in partnership
Olivia_Charred Romanseco Cauliflower_Greg Powers_012119.jpg
The charred romanseco cauliflower on the lunch menu at Olivia looks like a work of art. (Image: Greg Powers)

5 new must-try lunches in D.C.

Thanks to the bitter cold (and this blasted furlough), local businesses could use a little extra love. And you know what? So could you. The next time you're in the mood for something a lot more interesting than a sad desk salad, there are a handful of new options around town that offer everything from seafood to Mediterranean to Mexican to spice up your mid-day meal.

Here are five great reasons to keep that frozen lunch on ice for one more day.


Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj recently closed Nopa in Penn Quarter and replaced it with this on-trend Mediterranean spot featuring such dishes as charred romanesco cauliflower and creative spreads like tzatziki labneh, eggplant matbucha and carrot hummus served with black rice pita. Other dishes served during the recently launched lunch include a lamb cheesesteak, a lamb and beef cheeseburger gilded with Manchego, flatbreads and chorizo-crusted cod.

Lunch hours: 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. weekdays

800 F St. NW

Espita Mezcaleria

This beloved Shaw spot recently kicked off Espita Lonchería, a casual counter-service lunch that offers convention-goers and locals either a fast and delicious option for those on the go or wi-fi and plenty of space for those who prefer to camp out and work. The brief menu features a few outstanding salads and tacos, plus a few dishes that are exclusive to the lunch menu. We wholeheartedly recommend the fish tacos, crispy (outside) and fluffy (inside) fried yuca, guacamole and some pretty killer coconut-passion fruit churros. A streamlined cocktail list is also available.

Lunch hours: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. weekdays

1250 Ninth St. NW

The Delegate

Located in the new hotel-brand hybrid of a Courtyard Marriott and a Residence Inn near the Convention Center, The Delegate aims to reel in lunch-goers with American favorites like crab cakes, a turkey club, a burger and larger plates including short ribs with sweet potato puree and green beans or the handful of meal-sized salads. One thing you absolutely can’t miss ordering are the filet mignon sliders—three perfect little mini brioche buns tucked with nicely cooked beef, grilled onions, mushrooms, garlic aioli and melty gruyère.

Lunch hours: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays

901 L St. NW

Valor Brewpub

What does it mean to be a veteran-focused brewpub? For the owners of Valor on Barracks Row, it translates into “hiring as many veterans as possible, supporting veteran-owned businesses and donating to veteran charities.” For chef Ryan Hackney, it translates into making tasty, feel-good food like one of the menu’s stars: mariner’s chowder, a creamy tomato soup loaded with butter-poached crab and shrimp, bourbon cream garnished with cilantro and Old Bay bread crumbs. Also try the pile of housemade chicken nuggets tossed in Thai chili mambo sauce and work your way through the roster of sandwiches (but note that the “steak and cheese” is deconstructed).

Lunch hours: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays

723 Eighth St. SE

Rappahannock Oyster Bar at The Wharf

Ever wish the teeny, tiny Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Union Market had more space? Well, wishes do come true. Since December, Washingtonians can slurp their favorite local oysters in a restored historic oyster shed at the edge of The Wharf development. You’ll find other Rappahannock favorites created by chef Autumn Cline for the newcomer’s all-day menu, such as the outstanding crab cakes and oyster chowder, plus seafood fry baskets and a crispy whole fish accented by Vietnamese flavors. If it’s Friday, go ahead and order one of their outstanding cocktails.

Lunch hours: Opens daily at 11 a.m.

1150 Maine Ave. SW