Dine like a local at these top restaurants in the nation’s capital


While landmarks and museums are often the top attractions for visitors, Washington D.C. offers a variety of restaurants worthy of being added to your itinerary. Plus, there are plenty of options that will allow you to stay within your travel budget, so it's easy to enjoy a great meal without spending a fortune.



Snag one of the sidewalk tables at Martin’s Tavern, a Georgetown staple that opened in 1933. Presidents from Harry Truman to George W. Bush have dined on shepherd’s pie and slow-roasted beef at the English-style restaurant.

You can’t claim to have experienced D.C. if you don’t stop in for a half-smoke sausage smothered in chili at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Since it opened in 1958, the original Ben’s has occupied a spot in the U Street corridor. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself rubbing elbows with a president here, either.

American City Diner has all of the classic diner specialties—breakfast all day, the best milkshakes in the city and open-faced sandwiches. You can also enjoy a classic movie with your meal on its outdoor deck.


If you can’t decide exactly which cuisine will satisfy the entire family, head to one of the city’s markets. Plunked down in the middle of a restaurant supply district, the gleaming Union Market lets you choose a little of this and a little of that from food vendors and restaurants. Among the dining choices at this gourmet-food destination is an oyster bar, a Southern-food restaurant and a barbecue joint.

The Market Lunch at Eastern Market, not far from the Capitol Building, is a favorite with locals, but it’s not the only dining option at the market. Just across Seventh Street, you can treat the family to a Salvadoran meal at Tortilla Cafe or grab a burger at the Boxcar Tavern.


Southern Living magazine named Lauriol Plaza one of Washington’s best spots for cheap eats in a refined atmosphere. Dine on Tex-Mex food inside, at sidewalk tables or on the rooftop terrace. Tucked into an alley in Georgetown, Kafe Leopold serves sandwiches, soups and hearty entrees. End your meal with a delicious house-made pastry.


Restless kids will delight in a restaurant that doubles as a playground. Comet Ping Pong on upper Connecticut Avenue has a room full of ping pong tables, and the play is free. The pizza-centric menu also features a handful of appetizers and salads. The place is busy on the weekends, so plan for lunch or a weeknight dinner. If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll find lots of local restaurateurs working the stands at Washington Nationals games. If you didn’t make it to the original Ben’s Chili Bowl, you can still get a half-smoke at the park. Celebrity chef Mike Isabella serves sandwiches, and there are meatless options for the vegetarian crowd.

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