Dig in to the many great places to eat and drink near DC’s convention center.
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is one of the top meetings venues in the nation’s capital. Fortunately for conventioneers, it also happens to be surrounded by one of the city’s fastest growing restaurant scenes. We’ve compiled some of the top dining hot spots in the neighborhood below to make any meeting you have at the convention center that much more appetizing. If you're looking for large group and private dining options as well, we've got you covered.
RASA Mount Vernon
RASA is a fine-fast casual restaurant serving authentic Indian cuisine in a vibrant, welcoming space in Washington, DC. It was created with the mission of making Indian food accessible to all. Enjoy a variety of chef-drafted selections or DIY and build your own creation. Meals can be accepted with housemade draft cocktails and handcrafted juices.
This Italian-American eatery is an ideal destination if you’re craving artisanal pizzas from a deck oven. The rustic space also serves up antipasti and a selection of 50 wines. Chef Mike Friedman is also responsible for The Red Hen, another acclaimed, Italian-style restaurant in the neighborhood. All-Purpose is open for lunch and dinner.
Conveniently located at the convention center, the Unconventional Diner is far from your standard all-day diner. The modern space includes a cafe area for on-the-go breakfast pastries and sandwiches, while dinner features unique twists on your favorites: Meatloaf is dressed in a sriracha glaze and morel gravy, while cheeseburgers are made with wagyu beef and topped with tomato chutney and dijonnaise.
RPM Italian is Giuiliana and Bill Rancic’s take on Italian cuisine, featured prominently in Mt. Vernon Square. The sleek setting often welcomes celebrities, and it’s easy to see why: menu highlights include slow roasted meats, wild fish, over a dozen pastas and signature cocktails.
Located on Blagden Alley in Shaw, this much-acclaimed restaurant has been abuzz since it opened. The Dabney earned a Michelin star for a number of reasons, but several of them follow: its 10-foot wood-burning open hearth, its dedication to Mid-Atlantic cuisine and dishes that breathe new life into recipes inspired by historical 19th-century cookbooks.
Located inside CityCenterDC, Centrolina is part food market, part restaurant, home to the mastery of RAMMY award-winning chef Amy Brandwein and her take on regional Italian cuisine. The small, yet thoughtful, seasonal menu relies on fresh local ingredients to transport diners on a culinary journey across the Italian peninsula. Expect pastas made in-house daily and wood-fired meat and fish.
Upon opening, Convivial gained a lot of buzz and has managed to live up to the hype. Behind the chic hot spot is seasoned chef Cedric Maupillier, who honed his skills at Mintwood Place. This acclaimed eatery serves up forward-thinking French-American creations, like the fried chicken coq au vin., which has become one of the city’s most sought-after dishes.
Kinship / Métier
Regarded as one of the most stylish and exciting restaurants to open in recent years, the Michelin-starred Kinship – from Chef Eric Ziebold, who previously helmed the Mandarin Oriental’s Cityzen – features dishes that focus on technique, history, ingredient and communal preparations intended to be served family-style, like whole fish or 12-ounce ribeye cuts. Housed in the same building is Métier, an ambitious 36-seat restaurant with a seven-course tasting menu that earned it a Michelin star. Take note: advanced reservations are recommended and jackets are required for gentlemen.
Okay, so award-winning chef José Andrès’ Jaleo is far from new, but this groundbreaking Spanish tapas restaurant is as popular as ever. The accolades include Bib Gourmand honors in the DC Michelin Guide and being named “the best tapas restaurant this side of the Atlantic” by The Washington Post’s longtime food critic Tom Sietsema. Safe to say, this culinary mainstay is a must-add to your post-convention dining to-do list.
James Beard Award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi features Italian regional specialties at this Downtown locale. Dig in to seasonal takes on pasta like casarecce, a partially narrow tube-shaped pasta served Amalfi-style with lobster and octopus, or classic dishes you’ll only find in Rome, thick tangles of tonnarelli noodles are served with sheep’s Pecorino, black pepper and walnuts. Oh, and pro tip: the ‘G’ is silent
San Lorenzo Ristorante + Bar
This Shaw ristorante just north of the convention center is inspired by – among other things – chef Massimo Fabbri's son and his favorite neighborhood in Florence, as Tuscan influences teem throughout the quaint, 70-seat eatery. Inspired cuisine comes at reasonable prices – most items on the menu are under $30 – and Fabbri continues to win hearts with house-made pasta dishes like the pappardelle with herb-infused rabbit ragu.