search Buscar

    Where to eat in Washington DC: tips on spending little and characteristic places

    Who I am
    Lluis Enric Mayans

    Item Feedback:

    content warning

    When organizing a visit to a city, the problem of where to eat always arises. It is not always easy to give advice first of all because tastes are subjective and not universal, secondly because the culinary scene of a big city changes and evolves all the time. A restaurant that was doing very well, changing chef or management, can get worse in a short time, or a new one can arise out of nowhere.

    Then answer the question where to eat in Washington DC it is not easy, also because in the American capital there are more than two thousand restaurants. However, some advice can be given starting from the needs of most of the tourists who, visiting the major monuments of the city, will find themselves having to look for refreshment especially in the National Mall area.


    • Eat at the National Mall
      • Museum restaurants
      • US Department of Agriculture
      • Food trucks
      • Pavilion Cafe
    • Where to eat on a budget
    • Eat in the historic markets
      • Eastern Market
      • The Maine Avenue Fish Market
    • Where to eat in Georgetown
    • A hidden gem

    Eat at the National Mall

    Let's start immediately by saying that, although the most important monuments of Washington are housed here, at the same time it is an area practically devoid of restaurants in which to refuel after a long walk. For this, while certainly not the best area to look for a restaurant, at the same time it will be the place where you will spend most of your time in the city. For this, let's find out what the most comfortable solutions can be.

    Museum restaurants

    The main suggestion is to refer to the cafes of the main museums that are located at the National Mall (if you want to know which ones are not to be missed, read our article on free museums not to be missed in Washington DC). In particular, I point out those that offer an above-average quality and in which it is possible to experience an experience that is very close to that of a restaurant.

    Mitsitam Cafe – National Museum of American Indian

    The museum that houses this café aims to tell and pass on the culture of the tribes of Native Americans. This mission also spills over into the menu, which offers its visitors the opportunity to taste some typical American Indian dishes. Even the name itself (Mitsitam) is an Indian word meaning "let's go to eat". There are five culinary "islands" each of which offers Indian specialties divided according to the geographical origin of the tribes. These are:

    • Great Plains
    • Mesoamerica
    • Northern Woodlands
    • Northwest Coast
    • South America

    The more curious will therefore have the opportunity to learn about a type of cuisine that we can rarely find in Europe. All this is offered to a price which is closer to that of a restaurant rather than that of a café inside a museum as we are used to knowing them. Keep this in mind when choosing.

    Sweet Home Cafe – National Museum of African American History and Culture

    Maybe one of the better restaurants inside the museums from the Nationa Mall. Also in this café there is not a single stand but four in which to taste different dishes depending on the region of the rich culinary tradition of African Americans.

    • The Agricultural South
    • The Creole Coast
    • The North States
    • The Western Range

    The only problem is that even at the time we are writing the article, you cannot access the cafeteria freely but you must be in possession of the Tickets to access the museum. These tickets, though free, are necessary to regulate the regular influx of visitors to the facility and avoid overcrowding. For this it will be quite uncomfortable to be able to only have lunch here without having visited the museum.

    Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
    • The best areas to sleep
    • What to see in 1 day
    • How to get around the city
    • I National Mall
    • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
    • The Best Time to Visit Washington

    US Department of Agriculture

    As you will have understood this time it is not a café inside a muse but a real canteen which is part of a government office. At first glance it would therefore be the last place a tourist would expect to eat, but in this case an exception should be made.

    The opening hours for lunch are from 11:00 to 15:00 (being a federal office it is not open on weekends and public holidays). Finding the entrance is not immediate but you just need to follow some simple directions. You will need to head to the Department of Agriculture building which is south of Indipendence Avenue Southwest, visitors can only access from an entrance bearing this indication: Visitor and USDA employees without ID entrance only.

    Once you enter you will have to pass a security control and a metal detector, after which and you will be given a by cutting visitors with which you can access the cafeteria. Here you will find a good assortment of hot and cold dishes, as well as salads and desserts, plus a section dedicated to Asian cuisine and one that offers rotating products from other ethnic groups.

    Food trucks

    As lunchtime approaches 14th St (near the Washington Monument) and 7th St (near the museums) fill a significant amount of Food trucks. Not all of them are qualitatively valid, so you can check online (on sites such as Yelp which is widely used in America) which ones have the best reviews.

    In case of extreme indecision, it can also help to take a look at the food they are serving to other people. Surely the positive aspect is that you will have a considerable possibility of choice capable of satisfying many tastes and the prices will not be too excessive.

    Pavilion Cafe

    It is found in the Sculpture Garden located between the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Art. Recommended place rather than for the menu (however discreet) for the location and the particular atmosphere it offers, especially if you can take advantage of a beautiful sunny day and eat outside. 'external. In summer you can enjoy some refreshment, also thanks to the large fountain, while in winter you can observe the locals using the ice rink for skating. In addition, every Friday evening, always during the summer, you can listen to a jazz band playing live in the named event Jazz in the Garden.

    Where to eat on a budget

    Washington DC is a city quite expensive, especially with regards to places to eat. For this reason, spending little refers to the standards of the capital since some of the restaurants mentioned (even with good reason) may not define them as very cheap. In general, eating in these places will make you spend an average of between $ 10 and $ 20 per person, obviously depending on what you choose.

    • District Taco: Started as a small street vendor, it has achieved so much success that it has become one of Washington's most popular restaurants. Lovers of Mexican cuisine will not be disappointed.
    • Good Stuff Eatery: one of the most famous clubs in the city where it is not uncommon to find celebrities and in some cases… even presidents in office. If you are craving a great burger and fries you don't have to look elsewhere. If you want some more information you can read our dedicated article.
    • Falafel Inc: this place in Georgetown is perfect if you want to spend little without saving on the quality of the ingredients. The place is very small and is very popular with locals. So arm yourself with patience and plan to eat your portions outside.
    • &Pizza: ok maybe someone may think that eating a pizza in the States is not the best idea, but this franchise can also be a recommended choice for those who are not in a withdrawal crisis. The dough is good, you decide the ingredients and the pizza will be made right in front of your eyes.
    • Bub and Pop’s: if you are very hungry this is the place for you. The sandwiches are huge and of good quality (which you can also deduce from the queue that is created every day at the counter).

    In addition to the places already mentioned, if you want more choice in one place you will have to go along Pennsylvania Ave SE a long road (where Good Stuff Eatery is located) that starts from the Capitol and has a significant amount of places that will satisfy practically all needs.

    Eat in the historic markets

    Washington has at least two historic markets that are much loved by both tourists and locals for the opportunity they offer to eat local specialties in a quaint setting.

    Eastern Market

    It is located in the Capito Hill neighborhood less than a 20-minute walk from the US Capitol. Nearby there is also a metro station of the same name served by the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. You will find a significant amount of places to eat capable of satisfying all tastes. In addition, not to underestimate the fact of being able to eat at covered, which will prove particularly convenient in bad weather days. For more information, you can read our in-depth study entirely dedicated to Washington's Eastern Market.

    The Maine Avenue Fish Market

    This market takes place at the Wharf di Washington and it is certainly the recommended choice for those who want to taste some fish-based dishes. It is one of the historic haunts of the city as it is the longest running outdoor market in the United States. In fact, its origins date back to 1805.

    Where to eat in Georgetown

    In addition to the already mentioned Falafel Inc the historic district of Georgetown offers many options for those who decide to visit this lovely corner of Washington. The reference route is certainly the characteristic M Street where there is a large concentration of restaurants and clubs. If you want to have some specific advice I recommend you consult our guide to Georgetown.

    A hidden gem

    The time has come to discover one of those places that are frequented almost exclusively by locals rather than tourists. This is the Well Dressed Burrito a venue that is a little hard to find but that if you are a lover of tex mex cuisine it will definitely not leave you disappointed.

    But be careful that if you really want to try this place you will necessarily have to organize your day around it, both for the position and for the reduced hours of activity. The restaurant is in fact open only from Monday to Friday from 11:45 to 14:15, and is hidden in one narrow alley between two tall buildings and not along a road.

    The best way to get there is to go in 19th St NW (you can get here with the Red subway line getting off at Dupont Circle Station) and reach the intersection with Jefferson Pl NW. At this point you will find an alley that connects 19th St NW with 20th St NW where you will find a simple door with a small restaurant sign on it.

    Inside the place is not very big, there are only a couple of tables and a counter to lean on to eat, so it is much better if you prepare to eat your lunch outdoors (for example on a bench Dupont Circle which is just over a 5-minute walk from the restaurant).

    Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
    • The best areas to sleep
    • What to see in 1 day
    • How to get around the city
    • I National Mall
    • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
    • The Best Time to Visit Washington
    add a comment of Where to eat in Washington DC: tips on spending little and characteristic places
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.