The Best Dupont Circle Restaurants
All the places you should be eating at in Dupont.
Whether it’s the Sunday farmers’ market, the annual 17th Street high heel drag race, or paying respects to the namesake admiral who won us San Diego (who knew?), there are already plenty of reasons to visit Dupont. Still, we’ve compiled a few more.
photo credit: Travis Vaughn
Mari Vanna looks like it could have been decorated in a joint effort by a member of the Romanoff family and someone’s grandmother. There are live tableside folksy accordion performances, as well as infused vodka shots in flavors ranging from blackberry to horseradish. The food is authentic (try the pelmeni, olivier salad, and beef stroganoff — skip the “herring under a fur coat” salad unless you’re actually dining with your babushka), and it’s a great venue to have a good time with someone you’re already pretty comfortable with. After dinner, there’s karaoke on the second floor.
photo credit: Chris Prosser
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
Literature, political scandal, and brunch — this neighborhood establishment scores the DC trifecta. The bookstore that successfully refused to turn over Monica Lewinsky’s purchase records actually serves a pretty solid omelette and there are cocktails like the Bridget Jones’s Daiquiri and the Drankenstein, if you get excited about book jokes. There are definitely better brunches around, but only this one brings you one square closer to filling out your Obligatory DC Monuments bingo card.
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Serving up a preset northern Thai dinner that changes weekly, Little Serow is one of our favorite restaurants in the entire city. The family-style dishes tend to pack a lot of heat and are served in a dimly-lit, cozy dining room. If you’re trying to get in during the week, now might be a great time to reconnect with that friend who just wrapped up a local campaign in Florida, your undergrad sorority sister in town for grad school, or anyone else with a schedule flexible enough to get in line at 5pm and put a name down when doors open at 5:30pm. Tables are capped at four people, so choose wisely.
Duke’s “proper burger” is the stuff of DC legend. And while some legends are overhyped, some are hyped just right. Luckily, Duke’s burger is the Goldilocks of hype. The little rowhouse has beer garden seating outside, a few tables at the bar downstairs, and a small dining room up top. The rest of the menu is exactly what you’d expect from an upscale pub (buzzwords include truffle oil, runny egg, and garlic aioli), and has lots of cocktail and liquor options. No reservations, so come early or prepare yourself for a long wait.
Dedicated to stocking goods from small, local producers, the Dupont outpost of this grocery also serves great made-to-order pizzas, sandwiches, and brunch on weekends. If you’re on the prowl for a lazy weeknight or weekend activity with friends, head here. Order at the respective counters and then head to the communal tables inside and outside, but don’t sit too close to anyone who just came from the nearby Flywheel.
Surfside Taco Stand
This 24-hour, credit-card-only, hole-in-the-wall makes tacos, burritos, and quesadillas with a ridiculous number of fillings. The extensive menu can be overwhelming, but drunk you will be happy to hear there’s a scaled down version from 11pm to 11am, where you can only choose from 14 options instead of the usual 22. If you just blew all your money betting on the Wizards, the quesadillas definitely offer the best bang for your now-limited buck.
If you like being the youngest person in the room by 20 years, you won’t want to miss the live jazz at Tabard Inn on most evenings. Dinner changes seasonally, but you can always count on a bunch of hearty American entrees. The Inn is also known for its brunch, particularly the cinnamon and sugar doughnuts. Wanna feel fancy, kill time before a reservation? Drop in for mulled wine in the living room by the bar.
Known for its fancy dinners, the Iron Gate is easy to hack if you’re truly determined. Ditch the prix-fixe menu in the separate dining room ($90) and take advantage of the fire-pitted outdoor patio or bar area. Both are really nice settings for a second date, especially if you’re still doing the whole “just drinks and appetizers” thing because you’re not ready to shell out all of your hard-earned dollars on internet strangers.
This minimalist coffee shop moonlights as a low-key bar. Rarely crowded, it’s a perfect spot to grab a light, avocado-toast-type meal, catch up with a friend, or get work done while soaking in the bounty of natural sunlight and WiFi.
Borrowing atmosphere from the adjoining Carlyle Hotel, this is a safe, classy spot to bring the grown adults in your life. The crowd skews older and, perhaps in anticipation of their timeworn, fixed tastes, the menu offers classics sure to offend no one — not even Vicky, your grandfather’s new bride, who can have a good Caesar and some seared scallops.
For what this bagel shop lacks in seating, it certainly makes up for in selection. The sheer number of bagel options, cream cheese spreads, and all-day breakfast sandwiches is enough to make you thankful for the line you’re definitely standing in. This is the perfect spot to bring the New Yorker in your life, if only to shut her smug mouth with a heaping of lox.
Hank's Oyster Bar
Hank’s is a casual, reliable seafood spot with prices that won’t cut into your monthly donations to Bei Bei and Bao Bao at the National Zoo. For the inevitable landlubber in your crew, the menu also includes burgers and other fishless options.
Despite its exclusive omakase experience (serving only six people per night) and four dining room tasting menus, this spot is thankfully not too cool to accept online reservations or offer dishes a la carte - it’s actually possible to have an affordable meal here. This reasonableness extends to happy hour (Monday–Friday, 5:30–7pm), when they serve half-priced sushi and drinks at the bar. That said, the bar only seats 11, so grab a pair of Dr. Scholl’s inserts from the downstairs CVS and line up early.
This truly huge Mexican restaurant serves up pitchers of (swirled) frozen margaritas perfect for your rowdy group celebrating a birthday or pre-gaming a night in AdMo. The big portions make it easy to responsibly line your stomach with food, but Lauriol is not the place to get experimental with your order. Beef tacos? Sure. Seafood enchilada? Respect yourself.
photo credit: Scott Suchman
Sure, getting promoted is great, but getting to celebrate at Komi is possibly greater. It’s one of our favorite fine-dining spots in DC, and the $150 prix-fixe menu comes with a dozen Mediterranean-inspired dishes that are worth the splurge. Come here to celebrate special occasions with a close group of friends (reservations are capped at four): a milestone birthday, retirement, proposal, or maybe the adaptation of your neighborhood food guide into a Hollywood blockbuster script.