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Off the Beaten Path: 10 Hidden Restaurants in Washington DC Area Worth Exploring

I spent 5 years in DC and it's one of my favorite cities to explore!



Oh my dear foodie friends, let me tell you why dining in the Washington DC area is so special. I had the pleasure of living here twice- once when I was on Active Duty in the Air Force and again when my husband was on Active Duty in the Army. My aunts and friends live here, it's still home. The city is literally a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, making it a truly unique culinary destination. From classic French bistros to Middle Eastern-inspired restaurants, DC has something to offer for every palate.


But it's not just the diverse range of cuisines that makes dining in DC so special. The city is home to some of the most talented chefs and restaurateurs in the country, who are dedicated to using the freshest and most sustainable ingredients in their dishes. They take pride in their craft and it shows in every plate they create.


And let's not forget about the atmosphere. Whether you're dining in a chic, upscale restaurant overlooking the Potomac River or enjoying a casual meal at a neighborhood bistro, DC has a dining experience for every occasion.


But what really sets dining in DC apart is the sense of community. Restaurants there are more than just places to eat; they are gathering places where people come together to share a meal, celebrate a special occasion, or simply enjoy each other's company. The dining scene in DC is a reflection of the city's diverse and inclusive spirit, and it's what makes dining here such a special and unforgettable experience.


So here we go I have compiled a list of the top 10 hidden restaurants in the DC area that will leave you absolutely speechless.


1. Afghan Bistro: Afghan Bistro is hidden gem located in Springfield, Virginia. This family-owned restaurant offers a truly authentic Afghan dining experience that will transport you to the heart of Kabul. When we lived in DC we went here regularly and recently we went back so Eissa could experience it for the first time and you

can clearly see that he felt right at home. From the moment you step inside, you are greeted with warm hospitality and a welcoming atmosphere. The decor is simple yet elegant, with Afghan artwork adorning the walls and traditional Afghan music playing softly in the background. And let's not forget about the naan bread, which is baked fresh to order and served piping hot. The naan is soft and fluffy with a slight char, making it the perfect accompaniment to any dish.


2. Fiola Mare: This upscale seafood restaurant overlooking the Potomac River will transport you to the coast of Italy with its exquisite Mediterranean-inspired menu. The linguine with clams is a must-try.


3. Hanks Oyster Bar: if you're looking for a truly unforgettable seafood dining experience in Alexandria, Virginia, look no further than Hank's Oyster Bar. This neighborhood favorite has been serving up fresh and delicious seafood since 2005, and it's no wonder why it's considered one of the best restaurants in the area.


First and foremost, the seafood at Hank's is absolutely exceptional. From the oysters on the half shell to the grilled fish, each dish is made with the freshest ingredients and prepared with care by the talented chefs. The menu is extensive and features a variety of seafood options, including crab cakes, lobster rolls, and shrimp and grits.


But Hank's is more than just great seafood; the atmosphere is warm and inviting, with a cozy, neighborhood feel that makes you feel right at home. The decor is nautical-inspired, with wood paneling and whimsical artwork adorning the walls.


In addition to the exceptional food and atmosphere, Hank's also offers top-notch service. The staff is friendly and attentive, making sure that each guest feels welcome and taken care of.


Whether you're in the mood for a casual brunch with friends or a romantic dinner with your special someone, Hank's Oyster Bar is the perfect choice. So come on down to Alexandria and experience the magic of Hank's for yourself. Your taste buds (and your heart) will thank you!


4. Jessie's Taylor Seafood: Let me tell you why dining in the Washington DC area is so special. This city is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, making it a truly unique culinary destination. From classic French bistros to Middle Eastern-inspired restaurants, DC has something to offer for every palate. They have been offering seafood platters at the Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf since 1939! The family owned business owned by the Evans family from Smith Island, MD, is named after the family's first fishing boat, The Jessie Taylor, that delivered fresh catch to The Municipal Fish Mark.


Today, Jessie Taylor Seafood is beloved by locals and visitors alike due to their excellent service, their frequent live crab specials, and for offering the region's largest selection of seafood.


Jessie Taylor Seafood has a selection of prepared foods onsite—including shrimp, soft shell crab sandwich (My FAV), hushpuppies (MUST ORDER) and chowder—and they can also cook and season your fresh crabs after you purchase them. Totally up to you!


5. Tail Up Goat: This Michelin-starred restaurant in Adams Morgan has made a name for itself with its creative, farm-to-table cuisine. The goat lasagna is a must-try dish.


6. Maydan: This Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant located in the bustling U Street Corridor is a feast for the senses. The lamb shoulder and bread baked in a traditional tandoor oven are not to be missed.


7. Rose's Luxury: This Capitol Hill gem offers an ever-changing menu of innovative, seasonal dishes. The pork sausage and habanero lychee salad are standouts.


8. Little Serow: This unassuming restaurant in Dupont Circle serves up some of the best Thai food in the city. Their family-style menu changes weekly, but the spicy pork ribs are always a crowd-pleaser. It's intimate & dark, has a cavelike experience serves an innovative set menu of Northern-Thailand specialties.


9. Pineapple and Pearls: Dining near the Capitol Hill is always a great idea. You just might

get a job offer while enjoying a spot offers a luxurious, multi-course tasting menu that is truly unforgettable. The wine pairings are superb! Pictured here


10. The Dabney: Ingredients from local farmers- YES! This Shaw restaurant is all about wood-fired cooking and locally-sourced ingredients. The venison loin and roasted carrots are a must-try.


Wether you're traveling to Washington DC area for pleasure or business don't forget to experience the magic of dining in this vibrant and exciting city. Your taste buds will thank you!


There you have it, my foodie friends! The top 10 hidden restaurants in the DC area that are worth exploring. Whether you're in the mood for classic French dishes, Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine, or simply the freshest seafood around, these restaurants have got you covered.


Bon appétit!


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