9 Fun New Lunch Destinations Around DC

Great restaurants for your next business lunch, afternoon date, or Friday escape.

Dauphine's rolls out lunch with classic New Orleans sandwiches, oyster spaghetti, and more.

Remember the point in the pandemic where a nice, sit-down lunch was harder to find than a reservation at Le Diplomate (coincidently, one of the rare spots open for a nice, sit-down lunch)? Thankfully, the afternoon meal is back in a big way—whether you’re doing business or playing hooky and doing you. 

1100 15th St., NW
Spend a leisurely lunch hour or two at this New Orleans-inspired spot at Midtown Center. Favorites like the oyster spaghetti make an appearance alongside a good-looking lineup of gumbos and Big Easy sandwiches (muffalettas, po’ boys, etc.). Diners can create their own two-or-three-course prix-fixes ($32 and $40).

200 Massachusetts Ave., NW
It’s tough to snag a primetime dinner reservation at chef David Deshaies Italian hotspot near Penn Quarter (thanks, Obama). Afternoon tables are a little easier—and you’ll be rewarded with many of the same pizzas and pastas, plus more entree salads. Celebrating? The kitchen also turns out showstoppers like a $95 whole Maine lobster thermidor.

New lunch places around DC: Piccolina
Piccolina—a bigger, brighter version—reopens at CityCenterDC. Photography by Scott Suchman

963 Palmer Alley, NW
Centrolina chef Amy Brandwein recently unveiled her expanded, full-service Italian cafe at CityCenterDC. Go for wood-fired skewers, seasonal vegetables, indulgent pizzas and sandwiches, and a fun spritz menu. 

Chang Chang
1200 19th St., NW 
Lauded Chinese chef Peter Chang just unveiled his first-ever DC restaurant, near Dupont Circle. The two-in-one-concept is split between an upscale, modern-Chinese dining room and a Szechuan takeout/delivery operation—each with distinct menus, and both offering lunch. “Chang Out” serves all-day takeout staples, while “Chang In” specializes in bento boxes at lunch with a rotating selection of main dishes and set seasonal sides.

New lunch places around DC: Vermilion
A burger to remember at Vermilion in Old Town. Photograph by Rey Lopez

1120 King St., Alexandria
Alexandria’s date night staple recently reopened after a long pandemic closure—and now it’s a date lunch destination, too. Chef Ben Pflaumer prepares seasonal plates—many with an Italian bent—such as Maryland crab croquettes, rigatoni with Shenandoah goat ragu, and a terrific burger. If you miss lunch, a more limited midday menu is also available alongside tasty cocktails. 

St. Anselm
250 Fifth St., NE
Buttery biscuits aren’t just a weekend splurge at Stephen Starr’s steak-centric tavern near Union Market. Lunch—offered only on Fridays—brings a number of treats. We can see ourselves hunkering in a booth with a bacon-cheeseburger and a martini—it’s practically the weekend, don’t judge—or one of the “bigs from the grill.” 

New lunch places around DC: St. Anselm
Tuck into a booth at St. Anselm for a fun Friday lunch. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Hank’s Oyster Bar Alexandria
818 N. St. Asaph St., Alexandria
Hank’s recently moved to new Old Town digs—now with a lovely rooftop—and rolled out an all-day menu. All the classics are here: creamy bisque, lobster rolls, fried seafood platters, and more.

1309 Fifth St., NE (inside Union Market)
A trio of Maydan alums just opened this Lebanese kebab-and-cocktail bar in Union Market’s prime restaurant spot (formerly Rappahannock Oyster Co). An all-day menu shows off a kaleidoscope of dips, salads, platters, and warm pita sandwiches stuffed with meaty and vegetarian options. If you’re not going back to work, try one of barman Said Haddad’s herbaceous cocktails—or, on the flip side, an invigorating cardamom cold brew.

New lunch places around DC: Yasmine Union Market
Crispy falafel sandwich at Yasmine. Photograph by Jennifer Chase

Seamore’s Sustainable Seafood 
2815 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington
Manhattan-based Seamore’s just opened its first branch outside New York. Sustainable fish and shellfish are the focus, defined by any species whose populations are stable or growing. Casual, Montauk-style fare includes lobster rolls, oysters, fish tacos, and bowls with grilled local catches.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.