9 Restaurants I Always Take Friends When They Visit DC

I travel different places a lot, but I also love sharing about my own city – DC!

Living in DC means living somewhere that people like to come visit which is great for me because I love hosting and love my people. DC is a huge foody city and there are so many different places that I could suggest. The restaurants in DC are excellent and I could make a list of at least 100. There are all different kinds of cuisine and all different kinds of places to go. My list includes some of those, but it also includes places that show off how unique DC is and that have some fun involved too. When someone visits DC I can’t help but show off what makes it special! This is a list of places I like to take friends when they visit DC.

I am a budget traveler and a budget eater. There are many great places in DC that are not on my list because they can easily send you over $20 a person on a meal. I have included one pricier place because it is a favorite, but for the most part, these are restaurants I can afford to go to on occasion. All prices are before alcoholic drinks.

Union Market

This isn’t really one restaurant as much as it is a collection of awesome restaurant concepts, popups, and food trucks that are famous around DC. There is one main restaurant Bidwell that has nice food, but there are so many different places to get awesome food. A few of my favorites are: Takorean, Arepazone, Mason Dixie Biscuits, and Saison Waffle Bar. There are so many other delicious things to try there too though. Walk around with your food and try something from every little stop. Outside you’ll find graffiti on the walls which is a great spot for a pic! Check their website for more info! They have more limited hours of 8 am – 8pm on weekends and 11 am – 8 pm on week days.

$6 – $15

 

Maketto

 

Maketto was founded in 2015 by the same chef who had the concept for Toki Underground (a very delicious Ramen place you should also visit on H Street). He now focuses on Maketto and its interesting concept. It is a store in the front (men’s fashion mostly), coffee shop by day, and Cambodian/Tawainese restaurant by night. All dishes are served family style making it fun to try many different dishes while there. Located in the hip neighborhood H Street Corridor, you definitely don’t want to miss it! Make a reservation ahead of time for a spot.

$15 – $35

Bus Boys and Poets

Bus Boys and Poets is not only a great restaurant, but also a community gathering place and book store. It was established in DC in 2005 and regularly has poetry nights, community meetings, and its owner regularly works in underserved communities. Its unique concept and great food make it a perfect chill spot! They have a bunch of locations around DC so it is an easy place to get to no matter what part of DC you are staying in. No reservations typically needed, but if you are on a time crunch, I do suggest it!

$10 – $30

Ted’s Bulletin

Ted’s Bulletin is a fun restaurant with an upscale diner feel. They are most famously known for their in house made pop-tarts in delicious seasonal flavors and their alcoholic milkshakes. Go on a Saturday or Sunday around brunch (although their menu is always the same) then walk over to Eastern Market! Perfect DC Saturday!

$15 – $30

Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers

Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers is owned by the same people as Founding Farmers and Farmers and Distillers. They are a staple in DC and while they get mixed reviews, I still recommend it and think they have excellent food. The signature drinks are awesome and the ceviche is delicious. Right in the heart of Georgetown where you can ice skate in winter and enjoy fountains and sunsets in the summer. Reservations should be made in advance unless you want bar seating or a shared table.

$20 – $30

Ben’s Chili Bowl

This is a historic DC staple. They now have two locations and a new concept called Ben’s Upstairs located on H Street and U Street (U Street is the original). Their chili is obviously what they are known for since 1958. They’ve been in DC through the turmoil of race riots, all the way through to today. It’s a super casual and cheap place. Walk in and get in line! Seating is limited.

$5 – $10

Dukem

When in DC, you definitely have to get Ethiopian. One of the best is Dukem located in the U Street neighborhood. The food is good and you get an authentic experience. The best deal is to get a platter that has many different dishes on it to share as a table. Lots of food and pretty cheap! They are also known for their entertainment later at night.

$10 – $20

Daikaya

DC has lots of awesome ramen places. The reason this one is on my list is because there are so many ramen places and many of them do it so well, but Daikaya is my favorite. There are two different spots – the ramen shop and the restaurant upstairs. I recommend the ramen shop. It’s right in Chinatown and usually there’s a long wait. Plan on getting there early if you want ramen.

$10 – $15


Le Diplomat

My last suggestion is a classic here in DC. This French restaurant does an incredible brunch and their dinner is just as good. They have a wide selection of cheeses and every sauce in a dish I have eaten there is just awesome. You should head up to 14th street and eat some of their Crème Brule. Reservations should be made in advance.

$31 – $60

 

Have you  been to DC? What is your favorite restaurant here? Tell me yours in the comments below!

For more on things to do in DC and the DC life check out my friend Carrie’s website. Full of tips and things to do in DC! DC Life & Style

  • I love the picture with the heart wall! This makes me want to plan a trip to DC 🙂

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Thank you! Union Market is one of my favorite places in DC – it’s definitely a local spot and tons of fun. Hope you can come back to DC!

  • Such a great list. I usually take people to the same restaurants all the time when they visit my city. There are a bunch of new ones out there so your list is a reminder that I need to refresh my list and add some of the recently opened ones. That means I’ll have to go out and test them. Thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely bookmark for a visit to DC.

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Thank you! There are so many good places in DC it was hard to pick just a few for my list. I agree – places are always popping up.

  • The restaurant I’d like taking to is Ted’s Bulletin. The pop tart concept is interesting, I think breakfast here sounds the most suitable! I’d love to try out Union Square too!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Yes – they have a great breakfast there. Their fried chicken is also awesome though so still worth a day time visit. Union Market is my favorite though!

  • Esther Oganyan

    Visiting DC to attend the inauguration. Thanks for the tips I’ll check out a few of these spots this week!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Your welcome! Enjoy your time in DC!

  • Local restaurant tips are the best travel tips, thanks so much for sharing these!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Your welcome! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Love love love those “pop tarts” from Ted’s Bulletin! Perfect timing for this article since I’m heading back to DC soon for a long weekend. Definitely checking out that heart wall while I’m there too haha!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      They taste so good too! Yay! So glad I could be of help. Have fun on your upcoming trip!

  • Hmm something to keep in mind next time I’m in DC. I became such a foodie since I’ve been travelling solo. 🙂

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Yes! As I get older I become more and more of a foodie as well! Thanks for reading!

  • What an interesting selection, each place seems so unique and fun. The picture with the hearts behind you and on your face is just great, a magazine fit for sure.

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Thank you! I am in love with that wall too – it’s right outside and I am always tempted to stop and take pictures. Haha

  • I could quite happily eat my way around every single one of those places – I love the food when I am in the States. My waistline not so much! I have been to Washington DC though the only food we had was in a fast food place in the Smithsonian. Unfortunately!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      I know what you mean! So many fatty foods here… but they are delicious! Definitely eat beyond the Smithsonians – DC is definitely a foodie city!

  • I loved this! I’ve been to DC so many times, but… my friends haven’t taken me to any of these places. I’ve heard of Ben’s Chili bowl, so I’ll need to visit on my next trip. Amazing recs. 🙂

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Thanks Karen! There are so many good places in DC. Hopefully you make it to Ben’s Chili Bowl next time you are here.

  • Yum, you make me wanna visit DC. Especially Ted’s Bulletin and the pop tarts! Oh how I wanna try them just now! On my list 😉

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Yes! They are so good! Definitely give them a try – they’re worth it!

  • Great list! We didn’t go to any of the restaurants here when we visited, if only I had this post in hand when were there.

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Hopefully you can make it again and try some new places. Thanks for reading my post! 🙂

  • All the recommendations look so good. Yum..yum… I especially love Chili!

  • I live in DC and this is a nice read! I might try some of the recommendations you have. DC does have great array of ethnic dishes. I just came back form Charleston SC and realized that the hard way when I went to a very Americanized Asian restaurant! Love Toki, Busboysand Dukem!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Yes! We are totally spoiled in DC with awesome ethnic food. You should definitely go to Maketto if you like Toki. Happy to hear from a fellow DCer! 🙂

  • ooooh I love food, if I am ever in the area I will totally save your post for future reference!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Thanks Nicole! Totally agreed – food is awesome.

  • Adriana

    So this post will be useful when I go to DC in March. Thanks for sharing the budget friendly version of eating in DC!

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      So glad this was useful! Thanks for reading and thanks for marching!

  • Looks good! Hope we can visit DC to try those 🙂

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Thank you! Hope you get to visit DC and try some of these places!

  • I need a snap near the heart wall. Looks like a prefect IG spot.

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      It is! definitely a good spot for a pic and there’s awesome food close by!

  • This is awesome! I’m a budget traveler and a food lover. Those two don’t always go well together. Thanks for the tips.

    • meghanramsey1@gmail.com

      Thank you Romy! I agree food can get so expensive – glad it was helpful!

  • Ted’s bulletin seems like a shout… don’t think I’ve had pop tarts before. How’d you think they’ll fare to European tarts?