Diner Most-Loved

The 39 Most Popular Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Power lunches, breakfasts, and dinners — right at home.

15 min read
1/10/2022
Caviar blog - Chloe

The nation’s capital is a true melting pot of world cuisines, and it will always get our vote as one of the best dining destinations in the country. From Southern comfort food to south-of-the-border tacos to ramen and Israeli fare, these are the 40 Best Restaurants in Washington, D.C. on Caviar. 

1. Beau Thai

Named Best Thai Restaurant in every Washington City Paper’s readers’ poll since 2013, Beau Thai serves fresh, made-from-scratch favorites like pad thai and crispy spring rolls. We love the numerous gluten-free and vegan options that make it easy when ordering for a crowd.

Caviar blog - All Purpose

2. All-Purpose

With all due respect, you can get Jersey pizza outside of the Garden State. At chef Mike Friedman’s All-Purpose Pizzeria, they serve deck-oven pies that would pass muster with the gang at Satriale’s. Enzo the Baker is our go-to pie. But no experience is complete without an order of eggplant p\Parm. 


3. Unconventional Diner

For nearly five years, Michel Richard protégé David Deshaies has dared to be different with his diner fare. Sure, there are classics like avocado toast, fried chicken, and meatloaf, but they sit alongside dishes with global flavors, like the Moroccan taquitos, Lebanese fried rice, and Caribbean shrimp & grits. The sweets, such as the Basque burnt cheesecake, are prepared in-house by pastry chef Ana Deshaies. 

Caviar blog - Farmbird

4. Farmbird

Plates are the new bowls, at least at Farmbird. The chicken-centric restaurant, which opened in 2017, combines the rare pleasure of a perfectly roasted chicken with bold flavors, like lemon tzatziki or chipotle masala. You can go beyond the plates and opt for one of their colorful, healthful salads, such as the Greek goddess. Whatever you order, know this is anything-but-boring chicken.


5. Le Diplomate

Have your power lunch or date-night dinner at home with French fare from Le Diplomate, the venerable hotspot favored by D.C.’s movers and shakers since opening in 2013. The menu is a mini-tour of Paris’s finest cafes with gougeres, French onion soup, and cheese and charcuterie plates. The beef Bourguignon is indulgent. Don’t skip it.  


6. Toki Underground

Toki Underground helped usher in ramen mania in D.C. more than a decade ago. Order one of their fine ramens and slurp away in the sanctity of your own home. We like to start with steamed chicken buns and wrap things up with the chocolate-y miso buttercream cookies. 

Caviar blog - Grazie Grazie

7. Grazie Grazie

Let’s be honest. It’s hard to beat a good sandwich. And it’s even harder to beat the superb ones at Grazie Grazie. Founder Casey Patten and his team serve almost every imaginable variety, from Italian heroes and cheesesteaks to veggie lovers and roast beef, some with a delicious twist, like the Russoniello with roast pork, aged provolone, and broccoli rabe. 


8. Surfside Taco Stand

Don’t let the name fool you: There’s more to Surfside than merely tacos (although there are plenty of those and they’ve been delighting diners since 2008). Beyond burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas, the fajita box is ideal for a crowd and comes with all the accouterments you’ll need for a night in.

9. BKK Cookshop

In 2015, the team behind Beau Thai opened BKK Cookshop, which serves — you guessed it — Thai-centric food with some international influences. For the carb lovers, rice and noodle dishes abound as well as gyoza and spring rolls. Braised pork shoulder, beef satay, and Thai chicken wings round out the extensive menu.


10. Indigo

From owners Dinesh and Nidhi Tandon, Indigo specializes in homestyle Punjabi food. It’s been around for nearly a decade, and the generous portions and standout vegetarian dishes haven’t changed a bit (the butter chicken is a hit as well). The flavor is uncompromising, and we’re here for it. You will be, too.

Caviar blog - Chicken + Whiskey

11. Chicken + Whiskey

Bird is the word at Chicken + Whiskey in the 14th Street corridor. Superstar Venezuelan chef Enrique Limardo serves South American-style rotisserie chicken, brined for 12 hours and slow-cooked over wood charcoal. The result is juicy on the inside and perfectly crisped on the outside. Add some sides, like the Caribbean coleslaw and the sweet plantains, for a complete meal.


12. Tatte Bakery & Cafe

Like to sleep in but also love what is arguably the most important meal of your day? Then we thought you’d like to know they serve breakfast all day at Tatte Bakery & Cafe. Israeli influences abound, thanks to founder Tzurit Or’s heritage. You’ll find three kinds of shakshuka and a halloumi egg sandwich alongside a decadent Croque Madame and braised short rib sandwich. 

Caviar blog - Rasika

13. Rasika Penn Quarter

There’s a reason Rasika was named to the D.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame by The Washington Post in 2018. Since 2005, owner Ashok Bajaj has been dazzling diners with his upscale Indian fare and the quality remains top-notch. There are chicken, lamb, fish, and vegetable entrees from which to choose, but, trust us, be sure to also order the palak chat with its delightfully crisped baby spinach.

14. Timber Pizza

There are nearly a dozen cleverly named pizzas at Timber, which started out as a food truck in 2014 and grew into a brick-and-mortar shop in 2016. The wood-fired pizza here was named Pizzeria of the Year by Bon Apetit in 2017 and the quality continues. The Cheese Please with a mozzarella-provolone blend, plus fresh mozz is a can’t-miss order. But, really, they all are.


15. Millie’s

This Spring Valley spot opened in 2017 serving fresh, California Baja-style fare with a coastal vibe. Think salads, quesadillas, and tacos as well as a New England lobster roll, clam chowder, and grilled branzino. We love the pick-your-protein taco box that feeds a group and lets you customize your taco creations. 


16. Umi Japanese Cuisine

Pro tip: Order one of the many hand rolls to devour on arrival so you can then leisurely work your way through your order and savor the carefully prepared cuts of sushi and sashimi. There’s a roll for every appetite, as well as entrees like Chilean sea bass and teriyaki selections at this neighborhood favorite. 

Caviar blog - Capo Deli

17. Capo Deli

Eat like a boss at this Italian-influenced sub shop, which is coming up on its fifth anniversary. They’ve got hot and cold subs in sizes large and small, like the chicken Parmigiana and the caprese. But wait – there’s more. Baked ziti, lasagne, and eggplant Parmigiana are just a few of the entree-style dishes they serve. Pair any order with a cocktail to go, available appropriately in large and small formats.


18. Ted’s Bulletin

Ted’s Bulletin is your way to savor the everyday. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner so any time is a good time to order from Ted’s. Choose from mainstays like French toast, burgers, and grilled cheese, or entrees including short rib pot roast and country fried chicken. The Ted’s tarts are a clever take on the beloved toaster pastries. They’re all perfect, but the brown sugar and cinnamon gets us every time. 


19. Zaytinya

Long before chef José Andrés was feeding the world, he opened the Mediterranean restaurant Zaytinya in the Penn Quarter. Twenty years later, it remains wildly popular and consistent. We strongly advise going for a spread of mezze here. Start with labneh and one of the fine flat breads. Add some marinated olives and a salad, like the fattoush, followed by the kebab platter for a meal to remember.

Caviar blog - RPM Italian DC

20. RPM Italian

The scene-y Mount Vernon restaurant from celeb couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic opened in 2016, serving modern takes on classic and contemporary Italian dishes. The housemade pasta, like the simple Mama Depandi’s bucatini, is a great lead-in to entrees, such as giant prawns or the mouth-wateringly good Prime dry-aged bistecca Fiorentina, which serves two to four. 

21. Dumplings and Beyond

We understand the beyond. We really do. But we’re always putting dumplings in our cart at Dumplings and Beyond no matter what else we order. Recently named as one of the 10 best Chinese restaurants in D.C. by Money magazine, this spot serves a broad range of entrees, like walnut shrimp, hot pot, and an array of vegetarian dishes. 


22. Anju

Chef Angel Barreto has been nominated for not one but two James Beard Awards in 2022. Anju means “food consumed with alcohol,” so it is befitting that you can order booze here. Whether you order a Kirin or a bottle of soju, pair either with the much-lauded double-fried Korean fried “chikin.”


23. Poke Papa

You’re gonna want to say aloha to Poke Papa, the Hawaiian-inspired, Chinatown-adjacent eatery serving up signature and bespoke poke. Order one of their tried-and-true bowls, like the Volcano with spicy tuna — or build your own, choosing up to four proteins and customized toppings. 

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24. doi moi

doi moi is the intersection of Vietnamese and French food culture. Inspired by the vibrant street markets of Vietnam, executive chef Wade Hoo Fatt serves up small plates with big flavor and sumptuous share plates with big value. From blistered shishito peppers to shaken beef, every dish is a shining example of excellence in technique. 


25. Chiko

Serving modern Chinese and Korean fare from chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno, Chiko opened its first location in 2017 and received a rave review from The Washington Post not long thereafter. The addictive orange-ish chicken with candied mandarins and crispy garlic remains a standout, but don’t stop there. Seductive dishes like soy-glazed brisket and cumin lamb stir-fry await.


26. Prescription Chicken

Chicken soup has long been heralded for its healing properties. Prescription Chicken founders (and cousins) Valerie Zweig and Taryn Pellicone have embraced the lore. Whatever ails you — scratchy throat, hangover — they’ve got a culinary cure, from Grandma-style chicken soup to restorative pho. Whatever you pick, your bubbe would approve.


27. Zeppelin

Founded in 2019, Zeppelin Restaurant & Bar serves up sushi and Japanese charcoal-grilled yakitori. It features traditional Edomae-style nigiri sushi by chef Minoru Ogawa, a Tokyo native who studied under his master-chef father in Japan. Add some hot dishes, like the grilled pork belly or seafood okonomiyaki to the mix to experience the full scope of what Zeppelin has to offer.

Caviar blog - Maketto

28. Maketto

This scenester magnet dates back to 2015 when its cafe-restaurant-retail concept took D.C. by storm. The food here is inspired by Asian street markets and is buoyed by a solid coffee program. The Maketto fried chicken, mushroom lo mein, bao, and dumplings are longtime favorites and have helped it earn local and national awards. Grab a bag of coffee beans for a morning-after treat.


29. The Royal

The Royal is the cure for the common breakfast. Serving Latin American cuisine since 2015, this is a family affair from restaurateur Paul Carlson, his parents, Ron and Gloria, and sister Katrina. Arepa rancheros, guava pastry, and calentado will spice up your morning routine, while entrees like braised beef gnocchi with queso fresco, maitake mushrooms and crispy yucca take comfort food to a new level.

30. Bombay Street Food

We love Indian street food — particularly from the comfort of our sofa. Opened in 2018 by restaurateur Asad Sheikh, this CoHi restaurant serves chicken, goat, and lamb dishes, like the lamb rogan josh, aplenty, but they also have a lot of choices for vegans and vegetarians, such as chana masala and paneer tikka masala. 

Caviar blog - Red Light

31. Red Light

Detroit-style pizza is having a moment, but the folks behind Red Light were way ahead of the curve. The Logan Circle spot opened in 2014, serving square slices of pan-baked pizza under an impressive amount of cheese. The OG pepperoni gets us every time, but lately, the Red Wing pizza with burrata has been turning our heads. 

32. City Lights of China

The menu at City Lights is a greatest-hits list of the dishes you know and love, from authentic gourmet home-style fare to tasteful vegetarian creations. Beloved since 1987, the spot is particularly renowned for its sesame chicken, crab rangoon, and bracing hot and sour soup.


33. Comet Ping Pong

Love ping pong and pizza? That was the inspo behind this restaurant from James Alefantis. The pizza here is no afterthought. In fact, it is the star. There are more than a dozen on the menu, including a build-your-own option, but pay close attention to the Yalie with clams; Guy Fieri called it one of the best pizzas he’s ever had. No paddle required.


34. Cane Caribbean Street Food

Opened in 2019 by chef-owner Peter Prime, Cane has become an immediate favorite among food lovers seeking Caribbean fare. Prime recreates the dishes he grew up eating in Trinidad, like jerk wings, oxtail bowls, and Trini Chinese chicken. 

Caviar blog - Purple Patch

35. Purple Patch

Serving brunch and dinner daily, the Filipino-owned and operated Purple Patch specializes in Filipino-American fare. Chef-owner Patrice Cleary serves dishes reflective of her heritage at this Mount Pleasant spot that opened in 2015. Chicken adobo, fried calamansi chicken wings, and the ube waffle with fried chicken and ice cream are, quite literally, the comfort you seek.

36. Chaplin’s Restaurant

Chef-partner Myo Htun, a native of Burma, cooked under a master ramen chef in Tokyo for nearly 30 years. At Chaplin’s in Shaw, he continues to create the same dishes that he perfected in Japan. There are 10 ramen offerings here; if it’s your first time experiencing Chaplin’s, order the Chaplin A.S.S. with chicken. Don’t forget the gyoza either. 


37. The Greek Spot

This unfussy U-Street neighborhood spot serves straightforward Greek food inspired by family recipes and gyro eateries in Greece. Owner Kosta Dionisopoulos serves all your favorites as sandwiches or platters — gyro, souvlaki, falafel, and more — and there are other beloved specialties, such as pasticho and mousaka. 

Caviar blog - Chloe

38. Chloe

Chloe is a showcase of chef Haidar Karoum’s personal culinary journey, including his Lebanese roots and extensive travel, all grounded in and linked by the seasonal bounties of the Mid-Atlantic. Located in Navy Yard, and open since 2018, you’ll find offerings in small, medium, and large sizes that put vegetables at the center of the plate.

39. Mercy Me

Dupont’s two-year-old Mercy Me bills itself as a “sorta South American” restaurant. Founded by Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira of Timber Pizza, Mercy Me offers can’t-miss dishes like mole chicken, fried fish, and churrasco steak. And don’t skimp on the sides, like the corn cakes and the yucca fries with aji verde sauce. 

Author

Caroline Potter

Use the code SPOTLIGHT10 for $10 off your first order of $30 or more.