The smell of fresh, crispy empanada dough envelopes me as I walk past a slew of food stands in Union Market. I can’t help but smile. Washington D.C. doubles as a mecca for the newest, delicious food trends and cuisines of almost every variety. But if you had to choose…what’s your favorite DC restaurant? American University students have their list of can’t miss restaurants down packed.
1. Momofuku CCDC
People couldn’t be happier that up and coming chef David Chang introduced the Japanese-inspired restaurant chain Momofuku to downtown D.C. If it wasn’t for him, us college kids wouldn’t get the chance to experience ramen’s true potential, as the restaurant specializes in upscale ramen dishes along with other Asian specialties. “[Momofuku has a] ramen and a lot of other Asian foods,” AU freshman Marley Hambourger said. Sounds like a great place for special occasions or parents’ weekend.
2. Sushi Para
Calling all sushi lovers: Your entrees come in cool wooden boats. This spacious restaurant makes the perfect place for big groups or date nights. “It’s all you can eat sushi for $20 which may seem a little steep for a college student, but it’s a lot of food and it’s great sushi too. I love their spicy tuna, their California roll, and I actually really like their sweet potato roll,” said AU freshman International Relations major Borja Herraiz.
3. Open City
A self proclaimed coffeehouse, diner and bar in Woodley Park has changed the breakfast game. You’ll immediately forget about TDR’s fake bacon when you set your eyes on Open City’s hash brown bowl with mushrooms, onions, cheddar cheese, (real) bacon and two sunny side up eggs. Open City continues to impress with its cool vibes and even cooler breakfast menu. “It’s [a] pretty popular restaurant and it’s super delicious,” AU freshman Grace Ellis said. “I’m definitely a breakfast person and because they have all day breakfast, [so] it’s my favorite thing. All of their breakfast food is amazing and pretty cheap, especially their Open City Royal which has all the breakfast food you could want.”
This Italian restaurant in D.C.’s China Town makes delicious, fresh pizza and pasta while you wait in line. The chef asks for your spice and sauce preferences, and on your way out you can grab some gummy bears instead of after dinner mints. “I go to Vapiano’s a lot because it’s not too expensive, and it’s really good food. They have good drinks, it’s very relaxed, and the best part is that it’s not expensive. Their linguini is my favorite,” AU sophomore Dimitri Pixley said. A chic and trendy restaurant, it pleases even the pickiest eaters.
Since 1963 this swanky restaurant-bar in Georgetown has served a variety of yummy authentic American foods. You’ll be talking about its mouthwatering bacon cheeseburger and spicy buffalo wings for weeks. “I really like their atmosphere and they have a great bar scene. Their happy hour is really great,” AU grad student Justin Brumer said. “When I go there I usually go with something healthy, roasted vegetables.”
6. Keren Restaurant
Be prepared to get down and dirty at this lovely Eritrean hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Your hands will double as your eating utensils at this unique spot. “People there are so nice and there’s always a line out the door. I always get their special which is vegetarian and has one meat option, and their cabbage is my favorite,” AU freshman public health major Rachel Swartz said. “It’s always worth it to get more.”
7. Cava Mezze Grill
You’ll fall in love with the ability to pick and choose everything you want from a wide selection of fresh veggies, meats and Greek toppings. “Cava is really fast, their food is always fresh and it’s amazing because you can pick whatever you want. All the flavors really work well together. I always get a bowl to go with rice, and chicken, with tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese,” sophomore International Relations major Mia Mladenovic said. Get your Greek on and enjoy a deliciously inexpensive meal at Cava Mezze Grill.
8. Wiseguy NY Pizza
“[Wiseguy NY Pizza is] great because it’s the closest thing I can get to actual New York pizza in D.C. I usually get pizza with their garlic knots—it’s so good,” AU sophomore International Relations major Timothy Carey said. This pizza joint on Mass Ave., acclaimed for its ability to replicate the sacred New York Pizza, has caught the attention of many. If you’re a New York native craving some authentic pizza or looking for a tasty inexpensive lunch, check out Wiseguy’s.
9. Guapo’s Restaurant
Known for its savory Mexican dishes and strong margarita pitchers, Guapo’s easily becomes an AU favorite. You won’t go wrong ordering one of Guano’s delectable chicken fajitas and fresh tortillas. “It’s close by and easy to get to, and the chicken they have in their tacos reminds me of my dad’s chicken. Whenever I eat there it definitely brings me back home,” AU freshman Audio Technology major Estefanía Rincón said.
10. Chef Geoff’s
Students flock to Chef Geoff’s because of its bangin’ happy hour, juicy burgers and cheesy pizzas. “Chef Geoff’s is the type of place you go to when you feel like being an adult. I love getting the Chef Geoff’s burger especially when it’s on sale during happy hour, and their fries are delicious,” AU freshman International Relations major Charlie Veraza said. Geoff’s is particularly famous for their Super Mugs, which start at only $7.95 during happy hour and consist of a whopping 33 ounces of the beer of your choice.