By Jessica Fishman
D.C. has an incredible food scene but if you’re planning on staying in Penn Quarter or Capitol Hill, you might miss out on some of the best dining in the city. Throughout my two-week stay in DC, I explored the many neighborhoods and even some of the suburbs on a search for the best of DC’s dining scene. What I discovered: there’s so much amazing food in this capital city, especially if you like to push your boundaries and try something new.
Here are some of the highlights:
I discovered this place after waiting in line for over an hour for the famous Rose’s Luxury, only to be turned away at the door. But wow am I glad I was turned away, because Ambar was one of the best restaurants I tried on my DC trip.
A modern and stylish ambiance combines with Balkan (specifically Serbian) cuisine and culture to offer a delicious array of small plates, grilled meats, fresh seafood, interesting cocktails, and warm Balkan hospitality. Try “The Balkan Experience” and get unlimited small plates and drinks for $50.
Authentic Lao Cuisine is not only incredibly flavorful and original, but it’s also some of the spiciest food I’ve ever tried (when they say extremely spicy, they’re not kidding around). Order your own meal or eat family style to enjoy a variety of dishes such as steamed fish in banana leaves, spicy papaya salad, or minced duck laab. They also have a separate menu called the “Jungle Menu” which has a whole section dedicated to invasive species.
It’s easy to find decent Thai food in the United States, but it’s a bit trickier to find truly exceptional Thai cuisine – look no further and go to Thai X-ing. This BYOB Thai restaurant serves up a prix fixed Thai feast with house specialties like massaman chicken and pumpkin curry that are absolutely to divine!
Located in an unassuming yet up and coming neighborhood by the Naval Yard, Osteria Morini offers authentic Italian cuisine from the Emilia Romagna region. Expect to find handmade pasta, flavorful cheeses, gooey burrata, perfectly cut charcuterie, and of course – wine aplenty.
Venture into the multicultural Columbia Heights neighborhood and find your way to this little hole-in-the-wall pupuseria serving up delicious and inexpensive El Salvadorian cuisine. Handmade pupusas filled with cheese and meat are served with a side of slaw and a little bit of heaven.
Head over to Union Market in NOMA where you’ll find a large warehouse filled with counter eateries and shops with everything from craft coffee and bagels to oysters and Korean fusion cuisine. If you like smoked salmon, don’t miss Neopol Smokery!
About the Author: Jessica’s extensive travels have taken her all over the world, providing new experiences and perspectives at every turn. From backpacking through the mountains of Patagonia to road tripping across the United States, and from dining at sidewalk cafes in Paris to eating street döner in Istanbul, Jessica’s appetite for travel—and delicious food—is never-ending. Drawing from her travels and from the experiences and recommendations of locals from around the world, Jessica and her team never hesitate to dig deeper to bring the most authentic activities and restaurants to the Utrip community.