Photo courtesy of Martha Dear

GuidesWashington D.C.

The D.C. Area Restaurants Where We Want To Be Regulars


Tourists may come and go, but it’s the regulars who form the beating heart of D.C.’s restaurants. To be a regular is to be a local celebrity (ok, in a modest way) and a welcomed one at that. The best establishments know their regulars by name, their go-to orders, their favorite tables, their quirks and habits. (Some places will even shout out regulars from the social media rooftops.) And when a regular stops by, it’s a familiar face in a sea of strangers and a nice jolt of kindness in the middle of jam-packed service.

Similarly, regulars want their favorite businesses to thrive. They’ll know every inch of the menu, drop by for special events and new dishes, tip well, and at the end of the day, ask the staff how they’re doing. It’s a sincere relationship in an otherwise transactional world and regulars will do everything they can to ensure their favorite businesses stick around.

So being a regular sounds cool and all. But where to start? If you’re just starting to explore the District’s food scene, scope out restaurants, bars, and cafes in the neighborhods you frequent and introduce yourself. They might be brand new; they might have been there for decades. They might even be pop-ups.

In the spirit of sharing a few special places, we’ve rounded up 22 gems (expect even more in future updates) across the nation’s capital where you’ll want to return again and again. By no means does this list encompass them all, but we can assure you they’re spots where you can — and will want to — become a regular.