Exploring Washington’s array of eateries unfolds a world of flavors, from the sophistication of fine dining to the heartwarming touch of southern comfort food. Each restaurant showcases its unique take on ambiance and cuisine, inviting patrons to savor recommended specialties amid atmospheres that speak to both casual and refined tastes.
Old Ebbitt Grill
With a storied history dating back to 1856, it claims the title of Washington’s oldest saloon, a place where the echoes of the past blend with modern culinary excellence. Stepping into this establishment means entering a space where every corner tells a story, and the ambiance is as compelling as the menu is extensive. Praised heartily for its steak offerings, guests are urged to indulge in the beef selections that have become a hallmark of the menu. While one might consider other choices, wandering from the steak may not meet expectations as evidenced by some patrons preferring the beef masterpieces over other options like fish.
675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 – Location on the Map
Deserts are a different affair, where consensus tilts favorably towards the indulgent sweet treats, specifically the salted caramel bread pudding and the hot fudge brownie sundae, both meriting a special mention. The beverages also receive a nod of approval, each crafted to complement the rich and diverse flavors of the menu. It’s not just about the food; it’s the overall ambiance, the service, and yes, the sense of being a part of something historic.
Visitors seeking a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere will be pleasantly surprised. There’s no need for a specific dress code here – feel free to come as you are. Comfort sets the tone, allowing guests to relax while enjoying a wide range of impeccably presented dishes. From crispy fries accompanying a succulent chicken burger to signature raw bar oysters, the culinary offerings are diverse.
Those in search of both conversation and exceptional drinks can look forward to the expertise exhibited at the bar. Happy hour is mentioned as a particularly joyous time to witness the skill and creativity of the bartenders. For patrons with an appetite for seafood, the crab cakes stand out as a compelling choice, described as moist and flavor-packed in contrast to their west coast counterparts.
Even amidst the hum of conversation and the bustling atmosphere, the service finds its own spotlight, often described as friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive. Guests commend the seamless blend of timely and efficient service that ensures food arrives hot and beverages perfectly mixed. The notion of visiting this fabled establishment is often not just recommended but seen as an essential element of the city’s cultural fabric. Once the preserve of a standard saloon, it now stands as a culinary beacon, welcoming those who appreciate a taste of history served with a side of contemporary flair.
For aficionados of French cuisine seeking an authentic slice of Paris within the capital, this eatery stands as a testament to quality culinary craftsmanship. The bistro’s ambiance, resembling the classic Parisian haunt, marries well with the food that draws an eager crowd. Half woven bamboo seating combined with thematic mosaic tiling, and half cozy red leather booths partitioned by woody accents, create an environment that patrons recall fondly as remarkable.
1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 – Location on the Map
The attentive service enhances the allure of this establishment. Waitstaff, with their precise knowledge of the menu, guide guests through a sensory journey punctuated by impeccable suggestions. An evening might commence with the cranberry bread and fresh butter — a simple yet perfect prelude to the gastronomic symphony that consists of dishes like the warm shrimp salad, whose shrimps possess a rich, lobster-like flavor. Savor the almond trout, its skin buttery and flesh flakey, leaving a memorable crunch in every bite. The profiteroles, an iconic French dessert, complete the meal with a light, crisp shell, concealing homemade banana vanilla ice cream and doused in a homemade chocolate sauce, offering an indulgence that is hard to resist.
Gourmands may find the mention of a burger in a French bistro odd, yet this establishment dishes out a burger that speaks of finesse with each flavorful bite, embodying a merger of classic comfort and French panache. For those seeking other culinary explorations, the menu presents various choices that offer something for everyone. The charcuterie and shrimp salad, for example, come highly recommended by patrons who appreciate the intricate balance of flavors.
Inside, large groups and intimate gatherings alike are accommodated with ease, thanks to ample seating that contributes to a lively, yet sophisticated atmosphere reminiscent of bustling Parisian streets. On special occasions, such as family milestones, the indoor seating option provides a cooler alternative when the outdoor arrangement does not meet guests’ preferences. Despite occasional missteps, like slight inconsistencies in seating preferences and rare lapses in service, the overall professionalism and attentiveness of the staff leave an impression of excellence. Patrons exit with a sense of satisfaction, hinting at a return visit to explore more of the tempting menu options.
Indulgence in authentic French desserts, such as the passionfruit tart – unexpectedly enchanting even those not typically fond of fruit tarts – underscores the consistently high quality of the dishes served. The range of choices from appetizers to desserts, such as escargots à la Bourguignonne and the velvety Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée, cater to varying tastes while maintaining a high standard. While not every dish may capture every palate, the positive affirmations suggest a visit to this locale is due for an encore. It stands not solely as a restaurant but a bastion of cultural culinary delight that promises an enticing taste of France within the heart of the city.
With its roots firmly planted in the rich soil of southern cuisine, this restaurant delivers a unique take on traditional favorites, alongside novel creations imbued with creole inspirations. At the early hours of happy hour, guests without prior arrangements can sometimes find themselves a spot at the bar, although it becomes evident quickly that the place fills up, a testament to its popularity. Here, one can enjoy a well-sized, meaty crab cake, or indulge in the widely acclaimed fried chicken and waffle, praised for its crunchy exterior and complemented by a sweet sauce. However, some offerings, like the Hush Puppies, might fall short of expectations, noted for being less flavorful than desired.
915 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004 – Location on the Map
In a setting that can only be described as impressive, patrons have noted that even bar seating allows them to fully immerse themselves in the restaurant’s unique atmosphere. The menu features an excellent selection of happy hour sides, including the notable pickled okra which enhances the flavor profile of the beloved fried chicken dish. Tap options are plentiful, and the burger received particular commendation for its quality. The celebrated chicken and waffles also makes a star appearance with its considerable portion size, accompanied by sumptuous sides like shrimp and grits or finely prepared steaks. Desserts follow suit in both taste and generosity, with offerings such as the mint julep ice cream and the sizeable hummingbird cake.
Warm hospitality greets guests entering the doors, where service is highlighted as both gracious and attentive. The Maryland Crab Cake and daily fish specials, like a flawless preparation of Salmon, are among the culinary delights that garner high appreciation. In the midst of this enthusiasm, an occasional mismatch in service pacing is noticeable, like an overlaps in the course timing. Nevertheless, such minor hiccups do not detract from the otherwise highly positive reception.
Anniversary celebrations or casual visits are uplifted with choices like the “Taste of the South,” although there’s a recommendation to check dish temperature upon delivery. Suggestions are readily offered by a friendly and well-informed service team, enhancing the overall meal selection. Unique drink options like the Hey Peaches frozen cocktail make a mark, as do the eclectic dessert platters presenting an array of mini treats. Even with varied reactions to dish portions and individual item satisfaction, the majority seem to leave with intentions to revisit, and content with the service and fare provided.
While children are welcomed, there’s a note regarding the absence of a specifically tailored kids’ menu, suggesting a consideration for guests planning family outings. Regardless, this locale remains a sought-after destination for those seeking a southern-twist on culinary traditions amidst the bustle of the city.
Founding Farmers DC
With a respectable lineage of serving flavorful American fare, this popular eatery has become a staple for locals and visitors alike. Nestled within the bustling streets, the restaurant prides itself on offering hearty, farm-to-table food that echoes the culinary heritage of the nation. The environment is warm and welcomes guests into a setting where the clinking of glasses and the hum of conversation add to the overall ambiance.
The menu is diverse and caters to a variety of palates. Patrons often praise the Yankee pot roast, describing it as “incredible” for its tender textures and rich flavors. Vegetarian options, such as the cauliflower steak, hold their own with satisfying flavors, ensuring there’s something for everyone. The King short ribs also come recommended, striking a balance between savory and sumptuous.
Desserts like the butterscotch bread pudding, while served cold, remain a talking point, suggesting a little room for improvement. Despite this, the quality of the fare served seldom fails to impress, with dishes like the fried green tomatoes and goat cheese dip earning high marks for their taste and presentation. Seemingly simple fare, such as the chicken noodle soup or the French Dip, often win guests over with their delightful execution.
This establishment does get busy, particularly on weekends and at peak times, hinting at its popularity and well-established reputation. Meals arrive in a timely manner, reflecting an efficient kitchen despite the crowds. Some guests have remarked on the portions, noting that they are generous, and the entrees satisfying, even if some sides, like the fry accompaniments, may seem less considered.
The infamous bacon lollies and farmers platter offer a distinctive take on comfort food while the crispy chicken and waffles stand out for their perfect texture. Guests also rave about the fish of the day and the Farmers Platter, dishes that demonstrate the kitchen’s ability to showcase simple ingredients in a memorable way.
A detail that surprises some is the wellness charge, a small addition to the bill that is part of the restaurant’s commitment to its values and staff. While it may be easy to overlook, it’s a reminder of the establishment’s ethos around community and sustainability.
This eatery also makes a point to cater to families, with its kid-friendly atmosphere allowing parents to enjoy their meal without worry. From the attentive service to the full flavors of its dishes, it has anchored itself as a must-visit for those seeking a slice of American culinary tradition.
1924 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006 – Location on the Map
In the heart of the city lies a culinary retreat that pays homage to Southern hospitality and cuisine. For those craving authentic flavors reminiscent of a bygone era, this establishment holds true to the roots of comfort food. A trip here is not simply about nourishment but a genuine celebration of Southern culture through its culinary staples.
950 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 – Location on the Map
The fare served up is generous in size, capturing the essence of Southern portion traditions and leaving patrons satisfied with their hearty servings. Particularly notable is the brunch, where dishes such as catfish – a close contender for the top spot in many a diner’s heart – showcase the kitchen’s prowess. While not all menu items may receive universal acclaim, with chicken and waffles cited as perhaps not reaching the same heights, it is clear that certain elements, like the catfish, have set a high standard.
Despite occasional service hiccups, the setting’s allure often compensates, particularly during brunch when patrons are serenaded with live jazz, adding an auditory layer to the feast. Decor throughout the space exudes a fitting sophistication, mirroring the culinary finesse on offer and crafting an atmosphere conducive to special occasions.
Date night visits are greeted with upscaled offerings such as shrimp and grits, steak salad, and mouthwatering sides. The ambiance is refined and suits those seeking a mature outing, perhaps leaving the kids at home. Musical accompaniments of live jazz can elevate a midweek reservation into an evening of elegance.
For those attending with specific expectations for a ‘classy’ venue, attire and atmosphere may vary, and it seems the environment can be more relaxed than some anticipate. Yet, the food remains a strong contender in its category, often transcending the boundaries of dress codes and decor preferences. Dishes like the stuffed shrimp and cornbread affirm this restaurant’s commitment to flavor and texture, even if accompaniments like fried green tomatoes might not tickle every palate.
In the quest for a taste of the South, expect to encounter dishes like fried steak that transport diners to the comfort of their grandmother’s kitchen. The staff often brings a wealth of knowledge and attentiveness to the table, ensuring both adults and children alike find something to savor on the menu. For those who equate faith with flavor, they will find the spirit of Southern cuisine alive and well here.
Despite the mixed reception on some fronts, the allure of Southern classics prepared with a masterful touch continues to draw crowds. In a city that prides itself on diverse culinary offerings, this restaurant stands as a testament to the timeless appeal of quality Southern cooking.
Upon entering the elegant space of this French restaurant, patrons can expect a journey of flavors, reminiscent of France’s culinary finesse. The original structure dates back to 1885, providing old-world charm that complements the sophisticated menu. A visit promises not just a meal but an amalgam of culture, history, and gastronomy. Each dish is crafted with precision, reflecting an adherence to classic French techniques married with creative flair.
Attention to every detail underscores the belief that ambiance sets the stage for an exceptional culinary sortie. The soft lighting and carefully selected music create a warm, inviting atmosphere that suits a variety of occasions. Patrons seeking the quintessence of French cuisine will not be disappointed by the offerings, such as the duck with its tantalizingly crispy skin and succulent meat or the seabass, each forkful a testament to freshness and enhanced by an expertly balanced sauce.
Even during bustling periods, such as restaurant week, the quality of dishes remains impeccable. Traditional favorites like escargot are served in a lush sauce, drawing nods of approval from those familiar with the finesse required to elevate such French staples. Adventurous food lovers will be rewarded with an array of choices including the savory steak, whose cooking precision satisfies the keenest of palates, especially when complemented with the piquant sauces and sumptuous sides. Desserts like the vanilla crème brûlée and the intensely flavored, decadent hazelnut chocolate cake leave a lasting impact, confirming that every course is curated with passion.
The service mirrors the excellence of the cuisine, with knowledgeable and attentive staff contributing to an overall sense of well-being while dining. Patrons celebrate special occasions here, enjoyed against the backdrop of the regal and capacious decor, finding that each meal becomes part of a collective memory that many are eager to revisit. Despite the occasional missteps, such as overzealous fruit flies or a solitary lapse in service enthusiasm, the bistro maintains a reputation for consistency in quality and ambiance.
In addition to the meticulous food preparation, the thoughtfully constructed beverage offerings complete the culinary picture. The mango sangria and lavender cocktails are popular selections that demonstrate the ingenuity of the bar, each sip a companion to the flavorful dishes served.
Although this Capitol Hill bistro sits amidst a busy cityscape, once inside, the urban din fades, replaced by an aura of French sophistication. The restaurant’s character emanates from its origins as a historic dwelling which now houses this bastion of French cuisine. Whether celebrating a birthday, a leisurely lunch, or a romantic evening, one can anticipate a sophisticated and flavorful venture into French fare.
316 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002 – Location on the Map
The Lafayette Restaurant
Luxury, elegance, and meticulous service define the atmosphere at The Hay-Adams’ signature restaurant, providing patrons with an experience that echoes the sophistication of its storied location. One may find themselves enjoying a meal that is as much a nod to historical charm as it is a celebration of contemporary gastronomy. Whether it’s a special occasion like a birthday or a quest for an upscale meal, guests are treated with a personal touch – such as a complimentary cake delivered by the manager, setting a festive tone for the event.
800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006 – Location on the Map
The culinary team’s artistry shines in their ability to construct dishes that are visually appealing and bursting with flavor. Visitors often find that pictures fall short of capturing the richness of the tastes offered on their plates. Conversations with the sous chef may provide insights into the preparation of these culinary delights. The menu, designed around finesse and creativity, offers dishes like succulent rack of lamb and delicate crab gnocchi, often recommended by those with a penchant for fine food. Desserts are presented with equal flair, with the soufflé often cited as a must-order item.
A breakfast at this establishment sees plates like perfectly cooked eggs and fluffy pancakes, complemented by a selection of beverages that surpass expectations, with teas that rival those of esteemed venues. It’s the kind of place where morning meals feel elevated, characterized by an attention to detail that extends from quilted table linens to the soft classical music in the background. Indeed, the tranquility of a peaceful breakfast here is affirmed by an attentive and thoughtful staff, ready to enhance any meal with impeccable service.
Service is a standout feature, with a team that is genuinely enthusiastic about their roles. They exemplify hospitality, making guests feel acknowledged, respected, and valued. Their warmth is palpable and can turn any meal into a memorable event. This is particularly true for families, where the staff’s encouragement and recognition of special achievements – such as introducing children to the finer aspects of life – can be deeply touching.
The ambiance is carefully constructed to cater to a variety of occasions, from a romantic evening to a professional gathering. The restaurant’s French-inspired cuisine takes advantage of its prestigious setting, offering an array of dishes that linger in one’s memory. The overall feel of the place is one of timelessness paired with an understated modern flair. Those with a discerning palate will appreciate its offerings, from the expertly crafted appetizers, such as mushroom soup and tender octopus, to the main courses that feature the likes of succulent chicken breast and bronzini. To cap off the culinary journey, classic desserts like creme brulee provide a sweet finale. All this and more solidifies its reputation as a noteworthy destination for anyone looking for a refined meal in a setting steeped in history and grandeur.
Set within the Riggs Hotel, Café Riggs presents an environment of elegance and refinement that caters to those with an appreciation for sophistication in both atmosphere and cuisine. Guests often remark on the natural lighting and soft music that enhances the already luxurious ambiance, creating a serene backdrop for any meal of the day.
900 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004 – Location on the Map
Patrons frequently commend the establishment for its consistent quality across the board. The remarkable interior, characterized by tall ceilings and exquisite decor, enhances the feeling of indulgence. Furnishings and artwork, selectively placed throughout the space, reflect a commitment to creating an immersive and esthetically pleasing atmosphere reminiscent of a New York hotel venue.
Service at this establishment is noted for its professionalism, with waitstaff in formal attire. Staff members are well-versed in the intricacies of the menu, offering thoughtful suggestions that are often met with approval. The kitchen’s dedication to quality and creativity is evident, despite one or two mentions of specific dishes that may not have entirely met expectations.
The culinary offerings hold their own in terms of flavor and presentation, with breakfast, brunch, and lunch menus that showcase a diverse range of options. Dishes such as the avocado toast topped with salmon and egg, or the french onion soup, which is praised for its hearty and satisfying qualities, stand out as reasons to return. Vegetarian selections maintain the kitchen’s high standards, providing satisfying choices for all dietary preferences.
Some guests find the pricing to be on the higher end, yet many feel that the attentive service and refined settings justify the cost. Additionally, the diverse menu, from the foie gras to the duck breast, consistently piques interest and invites guests to venture beyond their culinary comfort zones.
While there is mention of a somewhat aloof reception at the host stand, this does not detract from the overall welcome feel once seated. The restaurant prides itself on its professional demeanor and commitment to guest satisfaction, as evidenced by responsive management and attentive table service.
It is clear Café Riggs aspires to provide a memorable occasion for its guests, no matter the time of day. With its careful balance of sophisticated ambiance, attentive service, and a menu that offers both traditional and innovative choices, it is a place many recommend and plan to revisit when seeking a special culinary occasion within the capital.
Ambar Capitol Hill
Delight in the art of Eastern European cuisine at Ambar, nestled in the heart of Capitol Hill. Known for its delectable array of small plates, this establishment allows patrons to indulge in a variety of dishes without feeling overwhelmed. The culinary journey often begins with the highly praised steak tartare and continues through a multitude of flavor-packed selections.
523 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 – Location on the Map
On weekends, the brunch at this locale turns into a bustling affair, where endless flow of mimosas supplements an all-inclusive food fare. Guests are particularly fond of the cinnamon donut and the impeccable salmon eggs Benedict—a testament to the kitchen’s prowess.
The Balkan-inspired flavors continue to draw in curious palates and those looking for a taste reminiscent of Southeast Europe. The restaurant doesn’t shy away from catering to diverse dietary needs, offering a satisfying range of vegetarian options that please even the most discerning taste buds. Regulars note the Slow Cooked Cabbage and the Lamb Lasagna as must-try dishes, reflective of the region’s rich culinary heritage.
The ambiance at this esteemed eatery easily shifts from a relaxed atmosphere perfect for family brunches to a more refined setting suitable for intimate evening gatherings. A visit here introduces guests not only to the cuisine but also to attentive service that enhances the meal. Whether one is stopping by for the first time or returning for another delightful meal, the staff, including bar personnel and wait staff, routinely earns accolades for their friendly demeanor and efficient service.
Happy hour enthusiasts find this spot to be a haven for savor-sharing, with popular selections like the Drunken Mussels and the Red Sangria. Those looking for an indulgent afternoon need look no further, as the unlimited brunch special becomes a siren call for those who value both quantity and quality on a plate.
The dedicated team is known to take extra care of their guests, accommodating special requests and ensuring everyone feels welcome—from assisting with baby strollers to navigating the extensive menu. From the casual diner to the celebration seeker, this restaurant is lauded for offering quality Balkan cuisine without pretense, creating a convivial atmosphere that many look forward to revisiting.