Washington Cuisine Scene


Fabulous Washington cuisine scene awaits D.C. visitors

In the last 15 years, and even more rapidly over the past 8–10, Washington has evolved from an extremely predictable restaurant town, to one of the top-10 culinary centers in the country—a city where it’s really fun to be a restaurant critic.

The sorts of heavy French and Italian dishes to which a generation or two of Washingtonians had become inured have been replaced by market-fresh, innovative, and sustainable cooking. Many chefs feel free to combine elements of the older classic cuisines, hence the kitchen-sink phrase “modern eclectic,” but in the process they have developed a distinctly regional accent—what is, for lack of a better term, often called modern American.

Washington Cuisine Scene

Philadelphia-based Stephen Starr restaurant Le Diplomate in Logan Circle

At the same time, and perhaps even more exciting, top chefs are turning back the clock not to those perfunctory white-linen dishes but to the real ethnic cuisines, whether they are native to the region or simply admirers. Among the area’s best restaurants are kitchens turning out Mediterranean, Balkan, Northern Thai, Indian, French, South American, Algerian, and Belgian cuisine; and in a surprising but admirable twist, the great Spanish-born but culinarily restless star chef José Andrés has reintroduced Washington to its own American culinary heritage.

Several kitchens, most notably Andrés’s own Minibar, have also mastered the difficult, imaginative, technically stunning style broadly referred to as molecular gastronomy or culinary deconstruction.

From restaurants run by celebrity chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Daniel Bouloud and Stephen Starr to brewpubs and great museum restaurants everything is available. The Unofficial Guide to Washington D.C. provides detailed reviews of the Washington cuisine scene. Today we are sharing with you a list of the best museum restaurants:

• National Air and Space Museum Wright Place Food Court (best for kids)

• National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Pavilion Café 

• National Gallery of Art West Building Garden Café 

• National Museum of American History Constitution Café 

• National Museum of the American Indian Mitsitam Café 

• National Museum of Natural History Fossil Cafe (best for kids)

• Newseum’s The Source (best gourmet fare) 

• United States Holocaust Museum Cafe (best for vegetarian, kosher)

Visiting Washington D.C. soon? Check out our blog posts:
Iconic hotels in Washington D.C.
National Air and Space Museum – A Smithsonian museum
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Photo credit: By AgnosticPreachersKid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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