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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.