6 Local Chains We Love in DC

By Rina Rapuano  |  January 21, 2014
Credit: Thomas J. Dooley

With ever more national chains setting up shop in DC, we think it's the perfect time to take another look at our homegrown talent. Perhaps one of these local chains is the next Sweetgreen and Five Guys, ready to branch out into far-flung states and take the world by storm. Or perhaps we'll just keep these local treasures all to ourselves. 

  • Name: Busboys and Poets
    The Formula: Melting-pot coffee shops with vegan options and a political edge
    Number of Locations: 4, with plans for Takoma Park and Brookland locations in the works for 2014
    Lunch for One: $20
    Menu Highlights: Nachos, reuben panini, shrimp and grits, sweet potato fries
    Tasting Notes: It's not just the food that keeps us coming back. We love the comfy couches, the on-site bookstores, the free Wi-Fi and the appearances by notable local and national figures like Alice Walker, Dr. Cornel West, Junot Diaz, Common, Moby and Danny Glover. It's a true cross-section of Washington, DC.

  • Name: Buzz Bakery
    The Formula: Outstanding cakes, pies, savory pastries, sandwiches and coffee served in a bright, funky atmosphere
    Number of Locations: 3
    Lunch for One: $10
    Menu Highlights: Chicken salad, havarti and turkey and grilled cheese sandwiches; the 9:30 Club and The Buzz cupcakes
    Tasting Notes: If you like what you taste, take one of the regular pastry classes offered by pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac (who also creates gorgeous wedding cakes).

  • Name: Cava Mezze Grill
    The Formula: Greek spin on the Chipotle model, with pita and tzatziki filling in for tortillas and salsa
    Number of Locations: 5
    Lunch for One: $10
    Menu Highlights: Grilled meatballs, spicy lamb or falafel on pita or over a salad, spicy lamb sliders
    Tasting Notes: A new rewards app lets you order and pay with your phone while racking up rewards points. And if you want to get your money’s worth with the free toppings, add the jalapeno-spiked crazy feta, which is sold at local Whole Foods locations at a fairly steep price.

  • Name: Hank's Oyster Bar
    The Formula: Relaxed seafood spots with killer cocktails
    Number of Locations: 3
    Lunch for One: $17
    Menu Highlights: The smoked salmon reuben, steamed mussels, lobster bisque, lobster roll
    Tasting Notes: Two exciting new features at the Dupont location are a fancy hot chocolate bar observed Mondays in the upstairs bar and a 400-calorie (or less) Resolution Solutions entree priced at $20.14.

  • Name: Moby Dick House of Kebab
    The Formula: Persian counter service featuring addictive kebabs, fresh breads and buttery rice
    Number of Locations: 17
    Lunch for One: $13
    Menu Highlights: The kabob-e kubideh, grilled swordfish kebab, hummus, rice
    Tasting Notes: Some say the McLean and Georgetown locations are the most consistently delicious. The Dupont location is now open Saturdays from noon to 4 AM. The Arlington location offers online ordering and for fast and easy takeout.

  • Name: Ted's Bulletin
    The Formula: Retro-urban diner with quirky burgers and housemade "pop tarts"
    Number of Locations: 2, plus one in Reston opening next week and a Merrifield location in the works
    Lunch for One: $15
    Menu Highlights: Walk of Shame burrito, "pop tarts," peanut butter bacon burger, grilled cheese and tomato soup, buttermilk country-fried steak
    Tasting Notes: Tuesday is all-American burger basket night, when burgers are served with fries and a choice of shake for $15.99. Facebook and Twitter followers can get a preview of the day's featured burger, such as the recent Tuesday special Texas Burger topped with shaved country ham, housemade BBQ sauce and a giant onion ring.