A Washington, DC Walking Tour: Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay

January 28, 2018

Washington, DC can be great—but keep in mind, it’s an expense account town. Translation: more expensive than it should be. Stay away from driving, if you can—there are taxis and Ubers everywhere, and traffic is a disaster. As always, we suggest using your feet instead. One of our favorite walking areas is between Dupont Circle and Logan Circle, where some of our favorite restaurants (with plenty of weeknight mojo) are located.

Where to Stay:

Honestly, we haven’t yet found THE hotel. It’s a city dominated with business travelers, conventions, and events, so the hotels mostly accommodate all of them. There are tons of chains, especially downtown, so this might be a city to just use your points—here’s a rundown of some of the better ones we’ve found.

In Georgetown:

  • Rosewood (formerly The Capella, and some of the best service we’ve seen)
  • The Four Seasons (beautiful, known, and as expensive as you’d expect)
  • The Graham (a cheaper boutique-like option)

Dupont Circle into Downtown:


Where to Eat:

Our working/eating/drinking orientation of DC is in a few major areas. Here’s the breakdown.

14th Street

This gets its own category because there are so many good restaurants concentrated here. We find ourselves again and again on 14th Street walking from Thomas Circle up to about U Street. The restaurants here seem to have some kind of magical mojo; they’re always packed, with great energy.
DC_Le Diplomate

  • Estadio (Spanish with a great central bar and a little overdesigned, but always busy)
  • Ghibellina (the lighting is great, and the energy here comes from all over—focal-point bar, open kitchen, window out to the street—and the menu is good, but crowd-pleasing, Italian)
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Bar (everyone loves it here—it feels bustling, the menu is well-balanced and shareable)
  • Le Diplomate (Stephen Starr knows what he’s doing—it’s a massive version of a French brasserie with a great menu, stellar service, and excellent execution)
  • Compass Rose (small place, small international menu, always interesting)
  • Tico (fun, shareable Latin menu with good lighting and energy that’s settled a little over the years)
  • Bar Pilar (an arty farm-to-table with a neighborhood vibe)
  • Cork Wine Bar (a favorite wine bar in town, with small plates)


Tico 1

Downtown (around Dupont Circle/Logan Circle)

The Downtown “Convention” Area

  • Zaytinya (a José Andrés spot where you can’t go wrong—the man owns this town)
  • Jaleo (more José Andrés, Spanish food and tapas)
  • Minibar (surprise—José Andrés again, but tiny fine dining, with fixed-price tasting menus)
  • Daikaya (ramen on one floor, izakaya on another—a Japanese gem)
  • Centrolina (an Italian restaurant/market hybrid in the new-ish City Center development)
  • The Dabney (farm-to-table, fun, and a James Beard favorite)
  • Rasika (if you’re into Indian, this is the place for it)

Capitol Hill

  • Rose’s Luxury (still impossible to get into, but novel and great ambiance and energy)
  • Chiko (new, and Beard-recognized for its innovative Chinese and Korean dishes)

Worth Traveling

These restaurants aren’t in one of the hotspots, but these shouldn’t be missed if you’re in town:

  • Bad Saint (cozy Filipino in Columbia Heights)
  • Himitsu (way up in Petworth, making waves with really good, complex food)
  • The Salt Line (one of the inaugural Navy Yard restaurants, a can’t-miss for seafood)
  • A Rake’s Progress (in an Adams Morgan hotel, but new and not a “hotel restaurant” –a named chef doing dishes with all-local ingredients)
  • Lupo Marino (a recent waterfront addition with a lot of sparkling wine and fritti, aka fried things)

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