Great food, cocktails & coffee in Downtown D.C. at any price

Experience a true taste of Washington, D.C., with picks from local foodies and Capital One Dining.

What’s to love about Washington, D.C.? For starters, the food. It’s original, daring and diverse—qualities that led Washingtonian magazine to declare the city “a wondrous place to eat.”

Read on for restaurant picks from foodies who live and work in downtown D.C. Plus, you’ll get recommendations from the stellar list of Capital One Dining restaurants curated by industry partners like chef José Andrés. With Capital One Dining, eligible rewards cardholders can reserve hard-to-get tables in Washington, D.C.—and other select cities, too. 

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Great lunch or dinner in Downtown D.C.

Washington’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay inspires the city’s restaurants. But so do the flavors and traditions of countries around the world—which makes dining in D.C. an always-changing experience. 

D.C. locals’ picks
“Eating here feels like discovering a band you just know is gonna hit it big one day.” That’s how Megan Wright, a tech marketing strategist, describes Shilling Canning Company in the Navy Yard district. Chef Reid Shilling is “incredible,” she says, and the Chesapeake region-focused cuisine is “well worth the money.”

For marketing director Katie Lancos, Republic Cantina is hard to beat. “Hands down, it’s the best Tex-Mex in the city,” she says. In addition to the smoked brisket enchiladas and tres leches cake, there’s “Outlaw Hour” on Friday and Saturday nights. The restaurant’s weekend happy hour has what it calls “convivial vibes” and “outlaw country classics spun on the cantina record player."

A photo showing an entree at Tex-Mex restaurant Republic Cantina. Photo by Chris Svetlik.

Republic Cantina offers Tex-Mex food and “Outlaw Hour” with classic “outlaw” songs on Friday and Saturday nights. Photo by Chris Svetlik.

Claudia Conti, who’s also in marketing, suggests Churreria Madrid for Spanish food. The place is known for “Taco Tuesday, Every Day” and serving customers into the wee hours of the morning. She recommends the paella, which she orders for weeknight takeout. “It’s authentic, rich and tasty,” she says. “My family just loves it.”

Capital One Dining picks 
Want lots of choice? Try Oyster Oyster in Logan Circle, where you can have your pick of a vegan, vegetarian or “oystertarian” tasting menu. True to its name, the restaurant highlights oysters from the Chesapeake Bay. But it’s also plant-forward, with a focus on sustainability and fresh ingredients from local farms.

A photo showing several dishes offered at Oyster Oyster restaurant in Logan Circle.

Oyster Oyster in Logan Circle, which offers vegan, vegetarian and “oystertarian” tasting menus.

If it’s modern Hong Kong fare you’re craving, try Tiger Fork, tucked away in the city’s hip Shaw district. Executive chef Nathan Beauchamp and chef de cuisine Jong Son will treat you to playful, contemporary takes on Hong Kong street food, traditional dim sum and classic Chinese dishes.

Or maybe you’re in the mood for an intimate dining experience at a place like Reverie, the Georgetown gem from award-winning chef Johnny Spero. Here you’ll find bold, surprising and playful New American fare featuring global ingredients and the local daily catch.

Great cocktails in Downtown D.C. 

Capitol Hill. Georgetown. Navy Yard. Anacostia. Every D.C. neighborhood has a distinct personality. You’ll find welcoming spaces in each—cozy bars to fancy lounges—for having drinks with friends.

D.C. locals’ picks
If an “urban backyard” vibe is your thing, be sure to check out Calico in D.C.’s Blagden Alley. “I like the outdoor seating,” says Lauren Judd, an IT specialist. “But the indoor/outdoor area gives you the best of both worlds.” She adds that Calico’s adult “juice boxes”—My Cherry Amour with rye, cherry, lime and bitters, for example—are especially fabulous.

A photo montage showing the outdoor space at Calico bar and restaurant in D.C.’s Blagden Alley, plus a selection of its adult “juice boxes.”

Calico bar and restaurant in D.C.’s Blagden Alley specializes in an “urban backyard” vibe and adult “juice boxes.”

For Lancos, the Reliable Tavern in Petworth is reliably excellent. The bar, which says it’s been “democratizing cocktails since 2017,” keeps it simple. “It’s totally unassuming, so you’d never guess it consistently has the best cocktails in D.C.,” Lancos says. “Whatever magic they use, their drinks just taste better than anybody else’s.”

Wright’s a big fan of Dawson’s Market, which specializes in locally grown foods. “Is it technically a grocery store?” she asks. “Yes. But it has $5 craft beer on draft, hot food you can order and pre-made food you can grab.” Plus, there’s an outdoor patio for enjoying your purchases while surrounded by the energy of Dupont Circle. 

Capital One Dining picks
Serious cocktails start with gin, and at The Wells in Capitol Hill, it’s all about gin. This intimate bar focuses on a singular signature spirit throughout the seasons. The result is perfectly crafted cocktails—the bold and the classic, the innovative and the vintage. 

While it’s all about the gin at The Wells, it’s all about the whiskey at Shōtō—specifically, Japanese whiskey. In fact, it has one of the largest selections in D.C. When it comes to food, this stylish modern izakaya features a sushi counter, a robata grill, and an extensive meat and seafood menu. 

And when you’re in Dupont Circle, by all means grab drinks and small bites in the bar at Anju, named the No. 1 D.C.-area restaurant by Washingtonian magazine in 2020. The lively bar downstairs is complemented by the serene dining room upstairs, serving Korean cuisine from dynasty-era dishes to modern street food.

A photo showing the dining area at Anju Korean restaurant in Dupont Circle.

Korean restaurant Anju, which was named the best D.C.-area restaurant by Washingtonian magazine in 2020.

Great coffee in Downtown D.C.

Coffee. Downtown D.C.’s got it—roasted, brewed and poured at tiny coffeehouses, grand hotels and everywhere in between.

D.C. locals’ picks
“Come for the coffee—the Pink Dream latte is especially dreamy—and stay for the cottage cheese cakes,” says copywriter Heidi Phelps. She’s talking about D Light Cafe & Bakery in Adams Morgan, owned by two Ukrainian sisters and run by “the sweetest staff on the planet.”

A photo montage showing the dining area at D Light Cafe & Bakery and one of its croissant sandwiches.

D Light Cafe & Bakery in Adams Morgan is owned by two Ukrainian sisters and offers European breakfast and brunch.

Phelps is also big on baked & wired in Georgetown. It’s nearly impossible to describe the place better than it describes itself: “Authentic, hole-in-the-wall coffee and baked goods served by total sweethearts with face tattoos.” Phelps likes to pair Persian Nectar black tea with a bakery item for “a lovely afternoon treat.”

For Pranav Shrestha, a web platform manager, it’s Café Unido in the Union Market district. “It’s located in La Cosecha, an incredible Latin American marketplace,” he says. He likes that the café sources beans directly from growers in Panama. In the shop’s words, “We hope that every grain of coffee, roasted with love by Unido, contributes to the proliferation of sustainable and socially responsible farms.”

Capital One Dining picks
The Capital One Dining coffee recommendations start with Maketto. The H Street fixture offers community, comfort and an amazing Cambodian-Taiwanese menu. Its coffee-and-tea menu is equally inspired, with everything from nitro cold-brewed coffee to a five-spice honey latte. 

The menu at the duck & the peach is influenced by Northern California cuisine with a dose of New England comfort. This American-concept restaurant in Capitol Hill offers extraordinary dishes served in a relaxed, elegant space. The coffee’s as good as the food—and the Americano is one of the best in the city.

A photo collage showing an appetizer and two desserts at the duck & the peach in the Capitol Hill district.

the duck & the peach pairs Northern California cuisine with New England comfort in the Capitol Hill district.

And then there’s Café Riggs in the historic former Riggs National Bank Building. It offers all-day dining with a menu of classic and innovative French cooking. But if you’re looking for something a little more laid back—like coffee and conversation—Café Riggs has lots of intimate seating areas for creating great moments.

Learn about the benefits of Capital One Dining

The restaurants in the Capital One Dining portfolio were curated with world-class culinary partners. Celebrated chef José Andrés is one, as are the Michelin Guide and the James Beard Foundation

Capital One Dining gives eligible rewards cardholders insider access to hard-to-get tables at stellar restaurants in Washington, D.C.—plus other select cities including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Denver.

With Capital One Dining, eligible cardholders can:

  • Discover new restaurants. Get recommendations from Capital One’s industry dining partners and read accolades from the James Beard Foundation and the Michelin Guide.
  • Reserve a table. Book a table through Capital One Dining using the Capital One Mobile app on your phone, tablet or desktop. After that, you’ll get email notifications—when your reservation is confirmed, for example. You’ll get reminders about your upcoming reservations, too.
  • Personalize your profile. Build your dining profile with important details—your dietary preferences, for instance. Then when you book a table, those details will be sent automatically to the restaurant.

What’s next? Plan a food-focused trip to D.C.

Now that you know more about the dining scene in the nation’s capital city, what’s next? Eventually, you might want to plan a visit. If you’re an eligible Capital One cardholder, you can book your getaway through Capital One Travel.

If you do go, plan to bring a few things along: your sense of adventure, your appetite for something new, and somebody to share it all with.

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