A constellation of sandwich shops, food trucks, and long lunch lines, Foggy Bottom has fast-casual down to a science. But if you’re looking for anything else, the neighborhood can definitely feel like a food desert. Rather than moseying around for forty years, let this guide serve as a map - and if you’re still thirsty, hit up one of the many happy hours.
There are a bunch of interchangeable neighborhood sandwich spots in Foggy Bottom, and everyone has their personal favorite. But only at GW Deli do you get an actual stack of bacon in your bacon egg and cheese. This is one of those places where you’ll spend all your time in line deciding you want one thing, only to get to the front and find yourself impulsively blurting out something else. But don’t panic while you wait - you’ll be happy with whatever you end up with. We like it best for breakfast (see above about the BEC), but it works for lunch too.
Go to Sweetgreen to feel better about your weekend food and alcohol binge. If you’re coming at peak times, definitely order ahead using their app. It’ll save you both time and the embarrassment of uttering, “The Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe, please” - but your dressing will come on the side.
This DC oldie is a neighborhood newbie, with a location inside the chic new Hotel Hive. Pick your sauce, cheese, and toppings to assemble your own thin-crust pizza, and then watch it go through the conveyor belt oven. If you’re there for dinner, hit up the patio or adjoining &bar for a cocktail made with liquors from local distilleries.
Get the pho. “What, pho? At this random, after-work-happy-hour type of place?” you say indignantly, opening your Twitter app to flame the author. Hit save on that draft, though, because Froggy serves up some very good pho. Grab a booth, decide on the meat you’d like in your noodle soup, and find something else mildly-entertaining to do on Twitter.
Fun fact: Beefsteak’s trademark was initially rejected by the USPTO because the meaty name was deemed “deceptively misdescriptive” for a place that serves a beet burger. Beefsteak seems to have come out on top, because it kept the name, and expanded to several more locations, all of which have big bowls of grains and steamed veggies. If you are craving something besides plants (or if you’re an indignant trademark attorney), Beefsteak does have chicken sausage, eggs, and salmon.
This place started as a food truck but now also operates from the 2000 Penn complex. If tracking the truck down on Food Truck Fiesta is more stress than you can handle, just come up with daily excuses to go to the UPS store right by their permanent storefront (“Karen! I can totally drop that package off for you!”). Once you’re there, choose from eight kinds of cookies, three flavors of ice cream, and milkshakes, little milk bottles, and giant cookie cakes (if you give them a few hours’ heads up). And if you ask nicely, they’ll even crush a cookie into your milkshake.
File District Commons under: Top Foggy Spots to Bring the Parents. It’s a huge restaurant serving classic American food, and it has much fewer tourists than Founding Farmers, which it’s usually grouped with. It’s not a mind-blowing experience, but it’s safe, especially if your mom “loooooves” oysters and “absolutely has to” try crab cakes while she’s visiting you “in the South.” Grab a boozy milkshake for your walk back to their hotel from District Commons’ next door little sister, Burger, Tap, & Shake (BTS).
In the battle for Foggy Bottom’s best burger, BBP’s juicy patties absolutely crush Burger, Tap, & Shake’s bland fingernail crust. Go on a weeknight when you don’t feel like cooking, choose from one of the many styles (we vouch for the LA burger’s avocado relish and the brunch burger’s fried egg), and make sure to get it “crunchified” with potato chips, for free. If you typically order your burgers medium rare, you might want to opt for medium as the burgers tend to be more underdone. Once you’re seated, don’t let the wheel of sauces intimidate you: you will try them all; you will only like the ketchup.
Tonic is a Foggy Bottom staple that’s famous for its “totchos” - a plate of nachos with all the fixings but with tater tots subbed in. We don’t recommend those (two good things don’t always equal something great), but the rest of the bar food is alright, and the turn-of-the-century-pharmacy decor makes happy hour interesting. When it’s nice out, have your $4 beer on the back patio (or even when it’s not nice - it stays open even in the winter thanks to some heavy-duty heat lamps).
A sports bar known for its grilled cheese sandwiches and outdoor seating, Stoney’s does a food and drink happy hour from 5-7pm and then again from 11pm until close. We like the honey sriracha lime chicken wings (10 for $10 during said happy hour), and if the Caps game goes into overtime but you’ve exceeded your drink limit, end the night with a Captain Crunch milkshake. Don’t be scared off if this sounds like the perfect student hangout. It’s mostly a post-grad crowd.
Jetties is only open from 11am to 3pm, but it still deserves a plaque for the service it’s done for lunch in Foggy. You’ll find both the GW and lobbyist crowd here during the week for excellent sandwiches, salads, soups. There are a few tables to eat at here, but we suggest taking your sandwich to-go (preferably to a nearby bench, not your fluorescent cubicle). We love them most for the Nobadeer, their year-round Thanksgiving sandwich featuring roast turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on sourdough.
The gourmet hot dog your co-worker tried once and showed you 100 pictures of is actually pretty good. And it stops by GW’s campus (aka the street) at least once a week. Choose between classics like the Jersey Dawg (sauerkraut, sweet onion, and spicy brown mustard) or out-of-the-box options like their famous Leonardo Dog Vinci (pesto, fresh mozzarella slices, grape tomatoes, and balsamic glaze). You can grab one of these photogenic hot dogs with a side (do the honey-glazed crispy brussel sprouts) and a drink for about $15.
If you want to get technical, Rasika West End is a little beyond the Foggy Bottom border. But if anyone you’re with complains about the two-block walk, they’ll promptly go silent after their first bite of the spinach chaat. This is some of the best upscale Indian food in the city, and for a special occasion or client dinner in the general area, it’s your best option. Compared to the original Penn Quarter location, West End has a much more sleek and modern design. The menu is a little different too, but you’ll still find the classics like black cod and chicken tikka masala. It’s not an every night kind of restaurant, but if you’re looking to impress, this is the move.