How to Eat Dinner On 14th Street Without a Reservation

Brunch at the bistro Le Diplomate.

Our expert: Philippa Hughes, founder of the DC culture newsletter the Pink Line Project, who has lived in a condo amid the red-hot restaurant scene of 14th Street since 2004.

Go early. “Lots of places have happy-hour specials, so I’ll go at 5:30 and drink until it’s time for dinner. Ghibellina (1610 14th St., NW; 202-803-2389) has half-price pizza—a nice snack to share—and deals on Prosecco. Cork Wine Bar (1720 14th St., NW; 202-265-2675) has specials on dishes like avocado toast.”

Think big. “Go to a place on the larger side—like Tico (1926 14th St., NW; 202-319-1400)—and you may be able to walk in and get a table. Still, at a big spot—Le Diplomate (1601 14th St., NW; 202-332-3333)—you’ll have to wait, and that’s no fun.”

Go old-school. “It’s usually easier to get a table at restaurants that have been open for a long time, like Posto (1515 14th St., NW; 202-332-8613). People want to go somewhere new, and they forget about neighborhood places like that. I like their ragu—it’s good and hearty. Café Saint-Ex (1847 14th St., NW; 202-265-7839) is also an option, especially in the summer when the patio is open.”

Think outside the box. “Sometimes if I’m going to a play at Studio Theatre, I’ll head to the little Chinese place across the street, 14th Street Cafe Asian Bistro (1416 14th St., NW; 202-588-0695). It’s kind of a takeout place, but their salt-and-pepper shrimp is so good and you can people-watch from the big window at the front.”

Read more advice, tips, and tricks from Washington natives in our Secrets of the City package.

This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.