Best Bistros In DC

June 20, 2012 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Central Michel Richard via Facebook

A bistro is traditionally defined as a small, casual restaurant offering slow, home-cooked food at a reasonable price. Bistros usually serve charcuterie meats and cheeses and always have a great selection of wine. Most often associated with French cuisine, Washingtonians will find everything from casual to upscale and even modern bistros. Keeping in the DC style of selection, the top five bistros are as diverse as the city itself.

mussels thinkstock Best Bistros In DC

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Bistrot du Coin
1738 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-6969

Meaning “corner bistro” in French, Bistro du Coin is a cozy neighborhood spot north of Dupont Circle that offers traditional French bistro cuisine at a reasonable price. The menu consists of classic comfort dishes like onion soup, salads, patés and mussels. There’s also the dishes that any Francophile will crave like Escargot à la Bourguignonne, Le Steak Maison (a classic grilled steak with fries and béarnaise sauce) or Casserole de Lapin à la moutarde (a rabbit stew with a creamy mustard sauce). The wine selection consists of French wines broken down by region with prices being very reasonable, at an average of $30. Bistrot du Coin only closes on Labor Day, so you’ll find this great food 364 days of the year.

bistro bis via facebook Best Bistros In DC

Photo Credit: Bistro Bis via Facebook

Bistro Bis
15 E Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 661-2700

Bistro Bis is the place to go for upscale French comfort food on Capitol Hill. Chef Jeff Buben of Vidalia creates artistic plates using reinvented traditional French cuisines. Entrees include seafood, crepes, duck, sweetbreads, pork, lamb and beef with classic sides like pommes frites (French fries) and a gruyere mac and cheese. Chef Buben uses some of the finest seasonal, local ingredients in his dishes like the Berkshire hog, which is a heritage breed, in his Côte de Porc à l’Ancienne — a pork chop with asparagus, cipollini onion, potato-leek pierogi and cider ravigote. The best part about Bistro Bis is the cheese. Any cheese lover will be in paradise with an ever-changing selection of up to 22 cheeses, including cow, sheep, goat and blue. The cheeses are hand selected by their fromager from artisanal cheese producers all over the world.

Related: Best French Cuisine in DC Area

central michel richard via facebook Best Bistros In DC

Photo Credit: Central Michel Richard via Facebook

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 626-0015

If you can’t afford the acclaimed Georgetown institution Citronelle, you can get a taste of what celebrated Chef Michel Richard can do with his casual bistro menu at Central. Consisting of classic and modern French bistro cuisine, you’ll find a little bit of everything on the menu. The classics include charcuterie, cheese, mussels, rotisserie chicken, steak au poivre, cassoulet and frog’s legs. Modern dishes include a Lobster Burger and Pork Belly Confit with smoked barbecue sauce. Knowing that Washingtonians are always on the run but don’t want to compromise on quality, Chef Richard offers a to-go lunch menu that has selections from his menu, as well as the Michel’s Fried Chicken Buckets in two-, four- or six-piece selections that comes with an additional six chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and the house-made dijon-mayonnaise sauce. The wine list is impressive offering champagne, old world and new world wine selections ranging in price from $30 to $1,000 per bottle.

cheesetique Best Bistros In DC

Photo Credit: Cheesetique

2411 Mt. Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301
(703) 706-5300

Is it a wine bar? Is it a cheese shop? Is it a bistro? Cheesetique is a little bit of everything in one stop. This popular shop on Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood greets patrons with large refrigerator cases of an incredible cheese selection in its gourmet boutique. But if you head past the fromage oglers into the back section, you’ll see a few tables where you can sit and enjoy a great selection of wine, cheeses, charcuteries and light bistro fare. While there may be over a hundred choices of cheese for sale, the restaurant takes care to select 10 cheeses each week to serve to guests in the restaurant. The great selection of accompaniments ranges from sweet, like the Glazed Greek Figs, to savory, like the Tomato Bruschetta. The menu offers soups, salads, sandwiches and small plates, as well as a large selection of mac and cheese dishes that are the ultimate in decadence. Try the classic Mac ‘N Cheesetique that has three different types of cheese and truffle-infused bread crumbs. There’s even a gluten-free option. And what cheese place wouldn’t have a few choices for grilled cheeses? Cheesetique also offers a good selection of wines available by the glass or bottle. Sign up for a class, hosted every month, with education ranging from novice to regional exploration. There’s also a free weekly wine tasting every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and weekly cheesemonger demo on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

bistro doc Best Bistros In DC

Photo Credit: Bistro d’OC

Bistro d’OC
518 10th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 393-5444

Bistro D’Oc features regional Languedoc cuisine from Southern France. Languedoc is a cuisine that sources ingredients local to that region, including olive oil, tomatoes and herbs like thyme, rosemary and sorrel. The region is best known for the white bean stew of cassoulet. The entrees are very classic, regional French country dishes that are mostly cooked in wine. There’s the classic steak frites with roquefort sauce, crispy duck confit, wine-braised veal, cassoulet and beef steak tartare, as well as the daring braised tripe. The wine selection is mostly French from the southern regions. But if you have a favorite wine of your own, bring it with you to dinner between Monday and Thursday for a $15 cork fee.

Related: Best Romantic Restaurants in DC

Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isn’t enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamies traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at

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