Think you’re leaving the food scene when you leave the city? Think again.
Washington, DC is, hands down, one of the best spots for foodies in the world. Given its endless influx of new tastes and cultures, you can find tons to chew on in this city, from amazing pizza to out-of-this-world Ethiopian to literally anything in between. So, no surprise, when families leave the city they’re worried about giving up the endless options for global cuisine—but, in these DC suburbs, incredible eats are definitely still on the menu.
1. Bethesda, MD
Bethesda is a foodie paradise, with a bustling downtown packed with restaurants. While you’ll find great food all throughout Bethesda, the bulk of the foodie landscape tends to fall on Bethesda Row. Here, you’ll find everything from Cork 57, a popular wine shop, to Fresh Baguette which, as the name suggests, is packed with fresh breads, pastries and other baked treats. Grab anything and everything in this short block, from fresh whole fish to grass-fed meats to fresh-ground coffee and espresso.
Many of these spots offer both grab-and-go eats and foods you can prepare at home, ideal for home cooks and entertainers. But if you’re looking for a day or night out? This area doesn’t disappoint either. Check out Mediterranean hotspot CAVA for a quick bite or Nando’s Peri-Peri, a South African-Portuguese quick serve spot, with sought-after grilled chicken that’s worth the wait.
While strolling Bethesda Row, expect it all—bagels, gelato, green juice, wood-fired pizza, fish tacos, renowned Georgetown Cupcake, Luke’s Lobster and lots, lots, lots more. So while you’re exploring, don’t miss this small but mighty strip, especially if foodie adventures are on your suburban “must-have” list.
2. Old Town Alexandria, VA
Even DC Eater can’t get enough of the food scene in Old Town Alexandria. This charming DC suburb is a go-to for tourists and residents craving something different—because this food-focused community delivers.
Seafood is, no surprise, on the top of many menus. But here, “seafood” isn’t one-size-fits-all—snag everything from mouth-watering shrimp po’boys and steamer pails at Vola’s Dockside Grill, eat marina-side at Blackwall Hitch or stroll down King Street and pick your fave—everything from whole-grilled fish to mussels to lobster rolls and more are at the ready no matter when you’ve got a hankering. This spot is especially delicious in the summer when many restaurants offer al fresco dining, right on the water.
Seafood, though, is just the beginning. Chop Shop Taco is a former auto body garage turned on-trend taqueria. Craving noodles? Yunnan is all about Southwest Chinese fare, including their famous Mixian rice noodles. German schnitzel? BBQ briskets? Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches? Check, check and check, all right here in the suburbs.
Also hot? The cocktail scene. Here, residents and visitors alike flock to spots like The Hour for vintage and creative new cocktails from top-notch mixologists. Same goes for Evening Star Cafe—grab a cocktail and, in the warmer months, head to their rooftop garden or pop up patio. Also fun: Port City Brewing Company which has tons of national accolades to show for its amazing local brewing, plus wine and champagne go-to Sonoma Cellar and Brut Champagne and Wine Bar.
Still not sure where to start? Check out the Carpe DC Food Tour and their Old Town Food Tour which hits five amazing eateries in Old Town Alexandria. Rather something sweet? There’s even a Sweet History walking tour led by Discover Alexandria. Yum…
3. Arlington, VA
Another foodie mecca in Virginia, Arlington has long been a go-to for eaters looking outside of city limits—because if you’re craving it, you’ll find it in this DC suburb.
One of the most unique features of eating in Arlington? Not only is there everything but, given the diverse cultural influences in this area, expect to find lots of twists on traditions. At Hot Lola’s, for example, grab a chicken sandwich that brings together both Nashville and Sichuan styles—and the results are unbelievable (and speak to the restaurant’s five resounding Yelp stars…).
Same goes for Asiatique, which unites two unexpected influences: sushi and cajun. French and Italian come together at Mele Bistro. Craving Korean and Mexican? Head to Taco Ssam. And that’s just a taste.
But it’s not just these creative coming-togethers the Arlington food scene is known for. Spots like Green Pig Bistro serves up sustainable local meats, while Ambar brings Serbian flavors right to Wilson Boulevard.
Also on the boulevard—and the menu? Everything from craft cocktails to Modern European, gourmet burgers, barbecue, tapas, tacos and tons of trendy American eats. Venture off Wilson and you’ll find even more, from cheese-centric Cheestique to a Belgian and German beer bar with gigantic pretzels and mussel pots to legendary Peter Chang’s namesake where he’s often in the kitchen, you’ll find it all in Arlington.
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t… without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.