by Lauren Sloat - 260 Reviews - 86 List
U Street restaurants have long existed as an epicenter for Southern cooking and great music. And the U Street Corridor, which spans from Ninth to 18th streets, continues today with a strong-as-ever restaurant scene. You'll still find Southern classics--think shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles and mac and cheese--as well as great Mexican, Thai and Italian fare, too. Whether you're looking for a lazy weekend brunch restaurant or dinner with a view, you'll find it on our list of the best U Street restaurants.
Updated: July 21, 2010
Named after famous Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi, this tiny Italian spot--bedecked in Coppi photos and jerseys--serves top-notch, all-organic fare using seasonal ingredients. The pizzas are as fresh and hand-made as they come, and the seasonal entrees are top-notch, too. For dessert, don't miss the Nutella calzone--it's made with pizza dough.
This is a modern, casual spot for Thai food and cocktails. Noodle dishes come from the wok and appear in salad, soup or curry; it's a good spot for a cheap meal and quick drink. After you eat, check out the adjoined accessories shop, Stem, where all the goods are by a Thai designer.
This Mexican joint (part of a local chain) is a popular restaurant for a bite and people-watching; the large outdoor patio is a draw, and it doesn't get as crowded as some of D.C.'s more notorious Mexican restaurants--though the blended margaritas are just as good.
Check out this bookstore, restaurant and performance space for its delicious, all-American comfort food and a lounge-y vibe unique to U Street. There are traditional dining tables, but why not try one of the low couches or chairs for something a bit more intimate?
This bistro and bar is a favorite among neighborhood locals who know that chef James Claudio does Southern food right. Beyond chicken and waffles and barbecued ribs, though, you'll find moules frites and other Belgian staples to complement the establishment's impressive beer selection.
The most iconic restaurant on U Street, if not in the entire city, Ben's is famous for its chili half-smoke covered in onions, mustard, cheese and chili sauce. The casual diner has a greasy-spoon feel with an air of history; local and international celebrities--including Obama himself--have made it a favorite stop over the years.
This upscale cousin of Ben's Chili Bowl--opened by the same family next door to the historic spot--specializes in Southern fare such as shrimp and grits as well as signature cocktails such as the Chocolate City Kiss martini. Try it for weekend brunch or daily lunch, when you can also get food from the Chili Bowl.
More than just a wine bar, Vinoteca has bistro fare that makes it worth a visit, too. You'll find cheese and charcuterie, happy hour specials and dinner items such as fish, house-made butifarra and hand-made tortelloni. Sunday brunch, with everything from pancakes to grilled cheese, is an especially popular time to go.
Tabaq bistro boasts one of the best rooftop settings in the city. While the view alone is worth the trip, you'll be coming back for the food--Mediterranean small dishes such as beef kofta, chicken kebab and dolma. A great cocktail selection makes it easy to stay and linger after dinner, too.
At this cafe and lounge you'll find Southern staples such as crabmeat hushpuppies, shrimp and grits and sirloin steak from chef Orlando Hitzig, a Maryland native. Neighborhood regulars swear by Creme's weekend brunch, where you'll find "Obama's Loco Moco" (a dish in the style of his native Hawaii) as well as the establishment's famous chicken and waffles.
This all-American bistro will take you from brunch to late-night dining. Start the weekend with $5 mimosas and chocolate chip pancakes or a peanut butter, banana, bacon and honey sandwich; then return for lunch, dinner, happy hour and even a 1am meal. The pizzas from the wood-fired oven are the real star here; make your own, or go for one of the well-selected combinations.