Evolving with the rest of Washington DC’s food scene, Capitol Hill restaurants now presents as a verifiable dining destination.
The Hill has it all—nouveau brunches, lunch feasts with a side of DC history, and cutting-edge Michelin-star dinners. The best place to start?
Throw on a good pair of walking shoes, wander outside, and explore the nooks and crannies of the city’s best kept culinary secret.
Table of Contents
- 1 Brunch
- 2 Breakfast
- 3 Lunch
- 4 Dinner
- 5 Coffee
- 6 Happy Hour
- 7 Pin it and Start Eating!
- 8 Get the best rates on DC Hotels and Vacation Rentals
For inventive waffles, refreshing cocktails, and fabulous egg dishes, make a morning brunch reservation at Belga Cafe on Barrack’s Row. The Belgian inspired menu features an extensive selection of mouthwatering items, but the ‘green eggs’ and liege waffles are truly exceptional.
Barrel may be known for a ‘whiskey point-of-view’, but brunch and whiskey are certainly not mutually exclusive. Unassuming from the outside, Barrel’s interior decor is warm and inviting, with the smell of steaming waffles and hot fried chicken wafting from the kitchen.
Safe to say, a breakfast biscuit sandwich with sausage, fried eggs, and cheese will go with just about any boozy brunch beverage.
A tried-and-true Capitol Hill destination, Market Lunch is positioned at Eastern Market’s northern end. With pancakes, French toast, eggs, grits, and breakfast sandwiches, this historic location is the perfect pit stop on a Sunday morning after a leisurely stroll through the outdoor flea market. The blueberry buckwheat pancakes are a must.
Although unexpected, Balkan cuisine is built for weekend brunch. The savory-forward menu is designed with salty people in mind and excels at honoring traditional American brunch classics (like creamed corn, potato hash, and fried chicken) with inspired Serbian flavors.
For the ‘sweet brunchers,’ Ambar delivers on sugary brunch items too—waffles, whipped cream, and Nutella included.
For a brunch that bites back, venture to Fight Club—home to the edgiest brunch menu on Capitol Hill.The creativity is off the charts, starring ‘cinnatoast crunchy’cinnamon buns and a BLT sandwich that’s slathered with pistachio butter and brown butter mayo.
Because even brunch deserves dessert, ‘Grandma Rosa’s churros’ with hot chocolate and salted caramel banana pudding are mandatory.
Lavagna is ‘keeping up with the Jones’’ on Barrack’s Row with a killer brunch of their own. If you need an excuse to eat pasta for breakfast, order the spaghetticarbonara. Just be sure to save room for my favorite…Lavagna’s mascarpone pancakes.
There is no wrong time to eat cheese. But there’s no better time to eat cheese than a late weekend morning while taking shelter from the cold and filling up on gooey melted cheese fondue.
As the only Swiss restaurant on Capitol Hill, Stable is making a very bold and cheesy statement with morning approved cheese fondue, raclette, and ‘fondue grilled cheese’.
Bagels are having a moment on Capitol Hill. Now home to three different bagel shops, Capitol Hill is proving that even the mighty bagel deli can stand out from its competitors with a personal-edge and unique take on the revered carb-loaded treat.
Call Your Mother
Named ‘Best New Restaurant’ by Bon Appetit in 2019, Call Your Mother is the first stop on The Hill’s bagel tour. The za’atar bagel is a standout, although all the ‘seeded’ bagels are fully enrobed in added deliciousness.
Buffalo and Bergen
The bagels at Buffalo and Bergen are true to its New York roots—bulbous, shiny, and irresistible. But the abundant bagel selection doesn’t stop them from upping the menu game with homemade knishes—a Jewish pastry filled with creamy potato and sweet onion.
Last but not least, Bullfrog Bagels delivers all the classics, with one very unforgettable party goer. Cream cheese is an unnecessary accompaniment for Bullfrog’s bialys—the soft and chewy bread singing with a sweet caramelized onion topping.
The biggest take-away? The closest bagel shop is the best bagel shop.
A local favorite, Jimmy T’s is woven into the fabric of residential life on Capitol Hill. The menu doesn’t venture too far from all-American diner combo plates and platters with all the classics. The ‘sides’ menu hosts 16 additional add-ons to round out a breakfast of your dreams.
With an approachable menu, artisan baked goods, and abundant coffee, The Wydown has a winning combination that draws in young hipsters on the daily.
For evening get-togethers, the H Street location serves wine and crafty cocktails.
Find more Coffee Shops in D.C.
The Pretzel Bakery
Lucky for us, The Pretzel Bakery opens their doors early everyday of the week to dish out a signature ‘breakfast slider’. The winning combo spotlights a homemade ‘everything’ pretzel roll with bacon, egg, and cheese filling in where the pretzel leaves off.
Grab a coffee, orange juice, or homemade Nutella hot chocolate to wash down the sandwich.
I Egg You
A true hidden gem, I Egg You is discretely located inside CHIKO on Barrack’s Row. No surprise, eggs are the trademark ingredient, manifesting in sandwich and ‘open faced griddler’ form.
For a spicy kick, be sure to order a side of candied jalapeños. I Egg You is open Saturday and Sunday only from 8:00am-1:00pm.
The entrance isn’t flashy, but Mangialardos maintains a decade-long following of established Capitol Hill residents with a passion for stick-to-your-bones Italian-American deli sandwiches.
You can’t go wrong with the ‘G’ man’, a hard or soft roll stuffed with ham, mortadella, pepperoni, Italian cheeses, and oregano.
Good Stuff Eatery
Steps from the US Capitol, this Pennsylvania Avenue burger joint delivers on both comfort and ease. The signature burgers arrive wrapped like a present in a captivating wax paper sheet that locks in all the flavorful burger juices.
But the milk shakes are the real underdog in a sea of burger patties. A thick mascarpone whipped cream sits atop the creamy frozen shake and is easily devour-able by itself.
Noise of Maketto’s fried chicken echoes well beyond H Street Corridor. Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by a pop-up store with shoes, clothes, and other trendy inventory featuring front-and-center.
Behind the store, the modern and edgy bright interior highlights a stunning menu of Cambodian/Taiwanese inspired dishes.
For a light snack, you can head upstairs to the second level coffee shop for warm beverages and freshly baked pastries.
The Duck and the Peach
A more recent arrival to Eastern Market, The Duck and the Peach identifies as ‘New-American,’ with a day and night-time menu of simple, ingredient-focused dishes built on bold flavors and shareable portions.
For lunch, you can’t go wrong sitting outside on the large patio with a plate of ‘tomato toast’, a chicken salad sandwich, and cinnamon rolls for dessert. The red bell pepper lemonade is brilliantly puzzling AND addicting.
NOTE ABOUT DINNER: If you go for dinner, make sure to order the crispy herbed potatoes with garlic toum. The potatoes are steamed until tender and then fried to produce the most insane plate of crispy, salty, citrusy fried potato AND potato skins. The roast chicken is also top notch.
Open Sunday and Tuesday only, El Pequin is dishing up some of the best burritos on Capitol Hill. El Piquin only makes the trip down from the Columbia Heights brick-and-mortal restaurant twice a week, so locals pencil in a weekly burrito appointment days in advance.
The well-priced, extremely irresistible meaty burritos can be found under El Pequin’s navy-blue tent at the corner of North Carolina and 7th Street South East at Eastern Market.
Valor Brew Pub
A ‘veteran-inspired bar’, Valor Brew Pub is THE weekend spot for a crab and brew lunch. Order 1/2 pound of Maryland crab, a side order of boardwalk fries, and an ice-cold brewski from the rotating menu.
Even better, Valor Brew Pub is doing what they can to give back, supporting veteran causes, hiring veterans, and championing veteran-made products.
This 2019 1-star Michelin restaurant invites diners to a prix-fixe menu in the Hill Center’s backyard garden. Indoor and patio reservations are available to sample a meal of carefully curated New-American eats.
For a night of luxurious food from an award-winning restaurant menu, make a reservation at Rose’s Luxury. The dining space is intimate, the staff are kind and attentive, and the menu strikes the perfect balance of elevated and inviting.
When the hankering for a burger strikes, Big Board has you covered. With destination worthy gourmet burgers, excellent french fries, and a long beer list, the night is guaranteed to be a winner.
NOTE: With a subscription to basically every sports channel, Big Board is THE spot to watch all the big games.
Fancy Radish is serving up elevated vegan dishes that non-vegans will never suspect is minus the meat. The decor inside features an elegant veggie-forward aesthetic and a warm, well-stocked bar for creative cocktail creations. The rutabaga fondue is infamous, but the ‘Peruvian potatoes’ and ‘Chermoula grilled tofu’ are also noteworthy.
Washington DC is known for an amazing community of Ethiopian food and culture. Lucky for Capitol Hill residents, Ethiopic is one of the best. The menu hosts a large selection of meat and vegetarian/vegan dishes, so everyone at the table is guaranteed to walk away feeling full.
Known for ramen, cocktails, and an exclusively petit dining space, Toki Underground is renown city-wide. Other menu highlights include steamed buns, dumplings, and noodle bowls.
NOTE: Toki Underground now has in-house dining for dinner. Lunch remains take-out only. Reservations highly recommended.
The flavors of Trinidad and Tobago joined the H street family when Cane DC opened in 2019. With French, Spanish, East Asian, African, and Indian influences, the menu reflects a melting pot of cultures, all contributing to a rich and diverse food identity. It’s hard to choose favorites, but the Trini-Chinese chicken, jerk wings, and whole fried snapper are next-level.
NOTE: Cane now has in-house dining for dinner. Lunch remains take-out only.
Relaxed and cozy pub vibes at Granville Moore’s make for a refreshing reprieve from street level activity. Belgian mussels are the specialty at Granville’s, with other fun nibbles and baguette sandwiches rounding out the menu.
The dining room is small, so booking a reservation is recommended. Granville Moore’s is currently open Thursday through Sunday for dinner only.
Joselito Casa de Comidas
For a feast of Spanish tapas, welcoming staff, and prime location, Joselito hits all the marks. ‘A la España’, Joselito offers tapa and media ración, so depending on hunger levels, you can opt for small tastes or larger portions.
After the meal, stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the National Mall for a self-guided nighttime tour to take in the illuminated museums and monuments.
My evening meal motto? When in doubt, eat mezze for dinner. The options are nearly endless, the ordering process is theatrical, and sharing plates is the best way to break the ice with friends…or even family.
Taken from the Italian practice of caffé sospeso (suspended coffee), or buying a coffee for someone else in need, the team at Sospeso designed the menu and dining approach with togetherness, community, and generosity in mind.
The food echoes the airy, coastal decor and speaks for itself—bright and fresh Mediterranean flavors of grilled meats, creamy dips, and plenty of olive oil.
Other fun dinner spots
Burmese inspired food on H street. Currently take-out only.
Playful mezze, endless pita bread, and a fire-y ‘saganaki’ that lights up the entire dining room with tall, cheesy flames.
A great, family-friendly pizza spot with ample seating in a warm and rustic dining atmosphere. Per recommendation from every Capitol Hill local, order an appetizer of sliders with shoestring onion rings.
Peregrine is the perfect destination to fuel up before jumping back on the tourist grind. The coffee options are endless, with hot chocolate and tea joining the party for non-coffee drinkers. The artisan pastries from nearby Bluebird Bakery are hard to pass up.
Coffee is just the tip of the iceberg at Radici Market. Italian owned, this bright and spacious cafe has an expansive inventory of pastries, wine, and prepared lunches for heavy Eastern Market foot traffic. If you’re feeling peckish, order from the colazione (breakfast) and pranzo (lunch) menu to help refuel for all the sightseeing.
Wine and Butter Cafe
Not only can Wine and Butter Cafe make a mean iced coffee (and every other possible coffee concoction), but they also offer a selection of gourmet food products. An upscale corner-store of sorts, the shelves are stocked with wine, cheese, chocolate, pastries, and eggs—everything you’d need for an on-the-fly picnic.
Union Kitchen Grocery
For coffee, sandwiches, pantry staples, and DC-made products, stop by Union Kitchen Grocery in North East Capitol Hill. The trendy Union Kitchen start-up store is the only one-stop-shop for coffee, food, and locally-made gifts for friends and family.
Find more Washington DC Coffee Shops
A true American sports bar, Union Pub serves as a meeting spot for game-ready sports fans and others along for a fun time. The Union Pub family hosts a handful of fun activities to accompany the food and drink, including happy hours, trivia nights, and special holiday events.
This rooftop garden-meets-gin-bar is an extension of Belga Cafe’s upscale dining room. The ‘emotional’ gin cocktails are inspired by four feelings—love, passion, sympathy, and flirt—and take cue from the botanical decor with herbs, fruit, and spices featuring heavily in the gin-based drinks.
This swanky bar may be a destination for dumplings, but many would argue the cocktails are half the draw. The upstairs dining room is moody, with just enough lighting to spotlight the bar and open kitchen.
The adventurous bartenders have a reputation for going rogue and creating exclusive drinks catered to diner’s tastebuds.
Fresca Taqueria and Rosticeria
Nothing beats a margarita on a hot and humid summer day. Fresca Taqueria has you covered after a sweaty day of walking, delivering on thirst-quenching margaritas, a large menu of authentic Mexican food, and a relaxing outdoor patio.
If you go for just drinks, order the guacamole and chips, a side of yuca, and to guild the happy hour lily, a few tacos al pastor.
If you fancy a quick trip to Ireland—minus the airfare—venture into The Dubliner on Capitol Hill’s northeastern-most corner. There’s no shortage of pub food and Irish beer, live music every night, and plenty of spirited Celtic paraphernalia to keep all your senses entertained.
A true Washington DC institution, the Capitol Hill faithful vouch for the captivating, communal atmosphere at Mr. Henry’s.
As the hub of Eastern Market’s night-life scene, Mr. Henry’s hosts live music most nights of the week to accompany the food and beverage.
Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar
For a trendy wine bar scene, good happy hour deals, and charcuterie nibbles, pop into Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar. Happy hour deals on both food and drink run Tuesday through Friday from 3:30pm-5:00pm.
Communal dining halls are trending in Washington DC. Union Market led the way and nearby La Cosecha opened up shortly after.
But with very little of its kind in South East DC, The Roost now offers an all-inclusive and expansive eating experience on the other side of Capitol Hill. Perfect for a festive summer happy hour, grab a table outside and order drinks from Shelter, one of many vendors at The Roost with an excellent beer, wine, and cocktail selection.