Food & Drink | January 17, 2023 7:00 am

First Time in DC? Here’s Exactly Where to Eat and Drink.

From adult juice boxes to the best whiskey bar in the Mid-Atlantic

Platter from Federalist Pig
Platter from Federalist Pig
Federalist Pig

Whether you’re a high-roller with a penchant for high-end whiskey or traveling with a family of picky eaters, there’s something for everyone in the Nation’s Capital. And there are good views, too. 

But those views are a lot less enjoyable on an empty stomach, of course, so your first order of business on your trip to DC should be figuring out where you’re going to eat and drink. You don’t need to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street for a half smoke. (You can get a Ben’s half smoke at the airport. And Nats Park. And the Convention Center.) So with DC’s most iconic sandwich already covered, here are five other spots that should please any/every tourist.

One of José Andrés’s Restaurants

Why you’re here: Because José Andrés is as iconic and tied to Washington as mumbo sauce, Ben’s Chili Bowl and jumbo slice

What you’re ordering: Well, it depends. Are you with your family? Got time for a nice meal downtown that may take a few hours? Then check out Oyamel, Jaleo or Zaytinya. Are you with your adventurous significant other? Then eat at the bar at China Chilcano. With a picky/healthy vegetarian who needs a fast casual bowl? Beefsteak is excellent. But the ideal experience, one you’ll plan a return visit around, is a cocktail flight at minibar. The extremely small bar is gorgeous, and the drinks match the atmosphere. If you can, sit at the bar. If you can, plan far ahead. Reservations are filled well in advance. 

855 E St NW (map)

Exterior of Calico
Exterior of Calico
Calico

Calico

Why you’re here: Because Blagden Alley is one of D.C.’s best not-exactly-hidden gems 

What you’re ordering: Calico bills itself as an urban backyard. It’s a laidback place great for after-work drinks. If you’re stuck at the Washington Convention Center for, well, a convention, walk a block and find yourself in a cute, brick-lined alleyway full of hip restaurants and bars. Enjoy a classic tomato pie and adult juice box — or rather, adult juice boxes. You’re going to get more than one. 

50 Bladgen Alley NW (map)

Federalist Pig

Why you’re here: BBQ, baby!

What you’re ordering: BBQ, baby! D.C. has a large number of excellent BBQ options. Federalist Pig is one of the best because they mastered the to-go/take out process due to the pandemic. Eating at Federalist Pig, specifically their Columbia Road location, is fine, but this is best enjoyed at home/at your friend’s place/in your hotel. Order the Sampler Platter and/or the tofu banh mi if you’re with a vegetarian. Everyone deserves good BBQ. 

1654 Columbia Rd NW (map)

Jack Rose Dining Bar
Jack Rose Dining Bar
Greg Powers, Courtesy of Jack Rose

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Why you’re here: Whiskey. So much whiskey. 

What you’re ordering: Whether you want to geek out on the main floor’s massive selection, drink some cocktails on the roof or spend a few hours in a leather booth, Jack Rose is the best option for whiskey in the DMV. 

2007 18th St NW (map)

where to eat DC
Hi-Lawn
Hi-Lawn

Union Market / Hi-Lawn / La Cosecha  

Why you’re here: Because between Union Market and La Cosecha, there’s at least one meal option everyone can agree on

What you’re ordering: Whatever you want. If you can’t find something between the dozens of options at Union Market and La Cosecha, there’s fine dining (St. Anselm), fast casual (Shouk), fancy coffee (Blue Bottle) and a grocery store (Trader Joe’s) within a block. Whatever you do decide on eating, eat it on Hi-Lawn. The roof of Union Market has some pretty excellent views and is kid-friendly. You’re welcome to bring whatever you purchase at Union Market, La Cosecha or wherever to the roof, just not alcohol. Get your drinks from them. 

1309 5th St NE (map)