As one of the most diverse cities in the country, there are a range of the best restaurants in Washington, DC that meets every palate and budget. Luckily, you don't have to be a political insider to eat at some of the best establishments the city has to offer.
Busboys and Poets
Founded by Washington-area entrepreneur and activist Andy Shallal, “Busboys,” as it is affectionately known, has quickly grown into a successful local chain and a favorite among Washington's socially conscious set. The restaurant's affordable Southern-inspired and vegetarian-friendly cuisine is almost upstaged by the regular performances and readings that are a staple at Busboys locations.
One of the newest entries in DC's fine dining scene is also one of its most highly regarded. Chef Johnny Monis's Greek-inspired fare, served as a set menu only, is beating DC foodie stalwarts like Michel Richard's Citronelle at its own game by making stodgy high-end cuisine hip. Even its Dupont Circle location is cooler than the usual Georgetown or downtown DC fine dining locales, making Komi hands down one of the best restaurants in Washington, DC.
With the center of the Ethiopian restaurant scene having moved from 18th Street in Adams Morgan to 9th Street near U Street, the new standard-bearer in Ethiopian food is Etete, a tiny storefront named for its head chef. While it serves the Ethiopian dishes you will find all over DC, there is a freshness and lightness about Etete's food that is unmatched by its counterparts elsewhere on 9th St.
Salvadorans are one of the largest immigrant communities in D.C., and have the best restaurants in Washington, DC to prove it. Perennial favorite El Tamarindo is open 24 hours on weekends, and its pupusas (filled patties served with spicy coleslaw) are among the best—and cheapest—in the city.
Ben's Chili Bowl
No list would be complete without this family-owned Washington, DC restaurant. Although Ben's is a bit of a tourist trap these days, the hordes of Washingtonians that pack it after hitting up the U Street clubs on weekends show that Ben's food, especially its signature chili, is as good as ever.