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Week long vacation in DC...NEED HELP!!!

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My boyfriend and I are coming to DC for a week long vacation in mid-to-end of February. We're staying downtown Sun-Wed nights and staying with his family in Georgetown Thurs & Fri nights. We haven't booked our hotel yet (we will be staying in downtwon), we will have a car but prefer to use the metro/cab/bus so travel really isn't an issue. When making recommendations please keep in mind that we will be in town for a whole week so we can't spend $200+ on every dinner. Pretty much any type of cuisine, although I would like to stay away from steakhouses and italian as we have plenty at home (unless there's one that's OUTSTANDING). I would also like to stay away from any place where khakis and a sweater would be considered unacceptable attire. We have a hard time deciding on food (usually pick what we're in the mood for at that moment) so places that don't require a reservation (don't mind waiting) would be a plus.

1. Breakfast (must have good coffee)
2. Lunch (preferably near touristy places as my boyfriend has never been to DC before)
3. Dinner (no chains, no tourist traps)
-Wednesday night we are going to the Caps game so something near the arena would be nice
-We're not sure what time we will be arriving Sunday afternoon/evening so something that doesn't require reservations (and good for the road weary)
-One night I would like a nice romantic dinner for the two of us
4. Bars (we are not the club type, more hole in the wall type place where we can play darts)

I've been reading a lot of the posts on this board and for some of the more recommended ones addresses and websites would be a huge help.


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  1. Here's a version of my response to a similar request a few months back. Most are easy to get to; the ones that aren't (like Colorado Kitchen) are well worth the trip.

    Breakfast/brunch: Colorado Kitchen, Teaism, Tabard Inn
    Lunch: Colorado Kitchen, CF Folks, Breadline, Jaleo, Belga Cafe, 2 Amys, Pizzeria Paradiso, Domku, the cafeteria at the American Indian Museum, Taqueria Distrito Federal
    Dinner: Palena, Corduroy, Vidalia, Charlie Palmer Steak, Montmartre, Kinkead's, Sonoma, Blue Duck Tavern, Zaytinya, one of the Ethiopian restaurants in the 9th Street NW area

    Jaleo (tapas) and Zaytinya (Middle Eastern) are your best bets near the Verizon Center. Palena, Vidalia, Charlie Palmer Steak, Sonoma, Blue Duck and Kinkead's all qualify as romantic.

    There are a ton of Irish pubs where you can play darts. There's also Buffalo Billiards in Dupont Circle.

    1. I'd throw in Blacksalt and Blacks (same owner), although Blacks is Metro accessible and Blacksalt is tough to get to. For brunch, add in Dukem on U St. (I think 10th or 11th?) for Ethiopian brunch. Its a little different than dinner, but the food is great and a very DC thing to do. Oh, and Hank's Oyster Bar in Dupont is great, 17th and Q I believe.

      1. Breakfast - http://www.lunagrillanddiner.com/

        Breakfast/Lunch - http://www.teaism.com/ (800 Conn. Ave location is right by White House; 8th st. location is close to Mall


        Lunch near White House (weekdays only) - http://thebreadlinedc.blogspot.com/

        Lunch downtown/Dupont (weekdays, specials change daily, get one) - http://www.cffolksrestaurant.com/Dail...

        Lunch or Dinner near National Mall - http://www.jaleo.com/

        Lunch or Dinner, Capitol Hill - http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-...

        I also second Dukem - http://www.dukemrestaurant.com/

        Casual attire is fine at all of these places.

        1. In chinatown there is a restaurant named Burma. It is very difficult to get Burmese food anywhere but the DC area. It is so good. Tasty but not too hot spicy. The Green tea salad is a must and not available many places. It is a place where you will be comfortable dressed however you wish. close to the arena and not too expensive.

          1. All of these suggestions are good ones. I would like to add Meskerem on 18th street to the list of Ethiopian restaurants. I usually stop there when I am in town. It's very good. Tapas at Jaleo are also good.

            Meskerem's website: http://www.meskeremonline.com/

            1. As a kid I loved the restaurant under the National History Museum. It has pretty decent food and great ice cream, plus its right in the museum so if the weather is nasty you don't have to go far!

              1 Reply
              1. re: missmartha

                Oooh, two problems with NMAH nowadays. If it's the restaurant I think it is, it is now a Subway. Also, the National History Museum is officially closed for renovations and remodeling until summer 2008 - which truly sucks because I love that place! They still had the ice cream parlor though. Hopefully it will be there when it reopens. Lately the rest of them almost to a fault are not fun eating. I was even disappointed in the American Indian Museum's overpriced and underwhelming food, though the variety of the ingredients is great. Also, the Museum buys a lot of its food from Native American distributors, so the profits go to Native Americans, which is good.

                National Museum of American History - http://americanhistory.si.edu/

                National Museum of the American Indian -

              2. For darts and a great jukebox, and whatever you want to eat, go to Atomic Billiards in Cleveland Park. They don't serve food, which is really the best part, because they let you bring in whatever you want. They also have pool (obviously) and board games galore. As a date, my wife and I grab some great food and play a game of Monopoly with a couple PBRs here.

                For food, Vace, an Italian deli down the street has fantastic pizza and cannolis they fill on the spot. You can also get Indian takeout from Indique and bring that in.

                The hard part is finding Atomic, as it is underground. When you get off the metro, look for the SunTrust bank sign and it's a couple doors down that strip (you can also look for a sign that says CLUB SODA). Look for the folding chalkboard sign noting their specials.

                If you want to sit down to eat beforehand, Palena is there and is fantastic. The front cafe is the better deal where you can get the best $10 cheeseburger in the world, and also order a la carte from the regular menu.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ebenbs

                  One interesting note about Vace's Pizza: it's the only place I know around here that serves a tomato pie - that is with the sauce on top. It's a terrific pizza especially with olives, onions, and roasted red pepper.

                2. If you find a hotel in Penn Quarter, you will be in walking, bus or Metro shot of just about anything you could want. The Grand Hyatt, Monaco or Renaissance are possibles. The Connector bus from the Convention Center takes you to Georgetown or Union Station (for exploring the Capitol Building, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, etc.) for $1.

                  Many of the restaurants already mentioned above are within walking distance of these three hotels. Just google their names with "DC" and you'll find their addresses, maps and info, including independent reviews. The Verizon Center is right there too. Zaytinya is tucked inside it.
                  Since your trip is short, you can fill your time in Penn Quarter, Capital Hill, the National Mall and Georgetown and find plenty to do and an enormous variety of exciting food options from cheap to very expensive. There are great restaurants all over DC, but if you are going to spend time sightseeing, many are away from areas where there are things to visit and you may not want to spend the travel time when you have terrific options close to your hotel.

                  If you go to the Smithsonian, skip the food offerings there. Check out the cheese at Cowgirl Creamery (919 F St, NW) and pack a lunch. Or visit the Spy Museum at 800 F St, NW. Everyone loves this one. Zola restaurant next door is one of many options in the neighborhod.

                  Breakfast at Jimmy T's (5th and East Capital Street SE) would give you a little time to walk in the Capital Hill Historic District, the largest intact Victorian neighborhood in the US, before you take a tour of the Capital, Supreme Court or Library of Congress. The Supreme Court Dining Room is open to the public and they have a great gift shop. The old Eastern Market (Metro of same name) has been a food market since the 1870's and has lots of places to eat inside and nearby. The 200 and 300 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue have multiple choices including many named above. The Capital Lounge has pool tables and darts. The Tune Inn serves breakfast all day. This is a neighborhood where people live so your khakis are just fine anytime.

                  Between now and February, I'm sure we'll all have lots of suggestions and it wouldn't surprise me if a few of the old regulars don't go downhill or maybe some new favorites will emerge. Stay tuned.

                  1. Thanks for all the recommendations so far, they look great! But please keep them coming, and if any new favorites emerge please let me know (and if any of the ones listed here start to tank). Also, the Eastern Market, is that open during the week or only on weekends? The one thing I've noticed is that a lot of the museums close at 5:30. Since we'll have so much time at the end of the day we're more than willing to go off the beaten path for great food. Also, what is there to do at night in DC during the week? We're not really big into the theatre and we're already going to a Caps game (and not really big into any other sport besides for hockey).

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: NSL

                      Eastern Market is open every day but Monday, though breakfast is not served on Sundays.

                      In reference to the earlier post about Jimmy T's, the food there is so awful that it's almost deliberately comical.

                      If you're willing to go off the beaten path for food, try the Korean restaurants in Annandale or the Vietnamese places in Falls Church (many earlier posts about these). Also some great Chinese/Taiwanese places in the Rockville, MD area. See http://www.tylercowensethnicdininggui... for some tips.

                      As for things to do at night, check the City Paper or the Post's Weekend section.

                      1. re: CMACDC

                        Jimmy T's is just the beloved neighborhood greasy spoon. My kids left for school one day a week early enough to stop in for waffles while walking to school. My work crews grabbed breakfast. On weekends, yuppies spread out the NY Times and linger over breakfast and the place is packed.
                        Saying they have plain food begs the point. It's just ordinary but part of the community.
                        Riverby Books nearby specializes in used books about DC, history and politics, many signed by authors. Fun stop for visitors.

                      2. re: NSL

                        If you're on Capitol Hill for breakfast, instead of Jimmy T's, try Pete's Diner next to the Library of Congress on 212 2nd Street. REAL greasy spoon, no yuppies or attitude. Another great one is the Waffle Shop across the street from Ford's Theater. Great scene: secretaries, construction workers, lobbyists, all eating together. A great crossection of DC.

                        If you find yourself on U Street, check out Duffy's Tavern at 2106 Vermont Avenue, about a block from the east side Metro exit. Darts, a good pint, and lots of room to spread out.

                        1. re: NSL

                          If you are at all interested in hearing music at smaller venues in the city, check out bigyawn.net. This site lists, by day, the bands playing at various venues. looking at this site is a bunch easier than checking out the individual websites.

                          also, only the indoor portion of the eastern market is open all week. If you want to peruse any of the crafts, antiques, doo-dads, etc, you have to go on the weekend. It is much more festive on the weekends also.

                          Food options in eastern market are pretty average. Do not go to Pete's dinner unless you happen to be hungover and just want super (i think fake)buttered cheap bread and greasy anything else. not even good coffee. The hands down most charming place in Eastern market is a french restaurant called Montmartre. The food is lovely and delicate(perfectly filling)and the waiters all have beautiful accents. plus, if you get a seat near the window, it is great people watching.

                        2. 'Also, what is there to do at night in DC during the week?'

                          This board is reserved for food talk, not tourism in general. However, you could get take-away seafood from the Waterfront Market on Maine Ave and visit the monuments at night, when they are all lit up. Eat your crabcakes bundled up on a bench at FDR Memorial.

                          1. You already have lots of good recs, but I would also add Clyde's. It's a DC chain that serves above average bar food. You could stop in for a drink after the Caps game.