Like any major city, Washington, DC is full of great food options. From high-end to trendy. From French brasserie Le Diplomate (Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr’s DC version of Philly’s Parc, which is Philly’s version of NYC’s Balthazar) to the always happening Momofuku. But if you’re in downtown and have limited time, who wants to spend the day driving (or being Uber-ed) all over the city?
So instead, during my recent day trip to Washington, DC, I stayed in the downtown area. If you venture just a few blocks north of the National Mall, there are plenty of great food options in Washington. Although there are plenty of food trucks down near the attractions, it’s great to sit down and enjoy the city more like a local than as a tourist. Here’s three great eats in downtown Washington, DC that kept my belly full AND happy.
You might not expect to get Maine-style seafood meals from a restaurant originally from New York City’s East Village. But that’s exactly what Luke’s Lobster is doing. And doing it well. The restaurant now has locations up and down the East Coast plus Vegas, and Chicago. This includes two locations in Washington where you can get lobster rolls that taste fresh and aren’t swimming in mayo or other spices. It’s a small but cute location on a relatively quiet street. Grab a lobster roll, a New England clam chowder and relax a bit. It’s a bit on the expensive side but it is fresh lobster.
Being the nation’s capital, I wanted to take advantage of international eats in downtown Washington, DC. OK, so France isn’t that exotic but I’m not passing up a chance to sit down with tea and a French pastry.
The French bakery chain PAUL has a handful of locations in the United States. The cafe is organized and staff are quick to get your order and then get you your food. Don’t expect mom & pop intimate. But, once through the checkout, you can relax. I had a delicious strawberry tartlet and a very generously sized 16-ounce pot of earl grey tea while sitting at the window, gazing at the National Archives Building and US Department Of Justice Building across the street.
Stopping by PAUL was undoubtedly my favorite part of the trip.
The real international eats in downtown Washington, DC can be found all over, including the city’s bustling Chinatown. After all of that walking, I was happy to grab dinner before ending my day in Washington, DC. Daikaya Ramen is just south of central Chinatown and just across the street from the Verizon Center, home to the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals and Washington Mystics. This popular Japanese restaurant has a small ramen shop downstairs and a restaurant upstairs. The ramen shop is said to get crowded fast but luckily there was no line at 4 in the afternoon on a Monday in August. The ramen shop serves Sapporo-style ramen with a clear (and delicious!) broth. I had the Shio ramen that was topped with fresh bean sprouts, ground pork and other veggies. Don’t forget to add a soy-marinated soft boiled egg. You’ll thank me for it.
What are your favorite restaurants in Washington, DC?