Washington DC

Restaurants, Cafes, And Bars In Washington, DC, USA


Washington offers a vast range of types of food to the visitor, but like most American cities it has a high concentration of fast-food establishments. Chains like McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's serve the same food worldwide and can be a reliable and popular source of sustenance for a family on the move. The hot dog vendors along the Mall offer an alternative.

Other than fast food, Washington's cuisine is immensely multicultural, and you will find French, Chinese, Ethiopian, and Vietnamese restaurants, among others.


Restaurant prices range from the very cheap to the very expensive in Washington. Prices vary according to location, cuisine, and décor. Most restaurants take major credit cards, although street vendors and fast food places may only accept cash. A 15 percent tip is expected for good service in restaurants; some places even recommend 20 percent.

The tip is seldom automatically added to the bill except in the case of large parties, which may incur an automatic 15 percent gratuity.

Unlike many European cities, the fixed price meal is uncommon in Washington.

Items are usually listed à la carte unless specified in the menu. Diners should expect to spend between $20 and $30 for dinner and a drink, including tip, at a moderate restaurant. However Indian, Ethiopian, Chinese, and Vietnamese restaurants are often considerably less expensive.

It is also worth knowing that you will generally be charged about 25 percent less for the same meal if you eat at lunchtime rather than in the evening, so visitors on a budget may choose to eat their main meal at lunchtime. Breakfasts are usually under $10 for bacon and eggs with coffee and juice, but many hotels include a free continental breakfast (rolls, coffee, and juice) in the cost of the room.


Reservations may be necessary for popular restaurants; the most fashionable can get booked up weeks in advance.

Call ahead if there is somewhere you really want to go. However, walk-in diners are expected in most places. You may be placed on a waiting list and expected to return at the appointed time or wait in the adjacent bar, but you will usually be guaranteed a table within a fairly short time.


It is unusual for a restaurant to be open 24 hours, except for those in very large hotels. Restaurants also rarely serve food continuously throughout the day; they usually have a break of several hours between lunch and dinner. Most restaurants are open all year (except Christmas Day) but a few may be closed on Sunday or Monday. It is best to call in advance. Restaurants often open for dinner between 5pm and 6pm, with the busiest period usually between 7pm and 8pm. The last seating is often at 9pm, and the last customers usually leave by 11pm. Bars are open until 2am.

Remember that Metrorail trains stop running at 2am on Friday and Saturday, and at midnight the rest of the week.