Best Food Destinations In Washington DC Locals Love

November 2, 2013 8:00 AM

Ben’s Chili Bowl (credit: LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Washingtonians love good food. From local markets to historical restaurants, the food scene in DC has exploded over the last decade with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal and local. These delicious destinations are worth sinking your teeth into.

Amsterdam Falafelshop
2425 18th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-1969

Whether you’re looking for a bite to eat after a long night in Adams Morgan or just a hearty vegetarian meal, Amsterdam Falafelshop is the place to go for a quick, delicious falafel sandwich and crispy fries. Served up in a soft toasted pita bread, the falafels are fried fresh to order before you dress the sandwich with the multitude of toppings. There are dips like hummus, baba ganoush and tzatziki, but that’s only the beginning of the pickle bar. Creating your own delicious masterpiece can be a challenge because everything looks tasty. Definitely opt for the friten, or fries. They are addictive.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-0909

Ask any Washingtonian about the one food that is unique to DC and they’ll tell you it’s Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben’s has been a DC institution since 1958 and is still a popular place for locals to grab a bite to eat. Some locals include President Obama and Bill Cosby, whom the restaurant’s signature chili dog is named after. Starting with a half smoked sausage, which is a combination of pork and beef that is smoked and then grilled to perfection, the sausage is served on a bun, covered with Ben’s secret recipe chili and then topped with chopped onions and mustard.

Glen’s Garden Market
2001 S St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 588-5698

One of the first truly local grocers in the DC region, Glen’s Garden Market sources food from the Chesapeake Bay watershed and brings it to its sustainably built, eco-friendly market in Dupont Circle. Featuring fresh produce and artisanal products, Glen’s is a great place to discover local purveyors. It’s also a great place for a quick bite or a drink after work. Featuring local wines and beers, grab a pint or growler from the draft bar or try a local wine using Glen’s wine dispensing machine that can offer different sizes (and prices) from a taster to a full glass.

Related: Best Farmers Markets Around DC

Red Apron Butchery
1309 5th St. N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 524-6807

Started in response to the demand for sustainably raised, quality meats for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group—the geniuses behind popular places like Birch & Barley, GBD and Vermillion—Red Apron Butchery has become a popular destination for meats and craft sandwiches in the newly renovated Union Market. Try the pimento grilled cheese for a grown-up taste of a classic, or the muffaletta, a sandwich of Italian cold cuts like salami and Mortadella topped with olive salad and served up on grilled focaccia. Wash it all down with beer on tap.

Tabard Inn
1739 N St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-8528

The restaurant tucked into the Tabard Inn is one of DC’s most popular brunch destination spots. You’ll find Washingtonians waiting around just to get a table or a spot at the bar on the weekends. The elegant setting and delicious seasonal menu is what makes the place so popular. Try the fresh fried donuts and a bloody mary to start. Remember to make reservations as Tabard is usually booked months in advance.

Related: Best City Escapes From Washington, D.C.

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, Jamie’s traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at