Skip Navigation


The Washington D.C. metro area is an emerging hotspot for world-class dining. From vegan bakeries like Sticky Fingers External Web Site Disclaimer in Columbia Heights to Wolfgang Puck’s Asian fusion restaurant The Source External Web Site Disclaimer in Penn Quarter, D.C. has something to tempt all varieties of tastes and budgets. In addition, D.C. offers a variety of specialty food stores and several farmers’ markets External Web Site Disclaimer. Many premier dining establishments are often clustered around Metro stops, making a culinary tour of the area easy to accomplish.


Bethesda easily has the highest concentration of restaurants in the D.C. metro area. In spite of the fact that it is an affluent area, restaurants in the region run the gamut from inexpensive to pricey and offer everything from burgers to Afghan cuisine, so there are dining options available for the most particular of palates. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch on a budget or taking that special someone out on the town, you can find what you need right next to NIH. Many of the local restaurants are clustered around two areas – Bethesda Row and Woodmont Triangle, making it easy to find a new favorite eatery.

Bethesda Row

Located a few blocks southwest from the Bethesda Metro stop, Bethesda Row is home to a number of Maryland branches of DC landmark restaurants, including Jaleo External Web Site Disclaimer, Lebanese Taverna External Web Site Disclaimer, and Georgetown Cupcake External Web Site Disclaimer. The area also boasts the Bethesda chapters of popular cheap eats like Five Guys External Web Site Disclaimer and SweetGreen External Web Site Disclaimer. That’s not to say that all the restaurants on Bethesda Row are chains – one need only look at Mussel Bar External Web Site Disclaimer and Redwood External Web Site Disclaimer to find fine dining options that are unique to Bethesda Row. In addition to sit down establishments, there are several delicious options for a sweet treat after your meal, such as gelato at Dolcezza External Web Site Disclaimer.

Woodmont Triangle

The Woodmont triangle region, directly south from the NIH campus, features many restaurants that are unique to Bethesda in addition to local chains. Some restaurants – Tastee Diner External Web Site Disclaimer, for example - have been in their current locations for decades. With the NIH so close, many of these eateries are perfect for a quick lunch. Whether you’re looking for burgers (BGR External Web Site Disclaimer), Chinese (Foong Lin External Web Site Disclaimer, or an Indian buffet (Haandi External Web Site Disclaimer), there are plenty of choices for the whole office to enjoy. Diners looking for a more formal dinner would certainly embrace a visit to Brasserie Monte Carlo External Web Site Disclaimer or Woodmont Grill External Web Site Disclaimer.

Wherever you do decide to go for a meal, you’ll never run out of new places to try in Bethesda. With hundreds of restaurants within the city’s 12 square miles, employees at the NIH have ample options without having to leave city limits.

Back to top

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is known for high-class and high-priced dining, such as the French Bistro Bis External Web Site Disclaimer, Charlie Palmer Steak External Web Site Disclaimer, and CityZen External Web Site Disclaimer. Capitol Hill is also a destination for cheaper options catering to young professionals, such as the Good Stuff Eatery External Web Site Disclaimer, Taqueria Nacional External Web Site Disclaimer, and Market Lunch External Web Site Disclaimer in Eastern Market. Eastern Market External Web Site Disclaimer is a year-round farmers’ market that has been operating since 1873 and can be easily accessed via the Eastern Market stop on Metro’s orange and blue lines.

Back to top

Dupont Circle

Home to numerous embassies and galleries such as The Phillips Collection External Web Site Disclaimer, Dupont Circle is a great place to enjoy ethnic meals at spots like Malaysia Kopitiam External Web Site Disclaimer. There are plenty of other casual cafés, diners, and bars, along with upscale restaurants like Komi External Web Site Disclaimer, the top restaurant in D.C. in 2010 according to Washingtonian Magazine External Web Site Disclaimer. Another popular destination in the area is Kramerbooks & Afterwords External Web Site Disclaimer, an independent bookstore with an attached café.

Back to top


Clustered along the commercial routes of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, the restaurants here cater to Georgetown students (such as the famous The Tombs External Web Site Disclaimer) and upscale shoppers with cafés, ethnic restaurants, and high-class dining options such as Michel Richard Citronelle External Web Site Disclaimer and 1789 External Web Site Disclaimer. Also due to the large student populace, Georgetown has a lively nightlife with a number of popular bars in the area.

Back to top

Penn Quarter/Chinatown

In spite of the fact that D.C.’s Chinatown is relatively small, it is a popular destination with a number of Chinese restaurants, as well as a growing number of other Asian cuisine options, including Thai, Asian fusion, and Japanese. You can also treat yourself to American standbys such as artisan cheese and sandwiches from Cowgirl Creamery External Web Site Disclaimer loaded potatoes from Hot Potato Cafe, or Texas-style barbecue at. Penn Quarter has a burgeoning fine-dining scene as well, including Poste Moderne Brasserie’s External Web Site Disclaimer eco-friendly French, Rasika’s External Web Site Disclaimer modern Indian, and a slew of restaurants from celebrity chef Jose Andres, including Zaytinya External Web Site Disclaimer, Jaleo External Web Site Disclaimer, and Minibar External Web Site Disclaimer, one of the hardest-to-book restaurants in the nation. Chinatown is frequently buzzing with people due to its proximity to the Verizon Center External Web Site Disclaimer, which hosts a variety of sporting and cultural events.

Back to top

U Street/Shaw

The U Street Corridor was the center of D.C.’s African-American arts and music community in the first half of the 20th century, and is still home to Ben’s Chili Bowl External Web Site Disclaimer, a D.C. institution. The neighborhood offers a great mix of bars, jazz clubs, ethnic restaurants, cafés, and fashionable dining locations. Busboys and Poets – which offers a performance space, bookstore, and dining lounge – is particularly popular and draws patrons from across D.C. U Street is served by its own Metro External Web Site Disclaimer station on the Yellow/Green line.
Back to top

More Resources

Washingtonian Magazine External Web Site Disclaimer features an online restaurant finder External Web Site Disclaimer with reviews External Web Site Disclaimer. They also publish a list of the area’s "100 Best Restaurants" every January, and a guide to the area’s best "Cheap Eats" and "Dirt Cheap Eats" in June.
The Washington Post’s resident food critic Tom Sietsema reviews External Web Site Disclaimer restaurants across the area and also answers dining-related questions during a weekly online chat External Web Site Disclaimer. In addition, the paper’s website features the Going Out Guide External Web Site Disclaimer, which provides regular updates on the area’s best bars, restaurants, and events.

Back to top

This page was last reviewed on