What is the District’s Dining Scene Still Missing?


We have pined for much in the DC dining world – bagels, pastrami, poke. Have we pined for poke? I do not know but it is sure fun to say, pine for poke. Anyway, pine or not, poke is coming. Pastrami and bagels (to a certain degree) are here. Laotian, Thai, proper pizza, Filipino, Pineapples and Pearls with your fancy Michelin stars are all here. We got it all now. Or do we? What is the DC dining world still missing? Obviously we need a WaWa but what else?

417 Comment

  • Joshua

    Zaxby’s and eastern North Carolina BBQ

  • Small Plates

  • In-N-Out and a place that serves actual Argentinian steak

  • saf


  • West/Central Africa cuisine

    • Not in DC proper, but we went to Chez Dior in Hyattsville on a whim. Absolutely loved it. Had never had West African/Senegalese food before, but it was so good and the folks working there were really nice and helpful.

    • I second this. I would love a Senegalese restaurant!

    • Yes! I had some amazing meals at Ghana Cafe, and miss it.

    • Agreed. There used to be Chez Aunty Libe on Georgia Ave. There’s still Sumah’s on 7th street, Appioo on 9th and U, and Zion Kitchen in NE. There are tons in the hyattsville, beltsville and Laurel areas, and a few in Gaithersburg.

  • More decent mid-range Chinese restaurants in DC itself.

    • Yes. The Chinese options here are sub par at best. I got better Chinese in both previous places I’ve lived – WV three decades ago, and rural far western VA 15 years ago. How is it possible we can’t keep up with those places?!?!
      Also, the meat in Chinese here grosses me out, in place after place. I order General Taos chicken (I know, I know, fattie – but you gotta splurge sometimes) and what arrives is just fried pieces of gristle and yuck. It’s like they cut off all the joints and trash parts, and gave them to me. It’s inedible. I order that out of DC, and you get…peices of fried chicken meat, imagine that. The meat in DC Thai, Indian, etc isn’t disgusting, so I don’t understand why the Chinese places decided to only serve scraps.

      • Agreed. I can’t do Chinese food anymore because of the meat. I also don’t trust where it is coming from or even what it is. Someone recently did a DNA test on some sort of chicken thing at Subway and found it was only 50% chicken. I don’t even want to know what they might find in Chinese restaurant meals (shudder). Plus, I try to eat “humane” meat whenever possible, so that pretty much limits my options everywhere anyway.

      • If your ordering general tso’s chicken then you’re not looking for real Chinese food anyway.

        • I obviously don’t mean authentic Chinese. I mean American “Chinese.” I like a “gringo taco” now and again, too, if that also helps you feel superior.
          By the way, I have a job that affords me the opportunity to travel to a wide range of countries and experience many different cultures and cuisines. Sometimes I prefer authentic. Sometimes I prefer the versions I grew up eating. I find no shame in low brow.

          • I’m with you. I also enjoy the “ethnic” food of my midwestern youth, which was far from authentic but still delicious.
            I’ve had a more good experiences than bad (although still some bad) at North Sea in Adams Morgan, and Great Wall on 14th.

          • I used to live around the corner from North Sea (the old one, not the new sushi-including one) and liked it fine. Haven’t had it in ages, though.

    • Real Chinese food seems more difficult to find, even in the ‘burbs than when I lived here in the 90s.

      • Check out Da Hong Pao on 14th Street. It’s by far the best Chinese food I’ve ever had in DC.

        • Da Hong Pao is decent at best. Check out Mala Tang in Clarendon for good Sichuan. For good Cantonese (and specifically, dim sum), go to Oriental East in Silver Spring. Both are metro accessible. But totally agree that good, authentic Chinese food in this city is sorely lacking.

    • The good, authentic Chinese is all around Rockville, Gburg, and parts of Wheaton. Most patrons are Chinese.

  • solid inexpensive to mid range sushi. we have lots of all-star good omakase $ places. more places that have sushi taro’s a la carte menu that is as good, and some 3-rolls-for-15 delivery places that aren’t gross.

    • Definitely agree. While it cant be compared directly, in major cities on the west coast there are numerous spots to buy a slab of (sliced or unsliced) sushi grade fish and a bowl of rice for under $20. I don’t even need the time + labor put into making rolls, just give me some sashimi or nigiri that I can put together for myself at a reasonable price.

    • I know it sounds crazy, but having lived in Dallas for a decade, I’m used to ubiquitous mid-range sushi joints that are legitimately delicious and good quality. 8 Years ago I was not impressed with sushi at any price here in DC and more or less gave up on it. I suppose I should give the high end stuff another chance… but at the price point I might as well just wait until I’m on the road somewhere which that kind of money delivers me a sure thing.

  • Where are the bagels????

    • Bullfrog Bagels (in the picture) are pretty good, but they aren’t NY bagels. I’m happy to have them at Eastern Market, though- they’re decent when toasted with cream cheese. We definitely have a dearth of good bagels in this city.

    • Check out Bread Bite Baker on U Street in the old Cake Love location – between 15th and 16th.

    • At Bethesda Bagels in Dupont and Georgetown Bagelry in Bethesda, but I agree that we could use more.

    • Goldberg’s Bagels in Rockville and Silver Spring are legit kosher NY style bagels.

    • Bullfrog bagels are amazing. The other option is Buffalo and Bergen.

      We definitely could use a couple more real bagel places. And a knish place that doesn’t do “ironic” bacon knishes.

  • Bubble tea (burbs don’t count)

    • YES!!! The few bubble tea places in DC are so sad. We desperately need a Kung Fu Tea that’s closer than the Eden Center…

      • There’s a Kung Fu Tea at City Place in Silver Spring. It’s small but there.

        • Oh, good to know! If I’m ever over there I’ll definitely stop in. Would be great to have one in downtown DC thought!

          • Apparently it’s inside the mall. I was looking for it last week and since I couldn’t find it on the street I thought it had closed. Gaaahhh

    • Agreed! I actually looked into opening a Kung Fu Tea franchise earlier this week. Anyone have 140k they are willing to loan me?

      Also — Hot Pot! There are NO hot pot places in DC.

      • Ha, I’ll go in on a joint hot pot/bubble tea place with you 🙂

        • I’m ready!

          • I’ll get in on that too!

          • I drive out to Fairfax for hot pot at Hot Spot; Rockville for King Fu Tea and Bubble Tea cafe. If either of those opened in DC I’d be over the moon. Also a decent sichuan place with chongqing chicken. Sichuan Pavillion used to tie me over, but they’ve taken it off the menu.

      • I was here to say hot pot / shabu shabu too! There used to be a place somewhere near…Cleveland Park? or somewhere west of the Park but I forget where exactly, but I think it closed a while back.

    • saf

      There’s a Chinese bakery on 6th St NW, just below H, that has a good variety of bubble tea.

    • i sampled an AWESOME bubble tea vendor at ramen world 3 last weekend! they still only exist in pop up form but hopefully open a shop. i forget the name!!

    • YES to bubble tea and hot pot!

  • As long as real estate and rent is as expensive as it is, we’re always going to have a serious dearth of legit greasy spoons and mom & pop’s.

    I could also go for a Wawa.

    • WAWA! definitely not a culinary great but damn their made to order sandwiches are good and fast

    • Wawa has urban locations in Philly. I’m sure they could manage in DC.

    • I’m not sure that rent is the only problem. NY and San Francisco both have high rent and great cheap eats.

      • I think it’s because they’re a lot more dense — it’s hard to make money on cheap eats if you can’t get decent volume of sales.

      • And in the case of SF, higher labor costs too. The # of cheap eats is decreasing unfortunately, but still a lot more than what can be found in DC.

  • Shabushabu, yakitori, decent Mexican, and I still wish there’d be a good bakery near me with a variety of breads, not just a few token loaves.

    And I’d love to see more great meals in the $10-$12 range. Whole meals, not simply a drink or fancy grilled cheese sandwich for that price. In NYC, there seems to be an abundance of truly tasty and filling ethnic eateries in that price-range. Here high rent appears to have pushed many such places to the suburbs, where it’s harder for me to go without a car and usually I want to dine closer to home.

    Finally, how about more good service? It’s a rarity in this city.

    • + 1 to shabushabu and yakitori. Also okonomiyaki.

      • That One Guy

        +1. I would also throw in din tai fung or other soup dumpling place to that list. Oh and a Korean Chinese restaurant.

      • A couple of places in DC have okonomiyaki, but none are any good! I think I’ve tried them all.

    • There’s a place on Wisconsin with shabushabu – I forget the name, sorry. And there are a bunch of decent bread bakeries around – many show up at farmers markets on the weekends.

    • maxwell smart

      “And I’d love to see more great meals in the $10-$12 range. Whole meals, not simply a drink or fancy grilled cheese sandwich for that price. In NYC, there seems to be an abundance of truly tasty and filling ethnic eateries in that price-range.”

      I will 100% second this. I was just discussing this with a friend recently – you can easily go out in NYC and have an amazing dinner for less than $15. I would love to see more of this – quality, small, mom-and-pop eateries. I can only deal with the pretentiousness of 14th street at best twice a year.

      • +1000.

      • Completely agree!

        • Couldn’t agree more! My partner is temporarily in NYC for work and I’ve been amazed at the quality small mom and pop food options. I often feel that DC restaurants (esp new ones) charge high prices and the quality is mediocre. I’ve also given up on planning brunches. Having to make reservations several days in advance and then spending almost $20 for basic food like omlettes and toast or waffles is a real turn off.

          • Well to be fair, there are a lot of brunch places that you don’t need a reservation and don’t cost an arm and a leg. It just seems to me you actively seek out those places.

      • Totally agree, although I think this is the category that is starting to come. Some of it depends on neighborhood — I’m not sure we’ll ever see great <$15 places on 14th any time soon. But I think some of those restaurants are coming to neighborhoods like my beloved Brookland. Not all are necessarily destinations, but they are places that you would be happy to go to again and again and again if close by.

        • +1000 Everything opening up in my ‘hood seems to be either overpriced/fancy or fast casual take-out. Wanted: more old-standby, moderately priced sit-down restaurants. RIP Argonaut.

      • I know there a bunch of less expensive places in NYC. But I question whether you can really “have an amazing dinner for less than $15.” Restaurant tax in NYC is almost 9%. Even if you drink water and tip 20% pre-tax on a $12 meal, you’re at $15.50 (and if you go to a sit-down restaurant and tip less that $2.50, you should be ashamed of yourself, but that’s another conversation). I get that you can get a great sandwich for $12, but to me that’s different than “an amazing dinner” – and that’s not even considering that an “amazing dinner” inevitably includes a drink.

        • there are a fair number of byob places. when we were at home for Christmas, we went to a fabulous byob indian place. three people, with leftovers, was about $70.

        • HaileUnlikely

          That’s basically a question of calibration. I can walk out of a diner in the depressed far out suburb of Philly where much of my extended family lives and say that I had just had an “amazing” dinner. I suspect you wouldn’t characterize said dinner as “amazing,” and that is ok. I can similarly think of a few places (mainly diners) in NYC where one can have a very nice meal (yes, without alcohol) for $15 before tax and tip. I’ll grant that $15 including tax and tip is hard for me to imagine, though.

          • “I suspect you wouldn’t characterize said dinner as “amazing,” and that is ok.”
            I bet I would. I have had plenty of excellent food in NJ diners, delis, and the like. I am a food snob only about quality, not price or style of food, with a few notable exceptions. (For example, that monstrosity they serve in Chicago, with the inch-thick crust, sauce and cheese? I’m not sure what it is, but it ain’t pizza.) I was really only taking issue with the $15 number – in 2017, in the US, that’s a tough limit.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I never thought I liked Chicago-style pizza, but having just visited for the first time recently, I have come around. The goop sold elsewhere as “Chicago style” gives it a bad name. Lou Malnati’s is where it’s at. If you want to put it to the test, goofy as this sounds, you can order half-baked frozen pizzas from them and have them shipped anywhere (I have no idea how this would compare to getting it in the restaurant…I’ll admit I’m skeptical). In any event, now that I’ve had it, I love that stuff, though it’s probably fair to conceptualize it as an altogether different food than a “normal” pizza.

          • Pi has good deep dish Chicago style – as close as you can get to it.

        • maxwell smart

          Okay, I mean if we are going to pedantic about it. The general idea is that for something of similar quality in DC, it’s usually at least $10 more per dish. I can think of several places in NYC I’ve gotten great Italian, with wine, for $25 with tip. In DC, $25 would just be the entree – no tip, no wine.

          • A 66% increase is hardly pedantic. If the new threshold is $25 per person, there are plenty of places in DC to get a good meal, though good Italian would be really tough.

          • What I meant was more places with a good, satisfying entrée for $10-12. I didn’t intend to include tax, tip, or alcohol. Yes, there are some of these spots in DC, I just want more. In many restaurants, the drinks alone are in that price point, or you get a tiny-sized offering, even though it’s called an entrée, or you get a soggy, lackluster grilled-cheese sandwich, which I could have made at home for a lot less.

    • For Mexican, check out La Puerte Verde in Ivy City. It’s not cheap, but not expensive compared to what a similar place would be downtown. We have really loved it, particularly the street corn dish! I like the entrees better than the tacos, but planning to try tacos again soon.

  • Legitimate sports bars

    • Ventors, Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, Lous, The Prospect. Those are just the true sports bars I thought of in 10 seconds.

    • The city needs them badly. All the reply commenter mentioned are mediocre spots with strong out of town team affiliations. Tough to want to go to a packed house full of Seahawks or Philly fans to watch football. Pretty sad for local sports fan to have to venture out to Caddies to feel like we’re on home turf with solid food options.

      • Cleveland Park Bar & Grill, Walter’s Sports Bar on Georgia Ave, McIntyres in Woodley. These are just the pure sports bars. There many other bars (Blackfinn, many south Dupont places, etc) that basically function as sports bars. I’ll give you that away fans take over some of the bars, but I really don’t think the city needs more sports bars at all.

        • Considering that any bar with a TV gets turned into a “sports bar” whenever there is a game on I would actually say we need more neighborhoody/casual bars without TVs…

        • sorry MtP, that was a +1 to you haha.

        • Fair, maybe if our teams won anything it would be different. Just frustrating as a life long fan living in DC that it seems difficult to have a good home base for watching the home team. The losing and transient nature of the city contribute for sure. Have had incredible game watching experiences at Redskins bars in NYC/Chicago and wouldn’t know where to go outside of Blaguard really to do it here.

    • Buffalo Wild Wings is the closest thing in this area to a legit sports bar. TVs are labeled with the games, no news on, no fancy drinks. Wings, Beer and Sports

  • South African restaurant

    • Well…there’s Nando’s.

      • I love Nandos but it is really Portuguese food brought to you by a SA chain. I am looking for things like Bobotie.

    • What do you like in South African cuisine? When I was there, my local friends claimed they were taking me to all the best places, and I found it universally bland and boring.

      • I am really surprised to hear that. I have traveled a lot there and in general have found the food to be really good. Biltong is something that you have to try. Also Bobotie and the Cape Malay cooking in general.

        • The biltong was the best thing I ate! Bought a kilo and ate the whole bag while driving the Garden Route. 🙂
          The bobotie was fine, but not special. Just a midwestern casserole of randomness, like my mom might have made when she didn’t have all the ingredients for anything else.

          • “The biltong was the best thing I ate! Bought a kilo and ate the whole bag while driving the Garden Route.

  • A place like Famous Sammy’s Romanian in the Village.

  • binntp

    Brazilian (non-steakhouse) street food. Feijoada, salt cod balls, cheese bread, acai in a bowl.

  • 1. Chinese delivery – existing are eh at best.
    2. Greek – more fast casual & delivery
    3. In-n-out burger. Please please please.
    Random, but Afghan Grill is really good delivery.

  • Soft serve. Not custard (whatever that is), not the abomination that is frozen yogurt, but real, honest to God soft-serve ice cream.
    And I second the request for Portuguese – I recently was in NJ and hit the Ironbound District in Newark, and remembered how good it is.

    • Are you saying paying $8 for a 1/4 cup of gelato has left you unfulfilled?

    • skj84

      I’m reminded of my quest to find good soft serve 12 years ago when I first moved to the city. It was the struggle then, and shouldn’t be the struggle today. That being said, Ollies Trolly does soft serve as does Thomas Sweet in Georgetown.

    • When I saw Portuguese, Ironbound immediately came to my mind. Ferry Street BBQ has got to be one of the top places that I’ve ever eaten.

      • So good. We also liked Fornos for Spanish (30 years ago), though I was a little disappointed last time I went (5 years ago).

    • Oh, one more think. If a breakfast place had porkroll, that’d be excellent. I know Slim’s does, but the wait make that a tough sell.

    • Don’t hate on custard. Rita’s does God’s work.

    • The Airdale in Petworth serves Old Overholt soft serve year round.

  • Good basic non-fancy Italian. Bonus points for mob boss sitting in the corner.

    • The cafe’s/cappuccino/dessert places family run that only take cash and in the back the card games are going on.

    • Dupont Italian Kitchen! I love it because it’s a basic red sauce American Italian joint.

      • I wanted to like this place so much, but it’s such a pale imitation of the places I used to frequent as a kid that I simply can’t.

        • Not doubting that, but just as an observation – I find that most places/food items I loved as a kid don’t stand up now that I’m in my 40’s. My tastes and standards have just changed, which isn’t surprising. Sometimes I find myself craving something out of nostalgia, and when I have it I’m disappointed.

          • That is 100% true. In my mind’s eye, the pizza I had growing up was and will always be the best there is (Pizza Como in Clinton, NJ). The carved-on-demand Steamship Round at Stonybrook Pavilion will always be the best beef ever, even though I know it wasn’t. That said, strip mall casual Italian in NJ is just better than Dupont Circle casual Italian.

          • Totally true.

          • Haha. So true. I hesitate to admit, but I was like 21 before I discovered that Red Lobster is, in fact, NOT a fancy restaurant. It was the best place in town growing up!

    • Tesoro is a solid Italian restaurant in Van Ness!

  • Bagels! Why aren’t there more bagels? We need a Bodo’s (from Charlottesville), a quick spot, inexpensive, inclusive, community gathering place. Also, we need good sandwich spots, a good grab and go spot in more neighborhood areas. Why don’t bodega’s in DC serve sandwiches like they do in NYC?

    • Check out Bread Bite Bakery – we go there *all of the time* – good bagels / bagel sandwiches and they are cheap!

    • Totally agree on the fast sandwich/bagel situation. Ledroit Market and Cookie’s Corner (both in Ledroit Park) serve sandwiches, not on high quality bagels but the sandwiches are fast and simple and tasty. Cookie’s corner will also make you a quick breakfast. I’m looking forward to trying a sandwich at Sylvan Bakery in Bloomingdale. DuPont Market also good for quick sandwich.

  • That Honey Pig that was supposed to open that we never heard anything more about.

  • Italian deli’s! Also, quick in and out breakfast spots (eggs and bagels), Chinese take out spots that don’t serve wings, pizza, gyros, subs and everything else imaginable that I would not equate to Chinese food. Also pizzeria’s that serve by slice and aren’t chains or jumbo slice and enough with the brick oven/”gourmet” pizza spots (even if I do like them).

  • Georgian is hard to find here – I know Compass Rose has khachapuri, but I haven’t been able to get in…

  • Chicken-fried steak. Real, honest-to-goodness, chicken-fried steak.

    • Mmmmmmmmmm.
      I had what I consider to be pretty good chicken-fried steak a while back at District Commons.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Agreed. I’ve had a few DC attempts at chicken-fried steak here, ranging from really lame to acceptable, but nothing like what you’d get at a good midwest diner!

  • 1. Legit Korean, NOT Korean fusion (Mandu doesn’t count IMHO)
    2. Real-deal NJ-style diners

    • +1 on the Korean, but I want Korean BBQ.

      I was in Sacramento a couple years ago with a friend who was stationed in Korea when he was in the Army. He introduced me to Korean BBQ, and I would like to see one of these places open in DC. To do this right though, each table needs it’s own gas grill, and the menu needs to offer all you can eat. Probably never going to see this!

      • +1 Korean! I’d love an authentic, non-pretentious place that has legit gamjatang or tofu soups…I’d kill for some banchan!!

        As for BBQ, too bad a place like Gyu-Kaku (Japanese) couldn’t open in DC…

      • I’ll +1 to this, too. I do like Bul in Adams Morgan, but they don’t have BBQ.

      • Not DC, but not far and you may be near there sometimes – theres’s a very decent AYCE Korean BBQ place near the College Park IKEA. Name escapes me.

  • A realdeal Friday Night Fish Fry. Potato Pancakes, applesauce available. Old Fashioneds.

  • Good bubble tea joints; Nordic inspired restaurants

  • Whataburger. And breakfast taquitos.

  • Is it too much to ask for a basic Neapolitan pizza place where I can get a large pie for $12-15? Seriously, DC’s options for pizza suck. They’re either gross chains or style themselves fancy (and some of the “fancy pizza” places are delish, but $14 for a personal-sized pizza isn’t gonna happen for me that often!)

    Also probably too much to ask, but I would LOVE me some sort of little French bakery where I could live off the 50 cent baguettes like I did when I lived in France.

    • I know it’s the burbs, but it’s fairly close. Try Fairlington Pizza right off of 395. It’s exactly what you’ve been missing – a tiny place in a strip mall run by a local guy who bought it a couple years ago from the original owners who ran it for 30 years. Not a chain and not “fancy.” Just good pizza.

      • The Italian Store in Arlington too.

        • Thanks, ASP and dcd! I will check them out when I can!

          • The Italian Store is dangerous. After you take your number and wait for service (although sometimes if you’re getting pizza, and not sandwiches you can jump the line) you wander around the store looking at the cheese, cured meats, fancy pasts, etc. Self0discipline is required! quicker

    • As long as they DON’T serve chicken, bacon, ranch.

    • Anyone ever been to The Italian Store? I wish they’d open a location in DC. I order from Arlington and have it delivered through Postmates all the time.

    • Have you checked out Menomale? I think the simple margarita pizza probably is in your desired price range.

    • LBP, would Timber Pizza (on Upshur) qualify for this, or do their pizzas count as “personal size”?

      • Good pizzas, but I think they’re closer to “personal size.” Good and tasty pizza, but a treat, not a “pick up a pie on the way home from work on Friday night” kind of thing, for me anyway

        • Menomale’s pizza is very much your “personal pizza.” Could try Duccini’s if you want size but its regular pizza, not Neopolitan style.

    • You might enjoy Menomale for pizza.

  • I think we’ve gotten so much these past few years, that many big “holes” are now filled. I agree with others that good Chinese is really the glaring hole. There is Panda Gourmet and the Source, but that is really it for even passable Chinese. I also think that high-quality mid-range places, such as good mid-price Italian red sauce places, are still too few and far between. This is probably due to high rents and lack of certain old immigrant communities, but its still disappointing. Until a couple years ago I would be screaming for better Mexican food, but with Tacqueria Habenero, El Sol, Mezcalaro, La Puerta Verde, and I guess Oyamel, there are actually quite a few great Mexican choices now.

    • Thanks for this. I was about to post Mexican but will now check these places out. I like Taqueria Nacional but the menu is limited.

  • I am showing my Midwest roots, but we need in the District:
    White Castle
    Steak n Shake
    Dairy Queen

    • a NY style pizza place where you can get pizza by the slice, and then also a wedge. I’d also like a normal deli (breakfast sandwiches, sandwiches made to order) that’s open on the weekends. there are a ton of delis downtown but their hours are limited, and none appear to be open on weekends. in an ideal world I’d export the 24 hour deli near my HS (the nyc suburbs so not exactly party all the time) and their fabulous sandwiches.

      • damnit, that wasn’t supposed to be a reply.

      • It’s just over the DC line (lie a 1/4 mile), but try Parkway Deli in MD.

        • thanks for the tip! I’ll have to remember this when we get a car. when I was in college, and then when were living in glover park, I loved wagshalls. a little more than a deli, but still delicious and made to order.

          • The matzo ball soup and a Delight (pastrami sandwich on grilled pumpernickel with munster and cole slaw), along with the pickle bar, is pretty close to a perfect meal.

    • 100% agree with all of these.
      FYI there is a year-round Dairy Queen on Route 7 near Bailey’s Crossroads.

      • There is a Dairy Queen in Herndon right next to the w&od trail, which is my only fix. Yes I bike 60 miles for DQ. Sometimes the way home is not pleasant.

    • Yes to all of those, especially White Castle. There is a DQ near me in rockville but it’s an ice cream only DQ.

  • I Dont Get It

    Arby’s. There I said it.

    • There used to be an Arby’s in that food court in the Georgetown mall–I loved hitting that up when I worked in Georgetown. Arby’s is seriously underrated.

    • I was going to add Arby’s to the list too…
      There is one in College Park…a bit past Ikea.

    • There’s one in Alexandria off the Little River Turnpike exit of 395. There used to be one in the Ballston mall in Arlington 🙁

    • There’s an Arby’s off 355 in Rockville and also in CP as someone else stated. I feel the answers to most of these requests lie in the burbs!!

      • I Dont Get It

        “I feel the answers to most of these requests lie in the burbs!!”

        So the answer is no since I no longer have a car and never take the metro past Columbia Heights.

  • Polish, Hungarian, and Burmese cuisines

  • Breakfast burritos and tacos. Proliferated. District taco is great but only really in the downtown core.

    • Have you tried Republic Taco via UberEats?

      Also, the El Taco Loco stand at Eastern Market has some ridiculously good breakfast burritos every Saturday and Sunday, served all day.

    • I do Pica Taco (AdMo and 14th St). Not perfect, but it meets a need.

    • Pica taco is closer, but there’s nothing to speak of much north of U street that fills this need.

  • More brunch places! Go tos are tabbard inn — too hard to get in — and busboys and poets. Where else? We need variety!

  • Diners and bodegas and delis.

    • ditto. and just gimme one neighborhood place that sells not only food but flowers!!!

    • Yes! I complain all the time about DC’s lack of bodegas. I think DC’s high rent and zoning tends to ruin the potential for neighborhood bodegas.

  • Clueless

    Hibachi joints

  • Sri Lankan food!

  • 1. A good, solid southern diner or good southern brunch. I would even take a Biscuitville drive thru (I’m from NC 🙂 )
    2. Cappy’s Crab’s to popup somewhere else this summer now that Himitsu has opened.
    3. Southern Indian food with masala dosas (I still miss the place that used to be in Union Station so long ago). The only places I know to get dosas around here is Woodlands in Langley Park and I just saw a place in Union Market recently (anyone tried it?).

    • DC Dosa, they’ve been at Union Market I think since the start. Solid option. I always viewed dosa as a pretty basic Indian dish, so something I would have though was easy to find.

    • DC Dosa is also serving at the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods, so that’s both ends of town covered.

    • Naan & Beyond’s new Pentagon City location serves dosas. As does the Indian restaurant in the International Food Court at I and 18th by the Metro. Including a falafel dosa!

  • authentic Delaware cuisine

  • Portuguese! Not continental but Azorian. Anyone else been up to the south coast of Mass? While Fall River and New Bedford are not the nicest towns they have the largest Portuguese population in the US and the food is amazing! I’d kill for an authentic Portuguese restaurant.

  • A true SoCal style taco shop. California burritos, fish tacos, awesome tamales, breakfast burritos, etc. I miss breakfast tamales, too. 🙁

    • Indonesian and/or Malaysian
      There is a gigantic hole for good, mainland stye Chinese food. Panda Gourmet is a start, but there are so many more opportunities for restaurants to take my money. Yunnan style. A place that focuses on dumplings. Hot pot, because I’m not going to Virginia.

      • Posting error. This was not meant as a response to SoCal style taco shop, which I too, would also like.

    • justinbc

      +1 SoCal style Mexican.

    • El Camino in Bloomingdale is SoCal style mexican. It’s very good, but their salsa is not spicy enough.

      Speaking of SoCal food, I will agree with others who say we need an In-N-Out!

      • Been there and it’s ok, but not the same as a real SoCal taco shop.
        +1 for In-n-out. omg in-n-out, yes.

  • That One Guy

    Din Tai Fung or some analog soup dumpling place.

  • I miss cheap and tasty Seattle-style teriyaki joints, the ones where the whole takeaway container is filled with rice, coleslaw and beef or chicken slathered with teriyaki sauce.

    I was in Seattle this week and found such a spot in a parking garage, and the whole meal was less than $7 (only because I added an upgraded slaw on the side; otherwise, it would have been $5).

    • Cheap and bland stuff, IMO…would work in a food court if we had more food courts in DC.

  • A doner kebab shop (RIP Doner Bistro).

    This Chicago guy would also love for Lou Malnati’s and Portillo’s to open East Coast locations here but that’s probably not happening. District of Pi is a passable deep dish substitute. Speaking of which, anyone try the Vin & Vic’s popup on Capitol Hill?

    • +1 Thank you ctk, for speaking to my Chicagoan Heart.

    • +1000 to both Lou Malnati’s and Portillos. Portillos was always such a great place to go for cheap and quick dinners. I agree District of Pi is solid, but not the same as Lou’s or even Gino’s or Giordanos. I’ve heard bad things about the pop-up, but I haven’t tried it myself.

    • Portillo’s and Lou’s would make a killing in DC.

    • justinbc

      Deep dish, yes please, can’t believe I forgot that one in my list but I’ve frankly given up hope at this point.

      • District of Pi deep dish is pretty legit. Not sure a deep dish place would make a killing – Pi is legit and is not packed all the time at all.

  • Maryland is very close to DC, but I haven’t found a decent crab cake. I’m from that far-away land of Maryland, and it’s impossible to get a decent crab crake here in DC.


  • I’ve been saying this for a long time: A gourmet tamale truck or take out place. LA’s high-end tamale trucks are amazing!

  • 1. A Vietnamese sandwich place in DC
    2. A tea shop where you don’t smell like food. Love the one in Georgetown but no nearby metro.
    3. A good Afghan restaurant.

    • Simply Banh Mi is good, IMO. Good pho, good banh mi. Unfortunately I live on the Hill and it’s in Georgetown.

    • Afghan Grill (delivery though Eat 24, maybe other places) is really good. I have no idea what Afghan is supposed to be, so maybe this won’t fit your needs. But we randomly ordered and were very pleasantly surprised with how tasty the food was. It is now a staple in our house.

    • Lapis in Adams Morgan also has very good Afghan dishes.
      How about Teaism for tea shop?

    • The pho place on Park Rd in Columbia Heights has an entire section of sandwiches. And they are 5.95!!!!!!!! Tofu one was great.

  • More ice cream! Not gelato – we have a lot of that. Call me a yuppie but I’d love something like Ample Hills or Jennie’s. We have Ice Cream Jubilee and a few others, but not many and nothing that good.

    Also, better pizza by the slice (not jumbo slice) a la Wise Guys.

  • H Street NE needs a Vietnamese pho shop. The place on the Hill that serves pho with terrible frozen meat needs to close.

    • I’d love a closer pho joint. Every strip mall in the ‘burbs seems to have solid pho.

    • Although not on H Street the pho at Pho Viet is the best in DC. It’s about the only thing, other than Le Caprice I miss about Columbia Heights.

    • justinbc

      If you mean the one on Pennsylvania, yeah, that is a massive disappointment.

      • Yes, that’s the one. We stopped going and go up to Columbia Heights for pho or out to Alexandria to Caphe Banh Mi. I still can’t believe there is not a single decent pho place in nearby NE/SE.

    • skj84

      OMG. YES. I was craving pho the last time I had a cold, and could not find any place that delivered to my hood.

  • A bagel shop in Logan Circle would make bank!

  • I’m probably going to be shamed for this…but…can we please get a Waffle House? It probably wouldn’t be nearly as good as I remember from drunken nights in college but I would love an awful waffle in DC.

    • +1000…hash browns scattered, covered, smothered, chunked FTW!

    • Yeah, a big plate of hash browns (scattered, smothered, covered, chunked and diced) wand three eggs over easy sound really good. I’m much more likely to bet getting them at 7:30 am, rather than 2:30 am, these days, but still.
      Along those lines, I remember fondly Aunt Sarah’s in the outskirts of Richmond, which, after midnight, had for $2.99 two pieces of fried chicken and all the pancakes you could eat.

    • Used to have one right near Nellies that used to be my late night spot. Belgian waffles, homefries, turkey bacon for $8 bucks. They didn’t re-open to about midnight on the weekends. Forgot the name of it.

  • A decent place to get a fried shrimp po-boy done the New Orleans way not a fancied up version of someone’s idea of how they think it is done in New Orleans. But then it is all about the bread.

    • Tchoup’s on Georgia ave has excellent ponies. They ship the bread from louisiana

      • My friend got the shrimp poboy and thought it was mediocre. I had the red beans & rice and it was disgusting (how do you mess that up?!) Plus the service was abysmal. Maybe they’ve improved but I’ll never waste my time/money there again.

    • To that end, I’d also love an actual roast beef po’boy with debris. Whenever I get it here it’s essentially a normal roast beef sandwich

    • I really like the po-boy at Puddin. They have a food truck as well as a spot in union market I think.

  • A Runza hut. (Family’s from Nebraska.)

  • A real McDonald’s that still has the play pen area intact for the little ones and a huge lifesize Ronald McDonald the clown in the lobby along with a pair of golden arches

  • A place that serves actual Argentinian food at a decent price. Im thinking beyond steak, like empandas, milanesas, pastas, facturas. El Patio is fine but not really close to the core of DC and their empanadas are really bad.

    Im thinking Tango Pastry but in DC.

    • Merlot (?? its named after a type of wine) on 17th and R in DuPont serves Argentinian. Their paella sucked but my Argentinian friend seems to like the food as she took her parents there and picked up baked goods for her corp retreat from there.

  • justinbc

    Re: the OP question, I for one have been pining for poke for years. For the longest time one of the only places to even find it reliably was at Sticky Rice (and Sushi Taro sometimes), and I’m just not crazy about eating on tables where people danced all night.
    As to other things missing (I’m assuming we mean in the District proper, excluding suburbs):
    -Polish food
    -German food (all the options here are at beer gardens with awful kitchens)
    -Cambodian food (can sometimes find at Maketto at least)
    -Afghan/Persian style kebab shops
    -street food in general like you find throughout most major South / Central American and Asian cities
    -breakfast burritos, the handful of options here just aren’t any good
    -New Mexican style cuisine
    -Eataly style Italian mega-market (I think Nick Stefanelli has one planned?)
    -Korean BBQ
    -basically any African cuisine other than Ethiopian / Eritretean
    -“real” Chinese food like you find in SGV that hasn’t been Americanized
    -better hot dog options, seems like there are hundreds of burger shops but none for hot dogs (after DC-3 closed)

    • Have you tried Cafe Berlin by Stanton Park? Had a nice meal there a few weeks ago. Not wild about their lighting, though—too much of it.

      • justinbc

        Yeah I’ve had lunch out on their patio a few times, I do dig their sausage sampler. (I actually forgot about them when compiling this list, woops.)

    • A good list. I have to say this, but I like the hot dog at . . . 5 guys. There, I said it.

      • justinbc

        I don’t think I’ve ever had it, always go for the burgers and fries. But I like them better than the other overrated chains (In-N-Out / Shake Shack).

    • justinbc

      Oh and I would love a Waffle House for after a particularly heavy night of imbibing and / or an over the top Vegas style buffet for the mornings after.

    • Have you tried the German food at Mozarts (downtown)?

    • I’ll second Cafe Mozart downtown. It’s pretty good.

    • My Iranian friends tell me that Moby Dick is as authentic as can be, both for kebabs and rice, and for their daily specialties. I like the sweet rice (with orange peel and little tart berries) with grilled chicken.
      You might be thinking of a more Pakistani vibe? Where there are a bunch of kebabs lined up in a case, and you point, and they throw your choice on the grill? I don’t know of anything like that here, but I’d love to find one.

      • An Iranian Lyft driver recently told me the same thing. He said that after Shamshiry in Tysons, Moby Dick’s in the best Iranian food in the area.

      • justinbc

        Haven’t been to Moby Dick in a very long time, probably 8 years, might be overdue for a visit if so.

        • Moby Dick and Friends kabob around 20&L are both good IMO. Also there’s a food truck called Saffron that has a superb rice dish called chicken tahchin.

    • wandafish

      +1 on H-Mart. We need more Asian grocery stores. Hana is all we have on U Street and it’s tiny.

      As a Filipina, we need a pandesal bakery.

    • Ivy & Coney makes a good Detroit style hotdog.

  • Taco Villa. Not that anyone will know what it is. I miss it!

  • Even before Domku closed, this city was really missing Scandinavian/Slavic options. Just discovered an amazing little Ukrainian place in the Village in NYC. I just want some no-frills borscht and pierogi! If only a little piece of Pittsburgh would come down here…

  • Mission burritos. http://sfpanchovilla.com/.
    Microbrews for under $8. Other cities do it.

    • justinbc

      San Diego has quite possibly the best micros for a single city (when taken collectively), and you’ll rarely find a local beer on tap for more than $5 unless it’s a special release. The pricing of local beer here has annoyed me almost from the moment we actually got local beer. Even worse is that it rarely competes on flavor with beers from around the country that you can many times find for less on the same tap line-up.

    • Yes to Mission burritos. Though I’m more of a El Farolito or La Taqueria fan.
      I’m not holding my breath. I haven’t found a respectable Mission burrito outside the Bay Area.

      • justinbc

        El Farolito so good, and open late!

        • So good. It used to be my gold standard. But on my last trip to SF I ventured one block farther south down Mission (I’d never felt the need to try spots other than El Farolito) and went to La Taqueria. It’s a slightly different product, but I think it’s even better than El Farolito. Sigh, I need to get back to San Francisco.

          • justinbc

            The “super burrito” at El Farolito is probably my favorite garbage product of all time. I’ll have to check out this other spot next time though, always room for more.

          • La Taqueria is better when sober, el farolito is perfect when you’ve had some alcohol and/or you want to pig out. Just my 2 cents. Both blow DC Mexican joints out of the water of course.

  • One of the best meals I ever had in my life was at a Balti house near Birmingham England. I’m told it’s a style of Kashmiri cuisine particular to that part of England. Thick flavorful stews, spicy but not overwhelmingly so, eaten with giant sheets of fluffy naan… so yum.

    • Yes, I always get Balti whenever I’m in London and love it. I’ve never found it in the U.S.

  • A solid brick-and-mortar Venezuealan place in the District. We’ve got some decent pop-ups and food trucks, and some alright places in the suburbs. But I want to sit down and have my socks knocked off.

    • I could definitely get behind this, but ArepaZone at Union Market is pretty great. I know that’s the probably the “pop-up” you’re referring to, but I think they’re here to stay. Also, they’ve been experimenting with selling stuff off the normal menu of arepas, cachapas, and tequenos. They did some hallacas and pan de jamon during xmas, and a couple weekends ago offered patacones. All this to say, I suspect (hope!) they’ve got a real brick-and-mortar in the works.

  • Good, reasonably priced food. And while I realize it has gotten better in the last several years, the dining scene is still underwhelming and I do not look forward to going out to dinner in DC. But, more specifically, we need good seafood and BBQ.

    • Very true. PG county has good BBQ and seafood, though many are carry out only. Try Rosebuds BBQ on central ave which is basically DC.. Lots of crab houses.

  • Israeli (Shouk and Little Sesame are a start, but there’s so much more to be had)
    South Indian food
    Breakfast trucks

  • These are things I want in DC proper not go to Rockville, Annandale or wherever.

    1) More Korean – Soup places, BBQ places, more numbers and variety (its a shame considering how many Koreans in this area we don’t have more in the city)
    2) Better Chinese – especially in Chinatown; enough with the Szechuan too we need other flavors like Hakka, Fujianese, Hainanese, better Cantonese, bakeries with the meat floss bread, egg tarts and bubble tea drinks etc.
    3) Malaysian/Singaporean – best cuisine on earth, must have
    4) Bolivian – There should be salteñas on every corner like there are Starbucks
    5) Portuguese – STAT!

    • Exactly. While I enjoy my suburban food forays I find it so depressing that all the best food in the area is such a long drive.

      We have good Ethiopian, Thai and Salvadoran in DC and decent Vietnamese. But for Chinese (other than Sichuan which we are getting in some quality now), Korean, Indian, Yemeni, various Latin American cuisines, West African, and more you basically have to plan an afternoon around going there and back or find a reason you need to be in Rockville, or Wheaton or Seven Corners.

    • I think we are soulmates – you had me at salteñas on every corner 😉

    • Salteñas por favor! Julias empanadas are ok for a quick cheap bite, but they really do a disservice to the diversity of awesome empanadas out there in the world.

  • If Xi’an Famous Foods from NYC opened in DC they’d make a killing. http://xianfoods.com/

  • As far as I know there are no Haitian restaurants in the area which is a shame. I think there used to be one in Hyatsville. Haitian cuisine is underrated and better than Cuban or Dominican cusine IMO (though all are good).

    • Egad

      There’s a really good Haitian pop-up on Sunday’s at Afrik Grill on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. Google “Don Berto’s Kitchen” to find their facebook page for more info. The food is amazing!

      • WHAT?! this is huge news for me. I used to live near little haiti in Miami and have been sorely missing the food. Thanks!!!

  • Authentic and inexpensive Vietnamese food

  • Indian. Good indian in the district. Rasika is amazing but I mean traditional indian.

  • Wawa is coming to DC! Should be up and running by Fall.

  • My kingdom for a Wahoos Fish Tacos franchise!

  • Garbage plates
    Greasy spoon that sells ‘hots’ (italian sausages, kelbasa, hamburgers, etc.)
    CHEAP ice cream/frozen custard

    aka Upstate NY cheap eats

    • saf

      Nobody except college kids needs Nick Tahou’s. Although…..
      White hots. Don’t forget the white hots – with MEAT SAUCE!

    • YES to Upstate NY cheap eats. And tomato pie. I LOVE me some tomato pie.

  • (1) Biscuits.
    (2) Barbecue (i.e., pulled pork).
    (3) COOK OUT!

  • Breakfast tacos and actual good Tex-Mex. No, breakfast burritos are not the same, and Republic Taco is fine, but a little too on the Austin-side of the breakfast taco war, if you know what I mean. 😉

    And then some good south Indian food that’s not all the way out in Vienna would be awesome too.

  • Can’t believe no one has said Persian cuisine yet! And I don’t mean Moby Dick cheapo kabob either. Like actual decent sit-down Persian with ghormeh sabzi, fesenjan, etc. Also, decent/affordable Jersey-style diners.

    • Yekta in Rockville is an authentic Persian restaurant. They have the dishes you mentioned and many more. It is adjacent to a market they own.

    • Moby Dick has the khoresht you’re looking for as rotating daily specials rather than regular menu items.

  • I could go for a hole in the wall puerto rican or cuban restaurant, like sophie’s (man I miss that place.) Also some midlevel italian food and decent pizza- where i can get a good plate of pasta and a cannoli for under 15

  • We need a Kabab truck. Or a Halal Truck. Has anyone seen any of those? 🙂

  • I agree with so many of these (and now I’m hungry) but I can’t believe no one said Orange Julius!

  • Simple, cheap steak & hoagie shop. One where $8 can get you a huge sandwich with all the toppings that you can barely finish in one sitting. I like Bub & Pop’s, but it’s almost $20 for what I can get at Frank’s (corner shop of choice near Philadelphia) for less than half that.

    • I keep saying this, but the Italian Store. A large sub is $9. Best around. Get the hard roll.

      • I don’t think they have cheesesteaks, though, right? I’m weird about cold cuts (even nice stuff) so I tend to prefer hot sandwiches.
        That said, I don’t go to the Italian Store enough. Or Litteri’s, I think I just have to break my habit of going somewhere “convenient” and get out of my bubble.

    • Do you have any idea of the cost of the ingredients, labor and rent for your ideal “Simple, cheap steak & hoagie shop. One where $8 can get you a huge sandwich with all the toppings that you can barely finish in one sitting.”
      Rough estimate, (from many years in the business) is $6.00 per hoagie.

  • Pretense, obviously.

  • REAL Korean food! Chicken wings, rice bowls, and fusion tacos are NOT real korean food btw

  • A great vegetarian restaurant! There are some good fast-casual options like Chaia, Shouk and Beefsteak, but why can’t we have a veg restaurant, like every other city on the planet seems to have?

  • More acai bowl places. Fruitive is so good!

  • “Meat and three” – a place that serves homey food that no one is likely to cook at home these days – fried chicken, meatloaf, pot roast, ham, roast beef, fish – plus choice of two or three side vegetables. $15-17.00. We have plenty of every ethnic option. Anybody can make a perfect lamb chop with artisan salad and baby potatoes in five minutes these days, but no one is likely to make a meatloaf.

  • Cicis pizza. Not joking.

  • Pizza by the slice, at the counter with garlic knots! Black and white cookies. Bagels and lox.

  • How about Arabian food? I’d be down for a place in DC to get Kabsa, so I don’t have to drive out to House of Mandi in Arlington.

  • Hyderabadi Indian cuisine. We are seriously missing out.

  • We need Indian Chinese food (Indianized Chinese food), a popular style throughout India; New York has a bunch of such places as well. Also, Tibetan food.

  • Authentic and reasonably priced Cajun food.

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