Downtown, Washington Restaurants

Part of our Washington restaurant guide; our list of the best places to eat in Downtown. Our top picks: Matchbox Chinatown, Poste and Jaleo.
  • The best restaurant in Downtown Washington: Matchbox Chinatown

    Matchbox Chinatown

    713 H St NW
    M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F 11AM-11:30PM, Sa 10AM-11:30PM, Su 10AM-10:30PM; closing times listed indicate time of last seating. $10-30. Matchbox looks like a tourist trap. It's in the right neighborhood, has gimmicky (if really cool) decor with an insane variety and quantity of matchboxes decorating the tables, and is enormous but still packed with people all times of the day. But some of the food here is actually really good: charcoaled sliders and wood-fired NYC-style pizza. (The rest of the menu, however, would befit a bonafide tourist trap.) It's also a good place to go for a drink, especially when the weather is warm and they open up their outdoor seating.
    Downtown
  • Poste

    Poste

    555 8th St NW
    Breakfast: M-F 7AM-10AM; brunch: Sa-Su 8AM-3PM; lunch: M-F 11:30AM-3:30PM; dinner: M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM, Su 5PM-9PM. $30-70. The standard menu, while top-notch contemporary American, may not leave a truly lasting impression as would some of the more unique restaurants in this area, but the setting is gorgeous. Set in the historic 1842 neo-classical General Post Office building, modeled after the Roman Temple of Jupiter, Poste has arguably the flashiest and prettiest dining room in the city. The courtyard occupying the center of the block is a favorite Washingtonian spot in the summer for outdoor dining and drinks—craft beers and truffle fries are a happy hour staple of the trendier crowd downtown. There are a couple memorable special-occasion items on (or off) the menu, though: if you have a big group, you can get one of the government-named seafood towers, or even make special reservations for a "Poste Roast," involving private dining and a whole roasted lamb, pig, or goat.
    Downtown
  • Jaleo

    Jaleo

    480 7th St NW
    Su-M 11:30AM-10PM, Tu-Th 11:30AM-11PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-midnight; brunch Sa-Su until 3PM. $20-40. Many credit this loud, happy restaurant in the Penn Quarter for the current boom in Spanish tapas bars. Serves tasty tapas and wonderful sangria, as well as a fantastic selection of ports and sherry. This is Jose Andrés' first restaurant, and one of the best options in the area. Expect to wait on a crowded F-Sa night.
    Downtown
  • Fogo de Chao

    Fogo de Chao

    1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner: M-Th 5PM-10PM, F 5PM-10:30PM, Sa 4:30PM-10:30PM, Su 4PM-9:30PM. Lunch: $32.50; dinner:49.50. This national (not international) chain has spread to most major U.S. cities, and is a big downtown hit everywhere it is. Brazilian cuisine can actually be a bit of a let down, with one exception—meat. This is basically an all-you-can-eat meat experience, and the meats are good (there are sides too, of course). Flip your green card up, and the chefs come with meat; flip it to red, and the chefs let you eat. Recognizing a certain weakness in the model, the restaurant also has a really nice salad bar, for a considerably lower price than the meat menu.
    Downtown
  • The new entrant at the Jefferson Hotel is already a clear destination restaurant, with classic French cuisine served in a traditional American, and frankly gorgeous, interior. The food is competitive with the best the city has to offer, and the service is perhaps a step above, with details covered down to the string-bound parchment you receive on your way out, upon which your servers have listed the wines you sampled.
    Downtown
  • The Hay-Adams Hotel

    The Hay-Adams Hotel

    800 16th St NW
    Su-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F-Sa 11:30AM-12:30AM. Recognized by Forbes.com as one of the world’s best hotel bars, Off the Record is known as Washington’s premiere "power bar" (right across the park from the White House), and a place to be seen and not heard.
    Downtown
  • Proof Restaurant

    Proof Restaurant

    775 G St NW
    Lunch: Tu-F 11:30AM-2PM; dinner: M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9:30PM. $35-60. The coziest fine dining establishment downtown, Proof is a choice date spot, with a "wine-centric" ethos—hosts want nothing better than to help you discover better and better wines, so be sure to ask recommendations for pairings (and cheeses—the charcuterie platters here are the best in town). Doubling as a dedicated wine bar, Wine comes by the taste, glass, or bottle. The cocktails are also pretty fabulous. Food is contemporary American, with a vague Mediterranean bent. Lunch deals are excellent, including wine, if you don't mind an early start to your drinking!
    Downtown
  • Lincoln Restaurant

    Lincoln Restaurant

    1110 Vermont Ave NW
    The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated, though an unsuccessful attempt had been made on Andrew Jackson thirty years before in 1835. The assassination was planned and carried out by the well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth, as part of a larger conspiracy in a bid to revive the Confederate cause.
    Downtown
  • Zaytinya

    Zaytinya

    701 9th St NW
    Authentic Eastern Mediterranean small plates in Gallery Place, DC Chef/Owner: José Andrés Head Chef: Michael Costa GM: Patrick Desotelle
    Downtown
  • Fogo de Chão

    Fogo de Chão

    1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    The gaucho way of preparing meat.
    Downtown
  • Equinox

    Equinox

    818 Connecticut Ave NW
    M-Th 11:30AM-2PM,5:30PM-10PM, F 11:30AM-2PM,5:30PM-10PM, Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM, Su 5:30PM-9PM. $45-60; tasting menus: $75-90. Celebrity chef Todd Gray's D.C. restaurant, serving fine seasonal American cuisine. Offers a tasting menu, with pasta, fish, and cheese courses. Vegetarian options also available.
    Downtown
  • Graffiato

    Graffiato

    707 6th St NW
    Su-Tu 11:30AM-11PM, W-Sa 11:30AM-midnight. $20-50, tasting menu: $55. Outside D.C., Mike Isabella is best known as a Top Chef "all star," but in D.C. he's known for some of the best Italian food in the city, served in small-plate portions, out of this small downtown restaurant with a long waitlist for reservations. The top chef's own favorite dish is the simple hand-cut spaghetti, adorned only with garlic, cherry tomatoes, and thai basil.
    Downtown
  • Clyde's

    Clyde's

    707 7th St NW
    M-Th 11AM-2AM, F 11AM-3AM, Sa 10AM-3AM, Su 10AM-2AM. $15-35. Clyde's is as solid and safe an option as any downtown, and it's right dead center at Gallery Place. The cavernous multilevel building,attractive, wooden and dimly lit in a sort of Victorian grand-old-hotel fashion, provides a lot of comfy seating. The food here is virtually identical to the "traditional Washingtonian" that you would find at the famous Old Ebbitt Grill, although perhaps a little better prepared, and no reservations required. It's a great after-dinner or after-theater option, to sit at one of its three lovely bars and have a few drinks. Or finagle a table and have those drinks with a little dessert, or something off the fantastic oyster menu.
    Downtown
  • Passenger

    Passenger

    1021 7th St NW
    M-Th 5PM-1:30AM, F-Sa 5PM-2:30AM, Su 2PM-midnight. This is a crowded bar specializing in craft-cocktails, and attempting for the look of a dive. It's a little busy for someone looking to actually discuss their drink with their servers, but judged by any other criteria, it's just a really good bar, with really good mixed drinks. If you make reservations far in advance, you can get a seat in the hidden Columbia Room in the back, where you will be treated to a private and customized tasting of craft cocktails and appetizers in one of D.C.'s classiest high concept bars, with likely the best mixed drinks you've had.
    Downtown
  • Oyamel

    Oyamel

    401 7th St NW
    Authentic Mexican ingredients and techniques taken to a level of creativity that you won't expect.Chef/Owner: José Andrés Head Chef:Omar Rodriguez GM: Michael Iglesias
    Downtown
  • Zaytinya

    Zaytinya

    701 9th St NW
    Su-M 11:30AM-10PM, Tu-Th 11:30AM-11PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-midnight. $20-45. Tapas, antojitos, and... mezzes! Andrés' alphabetically last restaurant serves a variety of meat, seafood, and vegetarian Greek and Lebanese mezzes, along with large selection of wines from the same region.
    Downtown
  • Minibar

    Minibar

    855 E Street NW
    Seating times Tu-Sa 6PM and 8:30PM, Su 5PM and 7:30PM. $150. Mr. Andrés' wild culinary ride through molecular-gastronomy. Reservations are hard to come by at this six-customer, two-chef restaurant, which will serve you a 30-course meal of everything from cotton candy foie gras to lobster injection to beet tumbleweed. Even by its own extreme standards, the Dragon Popcorn caused a local stir last year—caramelized curry popcorn dipped into liquid nitrogen, which causes smoke to come out your nose after eating. Reservations open up one month in advance, and you should call at 10AM if you want to get one (and watch out for the rude reservations lady).
    Downtown
  • Ping Pong Dim Sum

    Ping Pong Dim Sum

    900 7th St NW
    Dim Sum. Tea. Cocktails www.pingpongdimsum.us www.twitter.com/pingpongdc www.pinterest.com/pingpongdc
    Downtown
  • Graffiato

    Graffiato

    707 6th St NW
    Chef Mike Isabella's Italian-inspired restaurant in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood.
    Downtown
  • Carmine's

    Carmine's

    425 7th Street NW
    From our family to yours, thank you for making Carmine's your favorite Family Style Italian for the past 20 years! Grazie <3CarminesNYC on Twitter
    Downtown
  • Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar

    Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar

    801 9th St., NW
    Come try our new menus, inspired by Chef Guillermo Pernot's recent travels in Cuba.
    Downtown
  • Co Co. Sala

    Co Co. Sala

    929 F St NW
    DC's premier chocolate lounge & boutique.
    Downtown
  • Lincoln's Waffle Shop

    Lincoln's Waffle Shop

    504 10th St NW
    M-F 5:30AM-7PM, Sa-Su 5:30AM-3PM. $4-12. An extraordinarily rare creature: a diner in downtown D.C. A dive that serves good waffles, assorted breakfast foods, coffee, and burgers. Skip this place if you've been committing crimes, though—it's packed with police.
    Downtown
  • Legal Sea Foods - 7th Street

    Legal Sea Foods - 7th Street

    704 7th St NW
    If it isn't fresh, it isn't Legal!
    Downtown
  • The Hamilton

    The Hamilton

    600 14th St NW
    restaurant; live music venue / #EatDrinkListen
    Downtown
  • Acadiana

    Acadiana

    901 New York Ave NW
    For menus or reservations check out www.acadianarestaurant.com
    Downtown
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of restaurants in Downtown Washington uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.