Welcome to The Infatuation’s DC “Greatest Hits” List.
Obviously you’re familiar with the concept of a “greatest hits” album, but let’s be clear that what you see before you is not meant to be the Now 24 of restaurants. This list is a short and carefully selected collection of the places in Washington that you should hit first if you’re new to town - restaurants that are essential to DC dining.
Just like you wouldn’t introduce someone to The Eagles without starting with “Hotel California,” or to The Steve Miller band by playing them that one song they didn’t put on a greatest hits album, we wouldn’t send someone unfamiliar to some new DC hot spot without sending them to one of these restaurants first. You shouldn’t either.
If you are looking for what’s new, check out our Hit List, a guide to the new, recently-opened restaurants worth your time.
An incredible, unique, inventive, tiny restaurant cooking with Filipino flavors. Bad Saint will blow your mind, every time. Just be prepared to wait for your reward - lines start forming well before the doors open at 5:30.
Jose Andres’ first, and in our opinion, best place in town. Traditional Spanish tapas in a cool, open spot in the middle of Penn Quarter. Come here with a group, come hungry, and come with a reservation so you can sample something from every section of the menu.
Bar Pilar was on 14th St. before 14th St. was a thing, and we’re willing to bet it will still be there in 10 years whether or not 14th St. is still a thing. That’s because it’s great for nearly any occasion you’re looking for, from date night on a weekend, brunch with friends, or a casual weeknight dinner. And with a constantly changing menu of good old fashioned American food with an emphasis on fresh and local, we’ll never get tired of stopping in, whenever that may be.
A super-hot spot that’s somehow stayed hot on uber-hot 14th St. Got that? Good. If you didn’t follow, all you have to know is that this is the spot to hit if you want to either see, be seen, or just eat some damn good French food.
One of our all time favorites, Little Serow is one of the best meals in DC, and one of the best deals in DC at $49 for a tasting menu that spans several delicious, extremely spicy courses. Those who are faint of tongue need not apply.
Yes, steakhouses are a DC thing. No, they don’t have to break the bank. That’s where Ray’s comes in. You won’t find a better bang for your buck when you’re looking to consume half a cow, but it has the standard steakhouse vibes. Not stuffy, and you’ll still want to stuff yourself. Works for us.
Mediterranean small plates edition. The fanciest of his spots, you’ll be right at home wearing your monkey suit from work, but you won’t feel out of place in jeans either. Regardless of what you’re wearing, make sure to order the brussels sprouts. They were doing them here before they were a “capital-T” “Thing,” and are some of the best we’ve ever had.
The list wouldn’t be complete without a Mexican outpost. Tacos are a thing in DC, and there isn’t a more fun place to eat them and throw back a few (salt air) margaritas in town. Plus, you’ll find any other type of Mexican food you can think of here.
You know it. Obama knows it. Rose’s Luxury is a DC classic. It’s another one that you’ll have to wait outside for, and it’s not uncommon for there to be well over 100 people waiting by the time the doors open on a Friday or Saturday.
Our favorite for ramen in the district. Hit up Toki for their excellent classic tonkotsu and kimchi ramen, and hit some dumplings hard while you’re at it. Just know that you aren’t the only one with this idea - Toki Underground is small and often crowded.