With the college search season underway for many rising high school seniors, looking for the best places to eat while touring colleges is a must-do. While roaming around D.C. , we visited George Washington University, American University and Georgetown. Aside from appreciating colleges in the most historical city in the world, we ate our way through D.C. and loved every minute of it. If you ever find yourself touring colleges in the district, here is your guide for the best eats, in no particular order.
1. The Red Hen
The comforting atmosphere and delicious Italian-influenced cuisine in a historic Bloomingdale neighborhood of D.C. will lead you straight to the Red Hen. The pasta dishes will be the key to your soul and the caramelized scallops dish will melt in your mouth. Make sure you stop by this eclectic restaurant with your parents before leaving the district.
Ted’s Bulletin never disappoints with the traditional and fun environment. Their homemade Pop-Tarts and doughnut holes are epic and their cinnamon roll as big as your head doesn’t mess around. Aside from the desserts, Ted’s Bulletin offers breakfast items that can be a perfect treat before you start a day packed with college touring.
The best part of D.C. is the myriad of cultures and cuisines it has to offer. You literally feel like you are walking through Italy when you hit up Dolcezza. Their gelato is made from fresh local ingredients and the best flavors you need to try are avocado orange honey and chocolate. Seriously, it’s the best chocolate gelato ever. Not only is their gelato to die for, but their coffee is the perfect way to wake yourself up in the morning.
4. Co Co Sala
Co Co. Sala is Washington D.C.’s award-winning restaurant and chocolate boutique that will be better than any chocolate Valentines day gift you receive. From chipotle-flavored chocolate to peanut butter and jelly chocolate, there are a wide variety of choices to pick from no matter what you are craving.
Besides dessert, the Co Co Sriracha fries and black pearl salmon make the best combination for dinner. Oh, yeah and did we mention the brunch? The asparagus and kale tart topped with dark chocolate pretzel bits collides some of our favorite foods: chocolate and greens. Any time of day, Co Co Sala will never let you down.
This modern outpost has an inventive take on Asian cuisine done by the legendary David Chang. Ramen and pork buns are their signatures, and every bite will satisfy your taste buds and basically transport you to Asia. Expose your family to the diverse culture D.C. has to offer by taking them to this trendy restaurant that is street food-inspired. Momofuku translates to lucky peach, so you will always get “lucky” when you eat here. Plus, their D.C. output serves the famous cereal milk ice cream, too.
After a filling dinner, you may wake up feeling stuffed. Grab a juice from JRINK to detox and reset your body. The “wake me up” juice is perfect if you are used to having a glass of orange or grape juice. Start your day with the best breakfast to feel rejuvenated for the upcoming college touring.
Offering sweet and savory waffles from breakfast through dinner, this D.C. gem will not only cure your craving for chicken and waffles, but nearly any waffle variation. The Brussels waffle with smoked salmon, poached egg and hollandaise sauce is pure goodness, so stop at Union Market for some delicious Belgian waffles.
The name of this restaurant is the epitome of D.C. as being one of the largest political centers in the nation. The Den is an intimate space to gather for any meal of the day. They have the best toasts, cucumber & avocado for the win and chia banana mash for breakfast. Hidden inside of a bookstore, the tranquil atmosphere will be rewarding after a long day.
Experience another culture in D.C. by chowing down on some seafood paella and gooey churros. You will feel like the Cheetah Girls strutting down the streets of Barcelona once you try the food. Also, their Nutella churros are to die for.
10. GW Deli
Located in the midst of Foggy Bottom, the GW Deli makes up for when you’re missing those fluffy New York bagels. Grab an egg sandwich on your way to your tour at GW, it will start your day off with a bang.
11. Cava Grill
Hearing the news that Cava Grill is making its way to NYC, we were full of excitement. This build your own meal style restaurant has been the Chipotle for Mediterranean lovers. Our favorite meal is comprised of two mini pitas, grilled chicken, roasted red pepper hummus, crumbled feta, tomato and cucumber salad and obviously a drizzle of Sriracha for that punch of flavor. Cava Grill is a great place to stop by for quick lunch that will keep you full.
This grab and go lunch place is perfect for vegetable-lovers. José Andrés puts all of the focus on vegetables and you can create your bowl or order a signature. Our favorite has to “Frida Kale,” because who doesn’t love Frida Kahlo? Make sure to check out the Foggy Bottom location.
Pie is an American staple, especially in the summertime. And since D.C. is the practical embodiment of America, where is there a better place to get pie other than D.C’s very own Dangerously Delicious Pies? As its name suggests, Dangerously Delicious Pies makes some really good pie. However, their must-try sweet pie is the Baltimore Bomb pie, complete with Berger cookies (a Baltimore specialty), and vanilla chess filling.
All you have to do to know this place is good is look at its name. Seriously, doughnuts AND fried chicken? It does NOT get better than that. Plus they have a fried chicken sandwich with a doughnut as buns. Mind blowing.
15. 2 Amy’s
As NYC food lovers, we are pizza snobs. But somehow, 2 Amy’s lives up to all our pizza expectations. 2 Amy’s is easily home to D.C.’s best pizza and there’s always a hefty line to prove it.
Captain Cookie and The Milkman is a D.C. is a summer necessity, and one of the better ice cream options in the area. You have probably seen one of their ice cream cookie sandwiches on Instagram, which they sell from both their storefront and food truck, making access easy for any area in D.C. Their storefront is located right next to the George Washington University Foggy Bottom Campus, and is the perfect cool-down treat after a tour.
17. Founding Farmers
Located on on the George Washington University main campus, Founding Farmers, is the perfect pre-tour brunch location. If you can only get one menu item, the beignets are a must. They are made-to-order, ensuring that they are super fresh.
Chaia is any vegan’s dream: almost all plant-based tacos in a super hip environment. After a long day of college touring, Chaia is the perfect place to stop, re-energize, and get a taco or two, or three – we don’t judge.
College touring gets boring, we get it, but Thomas Sweet is where to go to brighten up your post-tour day and indulge. From ice cream topped with cookies, candy bars, cookie dough, or simple sprinkles, there’s a combination for everyone. With such a vast amount of options, it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong.
Ramen is slowly taking over, and D.C. is no exception. If you’re planning on college touring in the district this fall or winter, Daikaya is the perfect way to warm up after a long, cold day.
21. Baked and Wired
Baked and Wired is a necessity for tourists and locals alike, and for a good reason: their cupcakes are to die for. Located right off M street in Georgetown, it’s kind of essential to stop here after your college tour. There will be no regrets, just really good cupcakes.
22. Le Diplomate
Le Diplomate is great for college touring because it means your parents pay for dinner. Seriously, though. Authentic French food is pretty hard to come by, but Le Diplomate does it perfectly. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try the escargot. Otherwise, stick to any classic like the roast chicken or steak frites.
As much as we love cupcakes, it’s hard to ignore the fact that doughnuts are taking over the food scene. For any doughnut-lover touring in D.C., District Doughnut is a must go-to, even if it is a little out of the way. We would do some crazy things for their fluffernutter doughnut.
24. Blue Duck Tavern
Located right off the George Washington campus, Blue Duck Tavern is the perfect way to start your morning off right, pre-college tours. Start your morning off with some sticky pecan buns, crab and scrambled eggs, or a chicken biscuit. Anything you choose will result in a full stomach to start the long day of touring off with.
25. Bad Saint
Undoubtedly, Filipino food is one of the most underrated cuisines. Although we are a little biased, since one of us is from Filipino descent (oops). But, Bad Saint cooks up some of the best Filipino food in the country and D.C. Because of their frequently changing menu, we can’t give any definite recommendations, which is fine because everything is amazing. Bad Saint is a great spot for trying a cuisine you can’t necessarily get back home.