With your work event tomorrow, your brother visiting this weekend, and that super moving memoir you promised you’d really read for book club this time, you don’t have time to check out every new restaurant in DC. That’s ok - not all of them deserve your attention. That’s why we have the Hit List. It’s our regularly-updated guide to all the new spots that are actually worth your time.
And you can be assured it’s a reliable resource, because we’ve actually eaten at all these spots and like how the food tastes . Nothing is on this list just because Veep filmed there once. (But if you do know where Julia Louis-Dreyfus eats, hit us up.)
Mola is a low-key neighborhood restaurant where you’ll feel like you’re eating at a friend’s place, which actually makes sense since it’s located in a refurbished townhouse. This Spanish spot in Mount Pleasant only seats 45 at a time, with space for 10 at the bar. It’s perfect for a date, or any other type of in-depth conversation over tapas. The menu is broken into four sections - snacks, vegetables, seafood, and meat - and while most of the plates are small to medium sized, they do serve a few larger dishes that you can share, like the honey BBQ quail and the roast pork shoulder with paella. Also, make sure to get the fried goat cheese with honey, which tastes exactly as good as it sounds.
Choosing a brunch spot sometimes feels like answering an SAT question. One of your friends doesn’t like breakfast food, another is hungover and running late, and the third just wants a salad after spin class. How many texts do they collectively need to send before they can agree on something? Rather than overthinking it, just tell everyone to meet you at Unconventional Diner. This all-day spot in Shaw serves upscale versions of diner classics, like waffles and breakfast sandwiches, along with things like kale nachos and a roasted cauliflower salad for your friends who aren’t on the pro-breakfast train. Breakfast and brunch are served until 3pm during the week and 2:30pm on the weekend, and there’s even steak and eggs on the dinner menu for when you still want breakfast at the end of the day.
Fancy Radish is a new vegan restaurant on H Street. Some vegan places rely too heavily on meat substitutes, but here it’s all vegetables, all the time. Everything on the menu is $12-$20, and you’ll actually be full when you leave. The menu rotates based on what’s in season, but the fancy radishes, dan dan noodles, and rutabaga fondue are three dishes you should hope are available when you go. They also serve interesting cocktails (made with things like olive oil, yuzu, and kombucha) that almost taste healthy, and pair well with all of the vegetables you’ll be eating.
This new fast-casual spot by Eastern Market serves a mix of Chinese and Korean food, ranging from kimchi stew and wok-blistered broccoli to more shareable dishes like curry lamb. The menu includes a mix of snacks and pickles, as well as larger meat, rice, and noodle dishes, with everything between $8 and $18. While Chiko’s a great place to stop in for something to go, the main reason to come here is for the $50 counter tasting, which is reservation-only and includes a sampling of most of the menu.
The next time you get promoted or have a big date - or you and your friends randomly want to eat someplace that looks nice in photos - check out Chloe in the Navy Yard. While the restaurant itself is very sleek and elegant, all but three dishes on the menu are $20 or less, so it’s possible to have a fancy meal here that’s not outrageously expensive. Their small plates are great, but make sure to get multiples of each so that you’ll have more than a bite. We really like the crispy fingerling potatoes and the glazed butternut squash salad, along with the spice roasted chicken, but it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu.
Lucky Buns, in Adams Morgan, is a restaurant the neighborhood definitely needed - and not just because it provides a good drinking-food alternative to Jumbo Slice. It’s one of those really versatile places where you can have a casual date, go with a group of friends, or grab a solo burger at the bar and never think twice about it. Food-wise, Lucky Buns serves 12 different burgers and chicken sandwiches that are topped with things like green chili relish, bacon XO jam, and soy pickled cucumbers. While you’re deciding which one to get, order some thick-cut fries for the table, and a beer for yourself. This place fills up fast, especially on the weekends, so get here early if you can.
From the outside, Chicken + Whiskey just looks like a casual Peruvian chicken spot that serves half and whole birds, sandwiches, and sides like yucca fries and plantains. If you walk through the freezer door in the back, however, you’ll find a secret vinyl bar with almost 100 varieties of whiskey to choose from, along with a few beers in case whiskey isn’t your thing. It’s a great place to grab a late-night second dinner, or a quick bite before going out on 14th Street.
Hot dogs and soft pretzels are great, but the next time you’re going to Nats Park, stop by Rasa in the Navy Yard beforehand for dinner instead. This new Indian fast-casual spot makes everything, from the samosas to the chutneys, in-house - and the space itself is way nicer than most places following the build-your-own-bowl model, with swinging chairs and wooden light fixtures you’ll want in your apartment. Nothing on the menu is more than $13, and if you don’t know where to start, the Home Cooking bowl with turmeric ginger shrimp and the Tikka Chance on Me are two options that will keep you full for the next nine innings.
If you’re looking for a good group spot to grab dinner near Adams Morgan, check out Mayahuel Cocina Mexicana in Woodley Park. This Day of the Dead-themed restaurant is run by the same team as District Kitchen next door, and serves pitchers of margaritas and larger format Mexican dishes, like a whole branzino with green and red chile adobo and braised short ribs with huitlacoche salsa. If you’re stuck at the far end of the table and need to eat something else before you commit to a second round of margaritas, order some of the beef tongue tacos, too.
The name of this new Georgian restaurant refers to “a Georgian feast featuring an abundance of food, wine, and toasts.” While the last item on that list depends on who you eat here with, we can guarantee there will be a lot of the first two regardless. Supra serves classic Georgian food, like khachapuri (the traditional cheese-filled bread topped with an egg), warm and cold salads, and kebabs. It’s a place you’ll want to visit with a group so that you can try a lot of the menu, but make sure to get the chanakhi (braised lamb), the khinkali (Georgian soup dumplings), and, of course, some Georgian wine.