Washington, DC has always been known as a city of politics and power players. However, it is now starting to gain recognition as a foodie city. New restaurants are popping up not only in the city, but its bustling metro area as well. The common thread in many of these local restaurants is the desire to work with local farms and introduce sustainable ingredients to their menus. From fine dining to casual restaurants, DC restaurateurs are listening to their customers who are demanding to know where their food comes from. Here is a diverse selection of restaurants where you can sample cuisine created from ingredients sourced from sustainable farms located within 100 miles of the city:
This local favorite is located in Barracks Row in Southeast Washington DC. Its beloved brunch includes mascarpone pancakes and handmade sausages. Although brunch is popular, especially with its bottomless mimosas, dinner service can’t be missed with homemade pasta and sauces made with ingredients sourced from small farms in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The name Lavagna means “chalkboard” in Italian. Owner Stephen Chung likes to use the word to describe the restaurant since the menu is never the same and is constantly changing due to fresh, seasonal ingredients. Treats including charcuterie (cold cooked meats) and pickled vegetables are made from scratch on a regular basis. Local farms providing the ingredients are also listed on the menu.
- Lavagna, 539 8th St NE, Washington, DC
In the vibrant neighborhood of H Street NE, there’s DC Harvest, a restaurant which prides itself in using products such as spirits distilled in DC (like MD rum and Greenhat Gin) and oysters and catfish collected in Chesapeake Bay. Owners Jared and Arthur Ringel had worked in the restaurant industry for years and were looking to open their own place with a local spin.
You can spot guests eating sweet potato chips instead of bread and concluding their dinner with fluffy, homemade marshmallows. The restaurant also prides itself with a 100% domestic wine and spirits menu, focusing on local spirits such as Lyon Rum distilled in Maryland.
- DC Harvest, 517 H St NE, Washington, DC
Big Bear Café
With its vine covered patio, herbs planted alongside its restaurant and local art, Big Bear Café has become the anchor of the hip Bloomingdale neighborhood. Open since 2006, Big Bear Café has helped the neighborhood foster the development of the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market, which comes to life every Sunday in late spring, summer and early autumn.
The restaurant purveyors come from local farms in nearby Maryland and Pennsylvania, such as Bounty Hill Farms for eggs or Path Valley Farms for meats. During the day, you can spot local creatives typing away on their computers with a French presses filled with coffee. At night, it becomes a cozy date night spot with its dimly lit patio and perfectly curated dinner menu.
- Big Bear Café, 1700 First St NW, Washington, DC
- (202) 643-9222
Founding Farmers has several locations in the DC area. Whether guests flock to the locations on Pennsylvania Ave, or suburban streets in Maryland and Virginia, they know they will have to wait for a while to be seated; time is a price to pay for dining at of the most popular restaurants in the area.
The restaurant is known for its American cuisine, including juicy burgers, sandwiches, local fish and creations like the bourbon batter French toast. Not only is the food sustainable, but the spaces themselves are LEED certified, which ensures that the construction and décor of the restaurants have minimal ecological impact.
- Founding Farmers, Several Locations
If you are of the belief that Italian food is fattening and unhealthy, Sfoglina Downtown has a different mindset to share with you. An upscale restaurant in the revitalized City Center DC neighborhood, Sfoglina Downtown offers an impressive selection of entrees and treats made from fresh organic ingredients. Executive Chef Erin Clarke grew up in the area and has always had a passion for all things healthy.
Aside from being a chef, she has also educated children and families in healthy cooking. Among the homemade pastas at Sfoglina Downtown, you can indulge in ingredients such as broccolini sourced from Path Valley Farms in Pennsylvania. Chef Clarke uses every centimeter of the vegetables she buys, even turning broccolini stems into pesto.
- Sfoglina Downtown, 1099 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC
The Mitsitam Café is located in the National Museum of the American Indian and widely regarded as one of the best museum restaurants in the United States. Chef Jerome Grant develops recipes based on Native Tribe cuisine from Peru to the Pacific Northwest. With ingredients like wild ginger, corn, mussels, mushrooms, duck and azafran aioli, the Mitsitam Café has much to choose from as well as learn from.
The café sources many of its seasonal ingredients from farms on Native American reservations. The café also serves meats cured in house and practices the ancient art of food preservation in Native American fashion.
- Mitsitam Café, 4th St & Independence Ave SW. Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC
This sleek, modern restaurant located in the new Pike and Rose shopping area in North Bethesda keeps its menu local. Chef Matt Baker is not only seen behind the open kitchen, but also at local farmer’s markets giving cooking demonstrations. The restaurant focuses on ingredients such as crab from the Chesapeake Bay for crab cakes, and tuna, caught from the North Atlantic with the sustainable “pole and line” method, for sashimi.
- City Perch, 11830 Grand Park Ave, North Bethesda, MD
Why choose these eco-friendy restaurants in Washington DC?
We introduced you to some of the best restaurants in Washington, DC and its metro area that use sustainable ingredients from local farms. These restaurants not only offer delicious and diverse cuisine, but also show their commitment to the environment, the community, and the culture of the region. By choosing these restaurants, you can enjoy a satisfying and responsible dining experience, while supporting the local economy and ecology.
Whether you are a resident or a visitor, you will find something to suit your taste and budget in these restaurants. So, the next time you are in Washington, DC, don’t miss the opportunity to try some of these amazing places and discover why the city is becoming a foodie destination. Bon appétit!