Top 12 Best Restaurants in Washington DC

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

As an international capital brimming with culture, history, and diversity, Washington DC boasts a thriving culinary scene spanning global flavors, renowned chefs, and Michelin star dining.

RestaurantDescription
The Inn at Little WashingtonDC’s only three Michelin stars restaurant, offering fine dining with multicourse tasting menus.
Minibar by José AndrésAvant-garde Spanish restaurant with two Michelin stars, known for its inventive tasting menus.
KomiMichelin-starred, Mediterranean and Greek flavors with an ever-changing tasting menu.
RasikaMichelin-starred modern Indian cuisine, known for its palak chaat and biryani rice.
FiolaMichelin-starred Italian cuisine with a focus on fresh pasta and seafood.
MaydanMiddle Eastern cuisine in a warehouse dining room, offering shared plates and a social atmosphere.
Bad SaintA small, acclaimed Colombian eatery known for its flavor-packed dishes and cozy vibe.
EttoOffers seasonally inspired plates with a Deco-inspired look, resembling 1920s dining cars.
Tail Up GoatMediterranean/Middle Eastern fusion with playful and delicious dishes.
Rose’s LuxuryEclectic small plates with no phone or website, offering a unique dining experience.
Thip KhaoLaotian cafe spotlighting underrepresented flavors, known for tropical juices and family-style entrees.
Mi VidaPolished Mexican cuisine downtown, with modern plates and a vibrant energy.

From fresh seafood to Ethiopian spice, all-American staples to avant-garde tasting menus, DC’s top restaurants create memorable dining experiences rivaling any major foodie destination.

The Inn at Little Washington

Name and Location: The Inn at Little Washington is an award-winning fine dining restaurant located about an hour outside Washington D.C. in the Virginia countryside.

History and Significance: Since opening in 1978, Chef Patrick O’Connell has created a world-class culinary getaway, earning the establishment a place on nearly every Top Restaurant list both nationally and globally over the past 40 years.

What to Expect: An evening at The Inn promises guests an escape into romance and whimsy through multi-course American seasonal tasting menus paired with prestigious wines served in extravagant themed dining rooms by polished professionals.

Visitor Information: Jacket and reservations required. Open for dinner Thursday – Monday 5:30-9pm. Tasting menus start at $278 per person.

Tucked in the Virginia foothills outside the city, The Inn at Little Washington holds elite status as DC’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars. Under chef Patrick O’Connell’s leadership since 1978, the kitchen upholds impeccable technique and service for an extraordinary fine dining experience. Spread across 25 ornate rooms, tables are set with fine china and crystal for multicourse tasting menus combining regional ingredients with masterful preparation. Expect dishes like “falling farro” with herbs suspended over tiny grains or pea mousse accented by carrot ice cream. Reserve well in advance and dress formally to enjoy this pinnacle of refined DC dining.

Minibar by José Andrés

Name and Location: Minibar by José Andrés offers a unique fine dining experience just north of downtown DC in Shaw.

History and Significance: Modernist Spanish chef José Andrés first opened Minibar by reservation-only inside Cafe Atlantico in 2003, showcasing his forward-thinking experimental culinary style through an intimate tasting menu counter that evolved into its own experiential venue.

What to Expect: Experience a sophisticated 20+ course tasting adventure from Chef Andrés’ team, featuring artistic bites and cocktails that manipulate textures and temperatures in playful ways, all served directly from the theater-style kitchen.

Visitor Information: Ticketed seatings only for parties of 2 or 4 available online in advance priced from $250+. Open Wednesday to Sunday 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm seatings.

The avant-garde tasting menus at avant-garde tasting menus at Minibar by José Andrés offer once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences, earning two Michelin stars. Seating just 12 guests at a time, the progressive Spanish restaurant near Dupont Circle resembles a science lab more than kitchen. Watch chefs prepare inventive bites like “red pepper ice puck” and foie gras lollipops from seats along the U-shaped counter. Trust the tireless staff to perfectly pair theatrical dishes with sherry, sake and wine through the two dozen edible creations comprising the 20+ course meal. With months-long waits for reservations, Minibar’s cutting-edge cuisine and exceptional service make this DC’s toughest table to score.

Komi

Name and Location: Komi is a fine dining destination located in downtown DC focused on progressive Greek and Mediterranean cuisine served in an intimate setting.

History and Significance: Since opening in 2004, pioneering Chef Johnny Monis showcases dynamic interpretations of Hellenic flavors rooted in technique and seasonal ingredients, earning Komi a Michelin star for 15 consecutive years as innovations ceaselessly elevate the dining experience.

What to Expect: An evolving tasting menu promises guests thought-provoking cuisine and amiable hospitality delivered by knowledgeable professionals inside a warm, minimalist townhouse restaurant space accommodating only 30 diners a seating at either the chef’s counter or elegant tables.

Visitor Information: Jackets required. Reservations available 30 days in advance for parties of 2 or 4 priced starting at $175 per guest. Open for 5:30 pm and 8:45 pm Tuesday to Saturday seatings.

Warm lighting and blonde wood interiors help diners feel at home at Komi, chef Johnny Monis’ lively yet unfussy fine dining restaurant earning a Michelin star since 2013. Focusing on Mediterranean and Greek flavors, the ever-changing tasting menu spans dishes like squid ink crackers, locally foraged morels in crispy phyllo, and Monis’ signature potato gnocchi dish. While dishes lean decadent, fresh ingredients and expert technique keep the meal from feeling heavy. Don’t leave without trying the famous chocolate hazelnut baklava ice cream sandwich finale – just save room first for the multi-course menu preceding it.

Rasika

Name and Location: Rasika serves modern Indian fine dining in downtown Washington DC’s Penn Quarter neighborhood.

History and Significance: Rasika first opened by Chef Vikram Sunderam in 2005, earning nationwide acclaim for skillfully honoring classical techniques while evolving traditional cuisine with contemporary flair that still feels recognizably Indian in an upscale restaurant environment.

What to Expect: An a la carte menu yields familiar standouts like flavorful biryanis, rich curries and breads while also offering lesser known regional dishes. Superb service and an extensive wine list complement the dynamic flavors.

Visitor Information: Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations strongly recommended, especially for dining rooms. More casual café seating available. Valet parking available.

As the first Indian restaurant bestowed with a Michelin star stateside, Rasika sets the standard for exquisite modern Indian cuisine. Start with crispy sweet potato-stuffed dosa pancakes or the signature palak chaat crispy spinach salad at the contemporary West End outpost. Move to tender lamb vindaloo or perfumed biryani rice mixing cumin, clove and saffron. And owners Vikram Sunderam and Ashok Bajaj keep expanding their Michelin-starred Rasika empire with downtown offshoot locations boasting additional craft cocktails and global wines supporting the complex flavors.

Fiola

Name and Location: Fiola is an upscale Italian fine dining destination located downtown in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

History and Significance: Chef Fabio Trabocchi opened Fiola in 2011 after earning acclaim at several prestigious restaurants around the world throughout his career, synthesizing influences through a seasonal homemade pasta-focused menu emphasizing traditional techniques prepared with contemporary refinement.

What to Expect: Warm polished service and an extensive wine program complement Trabocchi’s seasonally inspired Italian fare served in an elegant modern dining room accented by a popular Al Fresco patio facing the Capitol building. Signature pastas shine alongside composed seafood, meat, and vegetarian plates.

Visitor Information: Dinner only Tuesday–Saturday. Reservations strongly recommended. Valet parking available. Jackets appreciated but not required.

Fabio Trabocchi built a Michelin-starred Italian powerhouse at Fiola through pastas crafted fresh daily and exacting seafood preparations. Splurge on the tasting menu to experience top dishes like ricotta ravioli with truffle béchamel or swordfish with eggplant caponata. The sleek dining room overlooking the National Gallery Sculpture Garden sets an upscale ambiance further enhanced by the polished in-house sommelier and watchful service. Sister restaurant Del Mar doubles-down on Trabocchi’s deft Italian seafood mastery in a relaxed, coastal setting nearby.

Maydan

Name and Location: Maydan brings together flavors and culture from regions along the ancient Silk Road, located in downtown DC’s Shaw neighborhood.

History and Significance: Showcasing standout plates inspired by North Africa, the Middle East and India, husband and wife co-owners Rose Previte and Chef Gerald Addison opened Maydan in 2017, becoming one of Eater’s most anticipated restaurants that year through vibrant spice-driven small and large share plates.

What to Expect: Communal wood tables fill a transportive warehouse highlighted by a central open kitchen and custom wood oven where dishes like puffy honey flatbread, addictive spreads and char-grilled meats emerge, meant for gracious family-style enjoyment complemented by intriguing house cocktails and natural wines.

Visitor Information: Walk-ins welcome. Reservations can be made via OpenTable or by calling for groups 6+. Open Wednesday – Sunday from 5pm – late night.

The airy warehouse dining room at Maydan draws design inspiration from ancient agoras and souks, setting the scene for contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine. Chef Chris Morgan helms the buzzy, experimental kitchen dishing veggie-centric small and large plates ideal for sharing. Begin bites like smoked eggplant dip and crispy stuffed grape leaves before feasting on heartier dishes like spiced lamb and duck over nutty freekeh. An extensive bar program stars versatile spirits like arak and regional wine varieties alongside creative takes on classic cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails. With transporting flavors, striking social atmosphere and gracious hospitality, Maydan immerses diners fully into modern Middle Eastern fare.

Bad Saint

Name and Location: Bad Saint is located in Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest DC, serving creative Filipino small plates and craft cocktails.

History and Significance: Open since 2015 in a former corner car garage, Bad Saint rapidly ascended among the nation’s best new restaurants from Chef Tom Cunanan, bringing heart and innovation to little-seen Filipino cuisine, specifically food remembered fondly from his childhood.

What to Expect: A no-choice tasting menu changes seasonally across four courses of intensely flavorful share plates like sugarcane skewers, garlic fried rice, sour sinigang stew and ube doughnuts. Just 24 counter seats preview the open kitchen. Reservations go quickly.

Visitor Information: Small plates tasting menu cost is $95 per person. Open Wednesday – Sunday 5:30pm & 8:15pm seatings for reservations only, booked 6 weeks out or via waitlist on Resy.

When Bon Appetit named Bad Saint America’s second-best new restaurant in 2019, no one doubted this tiny Colombian eatery was worth the hype. Run by husband-wife duo Tom Cunanan and Genevieve Villamora in a converted townhouse, the petite 24-seat dining room fills every service with a waiting list out the door. Using family recipes and seasonal produce, the set six-course menu traverses flavor-packed starters like sweet plantains with pork crackling before elf-sized filet mignon or whole fried fish. While dishes rotate, the cozy vibe, personal service and transporting cuisine remain. Arrive early to put your name on the list for a coveted seat at this nationally acclaimed DC gem.

Etto

Name and Location: Etto specializes in handmade pastas and Italian wines in DC’s Logan Circle neighborhood.

History and Significance: After working under Michelin starred Chef Nicholas Stefanelli, Peter Prime opened tiny Etto in 2015 to create a homestyle 12-seat pasta bar emphasizing technique and ingredients through constantly changing noodles paired with creative sauces and boutique Italian wines that quickly earned acclaim.

What to Expect: Watch pasta masters create magic while seated at the compact marble counter. Printed daily, the tasting menu shares creative editons like squid ink fusilli, agnolotti stuffed with veal heart, and rigatoni with pork jowls united by soulful, flavor-bursting perfection in every bite.

Visitor Information: Reservations via Tock. $89 tasting menu. $79 wine pairing optional. Seatings at 5:30pm & 8:30pm Wednesday – Saturday plus 6:30pm Sunday seating times. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

With its Deco-inspired look, Etto channels 1920s era railway dining cars in name and style. The narrow strip of a dining room sits tucked below street level, with cozy leather booths and marble counters overlooking the bustling open kitchen. Seasonally inspired small and large plates range from burrata with grilled persimmons to squid ink gnocchi to hanger steak for two – all deftly prepared and artfully plated. Reservations remain scarce at this chic Logan Circle hotspot, so plan to arrive early to try your luck grabbing a bartop seat. Handcrafted cocktails provide delicious accompaniment as you watch plates emerge from the exhibition kitchen bound straight for hungry patrons’ tables.

Tail Up Goat

Name and Location: Tail Up Goat features inventive goat-centric dishes and natural wines located on 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

History and Significance: Established in 2015 by former Komi sous chef Jon Sybert and his wife Jill Tyler, Tail Up Goat earned many accolades for sustaining one of DC’s best wine programs while thoughtfully pushing boundaries on underutilized goat meat preparations through various roasted and grilled small sharing plates.

What to Expect: Seating options range from the tightly spaced front bar area to a few tables and the livelier upstairs dining room filled with hospitality pros and gastronomy geeks eager to sample the ever-changing menu anchored by regional goat dishes plus outstanding vegetable sides and desserts daily.

Visitor Information: Reservations strongly recommended via Resy. First come, first served bar seats available for walk-ins. Open Wednesday–Sunday 5–10 pm.

No restaurant better showcases the playful and delicious essence of modern DC dining than Tail Up Goat. James Beard Award winner Nicholas Stefanelli designed the hip dining room and Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fusion menu spanning dishes like labneh cheesecake and goat meatballs. While dishes lean inventive, polished service and an accessible wine list keep the vibe lively yet casual. Score sidewalk seats for the best people watching or request the chef’s counter view overlooking all kitchen action. However you experience it, the vibrant energy and standout cooking make Tail Up Goat a quintessential DC foodie destination.

Rose’s Luxury

Name and Location: Rose’s Luxury is an eclectic small plates restaurant on Barracks Row emphasizing seasonal cooking with global influences.

History and Significance: Open since 2013, founding Chef Aaron Silverman instantly received national praise by infusing modest local ingredients with international flair to craft uniquely composed sharing plates paired with natural wines that capture diner’s imaginations through flavor surprises without pretention within a famously cramped but convivial space.

What to Expect: Expect a wait even with reservations at this perpetually packed hot spot with limited seating. Menus change daily but may feature dishes like Hawaiian snapper crudo or pork sausage and habanero cream cheese puffs reflecting global inspiration and ingredient highs of the moment.

Visitor Information: Reservations released daily at 5pm via Resy. Walk-ins may wait hours for available bar seats. Open Sunday 5:30–10pm; Monday-Thursday 5–10 pm; Friday-Saturday 5-11pm.

Even with no phone, website or street signage outside, Rose’s Luxury stays packed with patrons vying for its eclectic small plates and elite bar status. Hidden on a residential street, the converted townhouse offers walk-in seating only at a cozy bar and a handful of tables inside and out. Once settled, put your menu order fully into the hands of chef Aaron Silverman and his team to deliver a procession of daily changing bites like linguine with uni or pork belly with lychee. While dishes traverse global influences, the focus stays squarely on capitalizing upon what’s fresh and flavorful each day. Expect to wait in line outside for a coveted table. But fellow hungry patrons will assuredly confirm – the exceptional food makes those long waits fully worthwhile.

Thip Khao

Name and Location: Thip Khao prepares regional Laotian cuisine guided by tradition located near Columbia Heights Metro station.

History and Significance: Chef Seng Luangrath introduced Washingtonians to the lesser-known cuisine of Laos when she opened Thip Khao in 2014, earning praise for transportive dishes that reference her childhood alongside Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema who has remained a regular guest ever since.

What to Expect: Handwritten daily, the concise menu yields an approachable gateway to Laotian food through balanced dishes like larb salads, thin curry broths and various stuffed leaf plates not easily found elsewhere locally. Desserts rotate but don’t miss the sticky rice and mango.

Visitor Information: Moderate pricing with most dishes under $20. First come, first served with reservations available for 5+. Dinner only Tuesday – Sunday 5:30–10pm, 10:30pm Friday-Saturday. Closed Mondays.

At bright café Thip Khao, Laotian chef Seng Luangrath spotlights the underrepresented flavors of her home country to wide acclaim. Sip tropical fruit juices and Larb salad with minced meat and herbs before family-style entrees of short rib curry with baguette for dipping. Save room for the destination-worthy dessert tray displaying jewel-toned custards, gelatins and sticky rice treats. With a casual-yet-transporting ambiance and lovingly prepared food, Thip Khao provides the quintessential introduction to flavorful Laotian fare.

Mi Vida

Name and Location: Located downtown, Mi Vida spotlights creative Mexican cuisine with Latin flair from Top Chef finalist Kwame Onwuachi.

History and Significance: James Beard Rising Star Chef Kwame Onwuachi draws on family history and global influences at his first restaurant in DC, Mi Vida, translating personal memories into elegantly plated dishes alongside cocktails blending Mexican spirits since opening in 2022.

What to Expect: Vibrant shareable plates with choice meats, seafood and vegetables drive the dinner menu punctuated by housemade tortillas, salsas and perfect margaritas in a polished room with soaring ceilings, an open kitchen and ample bar seating overlooking busy streets.

Visitor Information: Reservations recommended via OpenTable. Main plates $24-$45. Large format cocktails available. Dinner only from 5pm-10pm Sunday-Thursday, extended until 11pm on Friday & Saturday.

Located downtown just steps from the convention center, Mi Vida spotlights polished Mexican cuisine with subtle yet skillful upgrades. Sip agave-sweetened margaritas on the plant-filled patio before sampling modern plates of ceviche, mole-laced chicken or impressive seafood presentations. With gracious service, vibrant energy and cuisine honoring tradition while nudging into innovative terrain, Mi Vida remains a consistent go-to for superb Mexican dining downtown.

Washington DC’s exceptional dining scene offers endless options spanning global flavors, inventive preparations and singular restaurant experiences travelers crave. Use this list of DC’s top critically acclaimed restaurants while exploring the city’s best culinary experiences. From intimate tasting counters to bustling eateries thick with local flavor to special occasion white tablecloth destinations, DC’s restaurants consistently impress.

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