The Best of D.C. - Restaurants
Before moving to Indianapolis, we lived in Washington, D.C. for three years. Not only is D.C. the home of the President, but also home to some of the best restaurants you'll ever find. From longstanding staples, such as Martin's Tavern (where JFK proposed to Jackie O.), Old Ebbitt Grill or Ben's Chili Bowl, to new and upcoming "it spots" - Washington D.C. offers a variety of excellent cuisines to satisfy any palate. Every time we go back to visit the old stomping grounds, we always discover and/or hear about amazing new restaurants - but these are our favorites! Enjoy!
This farm-to-fork experience is a "must" when you visit D.C.! However, be sure to make your reservation well in advance, as Founding Farmers is local favorite and the wait times can be long! On a daily basis, Founding Farmers receives its food, drinks, and ingredients from family farms surrounding D.C. and makes a lot of its food from scratch.
Ben's Recommendation: Breakfast Chicken & Waffles ($12) or the Bananas Foster Stuffed French Toast ($10), and freshly squeezed OJ.
Handmade Pop-Tarts...CHECK. Farm-fresh eggs...CHECK. Adult-milkshakes...? (yes, I'm talking alcoholic, boozy milkshakes) DOUBLE CHECK! Tucked in Eastern Market on Barracks Row (8th Street), Ted's decor gives patrons the feeling they've walked into a speakeasy/ diner in the 1930s. The decor compliments its simple, yet delicious comfort food (and drinks). Another element that boosts Ted's popularity is the portion size - they actually fill the plate, something a lot of D.C. restaurants forget to do. It may be a bit pricey, but it won't disappoint.
Ben's Recommendation: Big Mark Breakfast ($15), Ted's Tarts (prices vary) and White Russian Milkshake ($11).
Ah, my favorite food group: BURGERS. And boy, does Good Stuff Eatery deliver! Operated by local celebrity, Chef Spike Mendelsohn, and located just steps away from the Capitol, Good Stuff introduced Hill staffers, legislators, and even President Obama to the wonderful world of supreme burgers. If I have one regret while living in D.C., it's that I didn't visit Good Stuff Eatery more (for the record, I was there on a weekly basis). You can't go wrong with any item on the menu. It will fill you up and go easy on the wallet too!
Ben's Recommendation: Pres Obama Burger ($7.65), Spike's Village Fries ($2.89-$3.89), and of course the Toasted Marshmellow Hand-spun Milkshake ($5.95).
In D.C., you're bound to see some of the nation's most powerful people. My first encounter with one of the D.C. elite was with Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan...twice at Taylor Gourmet! It's no wonder, because Taylor has some of the best gourmet subs in the District. It was a bit difficult to get to from the Hill where I worked, but it was always worth the drive or long walk. They've recently introduced a seasonal menu and changed a few things around, but I'm happy to see they still offer the Ben Franklin sub (breaded chicken, marinara sauce and provolone).
Ben's Recommendation: See previous line (Regular: $7.49; Large: $11.99...go large)
Be prepared to order lots of plates and try new things! Cava is a Greek, Mediterranean infused tapas restaurant, just a few doors down from Ted's Bulletin on 8th Street. Before eating at Cava, I had no idea what "tapas" were and only ordered one plate. Big mistake. The portions are on a smaller end of the spectrum, but they make it up with bold and excellent flavor. Whenever family or friends visited, we would take them here. To this day, Cava is "our" place and favorite restaurant to visit. The authentic food, libations, and overall experience (igniting the saganaki flame, Opa!) is what makes Cava a restaurant you need to visit during your next trip to D.C.
Ben's Recommendation: Pass on the chips and dip on the menu - they bring out bread free dips before your food arrives. Brussels Sprouts, Saganaki, Chicken Souvlaki, Short Rip, Lollipop Chicken. Prices vary, but expect to spend $$$.
I'm a simple man raised on simple ways. I don't ask a lot out of life, but one thing I do want is a nicely grilled steak cooked to perfection. There are many steakhouses in D.C. that make the "Best Steak in D.C." claim, but they all fail in comparison to Ray's. Put it this way, if Ron Swanson were to ever leave Indiana, Ray's would replace Charles Mulligan's. Honestly, I don't know why they offer salads, it must be some D.C. regulatory thing, because their steaks are incredible. This is definitely up there in one of my all-time favorites - and the prices aren't too shabby either!
Ben's Recommendation: Blue Devil - Top sirloin with 'secret', spicy glaze, topped with garlic ($28.99) or The Cowboy Cut - 28 oz. bone-in rib steak ($48.99) - All steaks come with an endless supply of homemade mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. Deviled eggs with steak tartare ($9.99)
The idea of eating spicy food never really seemed appealing to me, until I was introduced to Thai X-ing. I believe it was Emily's idea who suggest we visit some Thai restaurant all her friends and colleagues were raving about. We arrived to what looked like someone's rowhouse. There are no official looking signs, just a piece of yellow cloth wrapped around the railing that says, "THAI X-ING". Thai X-ing flips the typical D.C. dining experience and adds a unique sense of Thai character. We sat, in what probably once was someone's living room and indulged ourselves in the finest Thai food we've ever had - and that is saying something since Emily has been to Thailand! Chef Taw Vigsittaboot changes his pre-fix, multi-course menu on a daily basis but, always offers the pumpkin curry, which is to die for!
Ben's Recommendation: Make the reservation and go with friends/ family! Prices range based on party size and the day ($30-50 per person).
Pitango Gelato is a go-to dessert destination spot after any meal in DC. Since everything here tastes terrific, we would frequent P.G. on a weekly basis (sometimes more often) and always get something different. I'd typically branch out to the sorbets, whereas Emily would stick to the gelato flavors. Mix and match, pick a variety and combine them all into one! You can't go wrong!
Ben's Recommendation: Chocolate Noir + Mojito + Cinnamon ((the perfect trifecta) Inexpensive prices vary).
Chances are you've heard of Georgetown Cupcake. They have their own show, DC Cupcakes, on TLC and have been reviewed by every major, mainstream media outlet. And the reviews are all the same... A++! Located in the heart of, you guessed it, Georgetown, G.C. has 100's of cupcake combinations to keep customers always wanting more. There is one "small" catch... The line literally wraps around the block (as seen above)! But fear not, you have some options. 1) The obvious choice: Arrive in the afternoon, after 5pm, or on the weekend. If this is you, be prepared to wait in line for over an hour. 2) Arrive when they open (10:00AM) on a weekday - the line should be much shorter. 3) My favorite option: Order online and bypass the entire line! However, if your schedule is flexible, go hop in the line during prime time, meet some new friends, and live the experience!
Ben's Recommendation: Red Velvet, Cookies n' Cream, Peanut Butter Fudge, Birthday Cake. Prices range from $3.25 per cupcake to $35 for a dozen...it's worth it!