8 Must-Try Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

The culinary scene in Washington, D.C., has been steadily growing for several years now, to the delight of local food enthusiasts. In just the last five years, more than a handful of award-winning chefs have opened up restaurants in the District. Should you find yourself visiting and staying in Washington, D.C., make sure to snag a table at one of these must-try restaurants (in no particular order.)

8 Must-Try Restaurants in Washington DC


8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Gougeres, Garrison
Gougeres, Garrison

This relatively new restaurant by local chef Robert Weland was one of the most anticipated restaurants to open in the District. The Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema gave it three stars (out of four) and gave praise to its crisp-skinned duck whose skin was rubbed with a number of spices including lavender. Critics and those who’ve dined at Garrison said that the quality of food and service is comparable to that of Rose’s Luxury (see below.)

Location: 524 Eighth St. SE, 202-506-2445,

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill/Barracks Row


8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Maketto Fried Chicken
Maketto Fried Chicken

Erik Bruner-Yang took Washington, D.C., by storm when he opened his first restaurant, Toki Underground, four years ago. So when news broke about Maketto, naturally, there was considerable buzz about it. What makes it one of the must-try restaurants in Washington, D.C., is its unique concept of food and retail in one but what makes it worthwhile is Bruner-Yang’s willingness to experiment with different flavors.

Location: 1351 H St. NE, 202-838-9972

Neighborhood: H Street

Izakaya Seki

8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Izakaya Seki Tuna
Izakaya Seki Tuna

Authentic Tokyo izakayas are a few and far between anywhere in the United States so the fact that Washington, D.C., has one of them is a huge boost to the District’s culinary makeup. Izakaya Seki is a small, two-floor Japanese restaurant near the revitalized U Street neighborhood, which serves one of the best tuna dishes I have tried in a long time. The atmosphere is quaint and the prices are very reasonable.

Location: 1117 V St. NW, 202-588-5841,

Neighborhood: U Street

Little Serow

8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Beef dish, Little Serow
Beef dish, Little Serow

Prepare to be blown away by the creativity and by the heat index of dishes served at this no-reservation spot in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle. Very few restaurants manage to get, much less maintain, a four-star rating from the tough food critics at The Washington Post, but Little Serow is certainly part of that elite group. The cuisine highlighted is from Northern Thailand, “where the spice level has apparently switched scales from Scoville to Richter.”

Location: 1511 17th St. NW, No phone

Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Rose’s Luxury

8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Lychee Salad, Rose's Luxury
Lychee Salad, Rose’s Luxury

Once a restaurant elicits collective praise from all the respected food critics, you know that it’s definitely one that’s worth trying. The key to the brilliance of Rose’s Luxury is the kitchen talent cultivated by head chef Aaron Silverman. The dishes on the menu might appear ordinary, but like the Washingtonian said, the dish won’t taste like anyone else’s. Word to the wise though, the restaurant has a no reservation policy, so prepare to queue up as early as 4:00 p.m.

Location: 717 8th St., SE, 202-580-8889

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill/Barracks Row


8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Palak Chaat, Rasika
Palak Chaat, Rasika

Rasika certainly made me look at Indian food on a whole new level after dining at its Penn Quarter location for a belated birthday celebration several weeks earlier. I finally understood why this restaurant, run by Ashok Bajaj, continues to be one of the must-try restaurants in Washington, D.C. James Beard winner chef Vikram Sunderam is a masterful chef who curated a menu that added a modern twist to Indian cuisine. He’s also someone who can put together a handful of seemingly common ingredients and turn them into one heck of a dish. The restaurant’s signature dish, palak chaat, is a prime example.

Location: 633 D St., NW, 202-637-1222

Neighborhood: Penn Quarter

Chez Billy Sud

8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Trout, Chez Billy Sud
Trout, Chez Billy Sud

Georgetown doesn’t exactly scream neighborly so when Chez Billy Sud, a twist to the original Chez Billy in Petworth, opened up just several blocks up the Georgetown waterfront, it was a very welcomed addition. The French bistro is a cozy eatery, with light blue pastels and a surprisingly inexpensive list of appetizing dishes on the menu. This is the type of place you can eat at everyday and be satisfied. Just ask First Lady Michele Obama who was spotted at the restaurant three times in one week.

Location: 1039 31st St., NW, 202-965-2606

Neighborhood: Georgetown


8 Must-try Restaurants in Washington DC: Seafood dish, Komi
Seafood dish, Komi

Komi topped the Washingtonian magazine’s list of the “100 Best Restaurants in Washington, D.C.” in 2015, surpassing iconic restaurants like Rasika and Jose Andres’ Minibar. The cozy restaurant ambiance, the knowledgeable staff, and the brilliant kitchen talents of chef Johnny Monis make Komi the pinnacle of must-try restaurants in Washington, D.C. The tasting menu is very expensive at $135 per person, but your taste buds will definitely go on a roller coaster ride of flavors all throughout the night.

Location: 1509 17th St., NW, 202-332-9200

Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

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About Iris A

Website: http://www.travelingwithiris.com

Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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