Top 10 Restaurants In Downtown, Washington DC

Photo of Veronika J Spencer
9 February 2017

From exotic cuisines to cozy coffee houses, bustling downtown Washington DC has something for everyone searching for a bite to eat. Enjoy our guide to 10 of the best spots to eat in downtown Washington, DC.

Aerial View of Downtown Washington DC | © Wikicommons


Zaytiniya is the place to go in Washington, DC for delightful mix of Lebanese, Turkish and Greek cuisine. Chef José Andrés uses his intrinsic knowledge of Mediterranean-style cooking to develop a modern and authentic menu. Traditional techniques and ingredients are combined with the chef’s creativity to take Eastern Mediterranean cuisine to new heights. The food is served ‘mezze’ style on small sharing plates and Zaytinya offers the only exclusively Eastern Mediterranean wine list in the United States.

Bar Pilar

Restaurant, American, $$$
Bar Pilar in Downton Washington DC offers a neighborhood friendly atmosphere that is sure to delight anyone who visits. The menus offer an eclectic variety of New American cuisine inspired by the local and seasonal produce available. Due to its reliance on available local produce, the menu is ever-changing, which makes it easy to try something new each visit. The best approach to dining here is to order several dishes to share and try them all.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Restaurant, American, $$$
The half smoke originated in Washington, D.C. | © T.Tseng / Flickr
Ben’s Chili Bowl is housed in a historic building dating back to 1910 that used to be a silent movie theater and a pool hall. In 1958, it was converted into a restaurant. The homemade chili is made fresh from a secret recipe and the original counter, booths and stools remain intact, creating an authentic 1950s feel. While the cuisine is mainly meat-centric, vegetarians should not shy away because there are several non-meat options available.


Bar, Restaurant, Indian, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
The word ‘Rasika’ means ‘flavors’. Rasika is the place to go for modern Indian cuisine in Washington DC. Visitors to this restaurant are offered a variety of dining venues. These include a relaxing lounge and bar area, the main dining room, a private dining room, a community dining table and a showcase open kitchen where guests can watch their delicious meal being prepared. The walls are decorated with stunning pieces or art from well-known Indian artists. The only thing better than the ambiance is the food.


Restaurant, Greek, American, Mediterranean, $$$
Komi offers an exceptional dining experience for anyone willing to splurge a little for an excellent meal. There are no printed menus at this restaurant. Instead, there is a set multi-course dinner including light dishes, pasta, a family-style entrée and desserts. Though the menu is set, accommodations can be made to suit most dietary restrictions. A wine pairing can be added for an additional cost to complement the meal. The restaurant is a small, intimate setting that would be the perfect spot for a date with someone special.

Busboys and Poets

Busboys and Poets was created with the intention of being a community gathering place were culture, art and politics can come together to inspire social change. The name is a direct reference to Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy before becoming a famous poet. In addition to fostering creative minds and promoting cultural connections, Busboys and Poets is environmentally friendly and serves organic, cage-free eggs and grass-fed, free-range local beef . There are many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes available at all times of the day.

Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th Street NW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 789 2227


Restaurant, American, Beer, Vegetarian, $$$
When looking for a casual and affordable restaurant in downtown Washington, DC, Commissary is the place. In order to keep food prices down and provide the best produce available, Commissary is part of a group of restaurants that own their own farm and grow the fruits and vegetables served in the restaurants themselves. Here you can have breakfast all day, as well as choose from a selection of delicious pizza, sandwiches, burgers and salads. Commissary also offers great happy hour specials on both food and drinks.


Restaurant, American
Clyde’s Gallery Place location pays homage to American sports in a museum-like setting. Sports-themed prints, sculptures and original works of art line the walls of this establishment and create a special atmosphere. Located in a two-storey Grand Victorian saloon, Clyde’s provides guests with the option of visiting four bars, a raw bar, five dining rooms and a private dining room. A classic American menu comprising dishes made from hormone-free beef and locally grown produce is served until 1am. Clyde’s also serves up homemade desserts, which are the perfect way to end any meal.


Tryst prides itself on having ‘no corporate coffee, no matching silverware’. It aims to be something different from traditional cafes and coffee chains. Tryst offers a place where people can come together to enjoy delicious specialty coffee. In addition to serving freshly brewed coffee, Tryst also offers visitors an array of pastries, breakfast options, comfort foods, sandwiches, salads and alcoholic beverages. Tryst has a full calendar of events happening every night including Classic Movie Tuesdays, Throwback Thursdays and Sunday Study Hall. It is both a great place to work and study, as well as a cozy spot to enjoy a night out with friends.

Tryst, 2459 18th Street NW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 232 5500

Outside Tryst © Tryst


Restaurant, Thai, Contemporary, Vegetarian, Healthy, $$$
Rice is the place to go for fine Thai cuisine in downtown Washington, DC. Inspired by the owner’s childhood in Thailand, Rice offers a mix of contemporary and traditional Thai cuisine. The restaurant itself is designed in a minimalist urban chic style and the food is delectable. The menu is divided into three sections. One is rice specialty which features newly invented dishes or original dishes that are served at Rice alone. The second is the authentic menu that offers traditional Thai cuisine. Finally, there’s the healthy green menu which offers a selection of healthier fare and is entirely vegetarian.

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