Week #3 in the Where Should We Eat Series covers one of my favorite cities: DC. Because I’ve only been there for a few long weekends, I’ve enlisted a little help from fellow Dietitian, Heather Caplan. Aside from being a dietitian, Heather is a certified running coach and yoga instructor and she’s lived in DC for over seven years. You can learn more about Heather at www.HeatherCaplan.com. Check out her recommendations below. If you live in DC, or just love to visit, are there any fave spots we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!
Bar Pilar | $$
“Inspired by regional farms and providers, with a focus on what tastes good right now.”
Beware of the giant breakfast burrito, but enjoy the small restaurant vibe and friendly staff. Bar Pilar is unassuming—a small place on the now-bustling 14th street strip of eateries and bars—but worth a stop. Starting your day here with brunch means you’re primed for shopping, walking through some historic neighborhood streets, and/or hopping to the next stop for coffee or another mimosa.
Favorite Menu Item: Currently enjoying the Spring vegetable frittata, but the summer salad is great as well.
Alfie’s | $$
“Locally sourced, responsibly minded Northern & Isaan Thai Bar food...”
If you’re gonna try this out in its current location, go quickly! It’s a pop-up restaurant with rave reviews, only open for “nine months (if not longer)” according to its early Washingtonian review. (They’re moving to a permanent location soon.) Creative menu items will satisfy the palate looking for something outside the brunch norm, and take you to a lesser-known DC neighborhood, Park View (or Petworth, depending on who you ask). This one’s great for a unique experience and fun food “in a snug space.”
Favorite Menu Item: anything with their famous “LuckyBuns!” that happens to be on the menu that day. It changes frequently!
Rose’s Luxury | $$$
“Eat, go home, come back tomorrow”
Currently riding a wave of intrigue and rave reviews, this one can be tricky to get into but is worth the effort! This restaurant is on one of my favorite strips in DC: Barrack’s Row. Enjoy the classic Eastern Market neighborhood while you wait! No reservations, so pick a weeknight to stand in line and cross your fingers. Once you’re in, enjoy it all. Or, as they suggest: “Order yourself a nice cocktail or a glass of wine, Choose a couple of small/family style dishes to share.”
Favorite Menu Item: Fennel and jicama salad, blue catfish, and/or one of their pasta dishes.
Komi | $$$
“Modern greek” done exquisitely.
This is one of the best dinners I’ve had, and certainly tops my eating experiences in DC. Make a reservation, go with a small party (it’s a small, cozy space), and a big appetite. This is also one of the most expensive dinners I’ve had, in life, but it was well worth it. If you opt for the wine pairings, the glass is never empty. The fixed 10+ course menu won’t leave you hungry. My main advice: pace yourself. And then enjoy a walk around the Dupont Circle neighborhood afterward.
Tip: Sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. Provide any dietary preferences or allergies in advance.
Little Serow | $$
Family-style spicy Thai
Nestled right below Komi, which are both a little tricky to find. The space is underground and the food is ready to make a statement! They only accommodate parties of four (or less), and don’t take reservations. Pro tip: we went on a Tuesday at 5:30pm and got in right away. This is also a fixed menu, updated weekly, featuring pork, seafood, and nuts. Keep that in mind, as they don’t make changes. Each course comes with a side of rice, which you’ll need for soaking up some of the heat!
Tip: Have a beverage (alcoholic or not) that’ll help rinse out the spice!
Le Diplomat | $$
“Bustling Brasserie serving classic French”
There’s reason this restaurant has been topping the DC eats lists for a few years now! Make a reservation and enjoy it for brunch or dinner. This is another stop on the 14th street list, right across from my favorite place for a patio drink on a nice day, Pearl Dive. Le Dip, as the locals affectionately call it, offers everything from oysters to burgers to vegetable fare.
Favorite Menu Item: Scallops Niçoise, but I hear the oysters are great, too.
Old Ebbitt Grill | $$
Iconic dining, right next to the White House
This is a DC staple, to say the least. It was established in 1856 and is known as “Washington’s Oldest Saloon.” Food options include fresh seasonal ingredients, satisfying the American palate. It’s a great stop for tourists after a long day walking the National Mall and museums, right across from the White House, and a favorite of locals before and after shows at the National or Warner Theaters. It’s open for breakfast (M-F), brunch (Sat/Sun), lunch, and dinner.
Favorite Menu Item: For brunch I’d order the Summer Vegetable Platter, for dinner the July Special (Wild Alaska Salmon).
Sweetgreen | $
Sweet life, not-actually “sweet” eats
Sweetgreen was started by two Georgetown students, and spread like wildfire around DC and its suburbs. Pick one of their ever-changing signature salads, full of seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients, or make your own! You’ll now find Sweetgreens in a variety of US cities, which makes me so happy. Support a fun, friendly, creative crew and enjoy a tasty salad while you’re at it.
Favorite Menu Item: Rad Thai (I substitute chickpeas for shrimp), or currently the Strawberry Fields (Summer). But, your menu options depend on where you are! Local and seasonal changes to be expected and embraced.
Roti | $
“Modern Mediterranean, Food that loves you back”
This is a make-your-own fast casual eatery scattered around DC and its ‘burbs, featuring steak, chicken, freshly-grilled salmon kabobs, and/or falafel. They’re open about where their food comes from, and generous with how many things you can mix together! It’s easy to go overboard, so do a quick scan of the options first. But you can’t go wrong. You’ll find a Roti in Rosslyn (Arlington), in a variety of downtown DC areas, and just off of Independence avenue.
Favorite Menu Item: salad with salmon or falafel, hummus, and two to three vegetable selections.
Other places to check out:
- Pearl Dive for happy hour
- Busboys and Poets for a quirky vibe, cool events while you eat, and lots of vegan options
- Surfside for fish tacos
- Seventh Hill for pizza
- Kramerbooks for dessert
- Perry’s for an amazing Sunday brunch show (check it out to see if it’s your style, first!)
- Mintwood Place for dinner
- Ray’s Hell for a classic burger
- Ted’s Bulletin for a homemade pop-tart
- Zaytinya to check out a Jose Andres classic
- The Gibson, to get your weekend night started with a classy drink
Anywhere we missed? Let us know in the comments below. And if you happen to try any of these places, let us know, did the recommendation live up?