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In DC from Calgary for TRB - Dupont / Adams Morgan area

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Howdy folks!

So I'm in DC for next week as part of the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, and I would appreciate any new chow ideas and hints. The conference is (as far as I care) in the Hilton Washington, which is on Florida, Connecticut and Columbia. My hotel is at 16th & T. This means Dupont, Adams Morgan and U street primarily, particularly the western part. I won't have time, energy or vehicle to venture too much into the suburbs.

My personal tastes tend to the exotic, ethnic and adventuresome. (Although we have an excellent Asian food scene here in Calgary, particularly East Asian -- so I'm not really looking too much for Vietnamese or whatever.) I also like the inexpensive and unpretentious.

I'd appreciate any good chow ideas, but I also have a couple of specific requests/questions:
- Any good recommendations for Latin American food; Mexican, Salvadoran, whatever. (Not Lauriol; I wasn't particularly impressed, and my fellow conference goers will probably drag me there at some point anyways.) Pepito's (by the Safeway on Columbia, right?) is now on my radar; thanks!

- Any lunch recommendations? (Any kind of food). We get 1 1/2 hour for lunch, so places pretty close to the Hilton, and fairly fast.

- Are Etete and/or Dukem still the grand champions of Ethiopian? Anywhere good near the Hilton? (I went to a place called Awash in Adams-Morgan last year, which was decent -- much better than Meskerem, at least.)

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  1. I highly recommend that for lunch one day you go to CF Folks for a crabcake. It's just south of DuPont on 19th. They're only open at lunch during the week. A quick and cheap cab ride will get you there and back with time to spare.

    Pepito's is good, but know that it's mainly a carry-out place (there are a couple of tables outside when it's warm and that's it). It's also across from the Safeway.

    You also might want to explore some of the soul food offerings. Another short cab ride down U street (near 10th) will get you to Oohs and Aahs. Around the corner from them is Fla Ave Grill, but it's not what it used to be (though it's still a neat place to visit). These two places aren't a bad walk from where you'll be if the weather is nice, btw.

    1. Walking distance:

      Teaism on R St, just off Connecticut. Small place that serves light Japanese meals like bento boxes. Counter service, may be hard to find some room, but this is very close so be patient and something will open up. Very tasty.

      Walk north on Connecticut, over the Duke Ellington Bridge. Up a block on the right will be Lebanese Taverna. Chicken over pita chips with yogurt sauce and pomegranate seeds or they make a baked chicken inside a Middle Eastern bread. Good place overall.

      If you get into Adams Morgan, then go for the tortilla espanol and the platanos rellenos at Rincon Espanol.

      1. If your group drags you, kicking and screaming, to Lauriol Plaza against your will, may I suggest trying the "Masitas de Puerco" (pork cooked slowly in a sauce of bitter Seville oranges) or one of the other Peruvian specialties? It may just change your opinion of this place.

        1. I'm in town now, and took Dennis S' advice on soul food offerings; I was actually headed for Etete but decided en route Ethiopian always works better in a group, and passed by Oohs and Aahs on the way back.

          Holy cow, that was awesome! I wound up getting the 'baked' chicken, which I saw bubbling away on a stove, and it just looked too good to pass up. I got the rice and yams for sides; the rice was very good, especially with the gravy, but the yams just didn't do it for my palate; I guess crazy sweetened yams are an American thing. (Pity; the spices were really nice.)

          Anyways, so far so good; thanks for the ideas. Now I'm going to go pass out in a food coma.

          1. Do venture for some Ethiopian while you're here. Maybe you can sell your fellow conference goers on it, rather than Lauriol (lie if necessary).

            It's neither exotic nor upscale, but wander into Ben's Chili Bowl if you are over on U. It's a DC institution.

            For downscale Latin American, Adams Morgan is your spot. Lots of people really like Mixtec; I find it ho hum. Check on Columbia rather than 18th for these places. Heading a bit further south, the Brazilian place on Columbia is hit or miss, but can be pretty good if you get the right dish. Do seafood. I think it's usually better.

            It's not cheap, but Cashion's (also Columbia) is pretty good. It is, in fact, about as good as what you pay for it. Often like the appetizers here better than the entrees.

            Enjoy!

            1. Thanks for all the suggestions, guys! I always have a great time in DC; it's the wonderful urban spaces combined with the awesome eats. Here's the (edible) highlights of my trip:

              - Afghan Grill. Wow. Simply wow. I was instantly addicted to the pumpkin thing, and everything else was superb.
              - Pepito's. I got a cuban sandwich, and was in absolute heaven as I greedily ate it en route back to the hotel. I had to wash the grease off my face before the afternoon sessions.
              - Dukem. Tibs heaven. (My problem was more convincing my colleagues to go for Ethiopian again. We all know you can't leave DC without Ethiopian).
              - Rincon Espanol. I routed a handful of my colleagues up here; we split a few appetizers and then barely managed to pack in about half of the delicious paella we were served.
              - CF Folks. Got a counter seat near the till, which was exactly the right choice; I was sort of reminded of a Lebanese joint in Calgary that combines a delicious meal with a hilarious floor show from the people behind the counter.

              I didn't hit Ben's which I managed to the last couple of years; last year, I brought my friends there; we walked in and we saw the Mayor eating a half smoke. (He was paying off a bet with the mayor of Seattle after last year's NFL playoffs.) I probably couldn't beat that this year -- something tells me that it isn't Dick Cheney's favourite local haunt.