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Five plates with hummus, pita bread, and vegetables sitting on a table.
Albi
Hawkeye Johnson

The Best Places to Eat in DC, According to a Local Chef

Chef Jerome Grant tells us about the best restaurants and bars in the nation’s capital.

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Albi
| Hawkeye Johnson
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Washington, DC is home to one of the most acclaimed restaurant scenes in the country. There’s no shortage of Michelin stars, acclaimed chefs, and innovative mixologists — and all those options mean everyone from longtime District residents to visiting tourists could use a little guidance when it comes to choosing a spot to eat. That’s why we turned to Chef Jerome Grant for advice: Grant is the chef and owner of Mahal, opening soon in the DMV area and featuring an American barbecue concept with Filipino flavors (an homage to his cultural roots.) The James Beard nominee is also an active member of the DC community, working with several organizations that serve high school and culinary students.

Though he’s lived all over, Grant has a special place in his heart for DC’s food scene. “It’s a cultural melting pot rich in history and at the forefront of politics — there is always something going on in every corner of DC,” he says. “As the restaurant industry continues to grow and evolve, I hope that some of these neighborhood gems remain cornerstones in DC’s culinary footprint.” Read on for Grant’s favorite places to eat in the DC area.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Queen’s English

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“A casual-chic neighborhood spot featuring Hong Kong-style cuisine, memorable cocktails, and an impressive wine program. The drunken chili noodles, foie & chicken shu mai are must-tries. No date? No problem, bring your four-legged pal for fun outdoor dining.”

A close-up of a dish with four shrimp tails on it, sitting on a marble table.
Queen’s English
Courtesy of Albert Ting and Rey Lopez

“RASA is a vibrant, casual Indian eatery that features build-your-own bowls with a variety of meats, vegetables, toppings, and sauces. The chicken tikka and lamb kebabs are must-try mains but their extensive vegetarian options are delicious as well! With bright airy interiors and swinging egg chairs, this is a fun place to meet up with friends of all ages.”

An outdoor wooden table with dishes placed on top of it.
RASA
Courtesy of RASA

PogiBoy

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“A fast casual Filipino concept by two of my best friends. Definitely try the tocino burger for a fun handheld [option] or the chicken inasal rice bowl for its refreshing lemongrass marinade. Their nostalgic Filipino-American mashups are sure to please diners of all ages!”

“If you are looking for an experience of all senses, check out the impressive open kitchen at Albi. Enjoy some elevated classic Levantine dishes that are as tasty as they are visually stunning. Start your meal with the baba ganoush and be sure to try their shish kebabs!”

An assortment of plates and cutlery sitting on a wooden table, featuring hummus, pita bread, and vegetables.
Albi
Courtesy of Hawkeye Johnson

Hitching Post Restaurant

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“DC is full of hidden historical gems and the Hitching Post has been a DC staple since 1967. Located in an unassuming house across from Lincoln’s cottage, check this spot out for their sweet crispy spinach, smoked neck bones and beans, and their famous fried chicken. You will find yourself back at this local haunt again and again!”

“If you’re looking for a night of luxury to celebrate a special occasion, check out Jônt above Bresca. This intimate chef’s counter experience features seasonal ingredients executed and presented with perfection. Be sure to try their cocktails or — even better — splurge on a wine pairing.”

A butcher carving a large slab of meat.
Jônt
Courtesy of Jônt

Sandlot Southeast

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“With sunny days and warm weather ahead, Sandlot is the outdoor bar to be! Structured around an outdoor container, they feature cold-pressed juice cocktails and rotating Black-owned food residencies. There are four convenient locations to join in the Sandlot experience, but our favorite is the Southeast location.”

dLeña Roja

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“Tequila shots are out, sipping mezcal is in! dLeña Roja is a photo-op-worthy, Latin-style speakeasy with over 100 tequilas and mezcals, right below the dLeña restaurant. We recommend ordering the hamachi and chipotle wings to enjoy with your cocktails.”

An interior photo of a large, wooden circle bar inside of a restaurant.
dLeña
Courtesy of Zeph Colombatto

DAIKAYA Izakaya

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“Tucked away above the bustling DAIKAYA ramen shop, DAIKAYA Izakaya is a stark contrast to the loud and colorful noodle house. Dimly lit with an intimate ambiance, the Izakaya is one of our go-to date night spots for its delicious small plates and impressive Japanese Whiskey selection. We typically order the Rocky Balboas (an umami-rich uni and roe shooter), grilled avocado, and the donburi paired with a Nikka 17, neat.”

Fava Pot

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“Fava Pot is another fun spot to grab a quick bite. This woman-owned casual eatery has delicious Egyptian street food. We love their mezzes (especially the fava beans) and their super crispy falafel.”

A close-up image of five dishes with hummus and pita bread on them.
Fava Pot
Courtesy of Fava Pot

Colada Shop

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“If you’re looking for a refreshing escape, stop by Colada Shop for their impressive selection of teas, smoothies, and their signature Cuban café con leche! Their merch game is also dope, so pick up a cool hat to go along with a six-pack of empanadas!”

Colada Shop
Courtesy of Colada Shop

Lot 38 Espresso Bar

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“Nestled behind a condo building and a Courtyard Marriott, my wife and I have been supporting Lot 38 for over 10 years now. A family-owned neighborhood gem, this coffee shop has espresso drinks and breakfast sandwiches nailed down. Order a latte and a sausage, egg, and cheese croissant before your 15-minute stroll to the Capitol.”

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Queen’s English

A close-up of a dish with four shrimp tails on it, sitting on a marble table.
Queen’s English
Courtesy of Albert Ting and Rey Lopez

“A casual-chic neighborhood spot featuring Hong Kong-style cuisine, memorable cocktails, and an impressive wine program. The drunken chili noodles, foie & chicken shu mai are must-tries. No date? No problem, bring your four-legged pal for fun outdoor dining.”

A close-up of a dish with four shrimp tails on it, sitting on a marble table.
Queen’s English
Courtesy of Albert Ting and Rey Lopez

RASA

An outdoor wooden table with dishes placed on top of it.
RASA
Courtesy of RASA

“RASA is a vibrant, casual Indian eatery that features build-your-own bowls with a variety of meats, vegetables, toppings, and sauces. The chicken tikka and lamb kebabs are must-try mains but their extensive vegetarian options are delicious as well! With bright airy interiors and swinging egg chairs, this is a fun place to meet up with friends of all ages.”

An outdoor wooden table with dishes placed on top of it.
RASA
Courtesy of RASA

PogiBoy

“A fast casual Filipino concept by two of my best friends. Definitely try the tocino burger for a fun handheld [option] or the chicken inasal rice bowl for its refreshing lemongrass marinade. Their nostalgic Filipino-American mashups are sure to please diners of all ages!”

Albi

An assortment of plates and cutlery sitting on a wooden table, featuring hummus, pita bread, and vegetables.
Albi
Courtesy of Hawkeye Johnson

“If you are looking for an experience of all senses, check out the impressive open kitchen at Albi. Enjoy some elevated classic Levantine dishes that are as tasty as they are visually stunning. Start your meal with the baba ganoush and be sure to try their shish kebabs!”

An assortment of plates and cutlery sitting on a wooden table, featuring hummus, pita bread, and vegetables.
Albi
Courtesy of Hawkeye Johnson

Hitching Post Restaurant

“DC is full of hidden historical gems and the Hitching Post has been a DC staple since 1967. Located in an unassuming house across from Lincoln’s cottage, check this spot out for their sweet crispy spinach, smoked neck bones and beans, and their famous fried chicken. You will find yourself back at this local haunt again and again!”

Jônt

A butcher carving a large slab of meat.
Jônt
Courtesy of Jônt

“If you’re looking for a night of luxury to celebrate a special occasion, check out Jônt above Bresca. This intimate chef’s counter experience features seasonal ingredients executed and presented with perfection. Be sure to try their cocktails or — even better — splurge on a wine pairing.”

A butcher carving a large slab of meat.
Jônt
Courtesy of Jônt

Sandlot Southeast

“With sunny days and warm weather ahead, Sandlot is the outdoor bar to be! Structured around an outdoor container, they feature cold-pressed juice cocktails and rotating Black-owned food residencies. There are four convenient locations to join in the Sandlot experience, but our favorite is the Southeast location.”

dLeña Roja

An interior photo of a large, wooden circle bar inside of a restaurant.
dLeña
Courtesy of Zeph Colombatto

“Tequila shots are out, sipping mezcal is in! dLeña Roja is a photo-op-worthy, Latin-style speakeasy with over 100 tequilas and mezcals, right below the dLeña restaurant. We recommend ordering the hamachi and chipotle wings to enjoy with your cocktails.”

An interior photo of a large, wooden circle bar inside of a restaurant.
dLeña
Courtesy of Zeph Colombatto

DAIKAYA Izakaya

“Tucked away above the bustling DAIKAYA ramen shop, DAIKAYA Izakaya is a stark contrast to the loud and colorful noodle house. Dimly lit with an intimate ambiance, the Izakaya is one of our go-to date night spots for its delicious small plates and impressive Japanese Whiskey selection. We typically order the Rocky Balboas (an umami-rich uni and roe shooter), grilled avocado, and the donburi paired with a Nikka 17, neat.”

Fava Pot

A close-up image of five dishes with hummus and pita bread on them.
Fava Pot
Courtesy of Fava Pot

“Fava Pot is another fun spot to grab a quick bite. This woman-owned casual eatery has delicious Egyptian street food. We love their mezzes (especially the fava beans) and their super crispy falafel.”

A close-up image of five dishes with hummus and pita bread on them.
Fava Pot
Courtesy of Fava Pot

Colada Shop

Colada Shop
Courtesy of Colada Shop

“If you’re looking for a refreshing escape, stop by Colada Shop for their impressive selection of teas, smoothies, and their signature Cuban café con leche! Their merch game is also dope, so pick up a cool hat to go along with a six-pack of empanadas!”

Colada Shop
Courtesy of Colada Shop

Lot 38 Espresso Bar

“Nestled behind a condo building and a Courtyard Marriott, my wife and I have been supporting Lot 38 for over 10 years now. A family-owned neighborhood gem, this coffee shop has espresso drinks and breakfast sandwiches nailed down. Order a latte and a sausage, egg, and cheese croissant before your 15-minute stroll to the Capitol.”