Everything from aeronautics to the finest art can be found among the Smithsonian’s offerings. It’s no wonder 30 million people visit every year! On your visit you’re going to get hungry. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best restaurants near the Smithsonian. While you’re in DC, you’ll definitely want to read about the best restaurants near the White House and the best restaurants near the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument here!
The Top 10 Places To Eat near the Smithsonian
Teaism Penn Quarter
$ | Tea | Relaxing Atmosphere
There’s nothing like enjoying a nice cup of freshly brewed tea and looking out at the beautiful sights of the nation’s capitol. If that sounds nice to you, then Teaism on 8th street is a great place to stop. Located inside of a cozy café atmosphere that’s always bustling with visitors coming in and out, it’s a lively spot with scattering bamboo tables and naturally lit alcoves to enjoy a cup of boba.
We went here for a light brunch, and the chocolate salty oat cookies were not a disappointment. Next to a steaming cup of jasmine tea, it’s the perfect way to start a day of exploration. They also have great bento box options, which are perfect if you’re in a rush. We recommend the Korean Brisket with gochujang sauce. It’s filling and definitely worth the $15.
Address: 400 8th St NW
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11AM–8PM
Central Michel Richard
$$$ | French | Fine Dining
Serving an eclectic menu that runs the gamut from French to traditional American, Central Michel Richard is one of our favorite restaurants near the Smithsonian. White table cloth and porcelain dishes speak to this establishment’s fidelity to the finer things. And with plenty of seats both inside and out, you’ll be treated to a lively atmosphere wherever you sit.
The hanger steak is one of our favorites on the menu. Aged to a tender perfection, it’s packed with flavor and filling too. Vegetarians should try the Gnocchi & Butternut Squash. It’s buttery, sweet and delicious and the cheese-stuffed gnocchi is some of the best in the city!
Address: 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5–10PM
2 Sisters Deli
$ | Deli | Affordable
Restaurants near the Smithsonian can get a little stuffy, which is why we’re making sure to include this amazing deli on our list. Located behind a modest glass front on C Street, 2 Sisters Deli offers a comfortable seating arrangement that’s perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee and a bagel.
With deli food, it can be hard to edge out the competition. Yet 2 Sisters Deli manages to do so with some of the fluffiest bagels and best tasting meats in the area. If you’re hungry, we recommend one of their special sandwiches. Options like the Brooklyn, which includes roast beef, banana peppers and thousand island dressing, can conquer any craving. The potato egg and cheese breakfast wraps are great too, and pair beautifully with a bag of chips and a soda.
Address: 400 C St SW
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6:30AM–3PM
Rice Bar Capital Gallery
$$ | Korean | Cafeteria
One of the best Korean restaurants near the Smithsonian, Rice Bar (located inside the Capital Gallery) serves up its modern take on Korean street food in a contemporary cafeteria setting. We definitely recommend sitting by the window and watching the people walk by. It’s a great spot for lunch!
Rice Bar advertises as having the best Bibimbap in DC, and they just might be right. We recommend it for anyone who loves this Korean classic, and want to see how care and attention to detail can really up the ante. There are a number of great topping options from eggplant to kale to cucumber, and we’ll leave it up to you to mix and match. We also had the Kalbi korean BBQ beef rib and it was definitely a highlight!
Address: 600 Maryland Ave SW
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 10:30AM–3PM
$$$ | Tavern | Local Favorite
A popular tavern spot that’s a favorite among the professional class of Washington, Bullfeathers keeps things traditional in an open and naturally lit dining room. With décor spanning the entirety of American history, as well as dark oak fireplaces, it’s nostalgic and comfortable. Head here on a Friday night and you’ll certainly feel a sense of local community among the many taverners.
To start with, we recommend getting the roasted tomato basil soup with a side of cornbread. It’s as American as it gets, and is the perfect thing to start your meal off right. For your entrée, You can’t go wrong with a the house sirloin served medium rare, with a side of potatoes and asparagus. We had it, and were absolutely blown away by how tender and succulent this dish was. We absolutely loved the lump crab cakes, which are tiny fried balls of fresh crab. It’s a real guilty pleasure dish, but definitely worth it.
Address: 410 First St SE
Hours: Monday-Friday: 12–10PM
$$ | Light Lunch | Waterfront Views
Those looking for something a bit lighter than what’s on offer from other restaurants near the Smithsonian should definitely check out this place. Chopsmith offers a variety of casual luncheonette options that feature fresh ingredients and meticulous care. Located in an airy, open modern interior that looks out on the Washington Channel, it’s great for lunch or dinner.
Salad-lovers are sure to smile when they look at the menu here, where creative options abound. Choices like the Sticky Chicken & Cashew salad are piled high with bell peppers, radish, grilled broccoli, pineapple, and ginger miso dressing. It’s a ton of food for only $14, and we recommend! Also worth trying is the tropical chicken, which matches a tangy chili-spiced chicken with zesty pineapple slaw. So good!
Address: 11 District Square SW
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 8:30AM–8:30PM
$$$ | American | Creative
Taking American cuisine to new heights, Station 4 is one of the most creative restaurants near the Smithsonian. The stunning red leather seats, glittering chandeliers and dark oak tables speak to the seriousness and quality that this place brings to its food. Yet the atmosphere is casual enough to make this spot perfect for a family lunch or a romantic dinner for two.
To start, try the Grilled Pear Crostini. It’s a playful blend of flavors involving Brie Cheese, Aged Balsamic, and Honey Truffle Vinaigrette. It’s a great appetizer to share. For a filling meal when you’re in desperate need to refuel, the Kobe burger should be your first choice. They really take the classic cheeseburger to a new level with this one: Gorgonzola and Caramelized onion on a golden brown brioche bun. It’s fantastic!
Address: 1101 4th St SW
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11AM–12AM
$$$ | Spanish | Creative
While there are quite a few Spanish restaurants near the Smithsonian, but Jaleo on 7th street is among the best. The playful, modern interior is splashed with red and yellow décor, pop-art style art and ample counter seating. Like many Spanish places, it’s a great place to bring plenty of friends.
There are tons to try on this menu. The mini Spanish burgers made from the legendary acorn-fed, black-footed ibérico pigs of Spain is a fantastic option to share. You’ll definitely want to grab the Caña de cabra, a modestly sized glob of sweet goat’s milk cheese. It’s really (really) good. However, if you’re up for an adventure, we recommend the Jaleo classics tasting menu. For $55 a person, you’ll gain a deep appreciation for the Iberian roots that make up these excellent dishes.
Address: 480 7th St NW
Hours: Sunday-Monday: 11:30AM–9PM, Friday-Saturday: 11:30AM–10:30PM
$$$ | Southern | Korean Fusion
The jury’s still out as to whether Washington D.C. is “South”, but the food here at Succotash certainly makes a case for it. Combining a Southern American tradition with a blend of Korean influences, Succotash is a little slice of Southern hospitality in the hustle and bustle of DC life. Located inside of an absolutely beautiful dining room, illuminated beneath a stunning glass ceiling and surrounded by delicately carved marble molding.
On offer here are some of the most unique options of any of the restaurants near the Smithsonian. The Nashville-Style Hot Fried Oysters, with their melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and buttery finish, are a great place to start. The Taste of the South tasting menu is definitely the choice for a big group. Served family style it includes skillet cornbread, crispy local catfish, spice-rubbed BBQ ribs, and of course, Mac’n’cheese. That will definitely fill you up, but if you’d like some lighter definitely try the Delta Rice Bowl, which includes Smoked Tofu, Roasted Carrot, Chard, Crispy Eggplant and Veggie Kimchi. It’s a great option for vegetarians.
Address: 915 F St NW
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11:30AM–8:30PM
$ | Deli | Lively Atmosphere
Going by appearances, Atrium Café looks like your regular old deli, and in many ways it is. Yet what it lacks in style or flash, it makes up for with generous portions of great food at cheap prices. Always bustling with people, yet never making you wait, Atrium Café is a great place to wake up early, get some breakfast, and start thinking about your day.
In the opinion of this reviewer, the pastrami sandwich on rye is the litmus test when it comes to delis. Ours was served on two perfectly toasted pieces of rye that were substantive enough to support the massive amount of meat included. The pastrami was tender and tissue-paper thin, and the side slaw is a reminder that great things can come in a modest package. We definitely recommend! The menu is as varied as any deli, but if the quality of our sandwich is any indication then whatever you pick will be a winner. Enjoy!
Address: 750 9th St NW
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6:45AM–3:45PM
That’s our list of the best restaurants near the Smithsonian. Have a great trip!