The 12 Best Georgetown Restaurants And Bars

When you're done wandering along the C&O Canal.
The 12 Best Georgetown Restaurants And Bars image

There's a lot to do in Georgetown. Like have fun with the many people asking you for directions. Liven up your new friend’s trip by sending them to the Exorcist stairs instead of Washington Harbour. And in exchange, we’ll liven up your day with 11 Georgetown restaurants where you don’t have to settle for an iceberg lettuce caesar salad next to someone talking about how amazing the view is from the top of the Washington Monument.

The Spots



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Very few restaurants scream old-school Georgetown, but if there’s one, it’s 1789 Restaurant & Bar. Maybe it’s the short doorways and narrow halls, but this American spot inside a restored Federalist-style building will remind you of a long time ago the moment you step inside. While the space can feel a little tight, the portions here are huge—finishing the juicy, football-sized berkshire pork chop will require a Fred Flintstone appetite. Where 1789 stands out, though, is its world-class service. The staff is constantly anticipating your needs, answering questions you haven’t even asked. The level of attention makes you feel like the only table in the room, even when you’re smooshed between a couple celebrating their anniversary and friends toasting a milestone birthday.

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

$$$$Perfect For:Dining SoloCoffee & A Light BiteDrinks & A Light Bite

Yellow is one of our favorite cafes in the city. The Palestinian coffee shop is an incredibly charming place where pops of saffron yellow (obvi) splash across the wall and line the windows looking out on the bustling crowds on Wisconsin Ave. The pastries, like their orange blossom croissant or date and labne coffee cake, can make any day better. Pair either with the coconut cardamom iced coffee for the ultimate daytime snack.

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo



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Craving a juicy patty to sink your teeth into? Thunder Burger is your spot. During the day, you’ll find families lining the pink zebra-skin booths to grab a bite after a day of walking the C&O Canal. But the afterwork (and after-school) crowd takes over later in the day—mostly grabbing a drink or two at the sparkly bar. While this burger joint serves up bison, black bean, chicken, impossible, and pork burger, the beef is the best. Get the Love Me Tender, a kobe burger that drips down your arm every time you take a bite.

There aren’t a lot of spots to get fresh, fast food in this part of town, but Georgetown Seafood serves delicious fish and shrimp that you can get on the run. The converted rowhouse has a couple of tiny dining rooms decorated with fake pelicans and buoys, plus a small umbrella-covered patio outside. The menu is great for families with picky kids—and you’ll see a lot of them here—since everything is straightforward, like the Maine lobster roll made with butter and lemon juice (no mayo), and fried, like the sweet, crunchy shrimp served piping hot (seriously, blow and chew slowly).

Eating at Filomena is one of the most old-school Italian dining experiences you can have in the city. The dining room is dark, loud, and complete with an area where you can watch Pasta Mamma (that’s her nickname) stuffing huge ravioli in the window—which you should definitely order. The waiters in tuxedos and the knit placemats help create a mix of upscale and homey, making it great for birthdays, date nights, or simple family dinners.

Martin's Tavern claims that JFK proposed to Jackie O. at one of its booths, which we don’t recommend doing. Especially since you’re not JFK. But you could come here for something more casual. The space looks like it hasn’t been updated in a few decades, and that’s part of its appeal. There’s a dark wooden bar, stained glass light fixtures, and pictures and paintings of DC back in the day. The menu is a mix of American and pub food (expect things like potato skins and fish and chips), and while it isn’t life-changing, you’ll probably get a history lesson while you eat it.

Not to sound like a disappointed mom who just found out her teenager drinks a case of Natty Light every weekend instead of playing mini-golf, but we feel like the Washington Harbour hasn’t really reached its full potential. The view is great, but the restaurants are generally overpriced, too crowded, and not worth the hassle. Fiola Mare is the exception. It’s expensive ($75 for two pieces of ravioli is a lot), but worth it for a special occasion. Use it as an excuse to get dressed up—they have a formal dress code—and enjoy the patio on a nice day.

Thomas Sweet is an old-timey ice cream shop with a hand-drawn chalkboard menu, fudge counter, and creamy homemade ice cream you don't want to miss. The space is pretty small, so there’s sometimes a line out the door, but you can kill the time by deciding what you want from the slightly overwhelming menu. Mix and match flavors like rum raisin and coffee oreo, but don’t stress too much over what you'll get—everything here is good.

Georgetown's late night scene is pretty pitiful these days. Thankfully, there’s Donahue. The lounge, which is open until 1am during the week and 2am on the weekends, feels like a place where you’ll meet a mysterious stranger who is an international spy (we did not). The crowd is looking for something more laidback than Martin’s Tavern—the other major late night player—so the jazz music is the loudest thing happening. Huddle with your friends at the bar while trying inventive cocktails like the Bay of Bengal, served in a flowered tea cup, or the Sakura, which tastes like a vesper martini served in a sake glass.

Stachowski’s is your best bet for a meal on the go in this neighborhood. This corner market/butcher shop serves huge, meat-heavy sandwiches, as well as dinner specials like roast chicken and pork schnitzel. Our go-to order is the 4 Meat Grinder—essentially the stretch Hummer limo of Italian subs (obnoxiously huge, but when you want it, there’s no substitute).

The city’s only fine-dining Ethiopian restaurant serves the best beef tibs you’ll find in DC alongside some spectacular people-watching—both in the dining room and along M St. What’s fun about Das is that it combines the family nature of Ethiopian cuisine with crystal wine glasses and white linen tablecloths. So you’ll see people dripping fresh, colorful shiro wat, lentils, and cabbage onto sequined dresses and designer shirts, maybe while trying to impress their partner’s parents. Thankfully, the food is so good that no one worries if things get a little messy.

You’ll see famous people at lots of Georgetown restaurants, but Bourbon Steak is the place you go to see presidential hopefuls come out of closed-door power lunches. The steakhouse’s dining room is mostly business folks and hotel guests (it’s inside the Four Seasons). But we love it for dinner with parents because there’s enough happening that you can divert the conversation from the fact that they only have fur grandbabies. And the food is just good enough that they’ll be on the fence about whether or not it’s a disappointment—much like your life. But hey, at least you’ll have free fries and a juicy ribeye for dinner.

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