic way, and you can see all of this if you reserve the chef's table. We ordered a variety of dishes to truly get a taste of the food, including Kur Kuri Lamb, Beetroot Goat Cheese Tiki, Tawa Baingan, Malai Palak, Baingan Ka Salan, Spicy Reshmi kebab, Imli Mirch Tikka and of course plenty of naan, rice and a variety of chutney! They'll make a dish specific to order and make sure it's divided for the table to enjoy. After you've fully feasted, don't miss out on the fantastic desserts. As with many popular DC restaurants, make a reservation or prepare to be disappointed!
Expensive. Delicious. Best oysters in town. Go during happy hour and sit at the bar tables. That is all you need to know. Joe’s seafood is right downtown DC and after 12pm… it is never not busy. You can’t reserve the bar tables, but that is the only place in the restaurant that serves happy hour prices, and the prices are seriously a steal for DC. I’ve never had bad oysters here (and I’m not really even that big of an oyster fan), so I never go to Joe’s without ordering some oysters. I’m basic, so my go to choices are Oysters and their Onion Chip dip with a glass of wine — Abracadabra — I’m a happy woman. I’ve never had a full meal here, but I’ve never heard anyone speak negatively of their food either. So if you want to spend a little more for a seafood date night, Joe’s is your place!
Latin food… really good latin food, but done in a super modern way. I’m going to be real with you, there are only two reasons I come to Tora Tora. That is for their complimentary cheese biscuits (I’ll take the whole basket, thanks!), their grilled avocado and any of their ceviches. Their plates are really big, so keep that in mind. But it is hard to go wrong at Tora Tora’s. Normally I’ll order a wine, so I can’t speak to their cocktails but this is a place for a sit down meal that you’ll probably need reservations for.
The Light Horse
The Light Horse.. another King Street fav… see I told you! King Street is the best! This place is a really good option for bar-food and drinks. Their cocktails are creative and delicious, especially their winter selection and their food whether full plates or small plates are one of kind finds. I personally love their Highcountry Quail and their blue cheese mussels, whereas the hubby prefers their Cajun Crab dip and their Surf & Turf skewers. Keep in mind their small plates are small, so if you’ve got more of an appetite, opt for their full entrées.
Although these are my favorite places to eat in the city currently, I don’t plan to stop and this list will probably get a lot longer! If you guys have any recommendations, please comment below so I can try them out on my next trip!