Gaby’s Guide to Washington DC

DC was one easily of my favorite stops last year on my book tour!! Not only because the event itself was incredible but also because the food scene in DC is crushing it!

I’ll be honest, I was shocked! We’ve been a handful of times over the past 15 years and I never remembered the food being anything to write home about. Well guess what, things have changed. It was one of the only cities I visited on book tour that I bookended with 2 days off, which meant a LOT of time to explore and eat. And that I did! I rented a bike and gave myself a tour around the mall to see all the National Monuments, I ALMOST took a tour of the FBI building (which is my dream) but I ended up checking my IG DM’s too late to take a reader up on the offer, and I ate EVERYWHERE.

Here’s the deal – whenever I visit a city and I’m rolling solo (as I did this trip) I follow a few rules. 1: always eat at the bar… you’ll end up make so many new friends. 2: just have a few bites at each restaurant, that way you can restaurant hop for all your meals and cover some serious ground. 3: walk EVERYWHERE. And I did. 30,000+ steps per day plus a few bike rides and a near death experience on an electric scooter. Fairly certain I burned off every calorie I ate and then ate some more! So while I was only in DC for 3 days this time… I’m 100% confident when I tell you that I’ve got you covered!! And I’ll be heading back shortly, so if I missed anything, holler in the comments!

Where to eat:

Maydan – North African & Middle Eastern style food with the best vibe ever!!

Brothers and Sisters – the lobby restaurant at the Line that is perfect for a quick meeting, the best french fries, and lots of other little bites!

Red Hen – you know I’ll find the wood-fired Italian restaurant no matter what city I’m in!! SO GOOD!

Le Diplomate – omg the burger. GO FOR THE BURGER!

Zaytinya – Mediterranean small plates OF MY DREAM! The octopus is truly life altering

Centrolina– super cute cafe / to go spot that rocks lunch V hard!

Rasika – hands down the best Indian food I’ve ever had

Hazel– truthfully I was so full by the time I got to Hazel I only ordered their pita like bread with all the dips and let me tell you – some of the best bites I had the in the entire city. I’m counting the days until I can go back and eat the entire menu!

Maketto – food hall / marketplace vibes where you can grab basically anything you want to eat or drink or wear!

Timber Pizza Company – I mean, obviously. Have I ever included a guide to a city without the best pizza. No. And that will never change!

Rose’s Luxury – some truly incredible pasta and small bites!!

The Line DC – we’ve talked about Brothers + Sisters, but the Line DC has a bunch of other fun places to eat and grab coffee. Bottom line, go. It can’t be missed.

Dolezza – BEST gelato in DC! Truly! So perfect on a hot day after a bike ride around the mall district!

Tail Up Goat – small-ish Mediterranean plates with a few epic main courses. Great for a group and DEF need reservations!

What to do between meals:

Newseum – easily my favorite museum I’ve ever been to! A whole museum dedicated to the news – it’s super fascinating

International Spy Museum – because obviously if I wasn’t in the food world, I’d 100% be a spy.

National Portrait Gallery – I mean, what’s a trip to DC without a quick stop here?!

Renwick Gallery – EVERYONE on instagram recommended this one to me. There is an incredible burning man exhibit and seeing as how I’m not into camping or being dusty for the actual festival, this is as close as I’d ever get to their art installations!

National Museum of African American History and Culture – word to the wise – get your tickets WAY ahead of time. This place is incredible in every sense of the word. The information, the building, the stories… it’s not to be missed. But you have to book ahead of time!

Where to stay:

W Hotel – right smack in the middle of all the action!! And their concierge helped me plan the most efficient bike/walking tour of all times! Speaking of – do yourself a favor and take a bike tour! It’s the best way to see everything in a day without getting blistered! Trust me – I know!

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15 Comments

  1. Loved this article and will definitely print it and hold it for my next trip to DC. Will be in Philadelphia in two weeks. Do you have a similar list of recommended restaurants and meals for Philly?

    Thanks so much and love your blog and your recipes even more!

    Diana in Boston

  2. oooh, DC reader here, and I agree with all of your suggestions (I live down the street from the Line and my pup and I have breakfast there every Saturday morning!). A few other favorites: Ghibellina on 14th Street for amazing pizza and pasta, Sababa for Israeli food, Bindaas (right next door) for Indian street food tapas, Cork for amazing wine and cheese, and if you’re here in warmer weather, Union Market, Midlands, or Dacha for outside beers and sunshine.

  3. DC reader here, and I must say you picked some great choices! However, next time you are in the city you MUST go to Zaytinya. Actually any Jose Andres restaurant will do but Zaytinya will change your life. It is my all time favorite restaurant ever. I think about the grape leaves almost daily. Hope you get the chance to go and enjoy!

  4. Hahaha love the “what to do between meals” headline. We feel like we always plan our trips around where we’re going for lunch & dinner, so this spoke to us.

    We don’t have any plans to visit DC anytime soon, but we’re definitely flagging this for when we do! Thank you!!

    xo, Brooke & Kelcy

  5. Why didn’t I get this a week ago. Just got home from DC last Saturday. Ate at none of those places. But will save this for next time!

  6. Gaby – my daughter (a spy) j.k. is living in Bloomingdale and I’m going next week Ap 4-9 to see her, and she’s a great one for knowing the city, but I’m taking all your research! I’m having a Mama Mia Meatball party for her and her friends on Sunday the 7th. (2nd annual) and will share my finds with you, too! We may go to a Georgian restaurant (Ambar) for Khachapuri and wonder if you’ve eaten there? Thanks for all your recipes – love your website!
    Our paths will cross some day, I hope. Ciao bella!

  7. I loved this and so proud of my city. This is spot on! I’ve lived in DC for 10 years and constantly disappointed with reviews of what to do and where to eat here. I would add that everyone should check out Navy Yard and The Wharf. Great food in Navy Yard and the Wharf has good waterfront views/walkable. It’s a bit manufactured and pricey but worth an hour or two. The old fish market is still around as well.

  8. DC reader! A couple places to try next time: Supra, Ambar, and if you plan in advance (reservations like a few weeks out) Filomena!

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