There’s always a new restaurant opening in one of Washington, D.C.’s many neighborhoods and with so many transplants from around the globe living here, it’s not surprising to find a wide variety of ethnic eateries to satisfy one’s worldly palate. The problem lies with which eateries to try. So if you’re a temperamental eater or perhaps just want to try something new next time you’re in town, seek out these seven best ethnic restaurants in Washington DC. They vary in cuisines and include places suitable for every budget.
List of Best Ethnic Restaurants in Washington DC
This restaurant tops The Washingtonian’s Best Restaurant list for 2015 and for good reason. It starts with the ambiance: subtle, relaxed, and homey. The service is excellent and the staff is well versed on the food. Chef Johnny Monis’ menu is masterful despite its simplicity. You’ll be amazed with the burst of flavors whether you’re eating something as simple as a gyro or something fancy like foie gras. The only downside to Komi is the price, with an average meal costing $135 per person but on certain special occasions, it’s certainly well worth spending for.
Address: 1509 17th Street NW (Dupont Circle)
Cuisine: Greek/Modern Mediterranean
2. Fiola Mare
Of the best ethnic restaurants in Washington DC on this list, Fiola Mare tops my personal one. Mostly because it almost exclusively serves seafood. Chef Fabio Trabocchi has an extraordinary gift of handling such delicacies and infusing them with flavor that’s luxurious from the first bite. Its location right by the Potomac is simply the cherry on top of the ice cream. Luxury comes with the price however, so if you’re on a budget, try going there for lunch or happy hour instead.
Address: 3050 K Street NW (Georgetown)
My cousin and her husband speak very highly of this place and surely enough, theirs weren’t the restaurant’s only praise. Its head chef Vikram Sunderam was given the James Beard Award (the Oscars of the culinary community) for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic for his innovative mixture of seemingly normal foods and creating amazing new items with them. Definitely try their tandoori lamb chops or the black cod. If you’re a vegetarian, go for the eggplant dish and an order of paneer. Rasika is surprisingly of good value, though still expensive for an every day meal. It has two locations in Washington, D.C.
Address: 633 D Street (Penn Quarter) and 1190 New Hampshire Avenue NW (West End)
4. Little Serow
You might have to queue to taste the restaurant’s sublime pork ribs or the silky tofu salad, but the beauty of dining at Little Serow is the pre-fixed seven-course menu prepared for you by Chef Johnny Monis. He rotates the menu to keep it fresh. Chef Monis also runs the kitchen at Komi (see above) so you can pretty much expect to be blown away by his adventurous concoctions. The price per person is hefty, but considering you’re getting more than a full meal’s worth, you can convince yourself of its value.
Address: 1511 17th Street NW (Dupont Circle)
5. The Red Hen
Its location is practically in an unknown neighborhood as far as the culinary map is concerned but this Bloomingdale gem truly hits all the right spots from décor to dessert. Try their signature dish, grilled octopus with white beans, or just settle with one of their comforting pasta dishes. Red Hen’s menu is short and simple and fits the expectation of what Italian cooking ought to be. Its value is practically unmatched anywhere in Washington, D.C. too so indulge and order a four-course meal that will likely put you in a blissful food coma.
Address: 1822 First St NW (Bloomingdale)
6. Del Campo
There has to be something special about this restaurant especially when the biggest name in soccer visits and sits down for a meal. Last month, Lionel Messi was seen dining at Del Campo, the steakhouse with a Latin flare, visibly enjoying his meal. Victor Albisu is the kitchen’s ringleader and he “sets fire to just about everything he can…” literally and figuratively (Klinman et al.). Go with some friends and try the 48-ounce bone-in rib eye or just try their happy hour empanadas. Either way, you will leave feeling satisfied.
Address: 777 I Street NW (Penn Quarter/Chinatown)
Cuisine: South American/Steak
7. Le Diplomate
Washingtonians love to eat brunch and when they do, they come here, to Stephen Starr’s French-inspired bistro, Le Diplomate. The restaurant offers some of France’s classic dishes like cassoulet, roast chicken and duck sarladaise. It also happens to make one of the best burgers in the District. After all, the French do love their hamburgers too.
Address: 1601 14th Street NW (Logan Circle)
To help you plan where and how to eat your way while staying in Washington, D.C., visit DC Dining Guide. The website has a comprehensive listing of excellent restaurants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.