What Foods Is Washington, DC famous For?

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As Washington, DC, great diplomats and visitors worldwide crowd streets, it offers a diverse range of delicious food. The food culture also diversified with the immigrants settling in the 19th century. The diversity of this place can be tasted through the food. It will be exciting to know what food is Washington, DC famous for and what you can eat on your next visit. 

What Foods Is Washington

Some of the foods that Washington, DC, is famous for are Half-Smokes, Mambo Sauce, Pupusas, Crab Cakes, Ethiopian Food, Jumbo Pizza Slices, Cupcakes, Chesapeake Oysters, Peking Duck, and Chesapeake Blue Crabs. 

Washington, DC, is for sure a great place if you want to enjoy delicious food culture. You can enjoy the local food on the streets of Washington, DC, and I am sure you will return for more. 

So, without any further ado, let us deep dive into the ten famous foods of Washington, DC, that you can enjoy here and satisfy your foodie soul. Please stick with me till the end, as I will also share how you can find great food places in Washington, DC. 

17 Famous Foods Of Washington, DC

If you want to explore the food culture of Washington, DC, then there are certain must-try food items. Below is the list of 10 foods Washington, DC, is famous for : 

1. Half-Smokes

half smokes

You may have tired hotdogs, but in Washington, DC, you get to try a unique take on the dish. Half smokes, made with half-pork and half-beef, is smoked first and then tucked gently between the buns. You can enjoy this food delicacy at every corner of Washington, DC. 

The flavors are great, as along with half-pork and half-beef, the half-smoke is topped with onions and classic yellow mustard and covered with chili and cheese. As per Wikipedia, half-smokes are the “official dog” of the Washington Nationals, and you can enjoy the crispy and spicy half-smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl for just $6. 

2. Mambo Sauce 

mambo sauce

Mambo sauce is always at service to accompany the best food in Washington, DC. Originally, Mambo Sauce is said to be from China, but it has become a staple in DC’s culinary scene. 

Many people call Mambo sauce was the signature sauce of Washington, DC, and it is simply because this red, sweet, and tangy sauce pairs well with any savory food. Also, there has been a legal dispute over the name of the sauce as it was believed that it was a mumbo sauce recipe from the DC, after which it was called Mambo sauce. 

 If you are wondering where you can get this delightful sauce, visit any Walmart, Target, or local DC restaurants and get the mabo sauce for just $7 only. 

3. Pupusas


As already mentioned, Washington, DC, has rich diversity in terms of food, mainly because of immigrants who were attracted to the place back in the 19th century. During this time, many Salvadorans settled in DC, and slowly, the place became like a home to Salvadoran immigrants. Their presence impacted the area’s local food, and Pupusas became the most loved and popular dish. 

This stuffed bread will satisfy your hunger and cravings by melting in your mouth and giving you a burst of flavor. The flatbreads are stuffed with meat, cheese, corn, and beans. You can enjoy it with some salsa and a light yet fulfilling dish. La Casita Pupuseria serves the best pupusas in the town. Get it only for $3 and enjoy the delicate flavors. 

4. Crab Cakes 

crab cakes

Crab Cakes are delicious, and I am sure you have tried this delicious dish at different places. If you like crabcakes, try them in Washington, DC. There is no such history or great connection between Washington, DC, and crabcakes. However, the borders of Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia are closely tied to the dish as they are closely connected with the Chesapeake Bay region. 

Even though Washington, DC, is not the most prominent city, it has welcomed the Chesapeake Bay region’s culinary scenes with open arms at its dining table. Now, you can enjoy the delicacy of crabs even in Washington, DC.  If you are looking for a great place to enjoy crab cakes then Matchbox – Penn Quarter is the place where you can get a variety of crab cakes starting from $29. 

5. Ethiopian Food 

ethiopian food

If you thought that only Salvadoran immigrants were the ones who were attracted to Washington, DC, then you are mistaken. Back in the 19th century, many Ethiopians also settled here. After Ethiopia, Washington, DC had the most significant number of Ethiopians that slowly merged into the population. 

The food culture was influenced, and DC became one of the places for Ethiopian cuisine. Some famous Ethiopian foods loved in Washington DC were Injera, Kitfo, and Doro Wat, to name a few. Just visit Washington DC and enjoy the rich food culture of Ethiopia.  Go to Beteseb Restaurant and you can have a Ethiopian food feast starting from $10. 

6. Jumbo Pizza Slices

jumbo pizza slice Washington

We all love pizza, but if you are in Washington, DC, you must try the jumbo pizza slices. These huge pizza slices are for those who only want a portion but need more. Washington, DC, is known for its nightlife, and these jumbo pizza slices are perfect for night fun simply because they are casual yet delicious food options available after midnight. You can get different toppings of your choice and enjoy the delicious bites from a big slice. Visit Jumbo Slice Pizza and enjoy this unique take on pizza starting from $8. 

7. Cupcakes


If you want great cupcakes, visit Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, DC. They are one of the main reasons for popularizing cupcakes in the area. As we know, Washington, DC, is very diverse in food, and with local bakers, cupcakes gained much attention and became more like a cultural phenomenon. Without any doubt, the little sweet treat satisfied the sugar craving and made everyone come back for more. Don’t wander here and there and head straight towards Georgetown Cupcake to enjoy delicious cupcakes for just $3.95 each. 

8. Chesapeake Oysters

Chesapeake Oysters

You already know that Washington is closely connected with the Chesapeake Bay region and their food culture. That is why Chesapeake oysters have significantly blended into the food culture of Washington, DC. The food of Washington, DC, has also been influenced by its neighbors like Maryland and Virginia, and various events are held in these places, including Washington, to celebrate the oyster festivals. 

These oysters are great, especially because they change their flavors from sweet to salty as the weather changes. You can grill or add them to a soup and enjoy this seafood delicacy as an appetizer. Rappahannock Oyster Bar serves the best Chesapeake Oysters. Get 6 pieces of Chesapeake Oysters for $18. 

9. Peking Duc

peking duck

I already mentioned that Washington, DC, streets are crowded with diplomats and visitors. Peking duck is Chinese cuisine, and because of diplomatic and cultural exchanges, it has become a part of the food culture of Washington, DC. Many Chinese-American communities have made Peking duck and other Chinese dishes successful in Washington, DC.

If you want to explore the culinary offerings at Washington, DC, try the juicy, tender, yet crispy slices of a complete duck served with some garnishes.   I would recommend you to check out Peking Gourmet Inn. There you can enjoy delicious peking duck in just $52. 

10. Chesapeake Blue Crabs

Chesapeake Blue Crabs

I don’t have to explain why Chesapeake Blue Crabs have become a part of Washington, DC’s Culinary offerings. However, this is a great place to savor fresh and delicate blue crabs if you love crabs. Another exciting thing about Chesapeake Blue Crabs is that it has become a staple for Washington, DC, often served with Old Bay Seasoning after steaming the crabs.

You can enjoy the soft and juicy crab meats at every restaurant serving seafood in Washington, DC. Bethesda Crab House has the best Chesapeake Blue Crabs that you can try. The cost of the dish may vary depending on the current market price. 

11. Salmon 


Salmon skin rolls? If yes, visit Washington, DC, for fresh and delicious salmon dishes. I love eating salmon as it is the best seafood and very versatile. The delicate flavours and texture of salmon win every heart in a single bite. You can enjoy a variety of salmon dishes in Washington, DC. Visit The Hamilton for the best salmon experience. A bunch of fresh salmon dishes are served starting at $10. Go check out the reviews, and I am sure you will be tempted to visit and have some salmon. 

12. Buckwheat Pancakes

buckwheat pancakes

Are you looking for some great breakfast options in Washington, DC? Try buckwheat pancakes, and you will never go for regular pancakes ever. Super healthy and filling, buckwheat pancakes are super delicious and delicate. The blueberry flavor in the pancakes makes it more desirable and flavorful. There are many places in Washington, DC, where you can enjoy this super breakfast. However, I would suggest trying buckwheat pancakes at Market Lunch for just $7.95. 

13. Korean Fried Chicken

korean fried chicken

With Korean food getting popular day by day, Washington, DC, has the best Korean fried chicken to try. The cultural diversity has made it possible for everyone to enjoy the delicate yet spicy flavors of Korean fried chicken. So simply visit Bul Korean restaurant and enjoy these spicy and crunchy chicken delights starting from $18. You can try the sweet chili sauce version of fried chicken, and I am sure you will love it. 

14. Banh Mi

banh mi

If you ask me what I love most about Washington, DC, then I would say Vietnamese culture and food is my favorite thing. Talking about Vietnamese food, Banh Mi is a must-try. Do try Banh Mi when visiting Washington, DC, and you will definitely be amazed by the flavors of the dish. The crunchy yet soft baguette filled with pickled vegetables and fresh herbs is to die for. Visit Banh Mi DC Sandwich for the best vitamins Banh Mi and enjoy the savory bites for $6.75 only. 

15. Pho


Talking about Banh Mi and Vietnamese culture, how can I forget about the delicious Pho that you can try almost everywhere in Washington, DC? It is a must-try dish. The warm and savory soup with delicious noodles and toppings is flavorful and keeps your belly full for a good time. Visit Pho 75 and enjoy a warm bowl of bowl starting from $10. I am sure you will love every bite of the dish. Don’t forget to enjoy the savory broth. 

16. Peruvian chicken

Peruvian chicken

If you love eating chicken dishes, you will love Peruvian chicken. The secret of this dish lies in the seasoning. The flavors of black beer, soy sauce, rosemary, huacatay, and pisco are blended well with the chicken, making it a great meal. The specialty of chicken also lies in the cooking method. The chicken is prepared using the rosette cooking method. Simply visit El Pollo Sabroso and enjoy the delicate notes of Peruvian chicken. 

17. Palak Chaat

palak chaat

Try this version of baby spinach, and you will ask for more. Palak chaat is a super delicious and healthy snack option that will keep you full for a good time while you stroll the streets of Washington, DC. This chaat contains baby spinach combined well with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney. The garnishing of onions and tomatoes takes this snack to the next level. Rasika is the best place to enjoy the crispy palak chaat only for $14.  

 How Can You Find Great Food Places In Washington, DC?


You can find many great food places when it comes to enjoying food in Washington, DC. To enjoy specific food items, you can check which site best serves you. You may be familiar with the place if you live there or nearby. 

However, suppose you need clarification about choosing great food places. In that case, some good companies provide food tours in Washington, DC, like Giftory DC Private Food Tour. You can get a complete food tour with an expert local tour guide. This way, you can explore the diverse and delicious food that Washington, DC, offers. 


I am sure that after learning about the most amazing food in Washington, DC, all you want to do is visit the face and stuff your belly. This place is undoubtedly rich and diverse, making the food here more delicious and diverse. You can enjoy so many other things as well from different cuisines. It is like a food party in Washington, DC. 

Anyway, We are at the end of the conversation, and I hope this was helpful to you and your loved ones. I will be back soon with some more discussions about food. Until then, plan to visit Washington, DC, and enjoy the local food. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Washington, DC, famous for food? 

Yes, Washington, DC, is famous for food. You can enjoy a diverse range of food, from Half-Smokes to Ethiopian, at the local restaurants and food outlets. 

What is the most popular food in Washington, DC? 

Some of the foods that Washington, DC, is famous for are Half-Smokes, Mambo Sauce, Pupusas, Crab Cakes, Ethiopian Food, Jumbo Pizza Slices, Clam Chowder, Oysters On The Half Shell, Geoduck and Chesapeake Blue Crabs. 

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