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dinner and/or drinks near eastern market?

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I'm coming in from out of town and staying with some friends near Eastern Market, trying to pick a place to get 5-10 people together for dinner and drinks, or a smaller dinner with a good place (relaxed and conducive to talking but not dead) for drinks nearby. Someone suggested 8th street to me. Anyone have any suggestions for that area?

Much thanks in advance.

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  1. Eighth St, SE, south of Pennsylvania Avenue down to the Navy Yard, is called Barracks Row. The best restaurant on the strip is Belga Cafe. Very good Belgian specialties - the chef cooked at the Embassy - but the tables are pretty close together and since it's crowded, it may not be a good place to linger.
    Most of the other places along there are pretty noisy. Banana Cafe can be OK for noise as can Las Placitas. The service at Marty's is just too bad, noise or no noise.

    On Market Row, across from Eastern Market on 7th Street, Montmartre is the best. Terrific French food but it's busy most of the time. The lingering problem again, especially with some of the tables.
    Tunnicliff's has just changes hands, bought by the same people who own Stoney's, and I've heard the food is now the same as Stoney's, which means very good bar food.

    Sonoma in the 200 block of Penn, SE, has some tables upstairs in the wine bar section that are quieter than the downstairs.

    Since you're staying in the area, walk by these and a few other places and see for yourself.

    1. Try Montmarte as well... cozy little french bistro type restaurant. I think it's on 7th at Penn.

      1. Thanks for all of these - I will bounce them off of the people I'll be meeting up with.

        Also, someone suggested Sonoma Wine Bar to me (as did MakingSense) - I'm going to search the boards, but any thoughts on Sonoma are much appreciated.

        1. Years ago, Alberto's Trattoria was a very good spot on SE 8th St. Any recent reports?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Do not for any reason go to Alberto's Trattoria. I went a few months ago wanting a simple italian pasta dinner. Well, it was simple. It reminded me of something I ate in a public school cafeteria when i was 9. There was a bug in my salad. The bread was one step above wonderbread. My red pasta sauce may very well have emerged from a glass jar with a "prego" label on it. The only thing this place did well on was pouring me a huge drink...but they served me my whiskey sour in a brandy snifter. It was all very odd. and bad.
            Las placitas is good and certainly no one will care if you hang out. There is also another mexican restaurant on Pennsylvania in the 700 block that is very good and very relaxed...the ceiling is decorated with pinatas! And they make a good margarita, though sadly,the last time i was there, they had stopped serving the margaritas in the cactus stemmed glasses.

            1. re: elizabethmmm

              Thanks for the warning. I assure you once upon a time it was very good. But that was at least fifteen years ago.

          2. Perhaps there are no recents reports on Trattoria Alberto because few people go there. We haven't darkened their door since the visit several years ago when the seafood in my pasta dish was clearly over the hill. No, let's just be honest. Screw diplomacy. Spoiled. My husband smelled it from afar and agreed. When I pointed it out to the waiter, he argued that it was fresh. I said, "No." He kept arguing. I challenged him to taste it. He just kept saying that it was fresh. They didn't want to replace it with anything else. They tried to charge us for it, etc. No way did we pay.
            They were only marginally OK when there was nothing else to choose from on that strip. I don't know how they stay in business.