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

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

10 Capital Wine Lists to Try in Washington, D.C.
The D.C. location of chef-restaurateur Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak is now open for outdoor dining at the Four Seasons Hotel. (Jennifer Chase)
Jul 30, 2020

Washington, D.C., boasts a bustling restaurant scene with an abundance of options. Start with our guide to particularly wine-focused spots, from laid-back destinations from superstar chefs to family-owned wine bars, plus D.C.’s first Wine Spectator Grand Award winner. While many of these businesses are offering wine-and-food takeout programs, most are also open for outdoor dining, complying with state-issued safety guidelines including a 50-percent capacity limit, six-person party limit and mask requirements for employees, and for patrons when not at their tables.

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 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 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.


Fiola

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

Fiola’s wine director Casper Rice selecting a bottle in the cellar
Fiola wine director Casper Rice oversees the Grand Award–winning cellar that’s strongest in Italian regions. (Scott Suchman)

Just blocks from the National Mall, between the White House and the Capitol, you’ll find Grand Award winner Fiola, the flagship restaurant of chef-owner Fabio Trabocchi. A native of Italy's Marche region, Trabocchi aims to capture the authenticity of regional Italian cooking in dishes such as foie gras with soft polenta, lobster bisque with a squid-ink tuile and lamb with celery root purée. The dining room is still closed for now, but guests can still indulge in Fiola’s world-class cellar. All wines on the 2,800-label list are available for pickup on Wednesdays, with focuses on Italy’s Piedmont, Tuscany and Sicily, and France’s Champagne, Burgundy, Loire, the Rhône and Bordeaux.


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

A wine cellar leading to a wine room 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. (Courtesy of Blue Duck Tavern)

Newly promoted Best of Award of Excellence winner Blue Duck Tavern in Georgetown focuses on serving seasonal, locally sourced American cuisine, including dishes such as wood oven–roasted bone marrow, duck breast with peach and daikon radish and pan-seared halibut with dirty rice and carrot purée. The wine list highlights California and France, and also features a smattering of local wines from Virginia. Of the 350 selections, more than 40 are available by the glass. There’s currently outdoor dining on the hotel’s secluded patio, plus four glass-enclosed booths located inside the restaurant that guests can book by reservation.


Bourbon Steak

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

Spooning sauce over a filet at Bourbon Steak
With six Best of Award of Excellence–winning locations across the country, restaurateur Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak combines top-notch wines with a variety of choice chops. (Huge Galdones)

Based in the heart of Georgetown at the Four Seasons Hotel, Bourbon Steak’s D.C. location has earned a Best of Award of Excellence since 2009. To expand capacity for outdoor dining, the restaurant is now utilizing patio space in both the front and the back of the hotel, where manicured shrubs and vine-covered walls add to the summery feel. Chef Michael Mina’s menu includes mainstays like steak tartare and duck-fat fries, plus new items such as a lobster salad served with pole beans, prosciutto crisp and crème fraîche. Wine director Winn Roberton oversees the 850-selection list, with strengths in California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne and Italy, rounded out by several dozen large-format bottles.


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
Wife-and-husband team Swati Bose and Kabir Amir run the show at D.C. wine bar Flight. (Courtesy of Flight Wine Bar)

There are plenty of 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. Wine directors Swati Bose and Kabir Amir oversee the list of 700-plus selections, which features strengths in France, Burgundy, Italy, California, Spain and Austria, as well as offerings from countless wine regions around the globe, to pair with the American dinner menu that relies on local and seasonal ingredients. True to its name, the restaurant provides flight options spanning six pages, with themes such as “I Like Oak and I Cannot Lie” and “Aromatic Yet Dry Whites.” The sunny outdoor-dining space is set on a wide sidewalk, separated from pedestrian traffic by a barrier of potted plants.


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, including the D.C. location, which features nearly 500 selections, with strengths in California and France to pair with your choice of steak or seafood. The restaurant is open for dine-in, requiring that all guests have their temperature taken before entering.


Le Diplomate

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

Trout Amandine with a glass of white wine at Le Diplomate
Le Diplomate features a wine list that reflects its French cuisine. (James C. Jackson)

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 Greg Lloyd’s menu includes comforting favorites such as moules frites, steak au poivre and onion soup gratinée to be enjoyed in the classic café atmosphere, with seating “en plein air” on warmer days. Head sommelier John Loats’ moderately priced 350-selection list emphasizes France, rounded out by picks from California, Australia, Oregon and beyond. There’s plenty of outdoor dining space, some of which is set under Le Diplomate’s signature red awning.


Masseria

1340 Fourth St. N.E., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 608-1330
Website www.masseria-dc.com
Best of Award of Excellence

A pasta dish and a glass of white wine at Masseria
Pair Masseria’s Italian dishes with a bottle from the 1,300-selection list. (Scott Suchman)

Named for a farm in Italy’s Puglia region, Masseria showcases chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Italian roots through both wine and cuisine. Wine director John Filkins’ list is strongest in Tuscany and Piedmont but also shines in Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux and California. The program has made impressive leaps in size in recent years, growing from 450 selections in 2017 to 1,300 selections today. In-person dining isn’t returning until Aug. 6—though Stefanelli’s Officina is open with rooftop seating—but there are typically several tasting-menu options to choose from at Masseria, starting at $98 per person. In the meantime, the “Masseria a Casa” program offers daily changing dinners for two with optional wine pairings for pickup and delivery. The dishes are an intersection of traditional and trendy, with plates such as linguini with XO sauce and burnt-wheat orecchiette with lamb ragù.


RPM Italian

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

One of the numerous Best of Award of Excellence winners in the Lettuce Entertain You group, RPM Italian offers an extensive wine program and modern Italian fare. Wine director Richard Hanauer manages the list of more than 1,100 selections, nearly doubled since 2018. The list is strongest in Piedmont, Tuscany and California, with collector’s bottles from producers such as Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Gaja. The menu has a contemporary spin, including pastas made fresh daily like squid-ink spaghetti with king crab and Fresno chile and pappardelle with short-rib ragù. RPM Italian is open for dine-in, with seatings limited to two hours.


Jaleo

Guests dining at socially distant tables outside Jaleo
Tables are spaced apart for socially distant seating outside Jaleo. (Courtesy of ThinkFoodGroup)

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

Jaleo, the original Spanish restaurant from superstar chef José Andrés and co-owner Rob Wilder, has five Award of Excellence–winning locations with creative, tapas-style menus. The D.C. outpost, located in Penn Quarter, stands out from the pack with the largest wine list of the bunch (230 selections). Wine director Andy Myers’ list is expectedly strong in Spain and includes several Sherries, as well as a few magnums and half-bottles. Dine indoors, or outdoors on the sidewalk patio. The many other Restaurant Award winners in Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup include fellow D.C. spots Zaytinya, Barmini and Minibar.


Punjab Grill

417 11th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 813-3004
Website www.punjabgrilldc.com
Award of Excellence

Burrata with eggplant and tomatoes on a white plate against a black background
Punjab Grill draws inspiration from several cuisines, with dishes like this burrata with spiced Italian eggplant and tomatoes. (Courtesy of Punjab Grill)

D.C.’s first and only Restaurant Award winner with Indian cuisine, Punjab Grill pairs bold, spice-forward dishes with a wine program designed to serve a range of wine lovers, from beginners to dedicated pros. The restaurant is open for patio dining with distanced tables, where guests can order chef Jassi Bindra’s inventive small plates like burrata with spiced Italian eggplant, and mains like lamb with pickled kohlrabi and mint chutney and a sampler of three styles of chicken tikka. Cesar Varela manages the wine program, which is strongest in France (especially Bordeaux), Italy and California. The 310-selection list covers major names such as Krug, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Antinori, but there are dozens of options under $100 and nearly 20 available by the glass. Other international regions represented include Australia, Germany and Spain.


Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.

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