City Cast

DC’s Best Underrated Restaurants

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on November 15
Kimchi-jjigae at Lighthouse Tofu Cafe in Annandale.

Kimchi-jjigae at Lighthouse Tofu Café in Annandale. (Kaela Cote-Stemmermann/City Cast DC)

City Cast

D.C.’s Most Underrated Restaurants


There have been a lot of buzzy new restaurant openings in D.C., but don’t forget about the durable staples that fly under the radar. They might not be all over your Instagram feed, but they punch above their weight in terms of flavor. Washingtonian food critic Ann Limpert helped us brainstorm some favorites:

Convivial (Shaw):

This classic French restaurant was impossible to get a table at a few years ago and is still just as good. Serving up classics like beef bourguignon and trout amandine for reasonable prices.

Vace (Cleveland Park):

The most criminally underrated restaurant in D.C. and one of the few places you can get an excellent pie for $15. Ann says, “Vace is one place that, if it closed, would feel like a death.”

Rakuya (Dupont):

This Japanese eatery isn’t trying to do anything too fancy, but Ann claims it has “one of the best happy hours in town. Their lunchtime bento is excellent, and their sushi is really creative.”

Maketto (H Street):

Cambodian and Taiwanese cooking is paired with craft cocktails and a retail space downstairs. Maketto had lots of hype when it opened but remains a staple on H Street for a reason.

Deep dish pizza at Red Light on 14th Street

Deep dish pizza at Red Light on 14th Street. (redlightbardc/Instagram)

Red Light (14th Street):

More than just a bar, Red Light has the best Detroit-style pizza in town. Their pastry chef spent years working to perfect the dough and it shows.

Vegz (Adam’s Morgan):

This casual vegetarian Indian joint is as neighborhood-y as it gets and doesn't get the hype it deserves. Giant dosas, fried lentil donuts, and crispy chaat all served on paper plates in an AdMo English basement, delicious.

Lighthouse Tofu Café (Annandale, VA):

I make my way to Annandale at least once a month for the kimchi jjigae at this under-the-radar Korean spot. It's in my top five DMV restaurants despite never appearing on any Michelin or Eater list.

Frankly … Pizza (Kensington, MD):

This tiny pizza shop doesn't take reservations and makes everything from scratch, including their own bacon. Ann recommends the Hot Mess with jalapeños, house-cured bacon, and caramelized onions.

🎧 Listen to all our underrated restaurant suggestions on City Cast DC.

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