If you've been paying attention to the food scene in the District this year, you'll have noticed a trend: Week after week of restaurant openings on 14th St. have flooded one of DC's already busiest corridors with even more options for diners. From massive, high profile operations like Le Diplomate to tiny, independent shops like Etto, there's something new on virtually every corner. Then count all the other long-standing DC favorites already on 14th and you've got some of the best food in the city lined up along a convenient 10 block walk. To help you pick your next meal on 14th, we've chosen seven of our favorite spots.
Birch & Barley / ChurchKey
You'd be hard pressed to find someone in DC that doesn't put the Birch & Barley / ChurchKey duo near the top of their list. Boasting impeccable design and an inventive, seasonal menu by husband and wife duo Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley is a perennial DC favorite and a Sunday brunch mainstay. Up the staircase you'll find ChurchKey, arguably DC's best beer bar. With a beer list hundreds strong curated by resident beer guru, Greg Engert, it's the perfect place to indulge your inner beer nerd. If you're looking for one stop on 14th to dine and drink, this Neighborhood Restaurant Group duplex is your spot.
Expertly executed tapas and pintxos (in the Basque tradition), charcuterie, and a smattering of other modern Spanish small plates by Proof executive chef Haidar Karoum make Estadio one of the best restaurants in DC of any cuisine. The menu is rounded out with a traditional ciders, sherry cocktails, and a bevy of other Spanish beverages. Adorned with heavy, dark wood and leather and stone, Estadio evokes images of old Spain to complete the illusion during your meal.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace / Black Jack
Southern comfort and Americana inspiration permeate this bivalve-centric outpost by restaurateur, Jeff Black. Soul food and seafood combine for a classy, but familiar feeling neighborhood oyster bar. On a warm night, grab a seat at the bar outside and slurp oysters while waiting for your dinner of gumbo and Po' Boys. Don't forget to head upstairs afterward to Black Jack for a craft cocktail and bocce ball.
Run by the proprietors of two of DC's long standing favorites, 2AMYS and Garden District (formerly The Standard), Etto combines the two experiences to create the small communal, corner spot that's been drawing long lines since its opening earlier this summer. Minimal in both decor and menu, Etto focuses on salami, anchovies, and Neapolitan-style pizzas made with house-milled flour. They also make their own red vermouth for a signature Negroni that you should definitely not miss.
Stephen Starr's latest in his ever expanding empire of restaurants is this sprawling corner French brasserie. Where once was a decaying dry cleaners, Le Diplomate brings bright primary colored awnings and patio chairs to highlight one of DC's most popular openings in 2013 to date. Featuring baguettes made in house daily, decadently creamy foie gras parfaits, and buttery and addictive steak frites, Le Diplomate has established a compelling recreation of classic French flavors and ambiance.
Garden District (formerly The Standard)
Though they may have been forced to change its name from The Standard to Garden District after a legal dispute, the perpetual crowds at this neighborhood favorite barbecue and beer garden haven't gone anywhere. A tiny outdoor space on the corner of 14th and S streets slinging brisket sandwiches and a small selection of German beers, Garden District is a must-visit for any Washingtonian (weather permitting). If you're lucky, you might even score one of the few whole smoked pig heads they do each week. Did I mention the fresh made doughnuts? Or the fried pickles? You get the picture.
Much has already been made of the novelty of eating at a sandwich shop inside a gas station, but that's really a minor point. Forget the fact that you're inside a Valero station at 14th and W, because it doesn't change the fact that Fast Gourmet makes some of the best sandwiches in town. These guys churn out massive sandwiches that are as delicious as they are imposing. From the Chivito to the Cubano, the menu is filled with meat and flavor packed alcohol sponges that have made it a favorite of the U Street crowd for years. It's also open until 5am on weekends, which make it a perfect place to rally after last call.
Have other 14th Street favorites? Disagree with our picks? Sound off in the comments below.
About the author: Brian Oh is a Washington, DC based international development professional and a food, photography, and travel enthusiast. In his free time, you can usually find him stuffing his face in our nation's capital. Follow him on Twitter @brianoh11