DC has an awesome, underrated, and eclectic food scene, thanks to a largely transient citizenry. Here is a list of my favorite places in order of least to most expensive.
  1. Shake Shack ($)
    In DC the Shake Shacks have shorter lines!
  2. El Rey ($)
    C0970ed5 c2c4 45ce b170 1f1a26c765e7
    Al pastor and carne asana tacos (the best choices, not the only ones... I've tried em all) in a fresh air restaurant built from old trucking containers. There's never a time I'm not craving these.
  3. Cava Grill ($)
    290ad911 d004 4466 8aca ff0d0246cac9
    The Chipotle model of Mediterranean salads and rice bowls. Spicy lamb meatballs and the crazy feta are must adds.
  4. &Pizza ($)
    29a8dff9 7675 4e75 af8e 377b8825fe80
    The Chipotle model of pizza. Impossible not to over-stuff your pizza. It's taking over DC body-snatchers style.
  5. Taylors ($)
    Philly style subs. Many chicken cutlet options; great roasted pork; majestic bread.
  6. Matchbox ($$)
    34229662 f69b 4106 990a a7d3fcdbf243
    Best sliders anywhere, DC or not. This is a promise or your next list is free.
  7. Ghibellina ($$)
    0a46824b 253c 41f0 9b1c 7a64b85ac724
    Personal pizzas you get to cut with scissors. Fun for your mouth and your hands. And don't you discount the anchovy pizza (Napoli).
  8. Red Hen ($$)
    74152ef2 f00d 446d 8e03 5a3ad69d3921
    Every pasta dish here is the best pasta in the city. Hard to get into but worth the wait, plus you can wait around the corner at Boundary Stone, a great bar.
  9. Hank's Oyster Bar ($$)
    7afa41b5 a8af 4c4c bca6 6e1657e71e2b
    My favorite place in DC. Daily changing menu of fresh creative seafood with classic staples always available too.
  10. Tico ($$)
    Central American small plates that are great for dinner but better for brunch.
  11. Mintwood Place ($$$)
    9b990c57 f92e 4140 a6ae cc852d97216c
    Where it's a dogfight between incredible taste and inspiring presentation. This is what the Tagliatelle bolognese looks like:
  12. Kapnos ($$$)
    D94c68d4 e375 45cc 818e e0bd18241ba3
    Mediterranean fare from 2 Top Chef guys. So good that I've eaten foods I dislike here (root veggies) and loved them. Also, spinning animals! Racks on racks!
  13. Filomena ($$$)
    B9cc5960 505e 481d 986e 8668591926a7
    It's a hokey red sauce, old-school mafioso Italian spot that almost feels like dinner theatre. But the nonnas in the window making pasta is the only detail that deserves judging. This place is legit.
  14. Thai X-ing ($$$)
    4bbd0c29 77b8 4c2b 85c3 154a287a0d0a
    Prix fixe (fun to type!) Thai food that ranges far past comfort zone Pad Thai or Green Curry. BYOB and bring lots because this is SPICY. Great for a group.
  15. Central ($$$)
    Michel Richard's French restaurant that may be the most dependable great meal no matter what you order. That being said, order the Rotisserie Chicken.
  16. Rasika ($$$)
    56e5b4d3 1d23 44fd 86b5 3360fc298c90
    True story: @tonyreali took me to dinner here and I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't think I liked Indian food. Spoiler alert- I love Indian food.
  17. Seasonal Pantry Supper Club ($$$$)
    1b2e229f 34a9 4ec8 a47c 5ce6b5ebfa39
    12 person tasting table by Chef Dan O'Brien. 7-12 courses cooked in front of you, while answering questions and hanging out. An unforgettable experience more than a meal.
  18. sweetgreen ($)
    fresh local produce served fast, and seasonal selections. best salads in DC.
    Suggested by @belsky