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5 Top Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in DC

Last updated on September 25th, 2023 at 10:21 pm

5 Top Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in DC

5 Top Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in DC

These 5 Top Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in DC are home to a vibrant culinary scene, filled with hidden gems and hole-in-the-wall restaurants that offer unforgettable dining experiences. Five of these remarkable establishments: Florida Avenue Grill, Ben’s Chili Bowl, A Litteri, La Loma, and Tortino, each brings its unique charm, flavors, and traditions to the table, showcasing the diversity and richness of DC’s food culture.

From the soulful Southern dishes at Florida Avenue Grill to the iconic chili dogs at Ben’s Chili Bowl, these restaurants have carved a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. A Litteri enchants with its Italian delicatessen and grocery store, while La Loma transports diners to Mexico with its authentic flavors. Tortino captures the essence of homemade Italian cuisine with its delicious pasta dishes. All these restaurants in DC are worth investigating.

While these five restaurants stand out for their exceptional offerings, it’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of all the incredible hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC. The city is brimming with countless other hidden gems waiting to be discovered, including BBQ joints, ethnic eateries, and more. Now you know why they are one of the best restaurants in DC for you to discover.


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1. Florida Avenue Grill

Address: 1100 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
Phone Number: (202) 265-1586

Florida Avenue Grill is one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC. It has been serving delicious comfort food since its establishment in 1944, making it one of the oldest continuously operating soul food restaurants in the city. Situated in the U Street neighborhood, this family-owned and operated eatery has become a local institution known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere.

The restaurant specializes in Southern and soul food, offering a diverse menu of traditional dishes that have been perfected over the decades. From hearty breakfast options to mouthwatering lunch and dinner choices, Florida Avenue Grill serves up classic comfort food that satisfies both locals and visitors alike. The restaurant’s commitment to quality ingredients and authentic flavors has made it a go-to spot for those seeking a taste of true Southern hospitality.

One of Florida Avenue Grill’s signature dishes is their famous Fried Chicken. This golden, crispy delight is made using a secret family recipe and cooked to perfection. The chicken is tender and juicy on the inside, with a satisfyingly crunchy exterior that keeps customers coming back for more. Served with a side of collard greens and cornbread, this dish embodies the essence of soul food and showcases the restaurant’s dedication to delivering soulful and satisfying meals.

Main Menu Items:

1. Fried Chicken and Waffles: A delightful combination of crispy fried chicken served alongside fluffy waffles. This dish offers a harmonious balance of sweet and savory flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.

2. Shrimp and Grits: Succulent shrimp cooked to perfection and served over a bed of creamy, buttery grits. This Southern classic is a must-try for seafood lovers.

3. Smothered Pork Chops: Tender pork chops smothered in a rich and flavorful gravy, accompanied by a choice of sides such as macaroni and cheese or candied yams. This dish is the epitome of comfort food.

4. Catfish Po’ Boy: A generous portion of crispy catfish served on a soft roll, topped with lettuce, tomato, and a zesty remoulade sauce. This New Orleans-inspired sandwich is a favorite among seafood enthusiasts.

Customer Reviews:

“The fried chicken at Florida Avenue Grill is truly outstanding! It’s crispy, flavorful, and the perfect comfort food. I also loved the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant.”

“The shrimp and grits here are simply amazing! The shrimp are plump and juicy, and the grits are so creamy and delicious. This place never disappoints when I’m craving some good Southern food.”

“I’ve been a regular at Florida Avenue Grill for years, and I keep coming back for their smothered pork chops. The gravy is so rich and flavorful, and the pork chops are always cooked to perfection. It’s like a taste of home every time I visit.”

Florida Avenue Grill is a historic hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Washington, DC, offering soulful Southern cuisine since 1944. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, this family-owned eatery has become a beloved spot for locals and visitors seeking delicious comfort food. From their famous fried chicken to mouthwatering shrimp and grits, the menu at Florida Avenue Grill showcases the best of Southern and soul food traditions. Whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast, a satisfying lunch, or a soulful dinner, this hidden gem in the U Street neighborhood is sure to leave you craving for more. They rank in the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC for good reasons.


2. Ben’s Chili Bowl

Address: 1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Phone Number: (202) 667-0909

Ben’s Chili Bowl is one of the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC. A legendary hole-in-the-wall restaurant nestled in the vibrant U Street Corridor of Washington, DC. Since its inception in 1958, this iconic eatery has been serving up hearty and flavorful comfort food, making it a cultural landmark in the city. Ben’s Chili Bowl is family owned and operated, and its rich history and commitment to quality have earned it a loyal following.

The restaurant specializes in American classics, with a focus on its renowned chili. Ben’s Chili Bowl has been dishing out their signature homemade chili for over six decades, and it has become the centerpiece of their menu. This cozy and unpretentious establishment has a nostalgic charm that pays homage to its roots and continues to attract locals, tourists, and celebrities alike.

Ben’s Chili Bowl is best known for its mouthwatering Chili Half-Smoke. This iconic dish features a grilled half-smoke sausage, made with a blend of pork and beef, topped with a generous serving of their flavorful chili. Served on a warm, steamed bun and garnished with onions and mustard, this creation is a perfect balance of smoky, savory, and spicy flavors. The Chili Half-Smoke has become synonymous with Ben’s Chili Bowl and remains a must-try for any visitor.

Main Menu Items:

1. Original Chili Dog: A classic hot dog topped with Ben’s famous homemade chili, diced onions, and mustard. It’s a simple yet satisfying dish that has stood the test of time.

2. Chili Cheese Fries: Crispy French fries smothered in Ben’s hearty chili and topped with melted cheese. This indulgent treat is perfect for sharing or as a hearty meal on its own.

3. Veggie Chili Bowl: A vegetarian-friendly option featuring Ben’s flavorful vegetarian chili served over rice. Packed with vegetables and spices, this dish provides a satisfying and healthy alternative.

4. Turkey Burger: A juicy turkey patty topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, served on a toasted bun. This lighter option still delivers on taste and is a favorite among those seeking a delicious alternative.

Customer Reviews:

“Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC institution! The Chili Half-Smoke is hands down the best chili dog I’ve ever had. The combination of the smoky sausage and the flavorful chili is simply unbeatable.”

“You can’t visit DC without stopping by Ben’s Chili Bowl. The Original Chili Dog is a classic that never disappoints. The atmosphere is buzzing, the service is friendly, and the food is always delicious.”

“I’m a vegetarian, and I was pleasantly surprised by the Veggie Chili Bowl at Ben’s Chili Bowl. The vegetarian chili has so much flavor, and it paired perfectly with the rice. It’s a great option for anyone looking for a meat-free meal.”

Ben’s Chili Bowl is an iconic hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in the U Street Corridor of Washington, DC. Family owned and operated since 1958, it has become a cultural landmark known for its delicious comfort food. The restaurant’s signature Chili Half-Smoke, topped with their homemade chili, is a beloved dish that embodies the flavors and spirit of Ben’s Chili Bowl. From classic chili dogs to indulgent chili cheese fries, the menu offers a range of options that cater to different tastes. With its nostalgic charm and warm atmosphere, Ben’s Chili Bowl continues to be a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike, showcasing the rich culinary heritage of DC. They stand out among the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC.


3. A Litteri

Address: 517 Morse St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone Number: (202) 544-0184

A Litteri is another of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC. An Italian grocery store located in the Northeast neighborhood of Washington, DC. This family-owned and operated establishment has been serving the community since 1926, making it one of the oldest Italian specialty stores in the city. A Litteri has become a beloved destination for food enthusiasts and Italian cuisine aficionados seeking authentic ingredients and homemade dishes.

A Litteri is a combination of a delicatessen, grocery store, and eatery, offering a unique experience to visitors. The shelves are stocked with a wide variety of imported Italian goods, including pasta, olive oil, cheeses, cured meats, and more. In addition to the grocery offerings, they also have a small eatery section where customers can indulge in delicious sandwiches and other Italian specialties.

A Litteri’s signature food is their mouthwatering Italian sub, also known as the “Capitol Hill Special.” This delectable creation features a generous combination of Italian cold cuts, such as mortadella, salami, and capicola, layered with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar. All of this is nestled inside a freshly baked Italian sub roll. The Capitol Hill Special captures the essence of Italian flavors and showcases the quality of ingredients available at A Litteri.

Main Menu Items:

1. Meatball Parmesan Sub: A classic Italian comfort food, featuring homemade meatballs smothered in marinara sauce, topped with melted cheese, and served on a crusty sub roll.

2. Chicken Cutlet Sub: Breaded and fried chicken cutlets topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo, served on a soft Italian sub roll. It’s a satisfying choice for those craving a hearty sandwich.

3. Prosciutto and Mozzarella Sandwich: Thinly sliced prosciutto, fresh mozzarella cheese, and vibrant basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and served on a baguette. This sandwich highlights the simplicity and elegance of Italian cuisine.

4. Antipasto Platter: A delightful assortment of Italian cured meats, cheeses, olives, marinated vegetables, and crusty bread. Perfect for sharing or as an appetizer to complement your meal.

Customer Reviews:

“A Litteri is my go-to place for authentic Italian ingredients and delicious sandwiches. The Capitol Hill Special is a flavor explosion that never disappoints. The store has a wonderful selection of imported goods, and the staff is always friendly and knowledgeable.”

“If you’re in the mood for an amazing Italian sub, look no further than A Litteri. The quality and freshness of the ingredients are top-notch. I also love browsing through the grocery store and discovering new Italian products.”

“A Litteri is a true hidden gem in DC. The sandwiches are made with love and attention to detail. The flavors transport me back to Italy, and the grocery store is a paradise for any Italian food lover. Highly recommended!”

A Litteri is a cherished hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant and grocery store in the Northeast neighborhood of Washington, DC. Family owned and operated since 1926, it offers a unique experience for visitors seeking authentic Italian ingredients and homemade dishes. From their signature Capitol Hill Special to a variety of delicious sandwiches, A Litteri combines quality ingredients and traditional flavors to satisfy any Italian food craving. The grocery store section adds to the charm, providing a wide range of imported Italian goods. With its rich history and dedication to preserving Italian culinary traditions, A Litteri has become a beloved destination for food enthusiasts and a must-visit spot for anyone looking for an authentic Italian experience in DC. They deserve to be ranked among the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC.


4. La Loma

Address: 316 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone Number: (202) 548-3838

La Loma is one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC. Located in the Northeast neighborhood of Washington, DC. This family-owned and operated establishment has been serving delicious Mexican cuisine since its opening in 2010. La Loma has quickly gained a reputation as one of the top Mexican restaurants in the city, offering an authentic and vibrant dining experience.

The restaurant embodies a warm and inviting atmosphere, with colorful decor and a cozy layout. La Loma takes pride in showcasing the diverse flavors of Mexican cuisine, featuring traditional dishes made from scratch with fresh ingredients. It has become a go-to spot for locals and visitors looking for a genuine taste of Mexico in the heart of DC.

La Loma’s signature dish is their mouthwatering Carnitas Tacos. These succulent tacos are made with slow-cooked, tender pork that is marinated and seasoned to perfection. The meat is then served on soft corn tortillas and topped with fresh cilantro, onions, and a squeeze of lime. The Carnitas Tacos at La Loma exemplify the authentic flavors and culinary traditions of Mexico.

Main Menu Items:

1. Enchiladas Verdes: Corn tortillas filled with your choice of chicken, beef, or cheese, rolled up and smothered in a flavorful green tomatillo sauce. Served with rice and beans, this dish is a classic Mexican comfort food.

2. Chiles Rellenos: Roasted poblano peppers stuffed with a savory filling of cheese or seasoned ground beef, battered and fried to a golden crisp. They are served with a zesty tomato sauce and accompanied by rice and beans.

3. Carne Asada: Grilled and marinated steak served with a side of sautéed onions, rice, beans, and warm tortillas. This hearty and flavorful dish is a favorite among meat lovers.

4. Shrimp Ceviche: Fresh shrimp marinated in lime juice and mixed with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalapeños. This refreshing and tangy seafood dish is a perfect starter or light meal option.

Customer Reviews:

“La Loma has the best Mexican food in town! The Carnitas Tacos are simply amazing. The meat is incredibly tender and full of flavor. The restaurant has a cozy ambiance and friendly staff. It’s my go-to place for authentic Mexican cuisine.”

“The enchiladas at La Loma are to die for! The green tomatillo sauce is tangy and delicious, and the chicken filling is tender and seasoned perfectly. The portions are generous, and the staff is always attentive and friendly.”

“I’ve been a regular at La Loma for years, and their chiles rellenos never disappoint. The crispy batter, the cheesy filling, and the flavorful tomato sauce come together beautifully. It feels like a home-cooked meal every time I visit.”

La Loma is a family-owned and operated Mexican restaurant tucked away in the Northeast neighborhood of Washington, DC. With its authentic flavors and warm atmosphere, it has quickly become a top choice for Mexican cuisine in the city. From the mouthwatering Carnitas Tacos to the flavorful Enchiladas Verdes, the menu at La Loma showcases the richness and variety of Mexican culinary traditions. Whether you’re craving hearty meat dishes or fresh seafood options, this hole-in-the-wall gem delivers with its quality ingredients and vibrant flavors. For a taste of Mexico in the heart of DC, La Loma is a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and lovers of authentic Mexican cuisine. They have earned the rank of being one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC.


5. Tortino

Address: 1228 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone Number: (202) 312-5570

Tortino is a hidden gem of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in the vibrant neighborhood of Shaw in Washington, DC. This family-owned and operated establishment has been delighting customers with its authentic Italian cuisine since it opened its doors in 2008. Nestled in a cozy space, Tortino offers an intimate dining experience that transports guests to the heart of Italy.

Tortino, one of the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC, specializes in Italian comfort food, showcasing traditional recipes made with love and attention to detail. The restaurant’s warm and inviting atmosphere, combined with its dedication to using high-quality ingredients, has made it a favorite among locals and visitors seeking an authentic Italian dining experience.

Tortino is renowned for its delectable homemade pasta dishes, with their signature dish being the Gnocchi Sorrentina. This mouthwatering creation features light and fluffy potato dumplings, tossed in a rich tomato sauce with fresh basil and mozzarella. The dish is baked to perfection, resulting in a flavorful and comforting pasta experience that embodies the essence of Italian cuisine.

Main Menu Items:

1. Tagliatelle Bolognese: Fresh egg pasta ribbons served with a hearty meat sauce made with ground beef, pork, and tomatoes. This classic Italian dish is a favorite among pasta lovers.

2. Saltimbocca alla Romana: Tender veal scaloppine topped with prosciutto and sage, served with a savory white wine and butter sauce. This elegant and flavorful dish represents the traditional flavors of Rome.

3. Eggplant Parmigiana: Slices of breaded and fried eggplant layered with melted mozzarella and tangy marinara sauce. Baked to perfection, this vegetarian delight is a comforting and satisfying option.

4. Tiramisu: A classic Italian dessert consisting of layers of ladyfingers dipped in espresso and layered with a creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese, eggs, and sugar. Topped with cocoa powder, this indulgent treat is the perfect finale to a meal.

Customer Reviews:

“Tortino is a true gem! The Gnocchi Sorrentina is out of this world. The gnocchi melts in your mouth, and the tomato sauce is perfectly balanced. The atmosphere is cozy, and the service is attentive and friendly.”

“The pasta at Tortino is amazing! The Tagliatelle Bolognese is rich and flavorful, and the pasta is cooked perfectly al dente. The restaurant has a charming ambiance, and the staff makes you feel like part of the family.”

“I can’t get enough of Tortino’s Saltimbocca alla Romana. The veal is tender, and the prosciutto and sage add a delightful burst of flavor. The attention to detail in every dish is evident, and the desserts are heavenly. Highly recommended!”

Tortino is a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant tucked away in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC. With its cozy atmosphere and dedication to authentic Italian cuisine, it has become a beloved spot for food enthusiasts seeking a taste of Italy. From the heavenly Gnocchi Sorrentina to the flavorful Tagliatelle Bolognese, Tortino offers a range of homemade pasta dishes that capture the essence of Italian comfort food. With its warm hospitality and commitment to quality, this hole-in-the-wall gem is a must-visit destination for anyone craving a truly authentic Italian dining experience in DC. They can definitely be counted among the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC.


So, whether you’re in search of mouthwatering BBQ, international flavors, or unique culinary experiences, venture out and explore the city’s lesser-known restaurants. Take the time to immerse yourself in the local food scene, discovering the tantalizing flavors and warm hospitality that can be found within the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in DC.

In the end, the joy of dining lies not only in the satisfaction of a great meal but also in the journey of discovering new and remarkable culinary destinations. This is why they are all the best restaurants in DC for you to discover.


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