When people think of Washington, DC, they typically think politics, Smithsonian museums, and American history. Well, all of those are great ways to describe DC. But, DC is also home to lots of exciting and interesting restaurants and bars! In fact, as a major city hub full of activity, DC has some of the most incredible food and drinks in the United States. As a city full of diverse cultures, neighborhoods, and people, thousands upon thousands of restaurants and bars have continuously served up a great meal and drinks to locals and tourists alike. But, what places are the best? Personally, I like to mix things up every now and then, switching from casual to fancy, traditional to creative and everything in between. If you plan on visiting DC for a trip, here’s my list of the top places to eat and drink in Washington, DC.
You can find Daikaya Izakaya in Chinatown near the Verizon Center. This restaurant has two floors. The first floor serves up tasty ramen with homemade noodles (slurping is encouraged). The second floor is used as a Japanese pub, with incredibly tasty (and cheap!) small plates of food and an incredibly extensive list of Japanese sake, whiskey, shochu (think barley wine), and interesting cocktails. Get a few dozen skewers, order a bottle of sake and enjoy the Japanese drinking experience.
Closest Metro: Gallery Pl-Chinatown
Island themed and tiki inspired, Archipelago combines creative tropical drinks with appetizers and sandwiches. Found near the Shaw area and Howard University, this tiki bar is a popular choice for residents of U Street. All the cocktails are made with unique rums and offer an assortment of tastes for any person (even if you don’t like rum). The food is an interesting fusion of classic American bar food with Asian influences like their crab rangoon dip and szechuan shrimp po boy, which I imagine would go pretty great with a freshly made pina colada.
Closest Metro: U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial
It’s always nice to splurge a little and enjoy fancy food and drinks. Well, Le Diplomate certainly lets you do that! You can find Le Diplomate near Logan’s Circle on the between North Q St and North Corcoran Street. Le Diplomate serves up french foods, pastries, and baked goods. They also have an impressive bar with a large variety of liquors and wines. Stop in for brunch and mimosas for a nice morning out with family and friends.
Closest Metro: Shaw-Howard
Matchbox is a very popular place to visit for some food and a beer. Especially the Chinatown location, which sees tons of locals who are in the area for the hockey game. Matchbox is a pizza restaurant that has made a name for themselves as some of the best pizza in DC. In fact, they’re so popular that they have multiple locations throughout the DC area (supply and demand at its finest). Casual and fun, it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy some drinks if you’re in the Chinatown area. Helpful tip: their spicy meatball pizza goes great with beer.
Closest Metro: Chinatown
Founding Farmers is an amazingly tasty restaurant and bar, right in the Foggy Bottom area, near George Washington University. It’s also within 2-3 blocks of many great hotels. Always popular and never disappointing, Founding Farmer’s theme is a farmer’s restaurant. The food is good old fashioned americana, made from locally sourced ingredients and always fresh. The portion sizes are also farmer sized, where many locals come to get a big meal, and help support the 47,000 family farmers who co-own the restaurant (North Dakota Farmers Union). Even the liquors are made by Founding Farmer’s own master distiller!
Closest Metro: Foggy Bottom-GWU
Trusty’s isn’t a fancy restaurant, nor does it serve world class, hard to obtain liquors from different continents. Trusty’s is a good old fashioned neighborhood watering hole, with great company, food and drinks in mason jars. Trusty’s has been a staple for Hill East residents near Navy Yard, and there’s a reason why. From the school-bus bar and open patio to the classic and satisfying bar food, Trusty’s is a great choice for anyone who wants to feel more like a local.
Closest Metro: Potomac Ave
Dacha Beer Garden
If you’re a fan of outdoor seating, good times, beer and german food, then you’ll be enamored by Dacha Beer Garden. This Beer garden is a favorite in the Shaw neighborhood, and offers a huge array of German, Belgian and American craft beers, as well as meads, ciders, cocktails and wines! The food is also incredibly good, and easy on the wallet to boot. Fun for a gathering of family, friends and dear beloved pets (yup they’re dog friendly!), Dacha Beer Garden is always a fun experience.
Closest Metro: Shaw-Howard
Never a dull moment at The Hamilton! The Hamilton is a restaurant, bar and music venue that specializes in American fare. Incredibly close to the National Mall and White House, The Hamilton is a popular go-to for happy hour by tourists and locals alike. From 3-6pm and again from 11pm-1am you get big discounts on their tasty appetizers and sushi (yes they have sushi, even as an American style restaurant), all of which is delicious. Their alcoholic milkshakes are also incredibly good and great for a hot day. The Hamilton is a great spot during your DC visit to eat, drink and catch a show in their venue downstairs.
Closest Metro: Metro Center
Author Byline: Kate Howard is a mom, wife, teacher and DC frequenter. Always looking forward to trying something new and helping travelers find the best experience in DC!