Where to eat & drink during AIA24
Where should you eat in Washington, D.C.? AIA ǀ DC members answer with 16 favorites that show just how vibrant, varied, and exceptional the Washington, D.C. restaurant scene is. Many are architectural gems with unique features, stunning views, and—of course—a great cocktail program. See their full of 50+ recommendations in the summer issue of ArchitectureDC, available for free at AIA24!
Get a bite, have a drink, and enjoy your surroundings—this is where to eat now in Washington, D.C.
Shaw ǀ 1245 H St NE
Designed by Jimmie Drummond
Keem Hughley was inspired to create Bronze during the pandemic. The restaurant takes its inspiration from Afrofuturism, melding fantasy and gastronomy with the culture of the African Diaspora. Once inside, guests become part of an imaginary narrative centered on the fictional character Alonzo Bronze as he travels the world, represented by the restaurant’s three levels. “It’s a thought-provoking story that inspires our families to converse about food and design differently,” says Jimmie Drummond, the space’s principal architect. The goal: To make guests feel as though Alonzo traveled to another country, brought that dish back to Africa, and put his own spin on it.
Shaw ǀ 920 Blagden Alley
Designed by Exebio
“Causa” means “friend” or “pal” in Peruvian slang, a name that sets the tone for the hospitable atmosphere of this upscale eatery in Washington’s Shaw neighborhood. The colorful space was brought to life by Peru-based design team Exebio, and the tasting menu by acclaimed chef Carlos Delgado earned the spot a Michelin star in 2023. Check out rooftop bar Amazonia for neighborhood views and a pisco-heavy cocktail menu.
Georgetown ǀ 3050 K Street NW
Designed by HapstakDemetriou+
With a light-filled interior decked out in nautical blue, this restaurant designed by Washington-based firm HapstakDemetriou+ and located on the waterfront in Washington’s historic Georgetown neighborhood offers a bevy of raw and cooked options for any seafood lover. If you’re feeling a little shellfish, order a seafood tower for one. With a Michelin-awarded menu curated by Chef Fabio Trabocchi, this is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to treat themselves!
West End ǀ 1124 23rd Street
Designed by OOAK Architects
This Mediterranean-influenced Latin American eatery in the city’s West End showcases the best of what Venezuelan-born chef Enrique Limardo loves about his native cuisine. With modern and sleek interiors designed by Greek-Swedish architects OOAK Architects, the Michelin-starred food skews modern as well, with menu highlights such as truffle Taglioni and tiger prawns “a la diablo.”
Logan Circle ǀ 1601 14th Street NW
Designed by Shawn Hausman Design
When Le Diplomate opened in 2013, it quickly became a Washington staple for French bistro fare. Housed in a historic structure, the interiors by Los Angeles-based Shawn Hausman – who got his start as a set designer in Hollywood – can only be described as “cinematic.” They’re sure to make any diner feel as though they’re a chic character in a French film. The Michelin-starred menu also holds up its end of the bargain, featuring Julia Child-approved French dishes such as cassoulet and veal sweetbreads.
U Street ǀ 1346 Florida AveD
Designed by designCASE
Diners looking for a taste of the Middle East need look no further than Maydan on Washington’s storied U Street. Visitors can partake in the “Tawle” menu, a curated tasting experience, or order kebabs, dips, grilled vegetables and more a la carte (for parties for four or less). Washington-based firm designCASE, which specializes in restaurant interiors, earned Maydan the designation of Eater DC’s pick for 2018 restaurant design of the year, largely thanks to the roaring open fire pit in the middle.
Penn Quarter ǀ 401 7th Street
Designed by Adamstein + Demetriou
No list of Washington restaurants is complete without a few picks from renowned chef José Andrés. Oyamel’s menu is chock-full of sophisticated and delicious takes on Mexican classics like tamales, carnitas, and even grasshoppers – a Oaxacan delicacy. Designed by Washington’s Adamstein + Demetriou, the vibrant cantina-inspired interiors are sure to inspire as much as the food. Oyamel’s location in the heart of D.C.’s historic Penn Quarter allows for great people-watching on the patio outside.
Penn Quarter ǀ 633 D St NW
Designed by Harry Gregory
With well-appointed interiors by London-based designer Harry Gregory, Washington classic Rasika is a not-to-be-missed smorgasbord of Indian-inspired fine dining. Executive chef Vikram Sunderam was awarded the 2013 James Beard award for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region, and his accomplishments shine through in dishes like Scottish tandoori salmon and barbecued mango shrimp. Finish off your meal with a slice of spiced pumpkin cheesecake or warm black rice pudding, served with cardamom ice cream.
Shaw ǀ 122 Blagden Alley NW
Designed by Edit Lab by Streetsense
Described by Conde Nast Traveler as “Southern flavors with an only-in-D.C. twist”, The Dabney prepares much of its cuisine over embers in its wood-burning hearth. For those in search of an inventive tasting menu, the restaurant offers eight courses with items that change seasonally and are always sourced from the greater Mid-Atlantic region. This restaurant in Washington’s eclectic Blagden Alley was named the city’s best by Washingtonian magazine in 2023.
Penn Quarter ǀ 701 9th Street
Designed by Adamstein + Demetriou
For our second José Andrés pick, we’re recommending Zaytinya, a Turkish, Greek and Lebanese feast for the senses with bright, airy and high-ceilinged interiors by Adamstein + Demetriou. Enjoy a chef’s tasting menu, shareable family-style dishes, and/or a delectable selection of spreads and mezze. Top it off with a glass of Greek wine or a specialty cocktail to evoke a quick trip to the Mediterranean.
City Center ǀ 974 Palmer Alley
Designed by CORE Architecture + Design
Centered around a terracotta-clad wood oven, Centrolina, spearheaded by Chef Amy Brandwein, features Italian favorites as well as novelties. Don’t sleep on the wine list, which focuses on Italian wines from up-and-coming regions. With rustic yet modern interiors by Washington’s own CORE Architecture + Design, Centrolina perfectly melds tradition and innovation in both its cuisine and environs. Appropriately enough, it’s located in Washington’s new City Center development in the heart of the city.
Downtown ǀ 1000 15th Street
Designed by GrizForm Design Architects
For a taste of the French Quarter in Washington, D.C., look no further than Dauphine’s. With food characterized by Michelin’s Bib Gourmand as “zero fuss and maximum flavor,” Dauphine’s Chef Kristen Essig has carefully crafted a menu that’s sure to please meat, fish and poultry lovers alike. Be sure to pause for a moment to take in the lush interiors designed by Washington-based GrizForm Design Architects.
Shaw ǀ 430 K Street NW
Designed by Tony Velazquez
Fresh breads, biscuits, and sandwiches take center stage at this North Capital Street bakery and coffee shop, the second such outpost co-founded and owned by married couple Tony and Teresa Velazquez. (You can find their original shop, Baked & Wired, in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood.) Tony, an architect by training, designed the industrial-lite space perfect for dining and sipping. The Velazquez coffee shops are also known for their oversized cupcakes, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to try them.
Downtown ǀ 1201 K Street NW
Designed by Gachot Studios
Allegory, located inside Washington’s Eaton Hotel, is the only speakeasy on this list, so you may need to ask hotel staff to direct you to the door disguised as a wall. Once inside the Gachot Studios-designed interior, visitors are greeted by vibrant murals inspired by Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges, who plays the role of Alice in Wonderland as she encounters strange characters and slays the Jabberwocky. For the adventurous drinker, beverages like Eyes of Flame and Beat of the Drum offer fresh takes on traditional spirits.
West End ǀ 1200 New Hampshire Ave NW
Designed by Nivek Remas
For the vegan or vegan-curious, look no further than Planta Queen in the city’s West End. The menu features heavily East Asian-influenced dishes like Singapore noodles with kale and peppers, a baked “crab” sushi roll, and beetroot “tuna” tartare. The creative and vibrant interior design by Nivek Remas is as much a feast for the senses as the food, and its convenient location near the Ritz Carlton, Park Hyatt, AC Hotel, and more makes it about as traveler friendly as they come.
Capitol Riverfront ǀ 79 Potomac Ave SE
Designed by GrizForm Design Architects
In the summer, The Salt Line is one of the city’s most popular indoor-outdoor spots for seafood and cold drinks. Fresh oysters, crab dip, and even a New England smash burger make this menu – paired with an ale or cocktail—irresistible when the weather gets warm. With rustic yet refined interiors by GrizForm Design Architects, we doubt you’ll be salty about what The Salt Line has to offer.
Avoid disappointment: We recommend making your Washington, D.C. restaurant reservations well in advance of your travel dates.