If you and your friends want to get dinner on Capitol Hill but didn’t make a reservation anywhere, you might think you’re screwed. Most of the best restaurants in the neighborhood will either make you wait for two hours or won’t take you at all. Don’t worry, you don’t just have to give in and bring takeout to somebody’s apartment. There are a ton of great spots on the hill that are easy to get into and don’t require too much planning ahead.
Here are the 10 best sit-down group spots on Cap Hill where you won’t have to wait very long for a table (if at all).
You might be thinking that a slice joint is your best bet if you’re looking for a quick dinner on Pike, but do yourself a favor and step away from Big Mario’s, Hot Mama’s, and Ian’s. You can find way better pizza at Via Tribunali, and you won’t have to eat standing up. Sit down to a charred and floppy Neapolitan salami pie chased with an Aperol spritz. You won’t have to wait a long time, unlike the sorry people in line at Hot Mama’s.
Good luck trying to get some last-minute tacos at Fogon or Mezcaleria Oaxaca. Instead, walk down Pine just a bit further and go to La Cocina Oaxaquena. They make the best Mexican food in town, the prices are very reasonable, and there’s hardly ever a wait. Don’t spend 45 minutes trying to get into other spots before coming here - the sooner you get seated, the sooner you can have margaritas, al pastor tacos, and spicy shrimp with rice.
If you’re looking for Middle Eastern food on the hill, you might think you need a reservation at Mamnoon or have to get takeout. Aviv Hummus Bar is another great option perfect for when you want to sit down, relax, and spend a reasonable amount on some great falafel. It’s a restaurant with colorful chairs that’s never too crowded, and where you can mix-and-match a meal out of some mezzes, Israeli salad, fresh pita, and fries dunked in tahini. Use it if you’re looking for a chill spot to have some wine and hummus with a couple of friends.
Your parents made plans to visit you from out of town. Instead of making a reservation a week ago when they asked, you must have been too busy staring at your Netflix screen or cleaning out a pickle jar. Now they’re here, and you need to think of somewhere fast that serves great cocktails and has a wide variety of things to eat. Quinn’s Pub is your secret weapon. The two-story space is cozy and comfortable, and you can order things like a beet salad, their famous wild boar sloppy joe, and one of the best burgers in town. Why this place isn’t packed seven nights a week, we’ll never know.
Waiting at a hot pot restaurant while you’re forced to smell delicious soup can be torture. But you shouldn’t have to wait too long at Morfire, a spot on 12th that has a ton of broth options like a spicy coconut, pork bone, and miso. You can split the pot into two separate broth flavors, and then pick various vegetables and proteins to cook in the boiling soup, like tofu, beef, and wontons. It’s perfect for a group if you’re all in the mood for something hearty.
On a Saturday at 11pm, Sam’s is a party. But at 6pm, it’s a calm and quiet dive where you and your friends can sit at one of their wooden booths and order some burgers and beers (or spiked Butterfinger milkshakes). Everything here is great, but if you’re in the mood for bacon you’ll want to order the 50/50 burger - there’s bacon blended into the patty and it’s topped with gouda, avocado, bacon ranch, and more even bacon. The original owner of Sam’s went on to found Red Robin, so just like at each chain location, all the burgers here come with bottomless steak fries. You won’t find any children’s birthday parties or servers wearing branded polos at Sam’s though.
Two Doors Down is another great place for a sit-down burger that you can get into without waiting. It’s on a not-so-busy part of Madison and they have a lot of seating - both of these things make it great if you want to catch up with a friend or have dinner with your family who was “in the area and decided to drop by.” The food ranges from classic cheeseburgers to a fried avocado sandwich served between two corn cakes. Don’t forget to order some crispy fries with garlic-hop mayo.
You might think Honeyhole is a tiki bar based on the red lighting and ridiculous piranha dangling from the ceiling. But it’s actually a restaurant that specializes in tasty baguette sandwiches with combinations like turkey, dill havarti, and ranch or tri-tip with horseradish mayo and cheddar dipped in au jus. It’s impossible to have a bad meal here.
Jamjuree is a great Thai spot to keep in mind when you’re walking up and down 15th Avenue looking for a place that has a table available. The restaurant is full of cozy booths and kind of feels like a neighborhood coffee shop, only instead of scones and lattes, they serve panang curry and Thai iced tea. Don’t miss the pad thai, which they serve with a thin layer of egg over the top that you mix up yourself.
There aren’t many seats inside this small Eastern European diner, but it’s still easy to get a table here on a random weekday at 7pm. The whole menu is filled with hearty dishes like tender braised brisket, Russian dumplings, latkes, and Georgian boat pizza filled with farmer’s cheese and ham. If you want to feed your friends a comforting meal but don’t have it in you to cook, take them to Dacha.