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Restaurant Recommendation for a Foodie

Hey all-
My dad is coming to visit and I want to take him out somewhere that he will really enjoy. He is in the restaurant business himself and has travelled extensively. Right now I am on the waiting list for minibar. We've already been to Michael Richard Citronelle (service was a bit snotty), 1789 (a little stuffy), Gallielo and Red Sage. Can you give me any recommendations? I would like to stay in the district. It doesn't need to be really high-end, just great food with a good atmosphere. Also, any suggestions for more casual lunch spots? Thanks!

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  1. I think anyone in the restaurant business would do well to go to Jaleo. Not only it is the creation of a great chef, but his philosophy has really produced exceptional rustic European food for the masses. Part factory (the food sometimes comes out so quickly) and part boutique (exceptional, carefully selected and sometimes house made ingredients).
    Try the the spinach with raisins and the queso de tupi - a housemade fermented cheese with an accompanying fig jam. As you can tell, Chef Andres is not shy about using fruit in his tapas. Maybe an antidote to this is the cod fritters?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      I know Jaleo gets raves from so many on this board, but it some ways I don't get it. Most of the tapas are very good but you have to order well. The service is highly inconsistent in my experience. It is a decent place and I still go, but I wouldn't put it on a short list for a special dinner, particularly if dad travels a lot...there are many better tapas places around the U.S., including cities where you may not expect to find them like Minneapolis and San Diego. I may not be enough of a foodie to appreciate the finer points of the Andres creations, the only qualification I have is a grandmother from Sevilla. I do love having tapas for lunch, and they are open for lunch every day, so consider that if you want to try Jaleo.

      How about Palena? Seems like a good choice to me.

      1. re: Lowbar

        I agree that Jaleo is overrated. It's a fun place to dine, but the times I've been I thought their food was significantly lacking.

    2. 2 Amy's for lunch. Or even dinner.

      1. I went to Zaytinya last night, and it was great!

        1. 2 Amys, Palena and the Andres places (Jaleo and Zaytinya) are very good options. I'd add Komi, which is a bit more formal than those (except the back room at Palena), but not stuffy in the slightest -- and great, inventive food.

          1. Tapas and mezze are what they are - snacks. If you want to enjoy dinner as the main event, and your father is in the restaurant business, there are some fine choices in the District that are not often mentioned on CH. Maybe because they are thought of as expense account restaurants or too formal, they are ignored, but they may offer something he would enjoy.

            Taberna Del Alabardero (1776 I St, NW) is the winner for Spanish food and beautiful service. The Spanish Embassy and local expats ought to know.
            Butterfield 9 (600 14th, NW) keeps turning out beautiful seasonal menus. Quietly elegant.
            Tosca (1112 F Street)consistently excellent Italian.
            Take advantage of these if he's picking up the tab.

            If Congress is in session - and they'll come back for a Lame Duck after the Election - try the Monocle (107 D, NE) on the Senate Side of Capital Hill. Usually full of Hill staff, lobbyists, media and a few Senators. Decent food, huge drinks, political buzz. Very, very Washington.
            Same for the restaurants on the 200 and 300 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. Sonoma is upscale restaurant. Others are bars with good food. The Tune Inn is a great greasy spoon.
            The Capital Grille (6th and Penn, NW) is the political steakhouse.
            Even if Congress isn't in session, the political feeling in the area around the Capitol Building is the one thing that no other city in the US has. Celebrity sightings are so common as to be taken for granted.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense

              With all due respect......under no circumstances (involving eating, at least) should you take Dad to the Monocle. Sorry, but my experience with the food there has been dreadful. "Capitol buzz" isn't worth it.

              1. re: Geoff

                For what it's worth, I've been quite impressed with the steaks, at least, at the Monocle.

            2. Lunch - Greek Deli on 19th Street. It's take out only and a great value. Authentic Greek cuisine. The line out the door to the street will verify that it's good. The line moves quickly, so don't let it scare you off. The daily specials are always delicious. I claim this place to be DC's best lunch spot. I don't live in DC anymore, and I miss Greek Deli more than anything else in town. Say hello to Kostas for me.

              1. What about Komi or CityZen? I haven't been, but people seem to love Obelisk. And I hear everyone rave about Black Salt. I'm checking out Blue Duck Tavern in a couple of weeks -- I've heard good things.

                2 Amys is good, casual. I myself prefer Pizzeria Paradiso in Gtown.

                1. Without knowing how "casual" or what your dad's background is, lunch is a wild card. You might consider CF Folks on 19th Street NW, near The Palm. It is what we used to call a luncheonette, with consistently good reviews for crab cakes and other specials. It IS casual. For dinner, how about TenPenh, for fusion, Ceiba for S. American, or Zola for New American?

                  1 Reply
                  1. 1) CityZen
                    2) Kinkeads
                    3) Komi
                    4) Taberna

                    1. CityZen and Komi, absolutely. If your dad has traveled to Spain, Taberna is not the best choice. It is very good, but the best thing is the paella and it does not compare in the least to paella in Spain. I found Blue Duck Tavern to be a terrific new spot - they really focus on the ingredients, which I think someone in the restaurant biz would appreciate. I'm surprised no one recommended Palena. It is delicious. I also think Dino is underrated for homey Italian in a great atmosphere.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: laurentobias

                        I second Palena - and the chef there is a former White House chef - just an interesting tidbit - not sure for what president. Palena is in Cleveland Park on Connecticut Ave.

                      2. Maestro in the Four Seasons Tyson.
                        Restaurant Eve for the Tasting Menu.
                        Go to one of the many good Ethiopian places for something different.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dinwiddie

                          Maestro is in the Ritz Carlton, not the FS by the way.

                          Have a great meal, regardless of where you eat. You could try Oya. Ate there again last night and it was wonderful. Everyone loved their meal and the prix fix is only $36 p/p.

                          Steve R

                          1. re: stever500

                            You are right. Brain fart musta happened.

                        2. Agree with the Ceiba rec, and would add that if you can't get into Minibar, the regular old Cafe Atlantico experience still fabulous.

                          1. I agree w/Zelda68.. I've never been to Komi with anyone who did not like it. It is a nice restaurant where they enjoy seeing their customers happy. CityZen would be option 2.