Where to eat in Penn Quarter and Chinatown D.C. - Poplar Travels
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Apr 09 2016

Where to eat in Penn Quarter and Chinatown D.C.

It seems every week there is at least one new restaurant in D.C. Some last longer than others, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds of amazing spots to choose from. The Chinatown/Metro Center area is full of examples. If you’re attending an event at the Verizon Center, visiting one of the museums in the area or just looking for a great neighborhood for meals, don’t skip this location.


One of my favorite things to do when I visit The District (and when I visit anywhere) is eat. My most recent trip to Chinatown was preceded by hours of narrowing down the best cuisine. Over four days, I managed to knock out a few favorites and try some new spots as well. Here’s a culinary guide to Chinatown for your dining pleasure. 



Jose Andres doesn’t disappoint with this tapas restaurant. Authentic jamon iberico, paella, croquetas, and more pack this menu with tempting options. Go with a group for a chance to try more dishes.

480 7th St NW

Don’t miss: Jamon Iberico, Flank Steak


Zaytinya DC


Zaytinya offers Mediterranean small plates (also by Jose Andres) in a modern, sleek setting. Although “small” you’ll only need a few to fill up. This might be the only restaurant where brussel sprouts are the best seller.

701 9th St NW

Don’t miss: Brussel Sprouts! (Seriously.)



This little Japanese style ramen spot has been written up in everything from GQ to The Washington Post. Casual and delicious and worth the wait if there’s a line at the door, Daikaya has flavorful ramen you won’t forget any time soon.

705 6th St NW

Don’t miss: Shio Ramen



Who doesn’t love an amazing pizza and Prosecco on tap? Located next door to Daikaya, this small, two-story restaurant offers intimate seating with a small bar on the first floor. Staff are always cheery and happy to discuss the menu, which offer plenty of options if you’re not in the mood for pizza.

707 6th St NW

Don’t miss: White House pizza, Stuffed Flatbread


momofuku DC

momofuku DC

Momofuku CCDC

Chef David Chang opened his first DC location in Chinatown’s new City Center. Casual dining and sharable ramen dishes are set in an industrial atmosphere with wall art and modern stools and booth seating.

1090 I St NW

Don’t miss: Brisket Buns


Rosa Mexicano

Rosa Mexicano is a great happy hour option with flavorful margs and tasty tacos, and their delicious guacamole is prepared tableside to taste. Order a pitcher of margarita on the rocks and take in the lively atmosphere with friends at the bar.

575 7th St NW

Don’t miss: Guac, Tinga de Res Tacos



Tucked behind the Hotel Monaco in what used to be D.C.’s General Post Office, this modern French restaurant has a stunning dining room and an even lovelier open air patio. This is a popular spot for after-work happy hours, but great for dinner as well. Sit outside if the weather is nice.

555 8th St NW

Don’t miss: Truffle Fries


Dangerously Delicious Pies

Ready for dessert? Dangerously Delicious Pies are made from scratch and by hand. Their flavors rotate so you can stop by often to try more flavors. You can even catch their food truck around town if you’re not by the storefront.

675 I St NW

Don’t miss: Baltimore Bomb


Co Co. Sala

A great spot for a quiet cocktail and dessert or a cocktail as dessert. Ideal for a date – Co Co. Sala offers intricate desserts and crafted cocktails. The dimly lit dining room and bar are richly romantic. If you go for dinner, save room for the sweet stuff.

929 F St NW

Don’t miss: Co Cojito, Lamb Meatballs


Do you have a favorite restaurant in Chinatown? Let us know, we love trying new places!

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Evanne Allen

Evanne co-founded Poplar Travels after quitting her job in Washington, D.C. She got itchy feet at a young age and has never lost the urge to explore the planet. A previous museum employee, she is apt to drag travel partners into several cultural institutions anywhere she goes. She wishes she could speak every language and loves meeting new people.

  • It is sad to say that at 65 years old and having visited nearly all 50 states I have never been to our nations capitol. Your article makes me want to go if for nothing more than to eat. Some of your spots make me think of so many places we have already visited. We loved the Tapas in Barcelona, Graffiato for Italy and Rosa Mexicano for our home state of Texas. Nothing like good Tex Mex even in Washington D.C. I know from your information that you visited Chiang Mai for Songkran. I am so sorry we did not meet on the street somewhere.

    April 26, 2016 at 9:10 am
  • Jen Morrow

    Yum, these all look delicious! With the way restaurants change in the District, you may have to update this list annually. Let me know if you want any help with that, your photos are mouth-watering!

    April 26, 2016 at 12:23 pm
  • Evanne this is a delicious post! Adding “don’t miss” dishes is actually a really cool way to pose a suggestion on what to order. I know sometimes it’s hard to make a choice as to which restaurant to go and then once you’re there, what to order. I think it’s really helpful for readers! How did you find the Momofuku restaurant? Would love to eat there and I am on the look out for the book to practice recipes at home!

    April 26, 2016 at 5:25 pm
  • Your photos are beautiful, and this is a great list. This is definitely an item I would want to bookmark and have with me if I were traveling to DC. Including the address and website makes it an easy guide. Very helpful for anyone who does not know the area or is visiting as a first timer.

    April 27, 2016 at 4:47 am
  • OMG! It looks delicious! I would totally love to try the Chinese bun with the meat inside! Awesome!

    April 27, 2016 at 9:40 am
  • I love the way you didn’t just list the places… instead you treat our eyes with this goodness and give us some impressions on what to order! What a great idea, I love it!
    I am always that type of person that, if I sit infant of a menu I like to know how the food looks like – thanks for the great post.

    April 28, 2016 at 1:21 am
  • These all sound good to me, I’ll have to keep this in mind for next time I’m in DC! I’ve been a few times, but we never ate at any particularly noteworthy restaurants!

    April 28, 2016 at 4:16 am
  • Omg! I still haven’t travelled to USA, even though it’s a huge dream! We’re planning a long vacation there very soon, and of course, your pictures and tips are helpful in making a decision about which areas we will visit 🙂 Lovely post and lovely blog! Will follow!
    Keep in touch! 🙂

    April 28, 2016 at 12:26 pm
  • Oh, gosh, I wouldn’t know which to go to first! They all sound absolutely delicious. I’ve only visited DC once on a business trip, and there wasn’t much restaurant exploring that I got to do. Would love to try out more places next time. Those chilli dogs at the baseball game though… those I still dream about for some reason 😀

    April 29, 2016 at 3:28 am
  • Take me to CoCo Sala 🙂 I’m obsessed with cute desserts and cocktails! And Graffiata before that. This post makes me super hungry for good food!

    April 29, 2016 at 6:32 am
  • Sarah @ Expat of the World

    I shouldn’t have viewed this post before eating lunch ha- now I’m STARVING!!! Useful article thanks for sharing the restaurants addresses. 🙂

    April 29, 2016 at 7:45 am
  • page saved! I guess I won’t be able to visit this place in the nearest future but when I finally get there, I will definitely check these goodies out!

    April 30, 2016 at 4:18 am
  • This post could not have come at a better time. I’m moving to DC for 8 weeks next week and will be near the Penn Quarter! I love Spanish food so will be visiting Jaleo for sure and I had no idea there was a Momofuku in DC! Any Adams Morgan recommendations?

    April 30, 2016 at 9:06 am
  • Yum yum and more yum! I will have to check out these places when we are back in the United States this summer! Thank you so much for the recommendations!

    April 30, 2016 at 9:20 am
  • Looks so yummie!! Really good and valuable tips. Thanks so much for these great recommendations! When I will come the the US I will check out some of them 🙂

    April 30, 2016 at 3:02 pm
  • Oh these are excellent suggestions! haha love Graffiato then, pizza and Proseco on tap, yes please. Good suggestion of places to please most taste buds I would say.
    xx, Kusum |

    April 30, 2016 at 10:54 pm
  • This was a great post, and perfect timing for it too as I am planning to travel to DC this summer! I’m so excited because I never knew how many great restaurants that there are, thanks so much for sharing your opinions!

    May 1, 2016 at 8:41 pm
  • Now that’s a yummy post! Great job with the pics Evanne! Makes me want to gorge on them right now!! Bookmarked for my nest trip to USA 🙂

    May 2, 2016 at 4:59 am
  • Yummilicious!

    June 22, 2016 at 7:07 pm

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