In Washington DC in mid-April, seeking recommendations!

My wife, reasonably adventuresome twin middle school aged daughters will be coming from Boston to Washington, DC in mid April. So, I’m in search of good, unique eats in the greater DC area. Wondering if there’s a great go-to place for Chesapeake Bay crabs (I have fond memories of Obrycki’s in Baltimore, and are crabs in season now)?

I’m also wondering what else is uniquely great DC chow? Thanks in advance for recommendations!

1 Like

For crabs, I’d go to the wharf area. It’s pretty swanky now. And the last time I was there… parking sucked. But I’ve been told that there might be more parking now. I don’t know. I haven’t been in a couple of years just because of the PIA parking and stuff are.

If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, Captain Pells in Fairfax City is pretty good.

There are tons of places which are unique to DC. Like places which serve the half-smokes. Finding the “best” place is up for debate. I like them on my BBQ grill, but have been known to venture out to find one. I’m currently in Kuwait until August or so and have been craving them. I plan to be in the DC area mid-April so I might freeze some and bring them back for my BBQ grill in Kuwait to tide me over until I get back for good.

Boston is quite a metropolitan area so its a sure bet that if there is a cuisine you like, you might be able to find it there. But, and it’s a huge BUT, DC has embassies from almost every country in the world, and the food scene is FAR better than most large cities. You want North Vietnamese and not Southern? You can get it here. You want Javian Indonesian food and not Balinese, it’s a good bet you can find it here. The key is to call the embassy of the food you want to eat and see if they have a recommendation. I don’t think they get enough calls that want to eat the food of their people and normally they are tickled pink someone is interested and will give you a good recommendation. This is how I found a Malaysian joint in the past.

I hope this helps you get started!


I had a really nice visit to Washington in Oct 2019. It was my last visit to the States before the Pandemic.

Espita. My friend who lives in Maryland chose Espita. Espita serves Oaxacan food, including Tlayuda, and has some rare tequilas and Mezcals on the menu. I would return.

Texas BBQ at Hill Country (location here and in NYC) . It’s convenient to some of the museums.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

An upscale Southern meal at Succotash feels like a corporate restaurant inside, but the space is grand and memorable. I really enjoyed the food.

Seylou Bakery.
I’m in the habit of bringing home bread and pastries, and sometimes granola, from nice bakeries the day I leave a city, often right before I head to the airport.
Seylou had nice stuff. I brought home bread and granola, and some treats.

The pretty good:

Crab Cake Benny for brunch at the Old Ebbitt Grill . This place felt like a tourist trap to me. It was really popular for brunch.

There are better Crabcakes in town, and Crab Cake Benedicts are a common brunch item across DC, but I didn’t have a chance to try others on this visit.

I had brunch at Boqueria, which is an outpost of Manhattan’s Boqueria. The food is equivalent, and it’s a nice Spanish brunch. Not unique to DC but not that common.

Cocktails on the roof of the Watergate after an event at the Kennedy Centre

The food itself at the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s food court Sweet Home Café wasn’t that great. It’s a neat concept. It’s still better than most museum food courts. The museum is worth visiting, and maybe a light snack to see the food court and how it was laid out. Maybe the food has gotten better, or I ordered poorly.

I enjoyed a late night Belgian meal. The place I went to, St Arnold’s, has closed permanently, but that said, it looks like DC had 3 or 4 other Belgian restaurants that are open. (There are no Belgian restaurants where I live)

If you’re taking your kids to the museums, you all might like seeing Julia Child’s kitchen.

DC has more Salvadoran and Ethiopian restaurants than many other American cities, I’d you’re interested in those cuisines.


We enjoyed all the Jose Andres restaurants we tried. Zaytina, Jaleo . . . Besides, what more can one say about his World Central Kitchen project.


(post deleted by author) is a food board in D.C. that will be helpful in your search.

1 Like

I would suggest Trip Khao for Laotian food if you had never had that. Also Unconventional Diner, Tail Up Goat, Moon Rabbit (Vietnamese), Le Diplomate (French) , Maydan (North Africian/Middle Eastern), Rasika (indian) , The Dabney, St. Anselm, and finally Central Michele Richard . The suggestion on is a great one. Also check out Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post.

ETA-Kinship, Tom Power’s Corduroy which is fine dining , you can also check out Marcel’s with Robert Weidmaier. Chef Fabio Trabocchi Del Mar, Fiola Mare, and Sfoglina. Ok that it’s I think.


Crab season started April 1-

Crab season started April 1, so you can now get local crabs. The best places are a drive, but Bethesda Crabs is a sort walk from the Bethesda metro.
Where will you be staying? That will make a difference in the best food options.
There isn’t really a specific DC cuisine, unless you count steakhouses that cater to lobbyists. Also very good French restaurants The half-smokes are a local thing, and the place to go is Ben’s Chili Bowl.
There is indeed a lot of great ethnic food. DC is strong on Vietnamese, Thai, and Ethiopian, but you can find most anything – again depending on where you stay.
There is now good barbecue in the area, but it’s in the suburbs. The Union Market has a good barbecue booth, but that’s it for DC proper.

1 Like

The good bbq booth in Union Market is 2fifty Texas. Their brick and mortar place is in Riverdale Park, MD. It’s exceptional

What is your take on the Federalist Pig?

1 Like

Once – for the full experience, our D.C. host took us to a crab dinner where the larger tables had a trash can stationed under an opening in the middle of the table.


Rappahannock Oyster Bar at The Wharf, but I would think being in Boston this would not be unique given Neptune Oyster, Legal Sea Food and the like.

1 Like

What about Quarterdeck in Arlington? I have never been. Says it is known for it’s Maryland Blue Crab.

Re Quarterdeck, if you’re staying near there, go there instead of Bethesda.

Re Federalist Pig. The one in DC isn’t good. They have a food truck out in Hyattsville that cooks with all wood and the truck has a very good pork sandwich.

1 Like

These are good recommendations. I would add La Bise if you’re staying downtown. Excellent French food, wonderful service. A block from the White House.
If you go to the Kennedy Center, see to save money and aggravation.
Near the Mall and Museums, Oyamel by Jose Andres has grasshopper tacos among more conventional offerings. Rasika is very good Indian. Capital Grill is a steakhouse at which you can see the odd cabinet member or member of congress.
Near the National Cathedral, Cactus Cantina, 2 Amy’s Neapolitan pizza

1 Like

for a budget buster, The Inn at Little Washington (south of DC proper)
seriously few Michelin 3 stars on the east coast - that’s one.

Bresca/DC - don’t. just don’t even think about it…

Obrycki’s (Fells Point) closed. the kids didn’t want to take it over.
reportedly they sold their recipes and name rights to other crab joints.
can’t say if they are better or worse - we did Obrycki’s from the 1960’s until they closed and have not done the heirs.

1 Like

Softshells are making appearances.


This reminded me- shad roe is a DC thing-never had it, but maybe OP would like it.

1 Like

We had a great meal (superb moules frittes) at Brasserie Beck, but unfortunately their web site says they are closed until mid-May.

Also had a great meal at Jaleo in Crystal City (Alexandria). Closed in October ‘21, but there is a location in DC.

1 Like