Going Out Guide

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Bad Saint $
Ampalaya
Ampalaya
vegetarian

Chef Tom Cunanan toasts bitter melon in a wok with garlic, shallots, ginger, red onions and tomatoes. Fermented black beans are tossed with the melon mixture, and a fried egg is thrown in seconds before the plate hits your table.

Cuisine: Filipino • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Etto $$
Anchovies in green sauce
Anchovies in green sauce
Italian seafood

Two silvery and inviting "fishies," as they're described on the menu, are set off by a generous helping of a tart green sauce redolent of parsley, lemon and capers and half of a soft-cooked egg you can mix in or enjoy on its own.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Logan Circle

Photo by Katherine Frey/Post

Greek Deli $
Avgolemono soup
Avgolemono soup
pasta

Kostas Fostieris, owner and chef of Greek Deli, is an old pro at making this rich and rewarding chicken soup. The lemon is treated so delicately that it comes across more like candied fruit rather than tart citrus.

Cuisine: Greek • Dish type: Soup • Neighborhood: Downtown

Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/Post

El Comalito $
Ayote con queso pupusa
Ayote con queso pupusa
pupusas

An impossibly thin masa shell somehow contains a thick, molten layer of mozzarella and Salvadoran cheeses studded with tiny bits of ayote, a mildly flavored green squash.

Cuisine: Salvadoran • Dish type: Side

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

DGS Delicatessen $
Babka bread pudding
Babka bread pudding
dessert

There's no babka in this comfort dessert, but no matter: The little bites of hot, melted bittersweet chocolate and cool scoop of salted caramel ice cream hit the spot.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Bullfrog Bagels $
Bialy
Bialy
breakfast

Bullfrog's bialy tastes like an English muffin and a bagel had a baby. It's soft, slightly sour and excellent toasted with cream cheese.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Breakfast • Neighborhood: H Street NE

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Queen Amannisa $$$
Big Plate Chicken
Big Plate Chicken
chicken

True to its title, Big Plate Chicken is an enormous platter of bone-in bird, slathered in a mouth-numbingly peppery sauce. Best of all are the hand-stretched, made-to-order noodles underneath. A hallmark of Uyghur cuisine.

Cuisine: Uyghur • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Market Lunch $$
Blue Buck pancakes
Blue Buck pancakes
breakfast

These berry-spiked buckwheat pancakes are served only on Saturdays in Eastern Market.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Breakfast • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Photo by Stephanie Merry/Post

Coastal Flats $
Blue crab and rock shrimp fritters
Blue crab and rock shrimp fritters
something fried seafood

This trio of visually arresting fritters look like tumbleweed, and they come in a pool of lobster-ginger butter dotted with corn.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Marcel’s $$$
Boudin blanc
Boudin blanc
French meat

This sausage is shockingly fluffy despite the fact that it’s laced with pheasant, chicken and four ounces of foie gras. The secret: a nuanced whipping preparation that breaks down muscle proteins.

Cuisine: French • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: West End

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Anita's $
Breakfast burrito
Breakfast burrito
breakfast Mexican

These bargain burritos are stuffed with eggs, potato and cheese and are served all day.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Breakfast

Photo by Larry Kobelka for The Washington Post

DCity Smokehouse $
Brisket Champ
Brisket Champ
sandwiches barbecue

This meaty masterpiece is stacked onto buttery, fat Texas toast and topped with vinegar-loaded house-made pickles and crispy buttermilk-battered onions.

Cuisine: BBQ • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Bloomingdale

Photo by Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post

Bub and Pop's $$
Bub's Italian Hoagie
Bub's Italian Hoagie
sandwiches

Stacked with prosciutto, capicola, pepperoni, salami and provolone, the sandwich has a few cheffy touches, too: house-made mayo; a relish made with hot pepper, sweet pepper and onion; a top-secret vinaigrette; and a hearty but non-traditional shaving of Pecorino Romano.

Cuisine: Italian-American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Mi La Cay $
Bun bo Hue
Bun bo Hue
noodles Vietnamese meat

This soup has it all — a rich pork and beef broth infused with lemongrass and made funky with fermented shrimp paste, thick rice noodles, slices of brisket and Vietnamese ham, meaty ham hock and congealed pig’s blood.

Cuisine: Vietnamese • Dish type: Soup

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Sunshine General Store $
Burger
Burger
burgers

These hand-formed, fresh-not-frozen burgers are the stars at this mom-and-pop restaurant.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Sunshine

Photo by George Orndorff for The Washington Post

Le Diplomate $$
Burger Américain
Burger Américain
burgers

Made with two slim, seared patties tucked into a golden bun baked in-house, the burger is astonishingly simple, draped with American cheese and topped with a few tart pickles, plus its own mystery sauce.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: 14th Street

Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post

DC Noodles $$
Burmese khao soi
Burmese khao soi
noodles

This version of the northern Thai dish is kicked up with a base that includes fish paste, shallots and ginger, and is so loaded with turmeric that it's an eye-searing orange.

Cuisine: Burmese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: U Street

Photo by Marvin Joseph/Post

Mintwood Place $$
Burrata
Burrata
Italian

Made with three kinds of kale (one flash-fried for crunch), sweet apples, smoky nuts and tart tamarind-honey dressing, this dish will change the way you think about the leafy green.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Marvin Joseph/Post

Republic $$
Burrata
Burrata
Italian

At Takoma Park's Republic, the ultra-decadent globe of chewy fresh mozzarella encasing a center of rich cream comes atop farro tossed with celery, lemon and basil.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Catherine Rytkonen

Mirabelle $
Butterscotch cremeux
Butterscotch cremeux
dessert French

The unctuous, egg-based mixture is flavored with caramelized brown sugar and a hint of Bastille 1789 French whiskey and then topped with a thin-but-powerful layer of caramel, whipped cream and chunks of Maldon sea salt.

Cuisine: French • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Downtown

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Rose's Luxury $$
Cacio e pepe
Cacio e pepe
pasta Italian

With only two ingredients -- cheese and pepper -- this pasta dish is a delicate dance between fat and salt that, much like a negroni, requires precision.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Barracks Row

Photo by Astrid RIecken for The Washington Post

Federalist Pig $
Carolina on My Mind
Carolina on My Mind
barbecue meat

One bite of this chopped pork sandwich, and the form collapses. The meat, the juices, the coleslaw — they tumble and drip from the soft sesame bun, as they do with all the great ones.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Kabob n Karahi $
Chaat samosa
Chaat samosa
salad

The spicy South Asian salad mingles crunchy elements with sweet and kicky chutneys, making for an addictive snack.

Cuisine: Pakistani • Dish type: Starter

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Izakaya Seki $
Chahan
Chahan
Japanese

The Chinese-inspired chahan, a short-grain fried rice flavored with fragrant shiso leaf, sake, sesame oil and crushed garlic chips, is a popular way to end the night at an izakaya.

Cuisine: Japanese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: U Street

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

El Pollo Rico $
Charcoal-broiled chicken
Charcoal-broiled chicken
chicken

This Peruvian chicken purveyor has won over countless fans with its impossibly juicy, crispy birds and wildly popular accompanying sauces.

Cuisine: Peruvian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post

Sardi's Pollo a la Brasa $
Charcoal-broiled chicken
Charcoal-broiled chicken
chicken

At its best, the chicken at Sardi's is mouthwateringly brown and crisp, with a prominent smokiness and an aroma of char.

Cuisine: Peruvian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post

Tacos El Chilango $
Cheese and avocado tacos
Cheese and avocado tacos
tacos Mexican

This vegetarian taco showcases Oaxaca cheese, crisped on the griddle and topped with creamy wedges of perfectly ripe avocado and pungent onion.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: U Street

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Melt Gourmet Cheeseburger $
Cheeseburger
Cheeseburger
burgers meat

The standard cheeseburger is a statuesque beauty, a half-pound patty formed with an Angus blend of short rib, brisket, chuck and other trimmings. One bite — and the burger drips its juices.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Katherine Frey/Post

Kyirisan $$
Cheesecake
Cheesecake
dessert

Served atop a custardlike pandan anglaise and sprinklings of crushed hazelnuts, this sweet dome is coated in a chocolate mirror glaze and topped with Szechuan pepper whipped cream.

Cuisine: Asian • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Holley Simmons for The Washington Post

Villa Mozart $$
Chef Andrea's hometown ravioli
Chef Andrea's hometown ravioli
Italian pasta

Crescent-shaped rye ravioli with fresh spinach and mountain cheese is a reminder that pasta maestro Andrea Pace hails from a part of Italy where German is spoken.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Moby Dick $$
Chicken and lamb kebab combo
Chicken and lamb kebab combo
chicken meat

Joojeh, or Persian marinated chicken, and a minced lamb skewer known as kubideh, are layered on a generous pile of yellow rice and accompanied by a made-to-order sheet of warm flatbread.

Cuisine: Middle Eastern • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Anne Farrar/Post

Afghan Bistro $$
Chicken karahi
Chicken karahi
chicken

Sopped up with basmati rice and Afghan flatbread, this aromatic eggplant and chicken dish is a hearty, well-rounded meal you won’t soon forget.

Cuisine: Afghan • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Becky Krystal/Post

Co Co. Sala $$
Chocolate Onyx
Chocolate Onyx
dessert

If you have a sweet tooth, Co Co. Sala’s Chocolate Onyx is the sort of sugarbomb that would satisfy a week’s worth of cravings: This gem-shaped pastry, rendered almost entirely in dark chocolate, is three blood-sugar-spiking desserts in one.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Penn Quarter

Photo by Matthew Worden

Bread Furst $
Chocolate-chip cookie
Chocolate-chip cookie
dessert

It’s a chocolate-chip cookie, but a refined one, made with organic flour, cultured butter and semi-sweet chocholate chips from a French chocolatier.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Van Ness

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Crisfield Seafood $$
Crab cakes
Crab cakes
seafood

The legendary crabcakes at this no-frills spot are made with backfin crab and cracker and are seasoned with Old Bay.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Silver Spring

Photo by Fritz Hahn/Post

Conosci $$$
Crab risotto with uni
Crab risotto with uni
seafood

Stir the risotto, and the uni's briny richness will melt into the creamy arborio rice, mixed with Maryland jumbo-lump crabmeat, butter, white miso, white shoyu, the Japanese spice blend togarashi and yuzu juice.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Mount Vernon Triangle

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Jack Rose Dining Saloon $
Crispy chicken skins
Crispy chicken skins
chicken something fried

These hot shards of crackling skin are the kind of moreish bar food that works as a starter or a late-night bar snack. No matter when you order them, they always disappear faster than you think.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Fritz Hahn/Post

Thai Square $$
Crispy squid with basil
Crispy squid with basil
seafood Thai

Thai Square’s crispy squid, topped with a thatch of flash-fried Thai basil, is so beloved that owner Sunthorn Rojural is reticent to give away its secrets.

Cuisine: Thai • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Kate Patterson for The Washington Post

Frenchie's $
Croissant
Croissant
breakfast

Baker Erica Skolnik serves her buttery creations in plain, almond, chocolate and savory variations.

Cuisine: French • Dish type: Breakfast • Neighborhood: H Street

Photo by Marvin Joseph/Post

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken $
Crème brulee doughnut
Crème brulee doughnut
dessert breakfast

The signature sweet gets a blast from a kitchen torch, yielding a crackled, sugary, just-shy-of-burned glaze that perfectly mimics the surface of crème brûlée, in deep-fried form.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Dessert

Photo by Nathaniel Grann/Post

Tabard Inn $
Doughnuts
Doughnuts
dessert breakfast

Few brunch diners leave without ordering a few of these piping-hot simple yeast doughnuts.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/Post

The Source $
Duck bao buns
Duck bao buns
Chinese

During Saturday dim-sum service the Source rolls out this snack of moist duck tucked between the folds of a doughy, traditional Chinese steamed bun.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Brunch • Neighborhood: Penn Quarter

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Bistro Provence $$$
Duck confit
Duck confit
French

It's the last-minute touches -- the slow pan roast that begins the moment an order is placed -- that give this dish its unmatched crispiness.

Cuisine: French • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Bethesda

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Bourbon Steak $
Duck fat fries
Duck fat fries
something fried

The spuds at Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak in the Four Seasons Hotel get a flavor boost from being crisped in this unusually rich oil.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Georgetown

Photo by Four Seasons Hotel

All-Purpose $$
Eggplant parm
Eggplant parm
Italian vegetarian

This hearty, “Jersey-style” homage to chef Michael Friedman’s childhood is rich enough to feed a group, but not so much that it’ll stop you from going back for forkful after forkful.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Becky Krystal/Post

El Chucho $
Elote callejero
Elote callejero
Mexican vegetarian

Vendors in Mexico have probably never heard of brown-butter aioli, but who can quibble with authenticity when the corn, chili, cilantro and pungent, Parmesan-like cotija cheese is this delicious?

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Tango Pastry $
Facturas
Facturas
dessert

In the not-too-sweet flaky layers of these Argentinian pastries lies the influence of European immigrants, plus the Latin contribution of a rich dulce de leche filling.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Breakfast

Photo by Evy Mages for The Washington Post

Amsterdam Falafelshop $
Falafel and frites
Falafel and frites
vegetarian something fried sandwiches

The fried-to-order falafel and frites are irresistibly crunchy, but the allure of Amsterdam is the toppings bar -- a spread of Middle Eastern relishes, pickles, spreads and condiments.

Cuisine: Middle Eastern • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Jason Berger for The Washington Post

Zaytinya $$
Falafel burger
Falafel burger
burgers something fried vegetarian

The Lebanese-style falafel is patted into the shape of a burger and served on a soft, glossy olive-oil brioche, stacked with lemon-dressed cucumbers and tomato and smeared with hummus and garlic yogurt.

Cuisine: Mediterranean • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Penn Quarter

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Baby Wale $$$
Faux rib-eye
Faux rib-eye
meat

This piece of shoulder meat, playing dress-up as a hearty rib-eye, is not only a cut above the average steak, but also a bargain at $24.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Kate Patterson for The Washington Post

Matchbox $$
Fire & Smoke pizza
Fire & Smoke pizza
pizza

The Fire & Smoke stands out as one of the city's spiciest pies, with roasted red peppers, smoked gouda and a chipotle-spiked sauce.

Cuisine: Pizza • Dish type: Pizza

Photo by Anne Farrar/Post

District Fishwife $$
Fish & Chips
Fish & Chips
seafood something fried

Beer battered and deep fried to crispy, flaky perfection, strapping pieces of fresh Pacific cod are paired with equally golden-brown wedge chips.

Cuisine: British • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Union Market

Photo by Emily Featherston for The Washington Post

Ford's Fish Shack $$
Fish and chips
Fish and chips
seafood something fried

The fries are skinny and served with the skin on for crunch, and the battered, fried cod arrives hot and flaky.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Ambar $
Forest gnocchi
Forest gnocchi
pasta

With molehills of mousse, sandy chocolate and sprigs of fresh tarragon, this dish looks like a "Top Chef" quickfire challenge gone off the rails, and yet it's dessert at its most avant garde.

Cuisine: Balkan • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Stachowski's Market $$
Four-meat grinder
Four-meat grinder
sandwiches

The New England-inspired foot-long is a monster among sandwiches, stacked so high with salami, coppa, mortadella and soppressata that it clocks in at more than two pounds.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Georgetown

Photo by Anne Farrar for The Washington Post

Chinatown Express $
Fresh noodle soup with duck
Fresh noodle soup with duck
Chinese noodles

Add a pile of golden brown duck to a classic soup loaded with fresh noodles and you get the very definition of savory.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Chinatown

Photo by Alex Baldinger/Post

Central Michel Richard $$$
Fried chicken
Fried chicken
chicken something fried

This particular fried chicken is a crunchy, tears-of-joy-inducing dish that's perfectly in keeping with the high-concept/lowbrow fare of the downtown power spot.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Downtown

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Convivial $$
Fried chicken "coq au vin"
Fried chicken "coq au vin"
chicken something fried

Based on a traditionally long-braised dish but inspired by Korean fried chicken, the poultry here is double-fried for a super-crispy crust. Along with mushrooms, shallots, garlic, potatoes and bacon, it's covered in a reduced-wine glaze.

Cuisine: French-American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Dayna Smith for The Washington Post

Maketto $$$
Fried chicken and bread
Fried chicken and bread
chicken something fried

Your first impression might be the fried chicken's sweetness, but hold tight: It won't be long before you feel the unmistakable numbing spice of Sichuan peppercorns.

Cuisine: Taiwanese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: H Street

Photo by Melina Mara/Post

Jumbo Jumbo Cafe $
Fried chicken with spiced salt and basil
Fried chicken with spiced salt and basil
chicken something fried

A platter of popcorn chicken, redolent of pepper and five-spice seasoning and fried with basil, is a classic example of Taiwanese street food.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Pop's SeaBar $
Fried smelts
Fried smelts
seafood something fried

These tiny freshwater fish with the mild flavor of a largemouth bass but with such rustic character that they rarely appear on restaurant menus. They arrive fried and tossed with vinegar-soaked peppers.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Snack • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Horace and Dickie's Carryout $
Fried whiting sandwich
Fried whiting sandwich
sandwiches seafood something fried

The best way to eat these breaded-and-fried fish fillets is to stack half between the bread, and save the rest for lunch the next day, unless you’re splitting the generous portion with a hungry friend or two.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: H Street

Photo by Bill O'Leary/Post

Meats & Foods $
Frito pie
Frito pie
meat

The lowly Frito pie is among the nostalgic junk-food basics given the gourmet treatment at Meats & Foods, with chili that’s made with love — and rich, fatty beef.

Cuisine: BBQ • Dish type: Side • Neighborhood: Bloomingdale

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Keren $
Ful
Ful
vegetarian breakfast

This Eritrean breakfast is reminiscent of a bean dip, made with crushed fava beans. It’s topped with chopped onions, jalapeño peppers, yogurt and a blend of spices known as berbere powder.

Cuisine: Eritrean • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Holley Simmons for The Washington Post

Gom Ba Woo $$
Gal bi tang
Gal bi tang
Korean

Pair this slow-simmered Korean short-rib soup with the other house speciality: dumplings.

Cuisine: Korean • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Justin Rude/Post

Kogiya $$$
Galbi
Galbi
Korean

The beef short rib dish known as galbi brings spice-lovers from across the region. Cooking it over an open flame adds just the right hint of smoke.

Cuisine: Korean • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Kate Patterson for The Washington Post

Junction Bakery & Bistro $
General Tso’s cauliflower
General Tso’s cauliflower
vegetarian

The meatless spin on the Chinese-American restaurant staple is coated in a delightfully sticky sauce made with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil.

Cuisine: Asian • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Del Ray

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Hazel $$
Gnocchi Bokki
Gnocchi Bokki
pasta meat

This Korean-Italian dish features pillowy pasta bathed in a ragu of tomato paste, onion, carrot, garlic, ginger and pork butt, braised for eight hours and emulsified into a delightfully smooth, spicy sauce.

Cuisine: Asian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria $
Gordita carnitas
Gordita carnitas
Mexican sandwiches

Garnished with cilantro and fresh cheese, the carnitas mixture will not only poke through its protective shell, but it'll lodge itself in your long-term memory.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Mt Vernon Square

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Garrison $
Gougères
Gougères
French

The baked-to-order gougeres are tender, light and airy, with a bit of crunch from the dustings of poppy seeds and flaky salt that adorn them.

Cuisine: French-American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Barracks Row

Photo by Scott Suchman

Stoney's $
Grilled cheese
Grilled cheese
sandwiches

With its American cheese and salty, buttered toast, the Stoney's sandwich isn't particularly imaginative, but order the Super with bacon and tomato for something a bit more over the top.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Logan Circle

Photo by Kathryn Norwood

Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich $
Grilled pork banh mi
Grilled pork banh mi
Vietnamese sandwiches meat

The house-baked baguette, warm and so fresh that it’s crunchy and soft at the same time, is the ideal vehicle for the red-hued pork, crunchy daikon, jalapeno, cilantro and rich Vietnamese mayonnaise that make up the No. 2.

Cuisine: Vietnamese • Dish type: Sandwich

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Colada Shop $
Ham croquetas
Ham croquetas
something fried meat

A fixture of Cuban cuisine, these croquetas are a study in comfort-food textures: soft little pillows of deliciousness stuffed with ham and bechamel on the inside, with an exterior that’s been deep-fried to a golden crisp.

Cuisine: Cuban • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Emily Codik/Post

Buttercream Bakeshop $
Happy Camper
Happy Camper
dessert

Tiffany MacIsaac’s bakery does well by nostalgia, and this riff on s’mores, made with a graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache and honey-vanilla marshmallow fluff, is no exception.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Osteria Morini $$
Hazelnut milk chocolate tortino
Hazelnut milk chocolate tortino
dessert

Cake filled with hazelnut milk chocolate is served on a swath of dulce de leche, with vanilla gelato.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Navy Yard

Photo by Bonnie Benwick/Post

District Taco $
Healthy breakfast taco
Healthy breakfast taco
tacos Mexican vegetarian

The dish, particularly when doused with the citrusy salsa verde, is the closest thing this town has to a Texas-worthy breakfast taco.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Taco

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Frankly … Pizza! $$
Hot Mess
Hot Mess
meat pizza

The sauceless, gooey, wood-fired pie is topped with three kinds of cheese, candylike caramelized onions, roasted and pickled jalapeño peppers and thick-cut bacon made in-house.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Holley Simmons for The Washington Post

A. Litteri $
Italian sub sandwich
Italian sub sandwich
sandwiches Italian meat

This simple Italian sub, which is stacked with capicola, mortadella, black-peppered ham and provolone and then doused with oil and vinegar, is, at less than $5, one of the city's best deals.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Union Market

Photo by Evy Mages for The Washington Post

Woodlands $$
Jaipori paneer dosa
Jaipori paneer dosa
Indian vegetarian

Cooks at this no-frills South Indian vegetarian restaurant transform house-made paneer cheese into a flavor bomb, thanks to a proper dose of green chilies, cilantro, turmeric and mustard and cumin seeds.

Cuisine: Indian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Emily Codik/Post

Da Rae Won $
Jajangmyeon
Jajangmyeon
Korean

Adapted from a Chinese dish, jajangmyeon is little more than noodles covered with a fermented, caramelized black-bean sauce.

Cuisine: Korean • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Himitsu $$$
Karaage and biscuits
Karaage and biscuits
chicken something fried

The buttermilk-brined fried chicken's sting comes by way of Korean chile pepper paste, its richness from a dollop of creamy Kewpie mayonnaise, its sweet note from homemade pickles.

Cuisine: Asian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Petworth

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Compass Rose $$
Khachapuri
Khachapuri
vegetarian

The doughy Georgian delicacy is filled with ricotta, feta and mozzarella, baked, then presented at your table piping hot, with a heart-stopping pat of butter and runny egg.

Cuisine: Georgian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: 14th Street

Photo by Greg Powers for The Washington Post

Baan Thai $$
Khao soi
Khao soi
Thai noodles

The khao soi gai at Baan Thai is a big bowl of bottomless delights, with cyrry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce and palm sugar heightening the pleasures of the accompanying chicken thighs and egg noddles.

Cuisine: Thai • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: 14th Street

Photo by Ricky Carioti/Post

Toki Underground $$
Kimchi ramen
Kimchi ramen
noodles

Toki's pork-laden, vinegary, kimchi ramen, is the perfect soup to invigorate anyone who's hungry.

Cuisine: Japanese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: H Street

Photo by Emma McAlary for The Washington Post

Cafe Aurora $
Kitcha fitfit
Kitcha fitfit
breakfast

This rustic Eritrean staple features crusty flatbread tossed in clarified butter, fenugreek, cardamom, garlic and the crimson chili berbere.

Cuisine: Eritrean • Dish type: Breakfast

Photo by Evy Mages for The Washington Post

Bon Chon $$
Korean fried chicken wings
Korean fried chicken wings
Korean something fried chicken

Korean chicken is about technique: It's barely battered, dipped into the fryer once, rested and then fried again so it's as tender as it is crisp.

Cuisine: Korean • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post

Astor Mediterranean $
Kufta sandwich
Kufta sandwich
sandwiches

Astor nestles beef, lamb and a cool, dill-laced dip with feta and cucumber in the folds of a warm pita for this popular sandwich that channels the flavors of the Mideast.

Cuisine: Mediterranean • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Camille Powell Kilgore/Post

Ottoman Taverna $
Künefe
Künefe
dessert

After emerging from the wood-burning oven, crispy golden on the outside and perfectly melty inside, the cheese-stuffed pastry is soaked in a sugar syrup infused with anise and lemon and topped with ground pistachios.

Cuisine: Turkish • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Mount Vernon Triangle

Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Range $$
Lacinato kale Caesar salad
Lacinato kale Caesar salad
salad

The kale is rendered delicate with egg yolk, and grated pecorino dusts the kale like freshly fallen snow. Finally, sourdough croutons crusted in corn flakes and anchovy puree are dropped artfully over the plate.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Salad • Neighborhood: Friendship Heights

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Ravi Kabob House $
Lahori choley
Lahori choley
vegetarian

The spicy, tender chickpeas dished out by this popular kebab house are the stuff of legend among heat seekers.

Cuisine: Pakistani • Dish type: Side

Photo by James M. Thresher for The Washington Post

Tail Up Goat $$$$
Lamb ribs
Lamb ribs
meat

Denver-cut lamb ribs are slow-cooked before they're rubbed in a spice blend, grilled and served with sumac onions and seasonal garnishes such as fresh fava beans and preserved lemon.

Cuisine: Mediterranean • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Panda Gourmet $$
Lamb with cumin
Lamb with cumin
Chinese meat

Start with the restaurant's cumin-rubbed lamb, dry-fried and served under a forest of cilantro, chilis, fat slices of garlic and bell pepper.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Gateway

Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post

Rappahannock Oyster Bar $$
Lambs and clams
Lambs and clams
meat seafood

This stick-to-your-ribs stew pairs clams steeped in white wine with sauteed lamb, plus pigeon peas (formerly white cannellini beans) and a sofrito of peppers and tomato.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Union Market

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Mi Cuba Cafe $$
Lechon asado
Lechon asado
meat

The pork shoulder is marinated with mojo -- the bitter-orange-and-garlic sauce at the heart of Cuban cooking -- before it's roasted, chopped and topped with a tangle of grilled onions.

Cuisine: Cuban • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

R&R Taqueria $
Lengua (beef tongue) taco
Lengua (beef tongue) taco
tacos Mexican

The beef tongue is just one of a dozen fillings that could fill your soft corn tortilla at R&R Taqueria, but it gets the vote as a rare offering you need to try for yourself.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Sean McCormick for The Washington Post

Masseria $$$
Linguini with spicy XO sauce
Linguini with spicy XO sauce
Italian pasta

Chef Nick Stefanelli “Italianized” an XO sauce — a thick, spicy, fish-flavored condiment — by cooking prosciutto and dried shrimp in olive oil and garlic until it formed a piquant paste.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Northeast

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Fish $$$
Lobster jambalaya
Lobster jambalaya
seafood

José Andrés brings a paella-master’s touch to the Louisianan dish, made with Carolina Gold rice and built to be shared by two to four people.

Cuisine: Spanish • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Great Wall Szechuan House $
Ma po tofu
Ma po tofu
Chinese

The star of Great Wall’s Szechuan "ma-la" menu is the ma po tofu, a kicky dish of soft tofu dotted with tongue-numbing Szechuan peppercorns and tiny black beans that add a smoky saltiness.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Logan Circle

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Sweet Lobby $
Macarons
Macarons
dessert

Getting the ideal crisp-yet-chewy texture of a macaron is hard enough, but this shop also has managed to create inventive flavor profiles.

Cuisine: French • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Photo by The Sweet Lobby

Fiola Mare $$$$
Maine lobster ravioli
Maine lobster ravioli
pasta seafood

Fabio Trabocchi has been making his luxe lobster ravioli for 15 years. Attribute its popularity to the rich, outsize pieces of lobster, which Trabocchi tucks into folds of delicate wonton to retain the crustacean’s top billing.

Cuisine: Italian-American • Dish type: Pasta • Neighborhood: Georgetown • Note: Also on the menu at its sister restaurant, Fiola. (601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. fioladc.com.)

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Espita Mezcaleria $$
Maitake tacos
Maitake tacos
tacos vegetarian

The mushroom tacos' robust pop of flavor comes mostly from the few simple toppings: sour shards of pickled onion, a verdant leaf or two of cilantro and a drizzle of citrusy, mezcal-laced tomatillo salsa.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Pupatella $$
Margherita D.O.C.
Margherita D.O.C.
pizza Italian vegetarian

The "DOC" certification signifies a pizza made in the old-world Neapolitan fashion, with San Marzano tomatoes, milky mozzarella di bufala and just a handful of ingredients in the dough.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Bill O'Leary/Post

2 Amys $$
Margherita D.O.C.
Margherita D.O.C.
pizza Italian vegetarian

This Neapolitan pizza -- with its buffalo mozzarella, basil and slightly charred crust -- is made to the exacting specifications of the Italian government.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Pizza • Neighborhood: Cleveland Park

Photo by Michael S. Williamson/Post

Little Serow $$$
Mekhong whiskey pork ribs
Mekhong whiskey pork ribs
Thai meat

This family-style restaurant's typical meal-ender is a platter of Thai-style pork ribs marinated in a sugarcane-based Mekhong whiskey, caramelized and stacked with crisp shallots and dill.

Cuisine: Thai • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Un Je Ne Sais Quoi $
Merveilleux
Merveilleux
dessert

The snowball-like pastry consists of whipped cream or ganache sandwiched between layers of meringue, all covered in another layer of whipped cream and chocolate flakes or other adornments, such as nuts, crumbled meringue or even cookie crumbs.

Cuisine: French-Belgian • Dish type: Dessert • Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Photo by Becky Krystal/Post

Red Hen $$
Mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage
Mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage
pasta Italian meat

House-made pasta is the vehicle for a slow-roasted tomato sauce spiked with garlic, butter and sausage made with local pork, toasted fennel seed, pepper and floral fennel pollen.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Bloomingdale

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Joe's Noodle House $$
Mongolian beef with cumin
Mongolian beef with cumin
Chinese meat

One of Joe's atypical dishes is a dry-sauteed beef sprinkled with ground cumin and cilantro that's an unexpected combination of Chinese and Mexican flavors.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Granville Moore's $$
Moules bleu
Moules bleu
seafood

The mussels in this rich dish are swimming in a broth of white wine, shallots, pork belly and blue cheese.

Cuisine: Belgian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: H Street

Photo by James M. Thresher/Post

Dirty South Deli $$
Mr Chips
Mr Chips
sandwiches meat

Dirty South Deli eschews pulled-pork minimalism, piling up juicy meat, pickled jalapenos, a slice of nutty manchego cheese and cilantro on a buttery brioche bun.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Downtown

Photo by Maura Judkis/Post

Woodlands $
Mysore masala dosa
Mysore masala dosa
Indian vegetarian

This Southern Indian rice-batter crepe is the spiciest at Woodlands, having been rubbed with a thin layer of chili paste.

Cuisine: Indian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Thip Khao $
Naem khao
Naem khao
salad

The herbaceous fried-rice salad naem khao is a Lao staple. Jasmine rice is mixed with coconut, rolled into balls and fried, then crushed and tossed with cilantro, scallions and sausage; to call it a salad is to downplay its sweet, garlicky and crunchy perfection.

Cuisine: Laotian • Dish type: Salad • Neighborhood: Columbia Heights • Note: Also on the menu at Bangkok Golden. (6395 Seven Corners Ctr., Falls Church. chefseng.com)

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Pitango Gelato $
Nocciola gelato
Nocciola gelato
dessert

Pitango sources roasted hazelnut, or nocciola, paste from a producer in Italy's fertile Piedmont region, and the result smells as intoxicating as it tastes.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Dessert

Photo by Noah Dan

Stomping Ground $
Not So Classic-style fried chicken biscuit
Not So Classic-style fried chicken biscuit
chicken something fried sandwiches

This best-selling fried chicken biscuit packs za’atar, honey, hot sauce, red onion and benne-seed tahini into a single bite. Plus, the 24-hour marinated, flour-dredged chicken breasts are fried in lard.

Cuisine: Southern • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Del Ray

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Osteria Marzano $
Nutella pizza
Nutella pizza
dessert pizza

The chocolate-hazelnut spread that tops the thin crust pizza is produced just outside Turin, hometown of proprietor Carmine Marzano. Marshmallows broiled to the point of subtle smokiness, and a generous sprinkle of sea salt, keep the whole affair from being too cloying.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Dessert

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Rasika $$
Palak chaat
Palak chaat
vegetarian Indian

It's hard not to notice diners oohing over bowls of this paper-thin, flash-fried spinach appetizer -- lightly tossed in tamarind chutney and sweet yogurt and flecked with red onion.

Cuisine: Indian • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Melina Mara/Post

Shanghai Taste $
Pan-fried soup dumplings
Pan-fried soup dumplings
Chinese

It's a soup dumpling crossed with a fluffy Chinese pork bun, and when drizzled with a ginger-black vinegar condiment, the sheng jian bao delivers a rare combination of sensations: crustiness, meatiness and soupiness.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Tim Carman for The Washington Post

Kyirisan $$
Pan-seared scallops
Pan-seared scallops
seafood

Tim Ma's perfectly seared scallops arrive in a deep bowl atop fragrant coconut risotto and a scoop of basil ice cream, which melts into the grains to form a sticky, savory support for the mollusks.

Cuisine: Pan-Asian • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Nicole Crowder/Post

Bindaas $
Pao bhaji
Pao bhaji
Indian vegetarian

Vikram Sunderam describes this Indian street food, made with a changing mix of vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, peas), as a “vegetarian sloppy Joe” because of its appearance, but that doesn’t do this lively dish justice.

Cuisine: Indian • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Cleveland Park

Photo by Becky Krystal/Post

Elephant Jumps $
Papaya salad (Som tum ka pi)
Papaya salad (Som tum ka pi)
Thai salad seafood

This real-deal funky salad is made with shrimp paste and a side of pork rinds. Mix it together and sop it up with the rice. It’s unlike any papaya salad you’ve had before.

Cuisine: Thai • Dish type: Salad

Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post

Del Campo $$$
Pasqualina tart
Pasqualina tart
vegetarian

Chef Victor Albisu turned the humble pie into a showstopper, charring kale, chard and spinach for complexity, and then layering them in a flaky pastry crust with rich bechamel, caramelized onion and smoked maitake mushrooms. It’s topped with a runny egg, then an avalanche of Parmesan.

Cuisine: South American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Penn Quarter

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Peking Gourmet Inn $$$
Peking duck
Peking duck
Chinese

Served with julienned cucumbers, spicy jumbo spring onions, hoisin sauce and house-made pancakes, these birds still deliver, even after all these years.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

China Wok $$$$
Peking duck
Peking duck
Chinese

This iconic dish comes with a show, as Wang Wen Fang, the elegant, 85-year-old marvel behind the double-cooked Long Island duck, methodically breaks down the bird tableside. Once he's finished, you get to enjoy the skin and flesh in a homemade pancake slathered in hoisin sauce.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Kate Patterson for The Washington Post

Pho Royal $
Pho with chicken
Pho with chicken
noodles chicken Vietnamese

This hearty beef-broth soup comes packed with light and dark meat chicken, with bean sprouts, basil and lime on the side.

Cuisine: Vietnamese • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Stephanie Merry/Post

Pho 75 $
Pho with steak
Pho with steak
noodles meat Vietnamese

There are 17 varieties of pho on the menu at Pho 75, and the best are topped with steak, brisket or meatballs. It’s up to diners to pile on bean sprouts, basil and jalapeno.

Cuisine: Vietnamese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Rosslyn

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Plaka Grill $
Plaka gyro
Plaka gyro
sandwiches meat

A jaunt through Greece isn't necessary to appreciate this wrap filled with marinated pork shoulder, drizzled with tzatziki and stuffed with thick-cut French fries.

Cuisine: Greek • Dish type: Sandwich

Photo by James M Thresher for The Washington Post

Ted's Bulletin $
Pop-tarts
Pop-tarts
dessert

Ted's Bulletin transformed the Pop-Tart into legitimate pastry, filling handmade, almost cakey crusts with fillings such as homemade jams and fresh berries, brown sugar, and peanut butter and bacon.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Dessert

Photo by Matchboxfoodgroup

The Riggsby $$$
Pork chop
Pork chop
meat

This is an outstanding pork chop: Double-cut, enough to feed two, and served sliced and fanned, with bone-in ribs.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Rose's Luxury $$
Pork sausage, habanero and litchi salad
Pork sausage, habanero and litchi salad
salad meat

Together with pork, the intensely floral, fleshy litchi delivers nirvana in a mix of mint, cilantro and Thai basil, a broth scented with biting habanero and a jumble of textures, including coconut powder, crunchy peanuts and garlic chips served just shy of charred.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post

Bob's Shanghai 66 $
Pork soup dumplings
Pork soup dumplings
Chinese meat

An herb-laden broth mixed with pork fills these delicate purses of dough, but the dumplings don't burst -- until, that is, you take a bite.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Dim sum • Neighborhood: Rockville

Photo by Dayna Smith for The Washington Post

Jewel of India $$$
Prawn vindaloo
Prawn vindaloo
seafood Indian

The creamy sauce, flavored with ginger, cumin and coriander, glides over potato hunks and plump prawns, their natural sweetness complementing the touch of sugar that goes into this ruddy red curry.

Cuisine: Indian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Thai X-ing $$$
Pumpkin curry
Pumpkin curry
Thai vegetarian

Tender kabocha squash is the sweet counterpoint to the fire and kicky basil in Taw Vigsittaboot's traditional Thai red curry.

Cuisine: Thai • Dish type: Main course • Note: Available only as a $30 or $40 set-price menu. Also available at Thai X-ing, 2020 Ninth St. NW.

Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post

Blanca's Restaurant $
Pupusas
Pupusas
pupusas

The pupusas, stuffed with cheese or pork or vegetables, arrive soft and hot off the griddle.

Cuisine: Salvadoran • Dish type: Side

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

La Casita $
Pupusas
Pupusas
pupusas

The Salvadoran stuffed corn cake is as common in the Washington area as the taco is in Texas. But La Casita's are a popular favorite, with a thinner-than-average shell and a broad array of fillings, including cheese and green buds called loroco.

Cuisine: Salvadoran • Dish type: Side

Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post

Nazca Mochica $$
Quinoa and kiwicha salad
Quinoa and kiwicha salad
salad vegetarian

Chef Roberto Castre makes a spectacular salad from quinoa tossed with all sorts of delicious supports: creamy avocado, toasted marcona almonds, cubed mozzarella, fresh mint and tangy dressing.

Cuisine: Peruvian • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

G Sandwich $
Roasted cauliflower sandwich
Roasted cauliflower sandwich
sandwiches vegetarian

Mike Isabella roasts his cauliflower to the brink of char and tops it with salty, fried shishito peppers, blackened whole scallion stalks, mouth-puckering pickled shallots and an array of fresh herbs including mint and sprigs of dill.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: 14th Street

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Nido $$
Roasted chicken thigh
Roasted chicken thigh
chicken

The dish begins with two skin-on thighs lightly seasoned and seared. They're then braised in the oven while a jus is made from chicken stock, wine, aromatics, coriander, peppercorn, thyme and lemon.

Cuisine: Mediterranean • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Woodridge

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Del Campo $$$$
Rolled wagyu skirt steak
Rolled wagyu skirt steak
meat

Chef Victor Albisu submits a 12-ounce wagyu skirt steak to smoke and flames before layering it with dijon mustard, burnt onion jam, rosemary, parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Cuisine: South American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Penn Quarter

Photo by Alex Baldinger/Post

Ren's Ramen $
Sapporo style shoyu ramen
Sapporo style shoyu ramen
noodles Japanese

The secret at Ren's is stir-frying ground pork, garlic and the shoyu spices in scallion oil first to release their aromatics, giving this soup a headier flavor than the others. The rich pork broth is added next before it’s ladled onto those famed Nishiyama noodles.

Cuisine: Japanese • Dish type: Soup

Photo by Camille Kilgore/Post

Peter Chang $
Scallion bubble pancakes
Scallion bubble pancakes
Chinese

Served with a mild curry sauce, they're the Sino equivalent of tortilla chips at a Mexican restaurant -- crunchy, savory and excellent for kicking off a meal.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

To Sok Jip $$
Seafood pancake
Seafood pancake
seafood Korean

This pancake, stuffed with squid, green chilies and scallions, achieves a fantastic balance of flavors and textures: sweet and savory, crisp and tender.

Cuisine: Korean • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Joanne Lee for The Washington Post

Rasika $
Sev batata puri
Sev batata puri
Indian

Nothing recalls the street food of Mumbai like Rasika’s crispy little rounds topped with potato, sour raw mango and the crunchy threads of fried chickpea batter known as sev.

Cuisine: Indian • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Marib Restaurant $
Shafout
Shafout
vegetarian

The Yemeni appetizer offers layers of buttermilk, chopped almonds and walnuts, spring onion greens, mint leaves and lahoh, a spongy flatbread similar in texture to Ethiopian injera.

Cuisine: Yemeni • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Max’s Kosher Cafe $
Shawarma
Shawarma
sandwiches meat

Turkey thigh and lamb meat are complemented by housemade condiments (pickled vegetables, fried eggplant, hot and sweet peppers) in a sandwich that goes toe-to-toe with any in the land of milk and honey.

Cuisine: Israeli • Dish type: Sandwich

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

Shouk $
Shouk burger
Shouk burger
vegetarian burgers

Throw out every bad cliche you may have heard about veggie burgers. This patty — chock full of such good-for-you ingredients as black beans, lentils, mushrooms, cauliflower and beets — will make you a believer.

Cuisine: Middle Eastern • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Mount Vernon Triangle

Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Momofuku $$
Shrimp buns
Shrimp buns
seafood

Bite into chef David Chang's shrimp buns, and your first impression will be their fast-food-like simplicity: the pillowy bao bun, the spicy mayonnaise, the pan-fried shrimp patty and iceberg lettuce.

Cuisine: Korean • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Downtown

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Neopol Savory Smokery $
Smoked salmon BLT
Smoked salmon BLT
sandwiches seafood

Sweet, smoky salmon is the heart of this BLT, flaked generously over earthy flaxseed bread and layered with salty bacon, tart mustard-dill aioli, tomato and bitter greens for a delicate take on a classic.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: NoMa

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

SnoCream Company $
SnoCream
SnoCream
dessert

This Asian-inspired dessert features a slew of customizable toppings — mochi, boba, Fruity Pebbles, among them — and is lighter than traditional ice cream, which means you can eat a lot more in one sitting.

Cuisine: Asian • Dish type: Dessert

Photo by Becky Krystal/Post

Buredo $$
Sofie
Sofie
seafood

This burrito-sized sushi log packs Sriracha mayo-slathered morsels of tempura shrimp, avocado, pickled cabbage and carrot, expertly engineered to balance crunch and creaminess, sweetness and spice.

Cuisine: Japanese-American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Downtown

Photo by Becky Krystal/Post

Urban BBQ Company $$
Soul Rolls
Soul Rolls
barbecue meat

Smoked brisket is wrapped in cheese and tucked into this Southern-fried version of an egg roll, served with a cup of Redneck Fondue (cheese-covered chili).

Cuisine: BBQ • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Anne Kenderdine/Post

A&J $
Spicy beef noodle soup
Spicy beef noodle soup
noodles meat

A murky, blackish beef broth, rich with meat and spiced with anise, chili bean sauce and Sichuan peppercorns, serves as the vessel for the thick ropes of hand-pulled noodles that are the house specialty at Taiwanese restaurant A&J.

Cuisine: Chinese • Dish type: Soup

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Rice Paper $$
Spicy crispy tofu with lemongrass
Spicy crispy tofu with lemongrass
Vietnamese vegetarian

Tender puffs of silken tofu are lightly battered, fried and flecked with lemongrass.

Cuisine: Vietnamese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Seven Corners

Photo by Evy Mages for The Washington Post

Ruta del Vino $$
Steamed clams
Steamed clams
seafood

The aji amarillo, a South American chile pepper, lends a subtle heat and a bright yellow hue to the littleneck clams, while the acid from the wine leaves a tart sting on your tongue.

Cuisine: Latin American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Petworth

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Et Voila! $$
Stuffed salmon waffle
Stuffed salmon waffle
seafood breakfast

Although this brunch plate looks simple, it represents a feat of culinary engineering: The waffle is stuffed with veloute sauce with leeks and Norwegian salmon before cooking, then is finished with an injection of mild red curry.

Cuisine: Belgium • Dish type: Breakfast • Neighborhood: Palisades

Photo by Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post

2 Amys $
Suppli al telefono
Suppli al telefono
Italian something fried

The crunchy, golden-brown exterior hides soft, seasoned rice, which in turn hides a center of mozzarella.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Cleveland Park

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Taqueria Habanero $
Tacos de camarones
Tacos de camarones
tacos Mexican

The best taco filling at Taqueria Habanero is the shrimp (camarones), which arrive with a bed of salsa, chunks of tomato, a slice of avocado and a smooth, zippy chipotle crema.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

Photo by Fritz Hahn/Post

Mezcalero Cocina Mexicana $
Tacos de canasta
Tacos de canasta
tacos Mexican

Soft in the center, crisp around the edges and soaked end to end in guajillo sauce, these bites are a whole new experience in taco eating.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Kapnos $$
Taramosalata
Taramosalata
seafood

The traditional roe spread is turned on its head at Kapnos, where steamed cauliflower, raw onion, kicky chives and an artful dab of caviar make it unusually refined.

Cuisine: Greek • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: 14th Street

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Sticky Rice $
Tater tots
Tater tots
something fried

This school-cafeteria staple is vastly more crunchy and delicious than what you remember.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by James M. Thresher for The Washington Post

Timber Pizza $$
The Green Monster
The Green Monster
pizza

The Green Monster eschews marinara sauce for pesto and comes topped with zucchini, kale, feta cheese and mozzarella.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Petworth

Photo by Holley Simmons for The Washington Post

The Grill Room $$$
The Grill Room Burger
The Grill Room Burger
burgers meat

This is a conoisseur's burger, where the beef is the star and the sparse toppings - a barely-there sliced of truffled cheese and a thin veneer of house-made mayo - are intended to enhance the main attraction.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Georgetown

Photo by Alex Baldinger/Post

Comet Ping Pong $$
The Hottie
The Hottie
pizza meat

This popular pie, dotted with pepperoni and jalapenos, is a staple on the menu of wood-fired pizzas.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Chevy Chase

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Smoked and Stacked $$
The Messy
The Messy
sandwiches meat

Smoky slices of pastrami — pungent with coriander and pepper — are the star of the Messy, a fantastic take on a Reuben topped with sauerkraut, Comte cheese and Thousand Island dressing, on warm rye bread.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Lost Dog Cafe $
The Phoenix
The Phoenix
sandwiches chicken

This sandwich features a baked chicken breast served on a pita with mozzarella cheese, lettuce and garlic mayonnaise.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich

Photo by Greg Hitt for The Washington Post

Cheesetique $$
The Pimiento
The Pimiento
sandwiches vegetarian

The ooey gooey Pimiento features classic Southern pimento cheese spread with the namesake peppers, mayo and a mixture of coarsely grated cheese, including a spicy habanero for extra heat.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Sandwich

Photo by Chris Barber/Post

Mangialardo’s $
The “G” Man
The “G” Man
sandwiches meat Italian

The “G” Man sub is a foot-long feast — packed with slices of ham, salami, pepperoni and mortadella; fontina and provolone cheeses; and vinegar, lettuce, tomato and mustard — that could easily serve two.

Cuisine: Italian • Dish type: Sandwich • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Photo by Fritz Hahn/Post

Good Stuff Eatery $
Toasted marshmallow milkshake
Toasted marshmallow milkshake
dessert

The smoky-sweet taste of a campfire s'more is captured in liquid form at celeb chef Spike Mendelsohn'sGood Stuff Eatery.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Dessert

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Matthew’s Grill $$
Tocino pork
Tocino pork
meat

The tocino pork at Matthew’s Grill are bite-size pieces of pork butt cured in a mixture of brown sugar, sugar-cane vinegar and soy sauce. Once cooked, those nuggets go down faster than popcorn at the movies.

Cuisine: Filipino • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Marvin Joseph/Post

Thai Cuisine $
Tom yum noodle soup
Tom yum noodle soup
Thai noodles

This soup finds willowy rice noodles submerged in a vegetable broth swimming with so many other ingredients — ground pork, fish balls, dried squid, fish sauce — that your palate won’t know which way to turn.

Cuisine: Thai • Dish type: Soup

Photo by Marvin Joseph/Post

Kinship $$
Torchon of white mushroom
Torchon of white mushroom
vegetarian French

Chef Eric Ziebold's torchon of white mushroom has a decadent feel and taste thanks to a generous amount of butter pureed into the mix that also includes caramelized garlic and onions.

Cuisine: French-American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Mt Vernon Square

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Caramelo Bakery $
Tres Leches cake
Tres Leches cake
dessert

Sandwiched between this dessert's layers of cake, doused in a sauce of evaporated milk, condensed milk and vanilla, are pineapple and strawberry jams, and whipped cream, which also provides the smooth white topping.

Cuisine: Latin American • Dish type: Dessert

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Rappahannock Oyster Bar $$
Tuna and beet tartare
Tuna and beet tartare
seafood

This unorthodox tuna tartare-meets-beet salad begins with rare tuna and heightens it with the acidity of oranges, horeseradish and tiny fried capers.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: NoMa

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Donburi $$
Unagidon
Unagidon
seafood Japanese

The unagidon bowl features fatty barbecued eel piled onto a half-cooked egg. Crunch and color come last, as the bowl is decked out with ginger, daikon and cucumbers.

Cuisine: Japanese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/Post

NuVegan Cafe $
Vegan macaroni and cheese
Vegan macaroni and cheese
pasta vegetarian

A creamy, comforting side dish goes vegan with soy milk, enriched by olive oil, garlic and yeast, which creates a heavenly cream with a cheesy flavor.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Side • Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

Photo by Anne Farrar/Post

Daikaya $$
Vegetable ramen
Vegetable ramen
noodles vegetarian Japanese

Woks full of shredded Brussels sprouts, carrots, leeks and onions are worked to a pitch-perfect saute before topping a broth enriched with shiitake mushrooms, seaweed extract and pepper.

Cuisine: Japanese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Chinatown

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Shagga Coffee & Restaurant $$
Vegetarian combination
Vegetarian combination
vegetarian

Among the brightly hued Ethiopian salads and stews ladled onto spongy injera: the fuchsia-colored beet and potato salad, the string-bean fosolia and the spicy chickpea mash.

Cuisine: Ethopian • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Sakuramen $$
Vegetarian ramen
Vegetarian ramen
noodles vegetarian Japanese

The unconventional meatless bowl features a broth of Japanese kelp and layers of bamboo shoots, corn and mushrooms marinated like Korean bulgogi.

Cuisine: Japanese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Izakaya Seki $$$
Whole aji sashimi
Whole aji sashimi
seafood Japanese

Chef Hiroshi Seki serves the fish with head and tail intact, with the meat of the belly exposed for devouring. The leftover bones are then deep fried for you to finish.

Cuisine: Japanese • Dish type: Main course • Neighborhood: U Street

Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Chez Dior $$
Yassa chicken
Yassa chicken
chicken

Yes, the chicken is excellent, its charbroiled legs served with spicy hot-pepper sauce. But the best thing is what comes on the side: a bowl of caramelized onions cooked with lemon juice.

Cuisine: Senegalese • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Huong Viet $
Yellow egg noodle soup with duck (mi vit tiem)
Yellow egg noodle soup with duck (mi vit tiem)
noodles Vietnamese

The Chinese-style yellow egg noodle soup sports a five-spice-rubbed duck thigh; the earthy broth, so scented with anise, cloves and cinnamon that it's nearly black, is then dotted with bok choy and mushroom.

Cuisine: Vietnamese • Dish type: Soup • Neighborhood: Seven Corners

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

Ruan Thai $
Yum watercress
Yum watercress
seafood Thai

Don't miss this salad that's fried and woven through with shrimp, squid, cashews, lime and a generous sprinkle of fried shallots.

Cuisine: Thai • Dish type: Appetizer

Photo by Marge Ely for The Washington Post

The Dabney $
“Bloody butcher” corn bread
“Bloody butcher” corn bread
vegetarian

The griddle-cooked corn bread, made with a type of red heirloom "bloody butcher" corn, is served in a cast-iron skillet and is more savory and dense than what many of us are accustomed to.

Cuisine: American • Dish type: Appetizer • Neighborhood: Shaw

Photo by Maura Judkis/Post

Taco Bamba $
“Camaron Diabla” taco
“Camaron Diabla” taco
tacos Mexican

The spicy shrimp dish camarones a la diabla was inspiration for this taco, which features a paddy of corn-spiked rice made green with cilantro, and a daisy chain of saffron-hued shrimp drizzled with jalapeno crema.

Cuisine: Mexican • Dish type: Main course

Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan/Post

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