5 Essential Washington D.C. Restaurants

The nation's capital may be where the elite come together to make big decisions, but you don't have to be a lawmaker to enjoy the same dynamite spots they treat themselves to. These restaurants are the cream of the crop, offering innovative takes on classic dishes using fresh ingredients, and doing so in attractive spaces that will make your next trip to D.C. one to remember. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Must-Try Restaurants in the Washington, D.C. Area

Name Cuisine
The Occidental Historic location serving classic American recipes with a modern twist for lunch, dinner, brunch, and dessert, as well as a full bar menu
Founding Farmers Farmer-owned spot with a commitment to sustainability and fresh ingredients, offering traditional American fare like burgers, soups, hot dogs, seafood, and chicken fried steak
Equinox Regionally-inspired seasonal fine dining utilizing community-sourced, organic ingredients grown within 100 miles of the restaurant whenever possible
Ambar Traditional Balkan cuisine, including staples like kajmak, baked pies, rakia, kebab, and sausages
Firefly Contemporary American comfort food paired with innovative cocktails, local draft beers, and an all-American wine list

A Glimpse of The Occidental

Gift Ideas For Wine Lovers

The Enticing Menu at Founding Farmers

In Depth

Washington, DC may primarily be known as the seat of the United States government, but it's also a metropolis home to a rich assortment of exceptional eateries. There's no shortage of great food and drink to be found in the city, whether you're seeking inspired updates of beloved American dishes or mouth-watering presentations of international cuisine. For residents and visitors looking to satisfy their taste buds, here are, in no particular order, five indispensable restaurants in the nation's capital.

For #1 we have the Occidental, a historic destination where Presidents and the public alike come to enjoy sophisticated American cuisine and cocktails. Built by Henry Willard in 1906, the restaurant has served multiple generations of elite political figures, athletes, and movie stars, whose portraits adorn its walls. Following renovations in 2017, it debuted a series of new features including an entrance facing Pennsylvania Avenue, an expanded bar area, and an updated design with ornate patterns, leather, and exposed-bulb lighting.

The Occidental's cuisine is inspired by vintage recipes given a modern twist, and includes a variety of seasonal dishes made from local ingredients. In addition to brunch, lunch, and dinner options, it offers a pre-theatre menu that allows diners to choose a combination of starter, entree, and dessert at a fixed price, with an optional wine pairing for each. There's also a midday menu for the late afternoon, plus weekday happy hours available at both the bar and patio lounge.

In addition to brunch, lunch, and dinner options, it offers a pre-theatre menu that allows diners to choose a combination of starter, entree, and dessert at a fixed price, with an optional wine pairing for each.

Landing at #2 is Founding Farmers. Owned by over 47,000 members of the North Dakota Farmers Union, this restaurant devotes itself to using pure, healthy, and sustainable ingredients supplied by family farms throughout the nation. Honoring the importance of environmental conservation and American agriculture, it supports vendors who employ responsible cultivation methods, and incorporates recycled materials in its building design. Its flagship DC location opened as the city's first LEED Gold Certified restaurant, a recognition honoring architectural sustainability.

On top of its multiple locations in Washington, Founding Farmers has sibling restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, all of which are committed to using sustainable practices and serving quality fresh food informed by the country's rich culinary legacy. With an emphasis on in-house, from-scratch cooking, the Founding Farmers team bakes its own bread, churns its own ice cream, and makes its own spirits at its micro-batch distillery. Its menu, meanwhile, includes everything from chicken and waffles to eclectic handmade pastas and burgers.

For #3 we come to Equinox, which serves regional and seasonal cuisine inspired by mid-Atlantic ingredients and European technique. Founded and owned by James Beard-nominated chef Todd Gray and his wife Ellen, it strives to use organic, community-sourced ingredients grown within 100 miles of its location in downtown DC. Menu options encompass lunch, dinner, and a buffet-style, vegan Sunday brunch with handcrafted cocktails.

Founded and owned by James Beard-nominated chef Todd Gray and his wife Ellen, it strives to use organic, community-sourced ingredients grown within 100 miles of its location in downtown DC.

Complementing its refined, worldly cuisine, Equinox boasts an elegant interior that marries comfort with a sleek modern style. With its many spaces, including a private wine room and atrium, the restaurant accommodates intimate dinners, large events, and business meetings alike. Patrons can also enjoy happy hour at a lively and informal bar, and can take advantage of customized catering that comes with direct, comprehensive assistance from owners Todd and Ellen.

Arriving at #4 is Ambar. The first modern Balkan restaurant in the city, Ambar provides a wide assortment of traditional and innovative dishes in an atmosphere where Old and New World sensibilities come together. Driven by a desire to introduce Washington to this historic culinary culture, it features small plates, wines, and spirits not typically served in American restaurants. One of its most notable offerings is an extensive selection of rakia, a fruit brandy considered the signature drink of the Balkan region.

Among Ambar's other prominent menu options are an unlimited brunch and "Balkan Experience" dinner that give diners the opportunity to taste a full range of unique dishes. There are also allergy menus that identify all the items that are vegan and free of nuts, dairy, or gluten. The restaurant offers plenty of opportunities for private events between its two floors and rooftop patio, as well as group dining experiences tailored to party size and dietary restrictions.

The restaurant offers plenty of opportunities for private events between its two floors and rooftop patio, as well as group dining experiences tailored to party size and dietary restrictions.

Finally, for #5 we get Firefly. Located in the heart of buzzing Dupont Circle, this neighborhood favorite serves contemporary American comfort food along with local beers, all-American wines, and creative cocktails. Embracing interior design that's both fanciful and sustainable, it features glassware made from recycled wine bottles, salvaged barnwood tables, and a central floor-to-ceiling oak tree with a swing.

Firefly's menus boast a range of classic dishes such as grilled cheese, smoked turkey melt, ribs, and Cobb and Caesar salads, many of which are given a fresh twist by the restaurant's skilled culinary team. A dessert menu includes ice creams, cakes, and digestifs and cordials, while the bar offers a unique array of craft cocktails made with small-batch liquors and house-made infusions. Private dining options are available for patrons in Firefly's three distinct gathering spaces.