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The Best Places to Eat in Downtown DC
Your guide to dining in the heart of the nation’s capital
Downtown DC buzzes with activity all day long and well into the evening with its mix of sophisticated shopping, dining and cultural offerings. The neighborhood’s proximity to The White House has also made it a prime destination for politicos and tourists alike. For foodies, you’ll find everything from power dining restaurants to see-and-be-seen hot spots to places for a perfect pre-theater meal.
Center of Attention
One of the District’s newest must-visit destinations is CityCenterDC, a multi-block mecca featuring high-end retail and a host of hip restaurants. You’ll find the city’s locals lining the bars, booths and banquets of CityCenterDC every night of the week. Notable names include Momofuku, the DC ramen outpost of James Beard Award-winning chef David Chang, and its adjacent bakery, Milk Bar, where celeb-baker Christina Tosi serves up treats like her famous crack pie and compost cookies.
The floor-to-ceiling windows of DBGB Kitchen & Bar offer a glimpse of a cozy, French-American concept from world-famous chef Daniel Boulud (don’t leave without giving the baked alaska dessert a try). Popular steakhouse Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse; Italian restaurant and market hybrid Centrolina and happy hour haven Fig & Olive also all call CityCenterDC home.
Pre-Theater Drinks and Dining
Washington, DC has a robust theater scene with dozens of performing arts venues around the region. Downtown alone is home to three marquis playhouses: historic Ford’s Theatre, Warner Theatre and National Theatre. With those three powerhouse players right downtown, a popular night out for Washingtonians is dinner and a show. If you’ve got tickets, there are a number of great pre- or post-theater-friendly restaurants within walking distance.
Old Ebbitt Grill is a tourist attraction on its own with its presidential roots and century-old history. The restaurant was founded as a saloon in 1856 and since then has moved and expanded, serving drinks to many presidents along the way. Today, it’s a popular spot for both DC’s movers and shakers and out-of-towners. Pop in for a pre-theater meal to check off two must-dos in DC.
Occidental Grill & Seafood and The Hamilton are also popular spots for theater-bound diners. The Occidental is located inside the Willard InterContinental, which is one of the city’s most historic (and luxe!) hotels, while The Hamilton offers a great late-night menu (and has a live music venue of its own in its basement). And Belgian chef Robert Wiedmaier’s Brasserie Beck and Central Michel Richard both offer prix-fixe theater menus at their award-winning restaurants.
The country’s most famous address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, sits just outside DC’s downtown border, making the neighborhood a big draw for chefs catering to the city’s power players. Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj stops in nightly to welcome his guests to The Oval Room, a Washington institution that has played host to both former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, along with a long list of other notables. The ultimate DC power couple, President and Mrs. Obama have made the one-block trip from the White House to Equinox, where chef Todd Gray rose to fame for sourcing only local ingredients. The First Lady has also dined nearby with friends at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, Richard Sandoval’s Toro Toro, Boss Shepherd's, as well as Ottoman Taverna.
Inside The Jefferson Hotel, Plume, the only 5 Star-rated restaurant by Forbes in Washington, DC, is a bucket list experience for many Washingtonians. The fine dining spot, which recently received a Michelin star, features a multicourse menu inspired by the hotel’s namesake’s Monticello garden – and the cheese trolley treats are not to be missed! And if you can get up early enough for a breakfast reservation at The Lafayette inside The Hay-Adams Hotel, you’re almost guaranteed to spot a senator or representative talking shop inside The White House-adjacent power restaurant. If your power lunch requires some wine or bubbly, Casa Luca offers fine pours on tap – an ideal complement to its daily house-made pastas.Dig in to DC’s dining scene today. Read up on even more culinary content.
Downtown DC Dining Map
Where to eat in the heart of the nation's capital