New & Hot Places

Hottest Restaurants in DC

With both the inauguration and the Women's March taking place this weekend, thousands of hungry attendees will descend upon Washington. If you’re one of them, be forewarned that there are few decent places to eat near the National Mall, and a lack of planning could mean you’ll be chowing down on a dubious hot dog from a cart. You should also know that DC’s dining scene is on fire right now, with most of the exciting openings taking place in such neighborhoods as Shaw and Petworth, not to mention the huge new MGM resort that just opened across the river near National Harbor. Here’s a list of hot spots you’ll want to check out — just be sure to make reservations at places that accept them.

Other helpful Zagat stories for out-of-towners:
48 Hours in DC: The Perfect DC Weekend
7 Patriotic Places to Eat and Drink in DC
Best Eats Near the National Mall

Marcus

NewAmericanOxon Hill
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s cosmopolitan culinary heritage infuses American comfort classics to yield dishes like Ethiopian-spiced fried chicken, Scandinavian-inspired meatballs and pot pie with doro wat at this polished all-day bistro in National Harbor’s MGM complex. Dynamic African tapestries, found objects and memorabilia add drama to the airy, brasserie-style space, with an inviting bar and a ‘sidewalk café’ in the Atrium that evoke Paris.

Must-order: Chicken and waffles; blackened catfish with Brussels sprouts; red velvet cake ‘n’ shake
Insider tip: It’s the only one of the three chef-driven options (including Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse and Fish by José Andrés) at MGM to also offer breakfast, lunch and brunch.

Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse

NewSteakhouseNational Harbor
Set in National Harbor’s MGM Resorts International complex, this modern steakhouse from Top Chef alums and Maryland natives, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, offers both classics and contemporary riffs, from hearth-fired cuts with sea bean chimichurri sauce to uni fried rice. The plush setting has the feel of a family home, complete with a book-lined library bar, personal photos and a country kitchen setting where diners can watch the toques at work.

Must-order: New York strip; Wagyu strip; upside-down lemon tart
Insider tip: Take a closer look at the photos on the walls — you just might spot younger versions of the headliner chef-brothers among the books and artwork from their family home.

FISH by Jose Andres

NewSeafoodNational Harbor
Chef/restaurateur José Andrés offers inspired takes on American seafood such as lobster jambalaya and oyster shooters with gin and tonic at this National Harbor eatery, one of the restaurant headliners at the MGM Resorts International complex. Live fish tanks supply raw bar fare, while large format undersea photos, a huge fish sculpture suspended over tables and marine cave–like seating add drama to the nautical-themed space, which opens onto a fountain plaza.

Must-order: Gin and tonic oysters; lobster jambalaya; tuna tartare
Insider tip: When the weather warms up, keep an eye out for clambakes on the patio — which features its own kitchen.

Sfoglina

NewItalianVan Ness
Pasta artisans (sfoglina in Italian) roll their dough in the window of chef Fabio Trabocchi’s sophisticated Italian trattoria in Van Ness, whetting appetites for the toque’s seasonal noodle dishes, served with creative antipasti and hearty mains. The Italian villa setting with cushioned, sofa-like seating, patterned china, chandeliers and a dining bar facing the open kitchen, make for a warm welcome.

Must-order: Rigatoni amatriciana; seafood mafalde pasta; burrata with olive salt
Insider tip: A roster of grab-and-go pastries is available during brunch, and the restaurant plans to offer savory takeaway items like sandwiches down the line.

Ten Tigers Parlour

NewPetworth
Staged as a vintage Chinese tea parlor, this classy Petworth Asian gathering spot serves house-made dumplings, buns, noodles, skewers and rice bowls in a laid back atmosphere, with bubble teas, Vietnamese and French press coffees, happy hour priced drinks, and laptop friendly vibes.

Must-order: Soup dumplings; pan-fried pork dumplings; tonkatsu chicken donburi
Insider tip: The menu's friendly for a range of budgets, with prices hovering around $10 per dish.

Federalist Pig

NewBarbecueAdams Morgan
Pitmaster Rob Sonderman (ex DCity Smokehouse) fires up a slew of meats at this Adams Morgan BBQ central, offering wood-smoked, dry-rubbed pork, brisket, turkey, wings, in sandwiches and platters, plus veggie sides. The rustic-industrial digs are outfitted with corrugated metal, repurposed church pews (with a stash of logs below) and a wall mural of a pig rendered by a local artist.

Must-order: Chopped pork shoulder sandwich; brisket sandwich with crispy onions; crispy Brussels sprouts
Insider tip: Items often sell out by 7 PM on weekends, so get there early for the best selection and check Facebook for updates on what’s left.

Himitsu

NewJapanesePetworth
Since its name means 'secret' in Japanese, it’s fitting that this Petworth hangout offers off-the-menu drinks and bites along with sushi, sashimi, inventive Asian-meets-Southern dishes like buttermilk-fried chicken with Korean gochujang sauce and artful cocktails by Carlie Steiner (ex Barmini). The cool white, gray and blue space has an intimate, boutique-y feel, accented with upholstered bench cushions and macramé above the bar.

Must-order: Fried chicken with gochujang glaze; hamachi with Thai chile fish sauce vinaigrette; the Mixed Bag cocktail, a blend of Fernet, amaro, lime and ginger
Insider tip: Nobody gets bumped to the head of the wait list (not even the owners’ parents), so be prepared to put your name down and have a drink across the street at Petworth Citizen or Hank’s Cocktail Bar. Show up at the right time on a weeknight, though, and you might not have to wait at all.

Owen's Ordinary

NewAmericanNorth Bethesda
Located in the Pike & Rose development, this suds-focused American tavern from the team behind Churchkey and Birch & Barley, spotlights technology that controls the temperature of its 50 draft lines and 150-plus bottles, all served with a menu of burgers, flatbreads and hearty entrees. Completing the laid-back picture: a vast, white-tiled and wood space outfitted with factory-inspired fixtures and a modern beer garden.

Must-order: Local Angus double-stack cheeseburger; beer and cheddar fondue; chicken wings
Insider tip: Sour beer fans will be thrilled to find options never before sold in Montgomery County restaurants, such as one from Jester King in Texas and another from 3 Fonteinen of Belgium.

Smoked & Stacked

NewSandwich ShopShaw
Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s house-cured pastrami takes center stage at her industrial-modern Shaw sandwich shop that also offers smoked chicken and mushroom fillings, toppings like coleslaw or sauerkraut and customizable options. Salads, breakfast sammies, and beer and wine round out the menu.

Must-order: The Stacked; smoked portobello sandwich; smoked half chicken
Insider tip: Chef Meek-Bradley cooks up 14–18 briskets a day, good for about 275 sandwiches, but when she's out — she's out.

Sweet Home Cafe

NewSoul FoodNational Mall
Visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall, can sample the culture’s eclectic food ranging from Guyanese-inflected pepper pot soup and Western cowboy stew to fried chicken and gumbo at the buffet bars. The enormous cafeteria has a bright, modern feel, with light-wood furniture, a mural of black-and-white Civil Rights–era photos and a living plant wall.

Must-order: The “gospel bird” family platter; the oyster pan roast; smoked cod and corn croquettes
Insider tip: Every dish here tells a story, like the oyster pan roast that references a tavern owned by New York oysterman Thomas Downing, whose establishment reportedly doubled as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

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