One of the things I love about Washington, DC is its diversity. This might be due to the many large international organizations (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Wildlife Fund) that have their headquarters in the District. It can also due to a handful of universities with partnerships around the world that readily welcomes international students who want to study political science or public policy. Then there’s the tourism factor. Washington DC is a natural stop for first time US visitors particularly those who are keen on history and politics. With so many cultures and ethnicities intertwined, both locals and visitors will definitely delight in great selections of around the world food in Washington DC.
Around the World Food in Washington DC
Thip Khao (Laos)
Relatively new to the culinary scene in Washington is the delicious Thip Khao, located in the hip and happening Columbia Heights neighborhood. If you’re a fan of spicy food and have the courage (and the stomach) to try “jungle” delicacies, this is the place.
Thip Khao is Chef Seng Luangrath’s second restaurant in the Washington metro and showcases the unique flavors of her native Laos. The restaurant is huge and the atmosphere can be loud because admittedly it didn’t take long before critics took notice of the rich flavors that accompany many of its dishes, but don’t let that put a damper in your eating around the world in Washington, DC dining experience.
Some of the restaurant’s must-eat includes the sun-dried beef, steamed sea bass in coconut milk and their signature rice.
Bad Saint (Philippines)
Another one of the essential stops during your around the world food in Washington DC tour is Bad Saint, the latest in a handful of Filipino restaurants that are getting much publicity in the District. In Bad Saint’s case, they’ve also received plenty of love with national publications, with the venerable Bon Appetit ranking it the second best restaurant in the country!
That’s some honor for Tom Cunanan and Genevieve Villamora’s 24-seat restaurant in the bustling Columbia Heights neighborhood. Since the place is so small, reservations aren’t available so be prepared to queue if you decide to stop by. The wait is worth it though especially if order the crowd favorite, ukoy, a type of fritter made with sweet potato and shrimp, as well as the steamed tuna jaw. Those familiar with Filipino cuisine will recognize some of the classics like sisig, lumpia, and chicken adobo, all of which are very good as well. Make sure you save some room for dessert.
When my friend (another Filipina) went and tried this restaurant, it reminded us of those cafeteria-like places we loved growing up in the Philippines where the service is always friendly and the food was always good. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed.
Mi Cuba (Cuba)
Tucked in a street lined with a few other locally owned restaurants is the Cuban restaurant Mi Cuba located in the Latin-dominated Columbia Heights neighborhood. The place looks deceivingly small with just 4-5, two-top tables by the bar but make no mistake, the deeper you go, the livelier it becomes.
Mi Cuba serves traditional Cuban food like pulled pork, empanadas and the infamous sandwich, which the restaurant does particularly well. The serving size is pretty large especially for the price, so come here with an appetite. The drinks are pretty good too, particularly the Cuban mojito, which is made with crushed mint and mixed with rum that packs quite a punch. The options for desserts are limited but the flan is always a good choice. But if you wish to be somewhat healthier, an extra side of the fried plantains ought to do it.
Chez Billy Sud (France)
There’s no way you can plan an eating around the world in Washington, DC tour without stopping at a French restaurant, and in the American capital, there are plenty to choose from. There’s Le Diplomate, the famous bistro in the Logan Circle neighborhood and the Capitol Hill favorite Bistro Bis, but my choice for French cuisine, particularly southern French, is the charming Chez Billy Sud in Georgetown.
The summer tomato salad is one of my favorite dishes in DC and makes for the perfect preamble to their pan-seared trout. The duck confit is highly recommended as well. Chefs Brendan L’Etoile and Lawrence DiJoseph both have a knack for elevating the flavors of classic French comfort dishes.
Have you tried one of these restaurants during your stay in Washington, DC? Let us know below.