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In addition to my work with news and tech partnerships at ONA, I have been writing about the food, wine and spirits scene in and around D.C. for more than a decade. I’m used to being handed the wine list — and in some cases, the entire menu — and being asked to “order whatever you think will be awesome.”
And there are a lot of awesome things about the dining scene in D.C., named Restaurant City of the Year in 2016 by Bon Appétit. The food options are as diverse as the population, from a dozen places to try Ethiopia’s spongy sour injera bread to Mexican street tacos and agua frescas at Taqueria Nacional on busting 14th Street.
Special Dishes: One of my favorite D.C. food pieces each year is the Washington Post’s 40 most essential D.C. restaurant dishes list. This is food list porn at its greatest. Some of my can’t-miss favorites from 2017 include: the Gnocchi Bokki at Hazel, the Happy Camper at D.C. bakery must-stop Buttercream Bakeshop and the Shouk burger at Shouk — D.C.’s best vegan spot (as in, you’d never know it was vegan).
Late Night: The city has always been for night owls, but the late-night eats scene is on an upswing with the addition of Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn’s new menu at The Chickery — open until 3:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday in nearby Dupont Circle. You can order the spicy Dan Dan noodles at new Hong Kong darling Tiger Fork in Shaw until midnight and venerable Old Ebbitt shucks oysters until 1 a.m. Oh, and there’s always the Jumbo Slice crawl in Adams Morgan.
Sips for Supper: The city has a growing list of breweries, distilleries and a just-opened urban winery. The Columbia Room in Shaw was named “Best American Cocktail Bar” earlier this year and chef Jose Andres’s temple of alcoholic molecular gastronomy Minibar earned two of D.C.’s first-ever Michelin stars. If you have a car and are sticking around after ONA17 ends, take a Sunday drive to Loudoun County, Virginia — D.C.’s wine country — and explore the largest concentration of wineries in the state.
Secret Spots: Virginia-based donut chainlet Sugar Shack recently expanded into the District and brought with it a speakeasy. These tiny, often not-so-secret drinking spots dot the city. Dram and Grain — only open on Saturdays and located not far from the host hotel between Dupont and Adams Morgan — just released a new drinks lineup featuring house ingredients like pineapple husk Drambuie and chocolate-covered raisin liqueur.
Lines: If you have patience and time, go early to get in line for amazing Filipino at Bad Saint, sushi at tiny gem Himitsu, affordable Thai at Little Serow in nearby Dupont or anything chef Aaron Silverman wants to feed you at ultra hot Rose’s Luxury. The wait may be a drag, but the meals will be memorable.
Brunch: D.C. loves its brunch, and two favorites of mine couldn’t be more different. At Indique, within walking distance of the hotel in nearby Cleveland Park, $25 unlimited brunch includes masala omelettes and a dosa spread with speculoos cookie butter. While at Duke’s Counter across from the National Zoo, you can order one of the best hangover burgers in the city, piled with gouda, bacon, avocado and egg. You may need it.
Want more recommendations? See where D.C. local and Washington Post’s social media producer Tauhid Chappell likes to eat and drink.