Best Places to Live

Washington , DC

Population: 647,484
Elizabeth Parker

Washington, DC is one the best food cities in America. Our nation's capital has become a capital of food, one with a much higher approval rating than Congress could ever hope for. Led by a batch of talented chefs and entrepreneurs, Washington, D.C.'s food scene was recently transformed from a place known for its power lunches to a four-course foodie destination. In the shadows of tourist attractions like the Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian museums and the White House are neighborhood eateries, small markets and dynamic restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs.

Homemade doughnuts, fried chicken, fritters and craft beer draw a steady stream of diners to GBD, which stands for Golden Brown Delicious. The husband and wife team created a list of recommended beers to drink while eating doughnuts and buttermilk fried chicken. Just three blocks from the White House is Founding Farmers, a restaurant devoted to sustainable agriculture and environmental protection. The vast menu includes handmade pasta, wild-caught fish, fresh baked breads and slow-cooked stews. Rose's Luxury serves dinner in an open layout with multiple bars and a garden feel. Locals know to show up early or expect a long wait to be seated, but waiting means time to sample creatively crafted cocktails. Large parties can take advantage of the family-style menu, which offers baby back ribs, smoked brisket and hand-cut fries.

Food history is explored at Food: Transforming the American Table, an ongoing exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History that showcases innovations, technologies and cultural shifts that changed the way we ate between 1950 and 2000. It includes Julia Child's kitchen.

Washington, DC, residents frequently eat at locally owned restaurants and spend more than the average American on food. The DC area's farmers markets supply at-home cooks with fresh produce, quality meats and baked goods.

Other places to sniff out: Rasika, El Chilango, Restaurant Nora
Don't miss: Snacks and samples at Union Market, a collection of artisan cooks and bakers.