Washington has long benefited from a constant infusion of different cultures, making it a stellar culinary host for visitors and transplants from around the world, but recent years have made the fifth or sixth banana of American haute cuisine into a foodie town in the making. You can find almost any cuisine here, from Burmese to Ethiopian, despite D.C.'s lack of true ethnic neighborhoods. But now you can also sample cooking from some of the country's hottest new chefs and sip craft cocktails that could be mistaken for Manhattan's. Just follow your nose.
Although most neighborhoods lack a unified culinary flavour, make no mistake: D.C. is a city of distinctive areas, each with its own style. Adams Morgan, for example, is known for comfort and value at family-run eateries. You'll find Japanese noodle shops next to Italian trattorias and French bistros. These small ethnic spots open and close frequently; it's worth taking a stroll down the street to see what's new. The Chinatown area lacks the authenticity of New York's or San Francisco's, but the stunning decor and museum-quality presentation at its Latin American and Middle Eastern kitchens more than bridges the gap.
Downtown, you'll find many of the city's blue-chip law firms and deluxe, expense-account restaurants, as well as stylish lounges, microbrew pubs, and upscale eateries that have sprung up to serve the crowds that attend games at the Verizon Centre.
Wherever you venture forth in the city, there are a few trends worth noting: Spanish tapas eateries and other restaurants serving small tasting portions are bigger than ever. You'll find this style of eating pervasive, whether you're at a Greek, Asian, or American restaurant. High-end restaurants in town also have begun to add bar menus with smaller plates that are much less expensive than their entrées, but created with the same finesse.
Though Italian, French, and fusion spots continue to open at a ferocious pace, Washingtonians are always hungry to try something new, whether it's Chinese smoked lobster, fiery Indian curry, or crunchily addictive Vietnamese spring rolls.