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Don’t-Miss Dishes in Washington DC

Don’t-Miss Dishes in Washington DC

Washington DC isn’t just a popular destination for history buffs. Thanks to its diverse neighborhoods and international communities, it’s also home to a wide range of culinary offerings. From Ethiopian platters to hearty Italian fare, from beloved chili dogs to indulgent cupcakes, here’s what you should be sure to sample while visiting the capital.

Chili Half-Smoke

One of DC’s most beloved eateries, located on U Street (an area once referred to as “the Black Broadway”), Ben’s Chili Bowl has been a local staple since the 1950s. President Obama made waves when he visited the restaurant in 2009, and you can follow in his footsteps when you drop by and order a chili half-smoke (chili dog).

Ethiopian Combination Platter

DC’s delicious U Street area is also home to a thriving Ethiopian community. If you’re new to the cuisine, order a combination platter, which typically consists of numerous spice-laden stews, all served atop a round of injera (spongy flatbread that tastes like sourdough and takes the place of silverware).

Cupcakes

If you have a sweet tooth, look out for Georgetown Cupcake, one of the city’s most popular and successful dessert chains. Locations are now found all over DC, though pretty Georgetown is, as the name suggests, where the company got its start. Enjoy classics such as red velvet or inventive flavors including strawberry lemonade and butterscotch waffle cone.

Steak

DC is home to plenty of movers and shakers, and while their politics may differ, there’s one thing most of them can agree on: steak. Consequently, the capital is home to a surfeit of traditional steakhouses. For a lavish dinner out, order a porterhouse or chateaubriand with truffle fries on the side.

Pasta

Italian is among the most popular cuisines in Washington DC, and if you head to vibrant neighborhoods such as Dupont Circle, you can look forward to a decadent introduction to the city’s trattorias and other traditional eateries. Enjoy seasonal pasta dishes, or go off-piste with risotto.

Pupusas

Salvadoran cuisine is a mainstay in DC—often served alongside Mexican food in restaurants—and its signature dish has become a favorite in the capital. Think of pupusas as thick, pancakey tortillas, frequently stuffed with cheese, refried beans, and chicharrónes (pork rinds).

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10 Tours and Activities

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Gastronomic Georgetown Food Tour
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Gastronomic Georgetown Food Tour

star-4.5
78
Come hungry for food and for knowledge on this historical and culinary tour of Georgetown, whose roots predate Washington DC. Learn about Georgetown's 250 years of history, from its origins as a working class port city to its current status as a trendy college neighborhood, and stop to sample a broad selection of some of the best food the neighborhood has to offer. Tastings can range from tacos to Korean tapas to French cuisine paired with wine, and all tastings are included in the price.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$81.51
From
$81.51

Tastes of Georgetown: Food & History Tour

Tastes of Georgetown: Food & History Tour

star-4.5
63
If you are new in town, it can be tricky to avoid the tourist traps and find the best places to eat. This small-group food tour lets you discover the rich history of Georgetown while visiting four of the area’s best eateries for tastings and little-known stories about the oldest neighborhood in Washington DC.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$103.64
From
$103.64

Dupont Circle Food Tour
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Dupont Circle Food Tour

star-4
1
Immerse yourself in multicultural Dupont Circle on a gourmet food and walking tour to the area’s best eateries. Going with a guide eliminates the hassle of navigating on your own, instead allowing you to relax and enjoy the ambiance of the neighborhood. Over the course of the afternoon, skip lines to sample locally-sourced foods from a range of international cuisines, from Moroccan to Malaysian.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$78.91
From
$78.91

Little Ethiopia Food Tour
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Little Ethiopia Food Tour

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4
Expand your palate on a leisurely food tour through Little Ethiopia in the heart of U Street, Washington DC. Going with a guide allows you to skip the research and head directly to the area’s best restaurants, where you sample a variety of complex flavors—from deep-fried lentils to freshly-baked traditional breads. Throughout the tour, listen to stories oven unheard by visitors about the largest Ethiopian community outside Ethiopia.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$71.24
From
$71.24

Lonely Planet Experiences: Private DC Food and History Tour on H Street

Lonely Planet Experiences: Private DC Food and History Tour on H Street

star-4.5
47
Skip the stress of planning and navigating on your own when you book a food and walking tour of historic H Street. As you taste your way through the multicultural neighborhood, listen to little-known and sometimes controversial anecdotes about the construction of the U.S. capital. Your guide eliminates the stress of navigating on your own, which allows you to relax and enjoy views of major landmarks along the way.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$136.95
Price varies by group size
From
$136.95
Price varies by group size

Capitol Hill Food Tour
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Capitol Hill Food Tour

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15
Get to know Capitol Hill through its food and culinary culture on this guided walking tour. Listen to a guide's commentary on one of the city's oldest and historically diverse neighborhoods, stopping to sample a variety of dishes such as Anglo-Indian food, Salvadorian cuisine, soul food, and others. This small group, limited to just 12 participants, ensures personalized attention and a chance to ask questions.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$79.18
From
$79.18

Adams Morgan Food Tour
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Adams Morgan Food Tour

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3
Immerse yourself in Adams Morgan’s diverse food scene on an afternoon tour of the area’s best eateries. Over the course of the afternoon, sample dishes from a range of cuisines, from Peruvian to Nepalese. Going with a guide eliminates the stress of choosing where to dine on your own, and ensures you walk away with an inside perspective on the neighborhood.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$75.62
From
$75.62

U Street: Food, History, and Street Art Tour

U Street: Food, History, and Street Art Tour

star-5
151
Get a taste of Washington DC's historic U Street neighborhood on this guided culinary walking tour. Discover the history and culture of these streets, formerly known as ‘Black Broadway,’ while stopping at multiple local restaurants to sample the foods that make these neighborhoods unique. A portion of every ticket price goes to feed district residents in need.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$103.64
From
$103.64

Washington DC Premier Brunch Cruise

Washington DC Premier Brunch Cruise

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61
Sip champagne onboard a luxurious yacht on a 2-hour brunch cruise along Washington DC’s scenic shoreline. Cast off from Gangplank Marina then enjoy live jazz and a sumptuous brunch buffet. Capture unforgettable images of the DC skyline while relaxing at your private table, then savor coffee or tea as you enjoy views of the capital city’s elegant cityscape.
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  • 2 hours
From
$108.63
From
$108.63

Washington DC Scenic Lunch Cruise
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Washington DC Scenic Lunch Cruise

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151
Enjoy food, fun, and entertainment with a view of Washington DC on this narrated lunch cruise along the Potomac River. Onboard the elegant Spirit of Washington, choose to cruise from three air-conditioned interior decks or the rooftop lounge. Either way, the view is spectacular, there’s a delicious buffet lunch to enjoy and a DJ is spinning the latest Top 40 hits on spacious dance floors. Look and listen as the captain points out DC’s fascinating history while drifting past the Washington Monument, Reagan National Airport and much more.
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  • 2 hours
From
$79.67
From
$79.67