My family recently returned home from a trip to Washington DC. While the obvious draw to the destination was the opportunity for sightseeing, I have to admit that we are a family of foodies and dining out is always one of our favorite parts of any vacation. I’m pleased to report that Washington DC was no exception; our nation’s capital offers a ton of restaurants and storefronts that serve up delicious bites, sips and treats. Today, I’m sharing my family’s picks for five favorite spots to grab a bit to eat in DC.
1. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana | Margarita
If ever you wondered what it might be like to dine small plate-style in Mexico city without having to grab a passport, Oyamel is your answer. My family of four ordered from the Almuerzo Rápido section of the lunch menu during our visit. For $20 each, guests can choose either one dish from each category (little cravings, tacos and desserts) or two little cravings and a taco. The husband and I opted for the savory route, skipping the dessert, while the kids ordered one dish from each category. I am pleased to tell you that every single plate that was delivered to our table was fresh, flavorful and perfectly-balanced in every way.
Here’s a glimpse at what we ate.
This first one is a salad of seasonal fruit, jicama, cucumbers, queso fresco and chile pequín.
And then this salad of fresh cactus paddles with pickled onion, serrano chile, queso fresco, and green beans.
This is white shrimp sautéed with shallots, árbol chile, poblano pepper, lime and sweet aged black garlic.
The desserts the kids chose left my man and I wishing that maybe we hadn’t opted out after all. It was a chocolate custard with chocolate sorbet and passion fruit gelatin. I asked for a bite and then had to shamelessly go back for a second because it was divine.
As well and good as all that may be, friends, the reason I am including Oyamel on this list can be found not on a plate but in a glass. Their margaritas were unlike anything I’ve tried elsewhere, and believe me when I tell you that I know my way around a margarita. The house version at Oyamel was mixed at the perfect strength and was amazingly easy to drink. The “salt foam” at the top of the glass might seem like unnecessary culinary chemistry but in reality it serves to accentuate the flavors in the glass, bringing the cocktail to completion. This margarita is a game changer, friends. If ever you’re in DC, you’d be remiss not to stop in for one or six.
2. Baked & Wired | cupcake
Georgetown Cupcake gets all the love in this neck of the woods but I’m here to tell you that those people lined up in a queue that stretches out the door and around the block have been duped. Seriously. Less than half a mile away, true foodies will be rewarded by a stop at Baked & Wired.
It’s the cutest little bakery/coffee shop located on the cutest little street in Georgetown. As soon as you enter the store it becomes immediately obvious that this bakery is the real deal. Their treats are best described as artisan delicacies creatively showcased so as to arouse both your aesthetic appreciation and your taste buds.
We tried the almond orangesicle, pistachio, german chocolate and vanilla. The cake was moist while being both springy and satisfyingly dense. And unlike your typical store-bought cupcake, the frosting on these was not thick and overwhelming but rather perfectly-portioned for the precise right cake-to-frosting ratio. The best part, though, was that the flavors were authentic; nothing tasted artificial or canned. There are clearly some high-quality ingredients being put to use at Baked and Wired.
Confession: our first tastes were so much a hit that we returned for a second round of cupcakes during our short trip. Further confession: we may have even stopped for lattes and pastries on our way out of town.
3. District Taco | tacos
If you’re anything like me, you’ll agree that tacos always sound good. We stopped in at District Taco for a quick lunch after a visit to Ford’s Theater. It’s super conveniently-located (totally walkable) near several DC tourist hot spots and it makes for a fast, cheap and easy meal.
Though there were several menu options, all four of us opted for the build-your-own tacos and not one of us came away unhappy. Our food was served wrapped in foil squares which served to keep subsequent tacos nice and warm while the firsts were devoured. Another bonus of District Tacos is their salsa bar. It offers complimentary toppings with salsas ranging from mild to super spicy as well as limes, cilantro, etc.
The one drawback of this place was that seating was hard to come by, so do keep that in mind if you’re visiting with kids. Also, good to know is that the burritos we saw being delivered to nearby tables were ginormous–definitely big enough to share.
4. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken | doughnuts
Indeed I am including two sweet treats on this list of DC foodie experiences. You can thank me later. I mean, c’mon. Doughnuts and friend chicken? What a great concept, right? During our visit, we passed on the fried chicken and headed straight for the good stuff.
I have a weakness for anything passion fruit related and so my choice was an easy one, but the flavors on display that day were tempting.
As it turned out, the cinnamon sugar cake ended up with the big win because they fried it right then and there so that it came out warm and cinnamon-sugar dusted like a churro. In any case, you’ll definitely want to stop in at Astro during your DC trip.
5. We the Pizza | pizza
How clever is this name for a DC pizza joint, right? We visited Capital Hill location, which is really close to the Library of Congress and makes for a quick lunch stop if you’re visiting there.
We loved that unlike many of the restaurants we visited during our stay, there was ample seating here. Snagging a table was easy; the upstairs seating area is quite large. And speaking of upstairs, this is how they adorned the staircase wall. Cute, right?
Another bonus about lunching at We, the Pizza is that they had several varieties of pizza by the slice hot and ready for the lunch hour. There had to have been at least fifteen different options. Because there were four of us and we were hungry, we opted to order a salad, a whole spinach artichoke pizza and some cinnamon knots.
The pizza was quite tasty, though it did need a bit of salt. The crust was thin but chewy and the toppings were plentiful, including the hot, gooey cheese. I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot of the cinnamon knots but if I had it to do over again, I’d skip those and stick with the pizza. They also had a ton of housemade sodas available which looked fun. We’re not soda drinkers around here so we skipped it but I bet it would be worth a try.
So, what do you think? Do any of these eats leave you salivating? Do you have a favorite foodie spot in DC? If not, hopefully you’ll be able to stop in at least one of these spots during your next visit.