Washington DC

The 12 Most Essential Washington DC Food Experiences

Go big or go home.

HalfSmoke
HalfSmoke
HalfSmoke

When you think of bucket list to-do’s, you probably think of far-flung travel destinations or once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like hiking to Machu Picchu or going on a safari in the Serengeti. Thanks to COVID-19, these bucket list items are temporarily on hold, well… unless you’re literally that guy who has been stranded in Peru for seven months.

Even though travel plans are still on hold for the foreseeable future, there are some splurge-worthy food experiences right here in Washington DC that make for an epic experience unto themselves. Here are a dozen different DC bucket list items to check off the list, which span the gamut from high-brow tasting menus to everyday eats, including pizza-by-the-slice.

The Inn at Little Washington
The Inn at Little Washington
The Inn at Little Washington

Book a reservation at The Inn at Little Washington

Washington, Virginia
The Inn at Little Washington is DC’s only three-star Michelin restaurant, and it’s a destination unto itself. Located about 90-minutes west in the other Washington (in Virginia), this tasting meal experience has a $265 per person, plus tax and tip, price tag meaning this could very well be a once-in-a-lifetime eating experience. But you’ll savor each moment with Chef Patrick O’Connell’s whimsical menu of modern American cuisine-everything from lobster mousse to tuna and foie gras washed in black truffle vinaigrette. There’s even a cow cheese cart named Faira and she carries fromage aplenty. 
How to order: Reservations accepted by phone or online. Social distancing and outdoor dining are in effect.

Flickr/Nick Sherman
Flickr/Nick Sherman
Flickr/Nick Sherman

Take a jumbo-sized pizza tour

Adams Morgan
Anyone who has had a few too many in Adams Morgan knows that Jumbo Slice is the spot for pizza so big, you’ll need two paper plates to hold a slice. And sure, this certainly isn’t DC’s best version (pizza snobs, go here) but it’s part-nostalgia, part-novelty dish that can easily feed a small family or cure a giant-sized hangover. For the very best in jumbo slice, head to Duccini’s at the corner where U Street meets Florida Avenue NW. And if you can stomach even more carbs, meander up 18th Street in Adams Morgan for stops at Pizza Mart and Bestolli Pizza for other jumbo-sized options.
How to order: Do as most revelers do, order jumbo slice for takeout and eat it on the curb, or order it for delivery on UberEats.

Beteseb Restaurant
Beteseb Restaurant
Beteseb Restaurant

Embark on an injera crawl 

Silver Spring, Maryland
Along Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland is one of the largest concentrations of Ethiopian eateries in the United States. Let injera, a spongy textured bread, be your guide as you nosh your way through a city filled with doro wat, a spicy chicken stew, coffee ceremonies, and markets filled with imported goods. Most of the shops along Georgia Avenue, including Beteseb, Lucy, and Abyssinia offer outdoor dining in an inviting patio setting. 
How to order: Takeout, outdoor dining, and safe social distancing protocols are in effect. Delivery options are available on Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Caviar.

Eden Center
Eden Center
Eden Center

Enter an earthly Eden of eats 

Falls Church, Virginia
The Eden Center center in Falls Church, Virginia has more than 125  Vietnamese vendors and many out-of-this-world eating options, including banh mi, but also lesser-known sleeper hits, like boba shakes and cha gio, Vietnamese spring rolls. Start your experience at Banh Mi So 1 for $5 sandwiches that might be the best in DC, then swing by Huong Binh Bakery & Deli for sweets and boba teas that will only cost you a few bucks. And save room for Phuoc Loc Bakery for pillow-soft buns stuffed with sweet and savory options and priced at just $1.50 to $2 each. 
How to order: Takeout and delivery menus available online. This outdoor shopping center is adhering to safe social distancing and safety guidance.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Lawn
Photo Courtesy of Hi-Lawn
Photo Courtesy of Hi-Lawn

Get higher on Hi-Lawn

Union Market
For a breath of fresh air and some elevated eating, visit Hi-Lawn on the rooftop of Union Market. It’s a new outdoor concept helping support local chefs throughout COVID-19 and offers a casual, park-like space for the neighborhood. The roof features some stunning views of the Capitol Building, as well as some well-known chefs serving up Octoberfest-style snacks. Chef Nathan Beauchamp started selling fall picnic baskets, stocked with German-style soft pretzels, apple cider cheese, and bratwurst topped with sauerkraut. Plus, fall cocktails from bar director Ian Fletcher, like the Cider House Rules, an autumn-spiced apple cider mixed with overproof rum and amaro.
How to order: Reservations are available on Resy

Sushi taro
Sushi taro
Sushi taro

Omakase at home with Sushi Taro

Dupont Circle
When Sushi Taro temporarily closed for service earlier in May, it left many people scrambling for sashimi. That’s because this omakase counter has been a top pick for more than decades, but a recent announcement that the restaurant would reopen for takeout and delivery brought so much joy-and so do the kaiseki boxes which come creatively designed and packaged. In the pre-COVID-19 days, it used to be a rush on the sushi counter to find a seat at happy hour, but patrons can now enjoy the divine pleasures of an omakase experience at home. Sushi Taro’s sashimi platter starts at $250 and comes with customizable options, but we suggest you let Michelin-star chef Nobu Yamazaki call the shots.
How to order: Curbside pickup and takeout only. See ordering instructions online.

Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill

Slurp oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill

Downtown
After a year of extensive renovations, Old Ebbitt Grill recently reopened and offers both indoor socially-distanced dining options for patrons eager to slurp down oysters on the half-shell. This is a quintessential DC bar and restaurant, whether you’re a tourist or have lived here for decades. The ambiance, service, and fresh seafood are the main draws. But it’s the extensive list of oysters that keeps people coming back for more. Find varieties like Great White, Pink Ladies, and Dutch Islands. 
How to order: Order online for pickup or delivery, or make a reservation on OpenTable.

Iron Gate Restaurant
Iron Gate Restaurant
Iron Gate Restaurant

Eat at one of DC’s oldest restaurants

Dupont Circle
Iron Gate in Dupont Circle is a secluded spot with a secret garden and patio that happens to be one of the oldest continuously operated restaurants in the District. Aside from almost a century’s worth of history, its latest inhabitant, Chef Anthony Chittum, has been cooking dishes inspired by his love for Greece and Italy. He also sources the menu from local farms in the Shenandoah and Path Valleys in the Mid-Atlantic region. While this restaurant has an impressive track record in terms of history, the menu offers up many new surprises according to seasonality. For fall, expect maple-roasted autumn squash served with fresh goat cheese, Asian pear, dressed in an Italian balsamic.
How to order: Order online for pickup or delivery or patio reservations available on OpenTable

Ben's Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl

Do the half-smoke shuffle down U Street  

U Street
Ben’s Chili Bowl is the legendary landmark for Washington, DC’s half-smoke doused in chili and cheese, but along U Street several more options can result in a half-smoke sampling. This iconic dish is beloved by tourists and locals alike. It rose to fame at Ben’s, but you can also find fun the half-pork, half-beef casing at Florida Avenue Grill, Half Smoke, and Meats & Foods. All four restaurants are located within a short half-mile distance of each other, which means you can easily plan a “half-smoke shuffle” for weekend fun. 
How to order: Ben’s is open every day for patio dine-in patio service, curbside pickup, and delivery on GrubHub.

Jessie Taylor Seafood
Jessie Taylor Seafood
Jessie Taylor Seafood

Pick crabs at The Wharf 

The Wharf
This seafood stall is located in a historic seafood market at The Wharf, a DC neighborhood that recently underwent a $2.5 billion renovation that’s only half-finished. The historic Fish Market is the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the United States, and Jessie Taylor Seafood is where you can score steamed Chesapeake crabs by the dozen, doused in Old Bay. The seafood here is arranged into display cases that span the length of the shop and is open from sun up (8am) to sundown (8pm).
How to order: Takeout-only dining. Social distancing and personal protective equipment are in use. Patrons must follow the directives of staff and signage on-site.

Photo Courtesy of Jônt
Photo Courtesy of Jônt
Photo Courtesy of Jônt

Jaunt over to Jônt

14th Street NW
The latest tasting menu to come to DC is an intimate, 12-seat counter from Michelin-star Chef Ryan Ratino, who serves prix-fixe dinners and elegant Sunday lunches. Diners can choose between a three-course menu for $75 or a tasting experience for $145. Meanwhile, the European-style lunch on Sunday goes for $65. Expect surprise boxes filled with decadent amounts of uni, sea urchin roe, or dishes topped with Kaluga caviar-the dining experience is one of the most luxurious trips your tastebuds can take while staying put in The District. Come November, Bartender Will Patton will launch a bar flight menu with his friends from around the industry. The four-course cocktail offering launches on November 2, and first up is a partnership with Tsunetaka Imada from Angel’s Share in New York City.
How to order: Social distancing and personal protective equipment are in use. Reservations required on Tock.Sign up here for our daily DC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Tim Ebner is a food and travel writer based in Washington, D.C. and writes for Eater, Edible, Washington City Paper, and Forbes Travel, among others. He’s from Maryland and has a weakness for Old Bay seasoning. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Washington DC

The Eight Most Exciting Suburbs Outside DC

You could use a little space.

Regine Poirier/Shutterstock
Regine Poirier/Shutterstock
Regine Poirier/Shutterstock

When people say Washington, DC, it’s hard to tell if they’re talking about The District proper, or the sprawling metro area that is sometimes nicknamed the DMV: The District, Maryland, and Virginia. The fact is that DC is made whole by its vibrant suburbs, whether you’re looking for a shopping center dedicated almost entirely to Vietnamese cuisine, a rock climbing wall in-you guessed it-Rockville, or a wetland preserve that’s wide open for hiking and fresh air.

The DC suburbs practically have it all, and you can reach many of these neighborhoods by bike, public transit, or a set of four wheels. Here are eight great suburban destinations that you may find yourself visiting soon. We won’t judge you if you want to stay.

Earth Treks Rockville
Earth Treks Rockville
Earth Treks Rockville

Rockville

Distance from DC: 30 minutes
Many people will inevitably cruise Rockville Pike, aka 355, for all of its big-box delights, since this retail corridor has always been a sprawly place to shop for decades. But more recently, Rockville has become something entirely different. It’s walkable and bikeable, thanks to the Pike & Rose development. And it remains a destination for some of the best Chinese soup dumplings in the DMV at A&J Restaurant and Bob’s Shanghai 66. Rockville is also, fittingly, home to the best rock climbing wall attracting serious spelunkers and climbing newbies alike. And it remains a place for family-run restaurants, many of which are run by immigrants. For a small taste of the magic of this Montgomery County suburb, visit Bombay Bistro for Chef K.N.Vinod and Surfy Rahman’s take on Indian fare from the country’s southern region. Like many of the best eateries in Rockville, this restaurant is tucked away in a shopping strip. When you find it, you’ll be rewarded with mouth-watering dosas, biryani, and vindaloo.

Fresh Baguette
Fresh Baguette
Fresh Baguette

Bethesda

Distance from DC: 20 minutes
Anyone who grew up near Bethesda has probably spent their early teenage years loitering at the Bethesda’s Regal Cinema or by The Barnes & Noble water fountain. Now, both of those legendary spots of yesteryear have been transformed into a suburban-style city with sidewalk cafes, trendy shopping, and an upgraded Capital Crescent Trail-a longtime favorite with joggers and bikers. Bethesda is also home to a world of flavors: Fresh Baguette for Parisian-style pastries, Pesca Deli for Portuguese, Taqueria El Jalapeño for tasty tacos, and Passage to India just to name a few. To reach all of these places, you can hop aboard the Bethesda Circulator, a free shuttle service that picks you up at the Bethesda Metro station and takes you in a loop around town.

Brookside Gardens, Montgomery Parks
Brookside Gardens, Montgomery Parks
Brookside Gardens, Montgomery Parks

Wheaton

Distance from DC: 20 minutes
There is absolutely no beating Wheaton when a food craving hits, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This Maryland suburb, just north of DC on Metro’s red line, has one of the best diners in the region, Nick’s Diner, owned and operated by Nick Markopoulos and his Greek family. For lunch, Wheaton is home to a handful of pupuserias that are indicative of this neighborhood’s Salvadoran community. Pupuseria La Familiar, Los Chorros, and Irene’s Pupusas are three great options. Finally, for dinner, Peruvian chicken at El Pollo Rico or Bolivian fare, and specifically the beef silpancho, at Kantuta’s are hearty and tasty offerings. Finish your day of dining on a high note with a cannoli or rainbow cookie from Filippo’s Deli. After a day of eating, you’ll need to walk off all those carbs. Go for a leisurely stroll around the pond at Wheaton Regional Park’s Brookside Gardens. The park is a five-minute drive north of Wheaton’s retail corridor, and it’s free and open to the public year-round.

Streetcar 82 Brewing Co.
Streetcar 82 Brewing Co.
Streetcar 82 Brewing Co.

Hyattsville

Distance from DC: 20 minutes
A brewery tour is a safe bet when visiting Hyattsville, Maryland-a community with a small-town vibe, located in Prince George’s County, just across The District line. A primary reason why beer nerds flock here is Franklins, a brewpub that last year opened a tiki-themed bar in its parking lot to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are more than a dozen beers on tap, plus Franklins makes its own root beer if you prefer some nonalcoholic suds. That’s in addition to a historic hardware shop that’s been converted into a bottle shop, with a wide collection of craft beer and local wine. Nearby on Route 1, find a local brewery that specializes in outdoor drinking. Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. opened two years ago and is named in homage to the 82 Streetcar line which ran by the brewery’s site from 1888 to 1957. This converted auto garage now serves hop-forward beers and has bike rack parking and picnic tables, perfect for a Sunday Funday. For more craft beers from around the country paired with wood-fired pizza, Pizzeria Paradiso is a top-notch eater across the street, and cap off your crawl by swinging by Maryland Meadworks, which serves a range of meads from sweet to semi-sweet to dry.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary
Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary
Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

Upper Marlboro

Distance from DC: 45 minutes
Fulfill your childhood wonder and delight at the greatest playground in the DMV. Watkins Regional Park is great for kids (or the kid at heart) looking to romp around themed playgrounds. The first is a horse-racing-themed playground, part of Maryland’s legacy as a horse racing capital. Meanwhile, the second option is the stuff of fairy tales-a Wizard of Oz-inspired playground, complete with a yellow brick road, a ruby slippers slide, and an Emerald City climbing wall. Grownups and kids alike will also enjoy the hiking options at nearby Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, an expansive preserve that’s part of the tidal reaches of the Patuxent River. There are more than 1,700 acres of unique freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, creeks, meadows, pines and sand barrens, plus fields and park areas for an afternoon picnic. If you’d rather fuel up than bring-your-own food, Upper Marlboro’s Main Street Coffee & Treats is where the community gathers for coffee, pastries, fresh-pressed juices, and vegan cupcakes at all hours of the day.

Photo Courtesy of Ada's on the River
Photo Courtesy of Ada’s on the River
Photo Courtesy of Ada’s on the River

Old Town Alexandria

Distance from DC: 20 minutes
With waterfront views, historic homes along cobblestone streets, and a trolley that goes up and down King Street for free, it’s hard not to imagine why Old Town Alexandria wouldn’t be on our suburban list. You might come for the charm, but there’s a lot more to this city than just Instagram-worthy streetscapes. The Torpedo Factory is a burgeoning artist enclave for purchasing one-of-a-kind sculptures and artwork. Those who prefer a pleasure cruise down the Potomac can take the Potomac River Water Taxi to or from the city. And outdoor eating by the water offers plenty of space and social distance. The food and outdoor surroundings at Ada’s on the River and King & Rye, two of Alexandria’s latest eatery additions, are great places to book a weekend brunch.

Eden Center
Eden Center
Eden Center

Falls Church

Distance from DC: 30 minutes
Most people know Falls Church as the home of Eden Center-a shopping center with dozens of Vietnamese businesses and restaurants. This might be the biggest draw for Falls Church food lovers. However, there are several more reasons to make this Northern Virginia suburb a part of your food bucket list. Start at Takumi, a popular Japanese sushi spot, serving quality grade sashimi, sake, and sushi tastings. Got a craving for cavatelli? Then book it to Thomspon Italian. Chef Gabe Thompson and Pastry Chef Katherine Thompson are a husband and wife team who make this spot feel more like home. While the dining room remains closed, Thompson is offering several of its top dishes, including housemade pasta and gelatos, for pickup.

Wolf Trap
Wolf Trap
Wolf Trap

Tysons Corner

Distance from DC: 30 minutes
When you visit Tysons Corner, you’re probably here to do one thing-shop until you drop. Tysons is home to two malls, sometimes nicknamed Tysons I (Tysons Corner Center) and Tysons II (Tysons Galleria). The former is pretty typical while the latter leans more upscale. Not surprisingly, Tysons II also has good taste in food. Find the Urbanspace Food Hall, home to Donburi DC and Andy’s Pizza, plus an upscale pastry shop called Lady M. Aside from the shopping and dining, another good reason to visit Tysons this summer might be for a concert. The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts recently announced its outdoor summer concert lineup, which could start as soon as the end of May. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

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Tim Ebner is a contributor for Thrillist. 

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