Alright Nomsters, to conclude our “best of” series, we’re sharing our top 10 favorite dishes from DC. The district doesn’t seem to have the best reputation when it comes to food, but we’re not sure why. We have some of the best restaurants in the country, and our goal is to put the area on everyone’s radar. Planning a trip to the district? These are 10 must try dishes in no particular order.
1. Astro’s Crème Brûlée Doughnut
Whether you like sweets or not, this doughnut will straight up change your life. It’s honestly one of the best doughnuts we’ve ever tasted, and we can pretty much guarantee it’ll be love at first bite. They make everything from scratch daily, and you want to get there sooner rather than later because they WILL sell out. They have several flavors available – and that includes seasonal options – but the following four are “standards”: vanilla glazed, maple bacon, PB&J, and of course, their crème brûlée.
We’ve never had a bad doughnut there, but the crème brûlée’s next level. It has a crispy exterior, but the inside’s nice and fluffy. The cream filling’s also just the right amount of sweet. Talk about a dessert that’s worth each and every calorie!
Click to read more about Astro Doughnuts here.
2. Rose’s Luxury’s Lychee Salad
It’s tough to just pick one dish from Rose’s, but their lychee salad is unlike any other. It doesn’t sound particularly special, but trust us when we say the flavors will blow you away. It contains pork sausage, habanero and peanuts, and you want to mix all that goodness together before digging in.
Other notable must-tries include their crispy cauliflower (made with golden raisins, white truffle, and greek yogurt), their salt & pepper catfish (accompanied by caviar tartar sauce, pickled melon rind and hush puppies, and their cacio e pepe pasta. We highly recommend splurging on their tasting menu when you go. It’s 85pp, and you get 8-9 dishes that will leave you completely and utterly satisfied.
3. ChiKo’s Dumplings
Like Rose’s, it’s near impossible to just pick one dish at ChiKo, but if we had to it’d probably be their dumplings. Their garlic shrimp and their pork & kimchi mandu are easily some of the best we’ve ever had, and that means a lot coming from us because we grew up eating asian food – I’m Korean, and Robby’s half Japanese.
Each morsel tastes like love, and you won’t be able to resist letting out a loud and semi-sexual “mmmmmm” after having a taste. On top of killer dumplings, their spring rolls, clams, cumin lamb noodles and orangeish chicken are also must-tries. We recommend booking a reservation for their chef’s counter. They have seatings each night at 6 and 8:30, and it’s only $55pp. It’s, hands down, one of the best values in DC, and they give you so much good food. You’re welcome in advance.
Click to read more about ChiKo here.
4. Vace Italian Delicatessen’s Pizza
Praise all the gods for Vace. This unassuming hole-in-the-wall is a total gem. Located in Cleveland Park, they have some of the best pizza in the district…but their subs are incredible, too so get both while you’re there. They’ve been around for 40+ years, and it’s because their food is affordable and oh so delectable.
They don’t have any tables and their customer service isn’t always 100%, but you’re not going for the ambiance, you’re going for the killer noms. So, call ahead to get a thin, crispy pie to go. We recommend their pepperoni, and Marcelle Afram, the executive chef at Maydan, says the white pizza with onion is the move so get both. PS. this deli also sells frozen foods, deli meats, fresh pastas, and more so expect to leave with a slew of nomtastic goodies that will keep your tummy happy.
Click to read more about Vace here.
5. DCity Smokehouse Wings
You haven’t had good wings until you’ve tried DCity. Now, there are amazing wings, and there are ah-maaaaa-zing wings. We don’t know what they put in their rub, but we can only assume the blend’s magical because it’s everything good in life and then some. Don’t believe us? Give ’em a try…then come back and tell us the hype is real.
6. Pow Pow’s Firecracker Fingers
There’s a reason we chose to feature them on $5 Lunch. In case you didn’t know, I (Kim) was the host of this Thrillist youtube series – click here to see their episode if you missed it. We’re not big into vegan food, but Pow Pow seriously appeals to anyone and everyone. You can be the biggest carnivore in the world and still enjoy a delicious meal there.
They’re known for their gorgeous rice bowls, but our personal favorite? Their firecracker fingers. If you like spice, this dish will blow your tastebuds away. You really gotta be good with heat though because Chef Margaux and Sharkey aren’t messing around with this.
Real talk, these are some of the best chicken fingers you’ll ever have the pleasure of devouring, like you wouldn’t even know that they were vegan. The texture looks and tastes just like chicken, and we still have a hard time wrapping our minds around their sorcery, but why question something so good? You’ll see why we think it’s so crazy when you go. While you’re there, make sure to get an order of their trolley fries and their “mozzarella” balls. Happy eating!
Click to read more about Pow Pow here.
7. Kith/Kin’s Chocolate Chip Thick’Em
It’s no secret that we’ve loved pastry chef Paola Velez since her Iron Gate days, and although difficult to imagine, her desserts have only gotten better since then. She’s now at the Kith/Kin, and although the food there is delicious, we think her sweets take the cake. Ha, you see what we did there?
We’ve had the pleasure of trying her rum cake, her lemon puff puffs, and her chocolate chip cookies, and you honestly can’t go wrong with any of those, but we listed the thick’em because it’s the Kevin Durant of cookies. You know, the cookie that kicks the shit out of all the other cookies because it’s just that good. It contains tainori dark chocolate, jivara milk chocolate and butterscotch, and it’s bigger than a small child’s head so you can definitely share…but why would you want to do that? Life’s short, eat it all.
8. Teaism’s French Toast
Damn, this french toast is going to be on our list forever and ever and ever. They’re obviously known for their tea – TEAism, duh – but you’ll be back for their food once you give it a go. Their french toast is available Monday through Friday from 7:30-11:30 and 9:30-2:3o on weekends, and we guarantee you’ll hype this dish like a teenage girl on prom night after you try it. It comes with stewed apples, raisins and a side of syrup, but it’s so tasty, you won’t even need the add ons.
Click to read more about Teaism here.
9. Hanumanh’s Sakoo Yadsai
If you’re unfamiliar with Chef Seng, get familiar because her cooking is love on a plate. She has four restaurants in the DMV area, and two of them – Thip Khao and Hanumanh – are Michelin Bib Gourmands, which comes as no surprise because her food is the bomb.com.
Now, if you’re unsure what sakoo yadsai is, no worries, we gotchu. They’re tapioca dumplings that are filled with ground pork, peanuts, salted radish and magic. Expect a texture explosion, and this chewy, flavorful, crunchy goodness will leave you wanting more. Once you pop the fun don’t stop? Something like that. They’re weirdly addicting so you’re gonna want to get more than one order. Note: their food’s supposed to be enjoyed family style so go with a big group and get all the things to share.
10. Duke’s Grocery Burger
Everyone asks us about the best burger in DC, and our answer’s always Duke’s. The proper burger’s a dream come true. It’s creekstone farms angus beef topped with melted gouda, pickles, charred red onion, sweet chili sauce, and garlic aioli on a buttery brioche bun. Definitely nontraditional but definitely delicious. Note: the original location in Dupont does NOT serve fries so if you can’t do without, head to their Foggy Bottom or Woodley Park locations. Their truffle mac n’ cheese is also to die for so go all out and indulge while you’re there.
Anddd that’s a wrap for today, Nomsters! We hope you enjoyed reading about the best of DC. If you missed our other roundups, no worries – simply click for the best of the Bay Area and the best of Maryland.