Downtown/Midtown Restaurants

Plume

(Jefferson Hotel)
1200 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-448-2322

American


 

$$$$$
$95.00*
 

★★★

Poor Value

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★★★

Poor Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
The formal dining room in the Jefferson Hotel may be the most luxurious place in the city to dine. Dinner reflects an old-school sensibility with dishes from chef Ralf Schlegel featuring classic, high-end ingredients like lobster, truffles, and foie gras. Plume might also have the best wine list in the city, thanks to wine director Jenn Knowles. A $95 dollar 4/6 course tasting menu (depending on how you count courses) is the only option, with some additional charges.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
2.5 Stars (10/22/2014)
"There is, in Washington, no more sumptuous place to pick up a fork or raise a flute than Plume…There are two fresh reasons to get to know the five-year-old gem…: executive chef Ralf Schlegel and wine director Jenn Knowles. Schlegel, 36, is a German native who…last worked at the formal French restaurant Marcel’s in the West End. Knowles, 39, hails from the esteemed Inn at Little Washington and infuses dinner with charm and wit…. With just six or so starters and entrees, Schlegel’s menu does not take long to examine. And the selections…reflect those of a list written with high-end hotel guests in mind. What appears on the tables are compositions that, while serious, demonstrate a chef with a sly sense of humor. Almost every dish comes with a detail that elevates the familiar." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
No. 6 (2/8/2016) — 100 Very Best Restaurants 2016
"It’s not just the sumptuous elegance of the space that envelops you in a fantasy. It’s all the many appurtenances that reinforce the air of tasteful luxury—the upholstered stools for purses, the thick linen napkins, the silver domes to keep plates hot, the elaborate amuse-bouche to start, the petits fours to finish. The cooking, under the direction of Ralf Schlegel, avoids the pothole that fine dining at the highest levels is surprisingly prone to: the tendency to deliver technically perfect but soulless food. Schlegel brings imagination as well as rigor …" See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Italic — Recommended
"Underrated by critics, Plume is beautiful, stunning atmosphere and service, solid food, perhaps the best wine list in the city."

Iron Gate

1734 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-524-5202

American
Italian
Greek
 

$$$
$60.00*
 

★★★

Average Value

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★★★

Average Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Neighborhood Restaurant Group recently resurrected this historic restaurant, which closed a few years ago, spending millions updating and upgrading everything. The results are spectacular — one of the most romantic spaces in the city. Under chef Anthony Chittum, the Greek and Italian influenced cooking is just as spectacular as the setting. A long bar, with cocktails by all-star mixologist Jeff Faile, greets you as you enter the gates. The restaurant is behind it in the old carriage house, which also has a beautiful patio in warmer weather. An a la carte menu is available in the bar and patio, while the main dining room features a tasting format of four ($60) or six ($80) courses, or a special chef's tasting menu ($110).
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
3 Stars (10/9/2014) — Fall Dining Guide 2014
"Dining in a courtyard under the stars is a bonding moment, especially when it involves small plates of Greek and Italian flavors from Tony Chittum…. The chef and his colleagues from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group breathed new life into the historic property when they took over the Iron Gate Inn, which went dark four years ago after an 87-year run in Dupont Circle. Their rebranding efforts can be sampled two ways. A rear dining room — picture a tasting menu, red leather banquettes and fireplace — represents the formal route. More relaxed are the vaulted carriageway, preceded by giant lanterns and home to a long bar (don’t miss Jeff Faile’s ace cocktails), and the aforementioned patio, where a handful of family-style platters help crowd the zinc tables." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
No. 40 (2/8/2016) — 100 Very Best Restaurants 2016
"A couple decades ago, the Iron Gate Inn, as it was called, was known for its lovely date-night space and not much else. Now, two years after it was taken over by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, it’s a destination for its cooking, too. Anthony Chittum excels with the peasanty sides of Greek and Italian cuisine. On the wisteria-covered patio (one of the most romantic spots around, even in winter, when fire pits warm it up), you can graze on small plates such as maple-roasted squash with yogurt, as well as platters of roasted meats. In the dining room, choose from four- and six-course tasting menus. …" See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Italic — Recommended
Don Rockwell has not reviewed this restaurant.

Soi 38

(entrance on 21st)
2101 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
202-558-9215

Thai


 

$$
$16.00
 

★★½

Excellent Value

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★★½

Excellent Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Named for a large Bangkok night market, married owners Nat Ongsangkoon and Dia Khanthongthip wanted Soi 38 to be something different from the ubiquitous, Americanized Thai places that dot the city. They succeeded by designing a sleek restaurant that rival's Wolfgang Puck's The Source. More importantly, they hired chef Mitchai Pankham, who is not afraid to deliver the kinds of bold, often fiery, and always complex flavors lacking in other places. The emphasis here is on Thai street food, so expect some dishes you won't see anywhere else. And even typical dishes, like green papaya salad, seem brighter and more alive here.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
2.5 Stars (10/9/2014) — Fall Dining Guide 2014
"Soi 38 [is] a downtown knockout that catches the eye with a palette of gold and black and a painting of a dragon stretching across the ceiling. Owners Dia Khanthongthip and Nat Ongsangkoon, eager to introduce diners to the street food of their native Bangkok, named their gem after one of the Thai capital’s most popular night markets. If you seek heat, the kitchen delivers.…But you don’t have to be a hot head to appreciate the place.…Save the Singha for the competition; here’s the rare Thai restaurant that takes its cocktails seriously. And bonus points for diversity in seating. One of the restaurant’s more commodious tables can accommodate up to 14 diners." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (4/2/2014)
[Preview] "Though the District boasts a good number Thai restaurants, not many have menus that venture beyond pad Thai and other mainstays…. Hoping to expand the scene are Bangkok natives Nat Ongsangkoon and Dia Khanthongthip, the husband-and-wife team behind Soi 38. The Foggy Bottom eatery…is named after one of the largest night markets in the couple’s home city, and will offer a menu inspired by the street fare served there. This isn’t to say you won’t find familiar dishes; the couple also own the nearby Thai Place, whose menu reads more mainstream. Still, Ongsangkoon says they want to introduce guests to lesser-known recipes they make for their family, as well as the Northern Thai specialties chef Mitchai Pankham prepared at his restaurant back home." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Italic — Recommended
"Authentic, gutsy, Thai street food emphasizing real flavors instead of sweetness, possibly the best Thai in the city right now." See 12/29/2014 Review…»

Mari Vanna

1141 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-783-7777

Russian


 

$$
$23.33
 

★★

Average Value

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★★

Average Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
The DC outpost of this Russian chain isn't on anyone's radar, but we love Mari Vanna -- the area's best Russian restaurant (by far) -- for it's kitschy "Grandma's house" atmosphere and amazing Pelmeni (Russian dumplings) and Vareniki (Russian Pierogi). There's also a good selection of Russian beers and house made flavored vodkas.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (5/9/2014)
"… Lured by a sidewalk sign announcing 'Best Russian Food,' I find myself at an alcove table with a rose and a window. … What follows, from executive chef Azamat Zhanizakov, a native of Kazakhstan, is mostly agreeable cooking served in portions that ensure you won’t leave hungry. … The savory baked pies known as pirozhki appeal to me no matter the season. … Come to think of it, anything wrapped up tends to be a sure bet at Mari Vanna, which rolled out near the Mayflower hotel in January 2013. Cue the pelmeni, steamed dumplings containing marbles of pork and beef, and cabbage leaves stuffed with ground chicken, an entree that picks up color from a rich cream sauce tinted with tomato paste. …" See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (1/22/2013)
"… The draw: a three-level space decked out in what’s been described in various ways as Russian grandmother-chic—and as far as the big names go, it doesn’t hurt that the Moscow, London, and New York branches gained star endorsements. The old-school-comfort-with-a-twist trend isn’t going anywhere; here it just takes a more Slavic approach. You’ll find purposely peeling wallpaper, decorative lamps and chandeliers, and the kind of tchotchkes your babushka might keep in Mother Russia, as well as a large, hearty menu of dishes she might serve if she had a full-time kitchen staff. …" See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
 
Don Rockwell does not recommend this restaurant.

Vidalia

1990 M St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-659-1990

American
Southern

 

$$$
$32.72
 

★★½

Poor Value

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★★½

Poor Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Vidalia lost its James Beard award-winning chef RJ Cooper a while back. Owner Jeff Buben–also a James Beard award winner–took the opportunity to return Vidalia to its Southern roots under chef Hamilton Johnson, and the restaurant is as good as ever. The seasonal menu changes frequently, but always features the restaurant's signature shrimp and grits, maybe one of the best renditions anywhere. All choices are available a la carte or as a five-course tasting menu at dinner for $80.00.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
1.5 Stars (5/11/2016) — Spring 2016 Dining Guide
"The city’s best churros — hot, crisp, fluffy in the center — are where you least expect to find them. Yet no meal made me sadder this year than my last visit to Vidalia, the once-proud bastion of Southern cooking in the city. The plunge in quality isn’t immediately apparent; Vidalia’s suited waiters are as polished as they come, and isn’t it fun to have your Manhattan fired up at the table? (Literally, with a flame and smoke.) The cornbread is as fine as ever, too. Otherwise, last summer’s departure of longtime chef de cuisine Hamilton Johnson has left a meteor-size hole that his replacement isn’t filling. …" See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
3.5 Stars (1/28/2014) — 100 Very Best Restaurants 2014
"[T]he biggest draws re-main the unfussed-with down-home classics: squares of warm cornbread (good luck resisting any of the bread basket’s temptations), tender-crusted chess pie, and fat shrimp atop creamy grits. The honey-lit, dignified room is a favorite for business dinners and quiet catch-ups. The long bar with its loungey couches is home to a more vibrant scene—each weeknight between 5 and 7, it hosts one of Washington’s best happy hours, with Cheerwine and sweet-tea cocktails and Southern snacks." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Italic — Recommended
"Under (relatively) new chef Hamilton Johnson, Vidalia is executing its classic dishes just as well as it ever has, great bar program."

Sweetgreen

1901 L St NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-331-3355

Salads
Healthy

 

$
$9.90
 

Cheap Eats
Excellent Value

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Cheap Eats
Excellent Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
This rapidly-expanding local chain with locations in the DC area, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, offers healthy, good-quality salads. With its emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and calories posted on the menu, it's one of our picks for healthy "cheap eats."
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 

The Washington Post has not reviewed this restaurant.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (12/1/2007)
The last word from Washingtonian is this badly outdated review of the original Georgetown location. The chain has expanded up the East Coast and hosts a yearly music festival. But it still follows the same basic format: salads and yogurt, featuring local ingredients and numerous toppings. See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
 
Don Rockwell does not recommend this restaurant.

Chop't Creative Salad Company

1105 1/2 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-955-0665

Salads
Wraps
Healthy
 

$
$9.99
 

Cheap Eats
Excellent Value

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Cheap Eats
Excellent Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
This small salad chain with locations in New York and DC is a great spot for a quick salad or salad wrap. You can make your own combination or select from a number of tasty pre-selected ones. And, with the calories posted on the menu and a good selection of "spa" dressings (all under 50 calories per serving), it's one of our picks for healthy "cheap eats."
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (11/18/2012)
The story about Chop’t highlights some of what we like about it: it’s healthy, fast, has a wide variety of ingredients to choose from, and offers a number of tasty combinations. But that's only half of what caught the reporter's eye. "The other half is the theater that comes with the salad assembly line." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 

Washingtonian has not reviewed this restaurant.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
 
Don Rockwell has not reviewed this restaurant.

Greek Deli and Catering

1120 19th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-296-2111

Greek


 

$
$10.99
 

Cheap Eats
Excellent Value

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Cheap Eats
Excellent Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
There’s a reason for the long line here. The legendary daily specials like Mykonos meatballs on Wednesday and best-in-the-city meatloaf on Thursday, make it our favorite lunch spot. Portions are massive — more than enough for two big meals — making it a deceptively good value. And owner Kostas Fostieris' outsized personality (some have likened him to Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi," though it's mostly for show) even makes ordering fun — just be sure to have your order ready when you get to the counter!
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (12/7/2008)
"Spanakopita. Moussaka. Gyros in flavors from tuna to chicken to beef. All the Greek classics are accounted for here, and while I admire the hearty lentil soup and the homemade bread, the specials tend to make my mouth water the most." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (12/14/2009)
This mini-review of our favorite lunch spots is outdated, but it still holds true: "Kostas Fostieris presides at this downtown DC carryout, heaping soulful Greek fare into Styrofoam clamshells." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Italic — Recommended
"Open 8AM-4PM weekdays, huge lunch platters, homemade Greek specialties, even gyros are good here."

Bub and Pop's

1815 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-457-1111

Sandwiches


 

$
$12.08
 

Cheap Eats
Good Value

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Cheap Eats
Good Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
If the perfectly prepared, generously-portioned, and delightfully sloppy sandwiches from chef Jonathan Taub don't make you a fan of this family owned sub shop, the no-nonsense charm of his mom, Arlene Wagner will. Bub and Pop's Philly-style hoagies are among the very best sandwiches you'll find in DC, period. But be forewarned, it's tiny, so it can get crowded at lunch.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (3/27/2014)
[Chef] Taub braises his own briskets, roasts his own porchetta, forms his own meatballs, whips up his own mayonnaise, fries his own addictive chips…, pickles his own vegetables … and bakes his own desserts. See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (5/5/2016) — Cheap Eats 2016
"When you unwrap the white paper from your sandwich, you’ll likely spend at least 30 seconds studying it. No, not to find just the right photo angle—to figure out how you’ll possibly manage to get the damn thing into your mouth. Philly-inspired hoagies, served on soft, squishy rolls and as stuffed as a clown car, are chef/co-owner Jonathan Taub’s specialty. …" See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Italic — Recommended
"Philly-style hoagies and subs, including a roast pork with broccoli rabe that one chef claims is the best sandwich in DC."

CF Folks

1225 19th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-293-0162

American


 

$
$12.95
 

Cheap Eats
Good Value

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Cheap Eats
Good Value

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Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Set among the office buildings in Midtown DC, this great little lunch spot offers good sandwiches and rotating list of globally-influenced daily specials. In warmer months, there's outdoor seating with table service.
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
2 Stars (10/21/2012) — 2012 Fall Dining Guide
Tom Sietsema still loves CF Folks, noting that "Art Carlson, the presiding wiseacre behind the Formica counter, has been dispensing gruff, coffee and sandwiches for the past three decades in a sliver of a cafe." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Unrated (9/17/2007)
This review is outdated, but little changes at CF Folks, which still has "deli sandwiches–such as a crab cake on a kaiser roll and a pastrami Reuben–plus chicken, tuna, and Caesar salads" and "a separate roster of specials [that] changes daily." See Full Review…»
Summary
Washington Post
Washingtonian
Don Rockwell
 
Italic — Recommended
"A wonderful, informal lunch spot that brings humanity to South Dupont, a little gem."
Ratings Guide:
★★★★ Extraordinary;  ★★★ Excellent;  ★★ Good;  ★ Average
All restaurants listed rate above-average or better. DCDiningGuide.com also includes a number of unrated local favorites, casual places, and other restaurants that we recommend if you’re in the neighborhood.
Price Guide:
$$$$$ Unlimited (>$45); $$$$ Very Expensive ($35-$45); $$$ Expensive ($25-$35); $$ Moderate ($15-$25); Inexpensive (<$15)
Price is based on the average cost of a dinner entree, which generally reflects a third of the cost of a full meal. Please note, however, that appetizer and beverage prices vary widely. Tasting menus are indicated with an asterisk (*).