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Need Recs for D.C.

  • c

My parents are coming to D.C. next weekend and I am taking the train down from NYC to meet them. None of us are at all familiar with D.C., and I would love some restaurant recommendations. Neighborhood and local favorites would be especially good, though my dad isn't a huge fan of ethnic cuisine, so little French places with really good food would be ideal. Nothing fancy or too expensive, between $30-$50 a person would be good, and they have to have a full bar. We're staying at Capitol Suites, 200 C Street, so things in that area would also be good.

PS (Please don't tell me to read through the boards -- I am a regular visitor to Chowhound but I don't keep up with the D.C. posting and I really don't have time to skim through all the old postings. Much appreciated)

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  1. I love Georgia Brown's. It is good southern cuisine with a full bar! I highly recommend the fried catfish. The address is 950 15th St. (b/w K and Vermont) - a little over a mile from Cap. Suites. Enjoy!

    1. Bisro Bis in the George Hotel at 15 E Street, N.W. (just a few blocks away) would be a good bet. Jeffrey Buben(sp?) of Vidalia fame runs the kitchen. The food is very good. It is true to bistro cooking with refreshing salads, pates, roasted chicken, long-braised dishes, and the like. The portions are large, the bread is fresh and the service is excellent. And although it is by no means inexpensive, it is reasonably priced. The restaurant manages to be both sophisticated and familiar, with a nice bar area in front, and large tables in the dining area i back. Try it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bill

        I would second Bistro Bis, and would add that it's really the only game in town in the Capitol Hill area.

      2. I would definitely do Bistro Bis for the Capitol Hill area. Other favorites that won't bust the budget include:

        Johnny's Half Shell (Dupont Circle P Street)-- wonderful regional seafood specialties in a casual atmosphere. Reasonably priced and well regarded.

        Jaleo (7th and D Streets) -- Spanish tapas restaurant, hip, trendy, big bar, something for everyone. You said no ethnic, but there's a wealth of choices for every pallate and its a unique D.C. spot, with fine cooking.

        Equinox (Connecticut Ave near White House) -- Todd Gray's cooking is among the best in the city. You'll be pushing your budget a bit, depending on how many courses you're interested in, but the food is supurb. New American cuisine -- simple elegant fish dishes, perfectly prepared meats and game.

        In the category of "little French" and cheap -- that's hard, but Bistro Lepic fits the bill in Georgetown. Reservations a must. Not cheap but moderate. I also like a little place called Le Refuge in Old Town Alexandria, but it sounds like you may want to stick to the city.

        Other high-end favorites include Butterfield 9, 1789, Obelisk, Vidalia, Tabard Inn, but again, this will be more than $50/per if you do drinks and three courses. I just point them out in case ...

        1 Reply
        1. re: JRinDC

          I was just at Jaleo this weekend and loved it! The food was great and the sangria was amazing. The wait was only 20 minutes as opposed to the hour they told us it would be. I would recommend this as a great place to eat with wonderful atmosphere as well.

        2. Hi Caitlin. I regularly read your posts on the NYC board and am delighted to offer some tips for DC. You've already gotten some excellent suggestions--it will be hard to choose among them. Bistro Bis is terrific and only a stone's throw from your hotel. It would be a great choice for dinner or brunch on Sunday morning. If you do dinner, I would recommend the mussels or escargot for apps, and the scallops, coq au vin (an inspired updated rendition), or lamb for mains. JRinDC has already recommended most of the other restaurants I would suggest. Here are two or three additional places to consider: for Italian with a Tuscan emphasis, try Etrusco at 1606 20th Street, NW (a half block from the Dupont North Metro stop). DC Coast, on K Street, is great for fish and seafood. More crowded and a bit louder than some of the other places that have been suggested, and closer to your $50 per person cost target, but very innovative and always delicious selections. For Sunday brunch, you might want to venture over to Gabriel at the Radisson Barcelo Hotel (on P Street, just west of Dupont Circle). Gabriel offers one of the best brunches in town, with something for everyone. In addition to traditional brunch offerings, you can choose among a full selection of tapas, a variety of Spanish and Latin American dishes, roasted suckling pig (and lamb and beef), and a calorie-laden array of desserts (don't miss the creme brulee). The cost is around $20 a person, and reservations are a must. Enjoy your visit with your parents in DC, and give us some feedback on the places you try.

          2 Replies
          1. re: NancyDC

            Good suggestions. Definitely call ahead at Gabriel, though, because I read they are closing for renovations. They want the ambiance to match their food. If they are open, the brunch is well worthwhile.

            1. re: NancyDC

              I can 2nd the Gabriel suggestion. They also have the best chocolate cake I have had in ages!

            2. If you're leaning towards (fairly) inexpensive bistro style french, my personal favorite is Bistro du Coin on Connecticut Avenue in Dupont Circle. It has a reputation for being overcrowded but of the dozen or so times I've eaten there, I've only once been asked to wait for a table, and that was only 15-20 minutes. The food is hearty and very tasty, great steaks and shrimp...and the best escargots I've ever tasted, even in France. Lots of decent wine selections under $25/bottle and the atmosphere is very lively (although I've never found it too loud to have a conversation). And if you haven't spent much time in DC, Dupont is a nice area to wander around before or after dinner.

              I hope you enjoy wherever you decide to go.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ronna

                I likewise heartily endorse Bistrot du Coin. Excellent food and really fun. 1738 Conn. Ave., www.bistrotducoin.com, phone 202/234-6969.

              2. Or read the new review of Montmarte on washingtonpost.com. Anybody been yet? I don't get to the Hill often, but I could be convinced to go for Braised Rabbit.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bill

                  Yuck to Montmarte. I agreed with Sietsema (Wash. Post) that the onglet steak and cauliflower soup were so-so. One of the worst meals I've had at a somewhat pricey restaurant in a long time!

                2. Assuming "next weekend" means Nov 2nd and not last weekend, I'm hoping this post isn't too late.

                  The Capitol Suites is very close to a somewhat unique slice of Hill life on Pennsylvania Avenue. In the evenings Hill staffers pour out of the House Office Buildings and hit the local pubs - a bit fewer staffers since some of the buildings are still closed, but they may be in a more, "damn the torpedoes full speed ahead" mode. If you're interested in experiencing that kind of D.C. life, it might be fun to check out Capitol Lounge or Hawk 'n' Dove (which has a nice divey fire place area) and are extremely close to you. Another political pub, Bullfeathers is on 1st close to the Capitol South Metro. I'd think Hawk n Dove might be somewhat appealing. Acceptable burgers at all of these places and some may have somewhat homespun specials like meatloaf.

                  One other Hill political option is The Monocle (a steakhouse - not nearly as good as the Prime Rib or other K St. institutions), but a major Republican hangout (call to make sure they're surviving the closing of D St. in front of them).

                  I'm surprised no one mentioned going to Eastern Market (7th and North Carolina) for Saturday breakfast. The restaurant inside E Mkt ("Market Lunch") is a Hill institution. Get there before 9:15 or be prepared to wait half an hour to go through the line. It's bus yourself, put up with rude service and good food. You may end up eating either at a counter with a ton of other people or outside so don't come with an attitude. It's all in fun. FYI - they do not serve breakfast on Sunday so it's Saturday or bust. Another breakfast institution is Jimmy T's at E Capitol and 5th St - again, slow, brassy wait service, pretty good food and sometimes you'll run into a Senator there. If the line at either E Mkt or Jimmy's is too long try the Tune Inn.

                  If you want to stay close and are willing to go ethnic at all try either Talay Thai (1st SE - near Cap South metro) or the White Tiger which serves quite good Indian food (at 3rd and Mass NE).

                  I will also second Bistro Bis (at Hotel George - very good) and actually all of the other suggestions that have been made are pretty good (and I do love Gabriel's brunch on Sunday). I just felt like since you were in the 'hood, ya oughta check it out.

                  1. c
                    Caitlin Wheeler

                    Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. Unfortunately, due to the brevity of our visit, (and my father's intransigence) we didn't get to try them all -- Next time! Here's a report on where I did eat?

                    Morton's of Chicago (we ended up staying at the Mayflower, so this was close and my father's a steak fanatic) -- this was not one of the best Morton's I've been to -- the one in SanFran is much better. The rare filet was ice cold in the middle, which was not how I like it (I suppose I should have specified). The food was OK, but not great, though they did give us no trouble about sharing a main course.

                    Bistro Francais, Georgetown -- we were in Georgetown to do some shopping, and decided to eat lunch here. They have a fantastic lunch deal M-S: $13.95 buys you a main course, soup or salad, dessert and a glass of wine. I had pork tenderloin in a celery sauce that was really good, especially for the price. The almond tart was good, but not particularly special. The escargot were really excellent, and the steak frites good and authentically French. A good lunch place in Georgetown.

                    Bistro Bis -- Thanks to everyone for recommending this terrific restaurant. The food and service were remarkable. We shared the appetizer of Scallops Perigord -- scallops in a light butter sauce with chunks of black truffles. Absolutely wonderful. We had a bottle of cahors -- one of my favorite French wines from Southwest -- hard to find in the US -- which just resonated with the truffles. For main courses, I had the tuna with foie gras which was very good. We also had the rabbit in mustard sauce and salmon with porcini mushrooms, which in my opinion was the best. The fish was cooked perfectly (rare, like we like it). Desserts were good, but not the highlight of the meal. I would go back in a second though.

                    1. This is great and timely because I'm going to D.C. in February and it's never too soon to investigate food options. My question is this: We're taking the train from NYC and going to an event at the Library of Congress. Should we stay nearby or elsewhere? Any reasonably priced (under $150) hotels to recommend? Thanks.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: shoshana
                        Caitlin Wheeler

                        I would call places and see if they have deals. We had a great room at the Mayflower (one of those "grand hotels" -- antiques, etc.) for $129.

                      2. I don't know if this has been mentioned yet but Le Bistro du Coin on Conneticut is reasonably priced and fairly good. I hear that the chef and host came over from Les Halles, the more pricey french restaurant in town. Try the duck salad and the onion soup.