by Lauren Sloat - 260 Reviews - 86 List
Perhaps one of D.C.'s most well-known neighborhoods, Dupont Circle is a bustling center of business, nightlife, shopping and dining. Restaurants along Connecticut Avenue and surrounding Dupont Circle are some of the best eats in D.C., and diverse too: You'll find Italian, French, Mediterranean, Asian, Mexican and classic American fare perfect for any dining occasion. With so many options, it can be hard to make a decision, so we've rounded up our favorite Dupont Circle restaurants. (Pictured: The Tabard Inn)
Updated: August 18, 2010
A wildly successful chain in Europe, Levante opened its first U.S. location in 1998 in Bethesda. This Dupont location was soon to follow and remains a popular dining option less than a block from the south exit of the Dupont Metro. The restaurant serves fresh favorites from the eastern Mediterranean coastal areas including beef pastitsio, Turkish pides and lamb guvec.
Soft lantern lighting and an oak tree sprouting in the middle of the dining room at this Dupont spot make every dining experience feel like a gourmet backyard feast. Coupled with the shareable urban picnic menu, which features deviled eggs, chicken fried oysters and crispy pork belly, it's all the fun of an outdoor meal without the bugs and unpredictable weather.
The French-inspired menu at this north Dupont spot, which features everything from moules and escargot to steak and frites and classic creme brulee, makes it one of D.C.'s favorite French eateries, so it's a lively and often packed spot to dine. While the food is tasty and elegant, the decor (with disco balls and Christmas tinsel) is more casual and fun.
This beloved Neopolitan-style pizza restaurant, which also has a location in Georgetown, started just a few doors down on P Street, but made the move to a bigger space to accommodate its ever-growing popularity. Pies are served piping hot from the wood-burning oven and go perfectly with the restaurant's selection of microbrews.
This casual, order-at-the-counter Asian-style teahouse serves more than just loose leaf tea; you'll find Japanese-style bento boxes, Indian naan and curries from Thailand, too. Breakfast and brunch are especially popular; they're when the restaurant serves sourdough waffles, French toast, cilantro scrambled eggs and the restaurant's famous ginger scones (try it with the chai latte, which steeps Indian spices with milk and sugar).
This unassuming, historical inn on a quiet Dupont sidestreet houses one of the area's best culinary stops. Chef Paul Pelt's seasonal, New American dishes change daily based on what's fresh and local, but count on gourmet combinations like macadamia nut-crusted halibut or butter poached Maine lobster. Don't miss weekend brunch--Tabard's freshly fried donuts are legendary.
The Iron Gate is one of those hidden gems you can pass a thousand times without ever noticing, but once you go down the long streetside corridor and emerge in its vine-covered courtyard, you won't forget it. The former horse stable (and one of the oldest outdoor restaurants in D.C.) now serves up Mediterranean specialties such as braised lamb shank with orzo and feta cheese. During the winter, the 1920s fireplace makes the indoor dining room just as appealing.
The cantina pub in this split level restaurant is the casual, comfort food side of the dual-restaurant space (find Darlington's more upscale Dining Room & Circle Bar one level up). The dark wood and low ceilings create a lodge-like feel, and you'll find home-style, all-American favorites such as lasagna, vegetable wraps and panini.
La Tomate is pretty ideal as far as settings go; situated in the heart of busy Dupont, the outdoor patio is a prime location for people watching. The family-owned Italian restaurant features authentic favorites such as homemade pastas, fresh bread and seafood and meet entrees.
This three-story Tex-Mex restaurant has been a local hot spot for years. The large sidewalk and rooftop dining sections are ideal in warm weather, though plenty of space inside the expansive dining room means it's bustling no matter the season. Famous for its blended, frozen margaritas in flavors such as peach and mango, plan to arrive early and enjoy a pitcher in the bar area while you wait for a table.