A platter of spinach and artichoke dip on tiny crackers is served by a waiter at an upscale event.

With the popularity of sharing plates and tapas spots soaring, it’s easy to see that appetizers are where it’s at these days. Check out our recommendations below to see which restaurants you need to check out for the best starters in DC:

Thip Khao

Columbia Heights’ Laotian superstar, which won recognition from Bon Appetit, has an excellent array of flavorful starters. Our favorites include the Chuenh Nok—fried quail with ginger and black pepper. For restaurant-goers who want to try something new without straying too far from the old classics, try the more adventurous Chueneh Hua Ped with fried duck heads, cucumber, and sriracha.

3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
(202) 387-5426


A short drive from the Capitol Hill Hotel, this classy Foggy Bottom Indian spot is one of the grand dames of Washington cuisine. Go for palak chaat, a delectable fried spinach appetizer ranked one of the District’s top dishes by the Washington Post.

633 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004
(202) 637-1222

Mintwood Place

At chef Cedric Maupillier’s Adams Morgan French-American tavern, appetizers are divided into two categories: bite-sized “nibbles” and larger starters. From the first group, we recommend the crispy escargot hush puppies; for the second, go with the creamy burrata with kale,  hazelnut, apple and tamarind.

1813 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-6732

Del Campo

Make your way to this upscale Latin American steakhouse in DC’s City Center district for creative, decadent starters unlike anything else you’ll find in the District. The restaurant’s focus is on grilling. Appetizers stand out with dishes like ink-smoked lamb sweetbread dumplings with soy, miso, and romesco and wagyu sirloin empanadas.

777 I St NW, Washington, DC 20001
(202) 289-7377

Fiola Mare

This upscale seafood restaurant is a great spot to take in harbourside views of the Georgetown Waterfront while enjoying antipasti delights. While we’re all about the briny oysters on the half shell, the front-runner has to the creamy burrata starter, served with beets and a tangy green apple garlic emulsion.

3100 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 628-0065