9 Restaurants I Always Take Friends When They Visit DC

The restaurants in DC are excellent, and I could make a list of at least 100 recommendations. There are all different kinds of cuisine and all different kinds of places to visit. My list includes some of those, but it also includes places that show off how unique DC is and that have some fun involved, too. When someone visits DC, I can’t help but show off what makes it special! These are the restaurants in DC I love taking my friends to.

Living in DC means living somewhere that people like to come and visit, which is great for me because I love hosting and love my people. DC is a huge foodie city, and there are so many different places that I could suggest.

I am a budget traveler and a budget eater. There are many great cheap places to eat in DC too. I have included one pricier place on this list because it is a favorite, but for the most part, these are restaurants I can afford to go to on occasion. All prices are before alcoholic drinks.


love wall union market

Union Market isn’t really one restaurant as much as it is a collection of awesome restaurant concepts, pop-ups, and food trucks that are famous around DC. It has some of the best cheap eats in Washington, DC. There is one main restaurant Bidwell that has nice food, but there are so many different places to get awesome food. A few of my favorites are Takorean, Arepazone, Mason Dixie Biscuits, and Saison Waffle Bar.

There are so many other delicious things to try there too, though. Walk around with your food and try something at every little stop. Outside you’ll find graffiti on the walls, which is a great spot for a pic! Check out their website for more information! They have more limited hours of 8 am – 8 pm on weekends and 11 am – 8 pm on weekdays.

$6 – $15

inside maketto in dc

Maketto was founded in 2015 by the same chef who had the concept for Toki Underground (a very delicious Ramen place you should also visit on H Street). He now focuses on Maketto and its interesting concept. It has a clothing store in the front (men’s fashion mostly) and is a coffee shop by day and Cambodian/Tawainese restaurant by night. All dishes are served family-style making it fun to try many different dishes while there.

Located in the hip neighborhood H Street Corridor, you definitely don’t want to miss it! Make a reservation ahead of time for a table.

$15 – $35


Bus Boys and Poets is not only a great restaurant but also a community gathering place and book store. It was established in DC in 2005 and regularly hosts poetry nights, community meetings, and its owner regularly works in underserved communities. Its unique concept and great food make it a perfect chill spot! They have a bunch of locations around DC so it is an easy place to get to no matter what part of DC you are staying in. No reservations typically needed, but if you are on a time crunch, I do suggest it!

$10 – $30

homemade poptarts at teds bulletin in dc

Ted’s Bulletin is a fun restaurant with an upscale diner feel. They are most famously known for their house-made pop-tarts in delicious seasonal flavors and their alcoholic milkshakes. Go on a Saturday or Sunday around brunch (although their menu is always the same) then walk over to Eastern Market! Perfect DC Saturday!

$15 – $30


Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers is owned by the same people as Founding Farmers and Farmers & Distillers. They are a staple in DC, and while they get mixed reviews, I still recommend it and think they have excellent food. The signature drinks are awesome, and the ceviche is delicious. Right in the heart of Georgetown where you can ice skate in winter and enjoy fountains and sunsets in the summer. Reservations should be made in advance unless you want bar seating or a shared table.

$20 – $30

outside ben's chili bowl

This is a historic DC staple. They now have two locations and a new concept called Ben’s Upstairs, located on H Street and U Street (U Street is the original). Their chili is obviously what they are most known for since 1958. They’ve been in DC through the turmoil of race riots, all the way through to today. It’s a super casual and cheap place. Walk in and get in line! Seating is limited.

$5 – $10

When in DC, you definitely have to get Ethiopian food. One of the best is Dukem located in the U Street neighborhood. The food is good, and you get an authentic experience. The best deal is to get a platter that has many different dishes on it to share as a table. Lots of food and pretty cheap! They are also known for their entertainment later at night.

$10 – $20

DC has lots of awesome ramen places. The reason this one is on my list is that there are so many ramen places and many of them do it so well, but Daikaya is my favorite. There are two different spots — the ramen shop and the restaurant upstairs. I recommend the ramen shop. It’s right in Chinatown and usually, there’s a long wait. Plan on getting there early if you want ramen!

$10 – $15

My last suggestion is a classic here in DC. This French restaurant does an incredible brunch and their dinner is just as good. They have a wide selection of cheeses and every sauce in a dish I have eaten there is just awesome. You should head up to 14th Street and eat some of their crème brûlée. Reservations should be made in advance.

$31 – $60


Have you been to DC? What is your favorite restaurant here? Tell me yours in the comments below!


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