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 ($)
    In DC the Shake Shacks have shorter lines!
  2. El Rey ($)
    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 ($)
    The Chipotle model of Mediterranean salads and rice bowls. Spicy lamb meatballs and the crazy feta are must adds.
  4. &Pizza ($)
    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 ($$)
    Best sliders anywhere, DC or not. This is a promise or your next list is free.
  7. Ghibellina ($$)
    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 ($$)
    Every pasta dish here is the best pasta in the city. Hard to get into but worth the wait, plus you can wait around the corner at Boundary Stone, a great bar.
  9. Hank's Oyster Bar ($$)
    My favorite place in DC. Daily changing menu of fresh creative seafood with classic staples always available too.
  10. Tico ($$)
    Central American small plates that are great for dinner but better for brunch.
  11. Mintwood Place ($$$)
    Where it's a dogfight between incredible taste and inspiring presentation. This is what the Tagliatelle bolognese looks like:
  12. Kapnos ($$$)
    Mediterranean fare from 2 Top Chef guys. So good that I've eaten foods I dislike here (root veggies) and loved them. Also, spinning animals! Racks on racks!
  13. Filomena ($$$)
    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 ($$$)
    Prix fixe (fun to type!) Thai food that ranges far past comfort zone Pad Thai or Green Curry. BYOB and bring lots because this is SPICY. Great for a group.
  15. Central ($$$)
    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 ($$$)
    True story: @tonyreali took me to dinner here and I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't think I liked Indian food. Spoiler alert- I love Indian food.
  17. Seasonal Pantry Supper Club ($$$$)
    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