The 11 Best Restaurants in Washington, DC

The Washington, DC area is rich in diverse culinary experiences. Given the city's affluent inhabitants and the need to entertain international dignitaries, it's only natural that DC would have an exquisite restaurant scene. From Michelin-starred restaurants with tasty menus to hole-in-the-wall places only known by locals, there is plenty to choose from in the nation's capital. Those looking for Washington, DC real estate should know that owning property in this area comes with many benefits, including access to this wonderful variety of delicious fare. With that said, here are our favorite eateries in the Federal City. 

The Inn at Little Washington

The Inn at Little Washington is the only restaurant in the area to earn the coveted three-Michelin-star rating. The eatery is helmed by Chef Patrick O'Connell, who specializes in American cuisine with notable inspirations from around the world. In 2019, Chef O'Connell won the lifetime achievement award from the James Beard Foundation.
The restaurant works directly with local farms to ensure that each dish is crafted with seasonal excellence, and O’Connell puts his imagination into each and every recipe. One example of an original, seasonal dish is the prosciutto-wrapped tenderloin of veal with orange-glazed sweetbreads, morels, and raclette ravioli. Alterations can be made to accommodate many dietary restrictions. Most courses come with wine pairing recommendations, but the restaurant has an impressive wine cellar should you wish to choose your own selection.


Cranes is one of the newest restaurants to join the Michelin-star club, receiving a single-star award in 2021. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Pepe Moncayo, who masterfully blends the culinary traditions of Spain and Japan. Moncayo's cooking style has been described as Spanish Kaiseki.
The menu is quite flexible, allowing patrons to order tapas and à la carte items. For a richer experience, you can order "omakase," which means "I'll trust the chef." This typically entails a ten-course tasting menu crafted with local ingredients.  No matter which way you choose to order, you can expect the menu to change from season to season. Chef Moncayo exclusively sources fresh and seasonal ingredients from local farmers.

Elcielo Washington

The Elcielo Restaurant is helmed by the acclaimed international Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos. Originally from Colombia, Barrientos opened the first Elcielo in his hometown of Medellín. There he perfected his craft of culinary excellence and became known as one of the best chefs in Latin America. After becoming successful in Colombia, Barrientos decided it was time to expand into the District of Columbia. His hard work paid off, as he recently earned a Michelin star for Elcielo Washington.
The cuisine can be described as a mix of Colombian traditions paired with avant-garde culinary techniques. The front room offers a more casual experience with à la carte options, but the back room is the palace for true aficionados. Backroom guests are offered an expansive tasting menu that is mostly pescetarian fillings paired with tropical Colombian flavors.

Minibar by José Andrés

Minibar remains one of Washington, DC's most popular restaurants, as reservations usually need to be made months in advance. The hype is well deserved, as José Andrés has built an international culinary empire with his unique dishes. While originally from Spain, the Minibar shouldn't be considered Spanish cuisine, nor can it be tied to any other culinary culture. Instead, Andrés draws inspiration from art and science to deliver truly imaginative and otherworldly dishes. You won't be able to find a more unique experience anywhere in the DC area.
The Minibar experience hasn't gone unnoticed by Michelin, as the restaurant holds two stars. While Andrés is one of the most acclaimed chefs in the world, he hasn't lost touch with his humble beginnings. He founded the World Central Kitchen nonprofit, which delivers food to conflict areas. The World Central Kitchen is best known for delivering thousands of meals to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Today, Andrés' philanthropic efforts are focused on Ukraine.

Pineapple & Pearls

Pineapple & Pearls is the only other restaurant with two Michelin stars in the DC area. Unlike other restaurants of high acclaim, Pineapple & Pearls prides itself on being more fun and casual. They proudly proclaim that they don't have a dress code, but if they did, they would recommend wearing "an emerald green tuxedo or gold sequin dress."
The menu is as whimsical as the restaurant's dress code. Chef Aaron Silverman is known for taking everyday food and sprucing it up with elegant ingredients. Take, for example, the popular French toast, which is made with foie gras, blue cheese, and black truffles. Dining at Pineapple & Pearls requires a reservation, even if you plan on only eating small plates at the bar.

Thip Khao

Thip Khao is more casual than the aforementioned Michelin restaurants, but don't let that confuse you into thinking it's low quality. The restaurant has become so popular that they enforce a strict 90-minute maximum dining time to allow in more patrons. Reservations are highly recommended and require a $20 deposit per person.
Thip Khao is one of the few Laotian restaurants that you will be able to find in the city. It was founded by Chef Seng Luangrath, who had to flee her home country during the Vietnam War. Originally established as a fast-casual restaurant, Thip Khao has evolved into a full-service sit-down restaurant. The menu is full of Laotian flavors like coconut, garlic, rice, and noodles. Since its opening in 2014, Thip Khao has become known as one of the best spots to get a sinus-clearing spicy dish.


Elle is one of the most acclaimed European-influenced restaurants in DC. During the day, the restaurant operates as a bakery where patrons can sip on their favorite handcrafted espresso drinks and order from the take-out counter. By night, Elle converts into a full-service restaurant.
The dinner menu is constantly changing as the restaurant adapts to seasonal goods and provides exciting new creations. While the menu is primarily European influenced, diners will notice influences from America and Asia in many of their dishes. A notable example is the spaghetti and tempeh, which is served with sauce arrabbiata and tofu parmesan.

Zenebech Restaurant

DC is well known for having a thriving Ethiopian culinary scene. Amongst all the amazing Ethiopian eateries, Zenebech may be the best. Chef Zenebech Dessu originally opened an Ethiopian bakery, but after becoming successful, she decided to expand that into a full-service restaurant.
In addition to serving fantastic Ethiopian food, Zenbech is one of the most popular places for vegetarians. From savory Kitfo to hearty Wot, Zenebech has emerged as one of DC's best cheap-eat locations. Reservations are rarely necessary, making Zenebech an excellent place to spontaneously enjoy spicy lentils and awaze tibs.

Shabu Plus

Shabu Plus is one of the best places to enjoy Japanese cuisine. After all, husband and wife duo Darren Norris and Candice Wise-Norris were pioneers in bringing Izakaya to DC. Patrons at Shabu will be able to enjoy modern reimaginings of traditional Japanese hot pots.
The menu includes a fixed portion that is available year-round, as well as a rotating seasonal menu. No matter when you visit Shabu, you can expect to enjoy some of the best Wagyu beef available in the city.  Pure plant-based options are also available. Reservations are recommended for evenings, whereas weekend lunches are more accommodating for walk-ins.


Maydan brings Arab culinary excellence to the DC area. The restaurant holds a Michelin star and has also received accreditation from Bon Appetit, Esquire, and Food & Wine magazines.
For those who do want thorough culinary excellence, Maydan offers the "Tawle" tasting menu. An a la carte menu is also available. No matter which menu you choose, you can expect to find excellent Arab classics like zucchini baba ghanoush and shish taouk kebabs. All of the bread is made in a wood-fired clay oven, and most of the meats have been deeply marinated in the finest Arab spices.


No city restaurant list is complete without at least one Korean BBQ option. In DC, we would have to say the best Korean BBQ can be found at Anju. The restaurant is helmed by the highly acclaimed Chef Scott Drewno. Drewno, trained under Wolfgang Puck, has claimed Chef of the Year awards and has won countless competitions.
Anju specializes in Korean BBQ with a local twist. Diner patrons can expect to enjoy classics such as pork and kimchi mandu, seafood fried rice, and bokum bap. Weekend brunches provide more local offerings like breakfast sandwiches and grits. Due to the restaurant’s popularity, reservations are practically mandatory at Anju and require a deposit. If you want to enjoy Anju without the hassle of a reservation, take-out and delivery orders can be made.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. If the culinary scene is enough to convince you to find your dream home in Washington, DC, get in touch with the Sarro and Georgatsos Group. We have decades of experience selling luxury homes in Washington, DC. Feel free to take a look at our blog to learn more about this wonderful city.

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