I quite often get ask that question: What are you favorite restaurants in DC? It is a very difficult question as DC has grown and so many amazing restaurants, coffee shops, and bars have open in the last few years. In addition, I am not from DC and I spend most of my days off out town.
Nevertheless, the list below can be considered as my favorites, but is mostly a list that I give to friends who are in town for one or two days. Short list of the places that I think you should not miss.
Colada Shop: opened its doors of their DC location a few months ago. Colada Shop brings Cuban/Miami flavors to the capital. The coffee here is different, and by different I mean better. Great cuban sandwiches and the most amazing guava pasteles. https://www.coladashop.com
A Baked Joint: sister store of baked & wired offers crafted coffee and pastries. Hip space and they do appreciate that you take the time to sip your coffee inside. Any selection will leave you pleased.
Daikaya: Chef Katsuya Fukushima brings Sapporo-stye ramen to DC. This spot is by far my favorite ramen spot in DC. Walk in only and expect some wait on pick hours. The menu consists of 4 different item plus a list of topins. I love the Vegetable ramen with the addition of pork belly, corn and butter.
Sushi Taro: Chef Nobu Yamazaki curates the best sushi experience in DC. For a more elevated and interactive experience try the exclusive “omakase counter”. Reservations here are limited. I enjoy a lot to stop by for lunch and try their “Kaiseki” menu which is elegant and diverse.
Jaleo: If you do not know yet, Chef Jose Andres runs this city with 6 restaurants in Penn Quarter and a several more near by. Jaleo was Chef Jose’s first restaurant which opened in 2003 and introduced America to spanish cuisine and most importantly, “tapas” and sharing at the table. Love everything on the menu but I will kill for the “Coca con Erizos”. The Anchovies with pan tomato are a great start and the homemade sausage with mash potatoes are always in my top five.
Zaytinya: which means olive oil and yes, it is another Jose Andres restaurant, but hey, did you expected less from the most awarded Chef in DC? Zaytinya offer Mediterranean dishes “Mezze” style focusing on Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey. The best pita bread flows constantly at the table and it is best enjoyed with “Htipiti”. Mushrooms and the best Brussels sprouts are found here. Love the Octopus Santorini as well as the Rice Pilaf and Lamb Kleftico.
Rose’s Luxury: I have been a fan or Aaron Silverman for a while now and is probably because of this place. Rose’s Luxury brought to DC the Neo Bistro style location which had a great success in Europe and proved him right. This place does not only served really delicious food but also has a very accessible prices. Yes, you have to line up before 5pm when they open doors but I promise you, it worth every second of your time. Do as I may, and order one of each from the menu.
The Dabney: Chef owner Jeremiah Langhorne takes pride on working with the finest local producers and showcasing the best local products available on your plate. The open wood-fire kitchen allows them to stay true to its classic cooking methods. Reservations here are accessible and the bar seating is great for last minute walk-ins. Menu is diverse but not extensive. I usually order anything with vegetables here, bonus points when they are cooked over the fire.
DESTINATION DINNING (or fine dining if you’ve like…. but define “fine” first)
Minibar: Jose Andres hub of innovation where dinner is not just a meal but a show. Only 12 seats at this restaurant’s chef counter where you get to experience chefs plating the food in front of you. Modern technique meets outstanding product. Expect the unexpected. A night full of surprises and innovation.
Pineapple & Pearls: Chef Aaron Silverman newest restaurant next to Rose’s Luxury. The ambiance here is more curated towards the elegant but yet modern diner. A dozen courses with a healthy doze of table-side presentations make the dinner not only delicious but entertaining. If you are dining solo the seats at the chef counter gives you a closer look at the magic being worked in that kitchen.
Barmini: Located next to minibar, Jose Andres intimate cocktail lab dazzles with modern cocktails and incredible presentations. It is a bright intimate space. Cocktail flights showcasing their latest techniques and over one hundred cocktails on the menu makes this a unique place for a night out.
Columbia Room: I personally love the tasting menu here as it is a more curated and developed selection of cocktails. The space is dark and beautiful and service very personalized. For a more relaxed experience try “the library”, which does not require a reservation, here you will find a larger list of libations and an amazing list of rare spirits.
Copy Cat: this is probably the bar I (and all industry) may frequent the most. Devin Gong and team craft perfect cocktails in a very casual environment. Classics are my choice here but they keep a ever changing list of creations on their wall behind the bar. I also “love” the soup here.
LATE (VERY LATE) NIGHT:
Wise Guy Pizza: Pizza by the slice? NY style? you got it in this little corner on H street. Opens until “very” late. A wide selection of pizzas are available all day. I usually go for the Margherita and 5 other slices.
New Big Wong: yeap, I am not kidding, but this little Chinatown restaurant on H street is where you will find chefs and restaurant people after work. Scallop fired rice are the best I have tried here. Love the beef chow fun and the garlic scapes. This is probably the restaurant I have been the most.
So, next time you are in DC for a short time, I may just send you this link. But DC has something for everyone.