Over the past two decades, Washington DC’s food and wine scene has seen a renaissance like never before. Whether speakeasy-style cocktail bars, wine-focused restaurants, or fine dining establishments are more your thing, there’s truly a tasty place for every palate in America’s buzzing capital city. However, scoping out all of DC’s greatest spots would take a serious chunk of time – though worry not. For those with just a day or few to spare, we’ve rounded up the absolute must-hits in The District.
Flight Wine Bar
777 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Located in the heart of DC’s Chinatown neighborhood, this James Beard Award-nominated wine spot features global selections, tasty food, and no shortage of hospitality. As the title would suggest, the bar’s focus is on curated wine flights, of which around 14 three-pour features are available at a time. From classic Old World favorites to quirky eastern European varieties to locally-sourced wines and everything in between, there’s really nothing that this versatile wine bar cannot do.
1336 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 and 1346 4th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Looking for an extensive list of by-the-glass pours? Then Maxwell Park is the place for you. With over 50 rotating wines available at all times, tasting through a variety of interesting wines has never been easier. The bar features both a core list and themed list of wines, the latter of which changes monthly and generally reflects a seasonal theme. Well-executed bar snacks and small plates—think truffle grilled cheese, miso butter and clams, and beyond—are available, as well as plentiful meat and cheese boards, heartier bowls, and even caviar and chips, should you be feeling a little highbrow-lowbrow situation.
1201 K St NW #1, Washington, DC 20005
Deemed the first bar to mesh literature, art, cocktails, and social justice—with a hefty dose of hospitality as the cherry on top—Allegory is simply an unmissable spot for those with a passion for top-tier cocktails with a purpose. The bar’s walls, as well as its cocktail menu, are inspired by an Alice In Wonderland-inspired take on the story of Ruby Bridges, the first Black child to desegregate an all-white school. Food offerings include hamachi tartare, deviled eggs with trout roe, fried chicken sandwiches, and beyond, though the meticulously executed cocktails (and the gorgeous menu itself) are truly the star of the show here.
1280 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Situated inside the La Cosecha Market in DC’s Union Market District, this stunning cocktail bar and cantina are a must for lovers of all things bright and tasty. Spearheaded by Andra Johnson, Daniella Senior, Tatiana Mora, and Juan Coronado, the cocktail bar’s menu is inspired by Latin American culture, which is reflected in its lineup of craft cocktails and food. During the summer months, Serenata also operates a mobile spritz cart, which serves up a variety of South American-inspired refreshers, and the bar’s tasty creations can also be taken to go. Basically, you can’t go wrong here.
Cork Wine Bar + Market
1805 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Whether looking to post up or take your wine to go, Cork Wine Bar + Market is a no-brainer. Ideally located near Logan Square, this bistro-market hybrid offers 250 bottles to choose from at all times, with 50 rotating by-the-glass pours available at the bar. Food features are New American-inspired and feature go-to hits like crispy calamari and house-marinated olives to larger beef burgers, Peruvian chicken skewers, and beyond. On the off-premise side of things, complimentary weekly wine tastings are hosted on Saturday afternoons from 12-3pm, with discounts offered on featured wines. Grab a glass, take a bottle to go, and experience the best of both worlds.
505 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
DC has no shortage of tasty places to eat, and in terms of cuisine types, the options are endless. Start the day with a hearty breakfast at the iconic Ted’s Bulletin, with locations in Capitol Hill and on 14th Street. Known for its classic American fare and hefty portions, this all-day joint is a perfect pitstop for any time of the day, though breakfast is undeniably its signature meal. For a nostalgic treat, be sure to take one of the homemade pop tarts to go.
1654 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009
For finger-licking good BBQ favorites, head to Federalist Pig. Located in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of the city, this laid-back joint serves up tasty sandwiches, meats, and all of the fixins. Spearheaded by pitmaster Rob Sonderman, the two-time Michelin Bib Gourmand winning restaurant is a must-visit for fans of wood-smoked meats, gooey mac & cheese, fried veggies, and more.
122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington DC 20001
For seasonal favorites sourced from local farmers and purveyors, dive into the four-course menu (for just $95!) at The Dabney. Spearheaded by Chef Jeremiah Langhorne, this 55-seat restaurant serves up meats, veggies, and impeccable desserts, the former two of which are frequently cooked in the space’s ten-foot-long wood-burning hearth (which curious diners can see from the dining room space). À la carte items are also available, though only at the bar. In 2017, the restaurant received a Michelin star – and was known to be frequented by Barack and Michelle Obama.
1201 K St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Ideally located downtown, Eaton DC is described as a place for “travelers seeking inspiration, innovation, and impact.” Described as the world’s first activist hotel, this 209-room space offers a hybrid hotel, co-working space, and social club, with a dedicated café and rooftop bar attached. (Note: Allegory, listed above, is also located within the hotel.) Eaton seeks to bring locals and travelers together alike, with one goal in mind: focus on creativity, awareness, and social activism, all of which can be seen peppered throughout the hotel’s meticulously planned details. Eaton boasts five different room categories, all of which come equipped with mini bars, Bluetooth speakers, and charging stations.
2401 M St NW, Washington, DC 20037
Situated in DC’s chic West End neighborhood, The Fairmount offers a sun-drenched oasis for city-goers looking to rest in luxury. Equipped with on-site dining, a fitness center, numerous bars, and a massive courtyard, this beautifully decorated space feature large rooms and impeccable amenities, including Le Labo bath products in all bathrooms. Enjoy nearby subway access (Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro) or reach the city’s gorgeous Georgetown neighborhood on foot, thanks to the hotel’s central location. Fitness fanatics, there’s also a SoulCycle one block away.
1200 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036
For upscale accommodations in a centrally-located area, look no further than The Jefferson. This 5-star boutique hotel features a slew of amenities, including award-winning dining, an on-site cocktail bar (Quill Bar and Lounge), a 24-hour fitness center with Peloton bikes, and more. Enjoy on-foot access to the city’s most historic landmarks, then return to your tranquil oasis equipped with complimentary water bottles and free WiFi. Best of all, with every room booked directly through the hotel, The Jefferson sponsors the purchase of a children’s book for DC’s Books from Birth program, founded by Dolly Parton.
Vicki completed her Bachelor’s degree at CUNY Hunter College with a double major in French Language and Italian Language, along with a minor in English and additional studies in Spanish and Polish. Her wine industry career began at Sud de France Développement in Manhattan, followed by a Wine Consultant/Buyer position at Quality House Wines. She went on to work full-time as a staff writer for VinePair.com from September 2016 – July 2017. She now freelances full-time; her work regularly appears in Food & Wine, Wine-Searcher, Beverage Media, Matador Network, Wine Enthusiast, and more.