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20 Places to Enjoy All-American Eats in Washington, DC
Indulge your red, white and blue culinary passions at these DC eateries.
While DC is a culinary capital filled to the brim with international cuisine, the city can also offer the finest in American specialties. From tasty burgers and juicy steaks to authentic barbecue and handmade ice cream, the District has numerous options for enjoying them all. Dig in.
Hot Dogs & Half-Smokes
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC institution celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The U Street locale serves up what has become the District’s signature dish, the half-smoke, a slight variance on the hot dog comprised of a sausage smoked before it’s grilled, providing a spicy kick. You can also get a classic hot dog, chili dog or turkey dog at Ben’s, a must-see spot on any voyage to the nation’s capital.
Located within walking distance of Ben’s Chili Bowl, HalfSmoke is another source for the classic DC dish, as evidenced by its name. Their version of the capital sensation features mustard slaw, onion crisps, bacon and beer cheese on a toasted bun, which makes for a flavor explosion. You can also peruse an entire sausage menu and build your own half-smoke.
Good Stuff Eatery
DC-based chef Spike Mendelsohn rose to prominence on Top Chef and operates this bedazzling burger-making enterprise along with his family. Using only fresh and seasonal ingredients and farm-raised beef, Good Stuff Eatery builds delicious burgers that will leave you breathless. The restaurant has two locations: one in Capitol Hill and one in Georgetown.
A short walk from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center can bring you to Bolt Burgers, which serves up flavorful Angus beef burgers, as well as chicken breasts and veggie burgers. Using all farm-fresh and local ingredients, Bolt Burgers makes for a fast, friendly and satisfying lunch or dinner experience.
Shake Shack has become a national sensation with its perfectly grilled burgers, adorned with soft potato rolls, crisp lettuce, ruby red tomatoes and legendary Shack Sauce. You can order yours at any of its DC locations: Dupont Circle, Union Station, Penn Quarter and Logan Circle, to name a few. The chain is also adored for its creamy, irresistible shakes made with premium custards featuring rotating flavors. Everyone will want one of the juicy burgers, with hot dogs or chicken sandwiches serving as alternate options.
Creativity in the form of bold flavors and toasty buns can be found at chef Alex McCoy’s globally inspired burger joint, Lucky Buns. The former pop-up proved to be such a hit that McCoy has given it a permanent home on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. The hot spot’s tantalizing creations include a runny-egg burger topped with gouda, pickled beetroot and grilled onions and a British breakfast burger comprised of sausage and bacon (we recommend adding bacon XO jam to that).
All of the ingredients for a perfect barbecue experience are present at Rocklands Barbeque: Ribs. Chicken. Pork sandwiches. Beef brisket. Cornbread, baked beans, coleslaw. The eatery, located in Upper Northwest, also features a “Wall of Fire,” where you can unlock even more flavors via an incredible array of hot sauces. All meats at Rocklands are made using only wood and charcoal, a rarity in the area.
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Serving authentic barbecue in the heart of Penn Quarter/Chinatown, Hill Country Barbecue Market has brought the heart of Texas right into the nation’s capital. The set-up is part meat market, part barbecue joint, making for a down-home vibe that you will struggle to find anywhere else. In further tribute to Austin, Hill Country often welcomes rock, country and blues acts to its stage, as well as live band karaoke on select nights.
America Eats Tavern
Journey to historic Georgetown to experience this new, American-themed venture from José Andrés. The menu at America Eats Tavern has a section entirely dedicated to barbecue that features brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs and glazed chicken, but the fun does not stop there. José is also featuring classic sandwiches, seafood an oyster bar and apps like steak tartar, mac ‘n’ cheese and skillet cornbread.
Ice Cream Jubilee
It doesn’t get much more American than ice cream. Ice Cream Jubilee, which has locations in both Capitol Riverfront and on U Street, has become a favorite for the tasty treat in the District. The shop specializes in truly creative flavors, including banana Bourbon caramel, cookies and cookie dough, blueberry pie and many more. You can also savor sundaes, milkshakes and sorbets at this local sensation.
Another classic American treat, the doughnut, has an outstanding representative in DC. District Doughnut packs its many takes on the delightfully fried dough round and steps up the flavors. The dulce de leche is a favorite of ours, but you can’t go wrong with a Nutella s’more or a brown butter or a raspberry jam ... we’re getting hungry just listing these off. With locations in Georgetown, Capitol Hill and The Wharf, you’re never too far from a District Doughnut, either.
City Tap House
This gastropub, located in the heart of Chinatown, provides plenty of craft beer, hospitality and a food menu brimming with innovative takes on classic bar dishes (corn and crab hushpuppies, ten spice wings, blue crab mac and cheese). There are also plenty of American classics to choose from, including a robust and juicy burger, a country-style pork chop and perfectly grilled rib-eye steak. City Tap House’s rustic and open setting is perfect for kicking back and enjoying an all-American evening.
Just steps away from Capital One Arena where the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards play, this Penn Quarter bar is filled with Americana, both in its decor and its menu. The jaw-dropping draft beer list teems with local pours, and you will not want to miss out on spicy chili wings, nachos or their famous Twelve Buck Chuck burger. Sports fans will love the circular bar outfitted with high-def TVs and note that happy hour runs from 4 p.m. until closing time on Saturday and all day on Sunday.
Old Ebbitt Grill
The iconic Old Ebbitt Grill is one of the oldest restaurants in DC. Established in 1856, it has catered to politicos and journalists for more than a century, including former regulars like presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Theodore Roosevelt. This DC institution is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with to-go sandwiches, shareable desserts and a signature raw bar. You can't beat saddling up to the bar and ordering a classic cheeseburger or a bowl of chili while sipping on your drink of choice, and don't be surprised if you pick up some political gossip on the side.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
Del Frisco’s is hard to miss, as the restaurant is located in the heart of CityCenterDC, one of DC’s primary shopping destinations. Floor-to-ceiling windows line two split-level dining rooms, creating a cool atmosphere in which to enjoy the stellar wine selection, impeccable service and, of course, delicious hand-cut and dry-aged steaks, including prime rib-eye aged for 45 days and a Wagyu tomahawk chop.
Located inside the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel, Washington D.C., Bourbon Steak is the creation of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina. Serving steak from a wood-fired grill, this fine dining spot is ideal for a romantic evening on the town. The slowly poached steak coated in butter meets its match goes will with any glass from its award-winning wine program.
Synonymous with a pristine steakhouse experience, Mastro’s combines elegant service and cuisine to create a night to remember for you and yours. The Downtown location is home to a variety of steak selections, from petite and bone-in filets to double-cut porterhouses to New York strips and much more. Make sure to dress upscale for your sophisticated evening at this nationally acclaimed restaurant.
Charlie Palmer Steak
Charlie Palmer Steak calls Capitol Hill home, appropriately situated among politicos and monuments to power. The stylish steakhouse brings bold flavors in its American artisan beef, so prepare yourself accordingly. You can’t go wrong with a cowboy-cut rib-eye or a dry-aged New York strip, and you’ll have savory sauces, plus add-ons like poached blue crab and seared foie gras to choose from. The restaurant also offers an impressive rooftop space.
This Downtown eatery offers up a chic environment and a menu donned with Latin flair and spice. Claudia’s groups its steak offerings into The Prime Meat Market, from which you can order what's called the Negra Modelo Drunken Rib-Eye and a 32 oz. dry-age porterhouse, among others. The on-site bar features DC’s Happiest Hour from 3-8 p.m., Monday-Friday and 4:30-7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, which is filled with special deals on drinks and oysters.
The national pastime is alive and well in the District, with the hometown Nationals boasting four division titles in the last six years. The experience inside the ballpark is also top-notch, with a wide variance of food and drink options that are sure to satisfy any appetite. Don’t forget to download the Ballpark app for iPhone and Android, which allows you to order concessions without leaving your seat.