The Classics: 9 of the Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a town that loves paying homage to icons. Everywhere you look, there are museums, monuments, and statues. Similarly, the capital’s restaurant scene has plenty of plated icons – the dishes that wow diners over and over again. Don’t leave This Town without trying these classic creations.  

Maine Lobster French Toast at Kinship
A comforting breakfast meets a decadent Pine Tree State beach cookout. A square of golden French toast is bedecked with lobster galore, diced cucumber and Asian pear, and an alluring sesame mousse. It’s no surprise it can be found in the Indulgence section of the menu. Make a reservation at Kinship.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Steak Tartare at Hazel
The diced beef, enhanced with umami-rich koji sauce, arrives with caramelized onion dip, a cheery yellow dollop of pasteurized egg yolk, and a pile of well-salted, disc-shaped tater tots. Smash and mash all the components together. The flavor recalls steak ‘n’ eggs meets chips ‘n’ dip, creating something new that’s awesome ‘n’ delightful. Make a reservation at Hazel.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Michel’s Fried Chicken at Central Michel Richard
KFC’s finger-lickin’ good poultry inspired this clucking awesome entrée. A mixture of chicken shavings and breadcrumbs creates an extra crispy and extra crunchy exterior, though it’s juicy as heck inside. You’ll need an extra napkin if you take a hands-on approach, but it’s worth the momentary mess. Make a reservation at Central Michel Richard.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Skillet Cornbread at Founding Farmers
This top seller has been on the menu since opening day. Baked in a cast-iron skillet, the kernel-pocked round arrives warm from the oven. Cut a wedge, slather on sea salted butter, and add a little honey for a true taste of Southern comfort. Make a reservation at Founding Farmers.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Walter’s Favorite at Old Ebbitt Grill
A standout on the menu for over four decades, it is inspired by a ‘wich at Loeb’s NY Deli, a D.C. icon itself. The Reuben-esque stunner is packed with a mound of hot pastrami, melted Muenster, crunchy coleslaw, and Thousand Island dressing. Triangles of pumpernickel provide handholds. Make a reservation at Old Ebbitt Grill.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Crispy Brussels Afelia at Zaytinya
Don’t be fooled: this isn’t just another Brussels sprouts side dish. These crunchy orbs with featherweight frizzled fronds are enlivened with coriander seed, barberries, and a hit of garlic yogurt. Bet you can’t eat just one. Make a reservation at Zaytinya.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Palak Chaat at Rasika
A tumble of crispity crunchity deep-fried spinach blessed with plenty of turmeric and chili powder practically melts on the tongue. Tamarind chutney brings a pop of sweetness, while chopped onions and tomatoes add the fresh factor. Ethereally light, and yet intensely flavorful. Make a reservation at Rasika.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Spicy Tuna Tartare Cones at The Source
These are the perfect opening salvo. Three mini sesame-miso cones come filled with sushi grade tuna tartare with an emphatic kick from sriracha and wasabi. To top them off, there’s a scattering of flying fish roe, pickled ginger, and bonito flakes. Make a reservation at The Source.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

Cappelletti at Osteria Morini
These “little caps” hold heady truffled ricotta. They’re lavished with plenty of melted butter and bits of salty, swiney prosciutto. Make a reservation at Osteria Morini.

The Most Iconic Dishes in Washington, D.C.

What are your picks for the most iconic dishes in Washington, D.C.? Let us know what we may have missed in the comments or over on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.

Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.

Photo credits: Jennifer Chase Photography (Kinship); Nevin Martell (Rasika); Greg Powers (Zaytinya); Nick Solares (Osteria Morini); Joy Asico (Central Michel Richard).