11 Capital Wine Lists to Try in Washington, D.C.

For wines foreign and domestic, these restaurants’ lists have our vote

11 Capital Wine Lists to Try in Washington, D.C.
Le Diplomate offers a fresh take on French cuisine with a similarlly focused, Best of Award of Excellence–winning list of nearly 300 wines. (James C. Jackson)
Nov 30, 2022

Washington, D.C., boasts a bustling restaurant scene with an abundance of options. Start with our guide to particularly wine-focused spots, from destinations from superstar chefs to a family-owned wine bar, plus D.C.’s first Wine Spectator Grand Award winner. Altogether, these diverse eateries show that D.C. is both a national and a culinary capital.

This is just a sampling of the nearly 50 Restaurant Award winners in D.C.’s metro area. To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,200 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 97 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.


601 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 525-1402
Website www.fioladc.com
Grand Award

 People dining at Fiola, with gold-painted and salmon-colored walls, a mirror designed like a sunburst and white cloth chairs and banquettes
At Fiola, guests enjoy wine director Casper Rice’s Grand Award–winning list of Italian gems. (Scott Suchman)

Looking for a slice of la dolce vita just a jump away from the National Gallery? Grand Award winner Fiola is the flagship restaurant from chef Fabio Trabocchi, a native of Italy's Marche region, known for his luxe takes on the country's regional cuisine: lobster tail with squash carpaccio and ravioli layered with roasted beef ragu, for instance. Wine director Casper Rice oversees the selections at all of Trabocchi’s restaurants, including Washington, D.C., Best Award of Excellence winners Del Mar and Fiola Mare and Fiola’s sibling restaurant in Coral Gables, Fla. With 9,000 bottles in the cellar, Fiola offers guests 2,800 labels to choose from. The selection is largely focused on well-known wineries in Italy’s Piedmont, Tuscany and Sicily regions, like Gaja and Tenuta San Guido. There are also bottles from leaders in California and France, such as Robert Mondavi and Château Cheval-Blanc.

Blue Duck Tavern

Park Hyatt Washington, 1201 24th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 419-6755
Website www.blueducktavern.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Bone marrow, roasted garlic and toasted bread on a plate at Blue Duck Tavern
At the Park Hyatt Washington in Georgetown, Blue Duck Tavern pairs seasonal American cuisine with a Best of Award of Excellence–winning list. (Greg Powers/Courtesy of Blue Duck Tavern)

Georgetown’s Blue Duck Tavern celebrates the bounty of the East Coast. Executive chef Andrew Cleaverdon’s “market-based” menu spotlights this regionality with Chesapeake Bay lump crab cakes dressed in a lemon-caper remoulade, tea-poached halibut caught off the coast of Maine, and roasted duck breast sourced from New York. Wine Director Joseph Cerrione’s wine list is stacked with selections from California and France, but also highlights the burgeoning Virginia wine industry with local leaders like RdV and Linden. In addition to offering a lounge and outdoor dining, Blue Duck Tavern also hosts special events for up to 20 seated guests.

Bourbon Steak

Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 944-2026
Website www.fourseasons.com/washington/dining/restaurants
Best of Award of Excellence

 The modern-design dining room at Bourbon Steak D.C., with round light fixtures on the ceiling and wood accents throughout
With six Best of Award of Excellence–winning locations across the country, restaurateur Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak combines top-notch wines with a range of choice meats. (Courtesy of Bourbon Steak)

Situated at the Four Seasons hotel in the center of Georgetown, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak is a destination for wine lovers (and for anyone visiting a Hoya at Georgetown University). One of six Best of Award of Excellence–winning Bourbon Steaks throughout the U.S., the D.C. location offers a selection of wagyu and grass-fed, dry-aged steaks seared on a wood-fired grill, alongside steak-house classics like a wedge salad, often with elevated takes (black truffle mac & cheese and crispy brussels sprouts with maple gastrique). Less-expected dishes—like grilled octopus with saffron aioli, smoked bone marrow with lemon confit and ras ál hanout butter, Maine lobster pot pie and roasted chestnut soup dotted with guanciale—show off Mina's international influences and creative flair. For pairings, wine director Winn Roberton has assembled 850 labels, including many from star wineries in California, Bordeaux, Champagne and beyond. Wine lovers will also find a robust large-format bottle list of more than 30 labels.

Flight Wine Bar

777 Sixth St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 864-6445
Website www.flightdc.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Owners Swati Bose and Kabir Amir standing together in Flight Wine Bar, hosting a tasting for a number of guests in the wood-accented room
Wife-and-husband team Swati Bose and Kabir Amir (center) run the show at D.C. wine bar Flight. (Scott Suchman)

There are many wine bars to choose from in D.C., but few have the breadth and depth of Best of Award of Excellence winner Flight Wine Bar in Chinatown. Owners and wine directors Swati Bose and Kabir Amir oversee the list of 700-plus selections—with strengths in France, Italy, California, Spain and Austria, along with offerings from around the globe—to pair with Flight’s locally sourced, seasonal cuisine. True to its name, the restaurant provides 22 wine flight options, with themes like “Nothing Wrong with a Little Skin Contact” and “A Tale of Three Tempranillos.” Guests can enjoy a flight, more than 35 selections by the glass, or a bottle in the welcoming dining room or on the outdoor patio.

11 Capital Wine Lists to Try in Washington D.C.

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

750 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 489-0140
Website www.joes.net/dc
Best of Award of Excellence

Though there are three Best of Award of Excellence–winning locations of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab across the country, only one is steps from the White House and a few blocks from the National Mall's many monuments, memorials and Smithsonian museums. Kevin Bratt guides the wine program at all three, and the D.C. location features just shy of 500 selections. California and France form the core of the list, with plenty of Champagnes, Burgundies and Napa Valley reds; bottles from Italy, Germany, Spain and other countries round out the program. Executive chef Chris Morvis’ steak and seafood options range from Florida stone crab claws to a 24-ounce bone-in ribeye.


1904 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 773-9989
Website www.jontdc.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Chef Ryan Ratino preparing a cut of meat at Jônt, in front of a wood-fire grill
Wood-fire cooking is central to chef Ryan Ratino’s menu at Jônt. (Rey Lopez Photography)

Chef-restaurateur Ryan Ratino honed his skills at a number of destination restaurants—New York’s Dovetail and Caviar Russe, to name a few—before setting out on his own with D.C. restaurants Jônt and Bresca. At Jônt, Ratino, chef de cuisine Brandon Dienger and the rest of the team mix American and Japanese influences to create a 32-course tasting menu, available to just 16 diners at a time. It is, of course, a rare experience, one bolstered by wine director Andrew Elder’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list. Among its 360 selections, the program’s main focuses are on California and France, particularly Burgundy and Bordeaux, with leading names like Shafer in Napa and Patrick Piuze in Chablis. Diners will find even more choice with wines from Spain, Lebanon, Oregon, Washington and, looking locally, Virginia.

Le Diplomate

1601 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 332-3333
Website www.lediplomatedc.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 A member of Le Diplomate’s team presenting a guest with a shellfish tower of mussels, crab legs, oysters and other seafood
French wines and culinary classics mingle at Le Diplomate. (Kelci Alane Photography)

Craving classic French bistro cuisine in D.C.? Try restaurateur Stephen Starr’s Best of Award of Excellence winner Le Diplomate in Logan Circle. There, chef Will Trover’s menu includes comforting French favorites such as moules frites, steak au poivre and onion soup gratinée. These are enjoyed in a Parissian brasserie–style atmosphere, with seating “en plein air” under a red awning on warmer days. With about 300 selections, head sommelier John Loats’ moderately priced wine list emphasizes France, rounded out by picks from California, Australia, Oregon and beyond.

RPM Italian

650 K St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 204-4480
Website www.rpmrestaurants.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 A plate of Maine lobster caprese, with mozzarella and basil leaves
Maine lobster caprese is one of RPM Italian’s many takes on traditional Italian fare. (Courtesy of RPM Italian)

One of the three Best of Award of Excellence winners in the RPM restaurant family, RPM Italian offers an extensive wine program and modern Italian fare. Wine director Nicholas Schulman and sommelier Covin Davis manage the list of more than 1,300 selections, which emphasizes wines from California and Italy, particularly Piedmont and Tuscany. Verticals include rarer bottles from the likes of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Gaja. The menu offers contemporary spins on Italian mainstays, like osso buco Milanese with saffron risotto, as well as pastas made fresh daily, including squid-ink spaghetti with king crab and Fresno chiles.

St. Anselm

1250 5th St. N.E., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 864-2199
Website www.stanselmdc.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 The St. Anselm dining room with brick walls, hanging light fixtures and chandeliers, and wooden chairs and wood-cloth benches
St. Anselm offers steak-house cuisine and a 1,000-wine list not far from the Gallaudet University campus. (Scott Suchman)

In 2018, New York–-based restaurateur Joe Carroll brought his contemporary steak-house concept St. Anselm to Washington, D.C., partnering with mid-Atlantic hospitality leader Stephen Starr (whose Starr Restaurants group has a slew of Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners). It has quickly become a local mainstay, earning a Best of Award of Excellence in 2022, in large part thanks to wine director Jack Zarecky’s 1,000-selection wine list. California, France and Italy are the main strengths here, with a wide variety from Napa Valley, Champagne, Burgundy, Piedmont and beyond; there are also significant selections of Madeira (historically, a presidential favorite), Sherry and—with more than 20 labels—large-format bottles. On chef Lindsey Flowers’ American-cuisine, steak-house menu, 16-ounce ribeye and New York strip cuts join dishes like dorade with saffron-pickled fennel and grilled okra with herb mayo.


1906 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 518-7926
Website www.brescadc.com
Award of Excellence

 The contemporary-design dining room at Bresca, with blue wall paneling, blue banquets and blue tiles on the bar, as well as beige-gray wooden chairs
Bresca mixes Icelandic design elements, European culinary influences and mid-Atlantic ingredients. (Courtesy of Bresca)

With its bright blue banquettes and tiles and its mossy wall, Bresca promises a lively experience from the start. Opened by chef Ryan Ratino a few years before Jônt, Bresca leans closer to France across its chef's tasting and prix-fixe menus, with additional influences from China, offering dishes like crudo with Concord grapes, sea scallops with black garlic and the “Bresca” duck à la presse. As with the food, France is the primary focus on the list of 125 wines overseen by wine director Will Patton, whose program earned an Award of Excellence in 2022. For diners who want to sample a broad range, he offers a curated wine pairing and a reserve pairing for each menu, with options such as caviar service with Champagne, a foie gras terrine with Broadbent Madeira and Shenandoah lamb with an aged red from Lebanon's famed Chateau Musar.


480 Seventh St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 628-7949
Website www.jaleo.com/dc
Award of Excellence

 Guests dining at socially distant tables outside Jaleo
Jaleo offers a lively Spanish dining experience from one of the world’s best-known chefs. (Courtesy of José Andrés Group)

Any fan of celebrated chef, restaurateur and World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés should make a pilgrimage to the tapas restaurant where it all began. Andrés moved to Washington, D.C., to head the kitchen at Jaleo in the Penn Quarter in 1993; since then, he has opened numerous other dining venues, including another Award of Excellence–wining outpost of Jaleo in Las Vegas and fellow D.C. winners Zaytinya and Minibar. Jaleo’s primary focus is on Spanish delights like Valencia-style paella with rabbit, patatas bravas and Basque squid served in an ink sauce. Wine director Jordi Paronella’s 220-label list is similarly filled with selections from across Spain, including emerging regions such as Ribera Sacra, Bierzo and the Canary Islands. Filling out the drinks list are three sangrias and flights of Sherry, vermouth and gin and tonics.

Edited by Collin Dreizen, Emma Grant and Julia Larson

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