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Where to eat in Dupont Circle?

I am coming to D.C. from San Francisco next week, and would like some restaurant suggestions near my hotel in Dupont Circle. I am not necessarily looking for the hot new restaurant of the moment, but rather for good food, decent service, not so noisy that you can't hold a conversation. Thanks for your help!

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  1. You don't mention any particular kinds of food, so I'm going to assume you're open on that. I'm a fan of Pesce - fresh seafood cooked in interesting ways in a small place where the menu changes daily. Cashions and La Fouchette (not far from Dupont up in Adams Morgan) are both very good. There are tons of places in that area, and I'm sure you'll get lots of great suggestions. I hope you have a good trip.

    7 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      Am I the only person who is really not a fan of Pesce? I went there with my bf this past fall and was seriously disappointed considering the average price of a dish. My cod was practically tasteless and I thought the service was so-so. My bf got a pasta that was quite good though and I should have probably headed his advice and stuck to the seafood pastas. If you go there...get pasta, not cod.

      1. re: Elyssa

        I'm not a fan of Pesce. Ate there for the first time last week. And the last time.
        First of all - the olive oil they serve for the bread - was bitter

        A got a black bean soup - watery and so-so. Italian are so good at soup, but this isn't an example.

        I ordered branzino. Now this is a pretty standard dish in a good Italian restaurant. And any Italian waiter knows how to de bone a roasted branzino. I had to ASK the wait to de bone it (really? You mean you normally serve it that way?) And it was done - poorly. Got a mouth full of bones in one bite. Frustrating trying to eat and then fishing the bones out of your mouth. A couple bones always make it past, but this wasn't a couple.

        The accompanying spinach with roast mushroom (porcini? Not sure) - would have tasted good if it wasn't for the salt. I like salt, but this way over-salted.

        So, sayonara Pesce!

        Maybe this is a D.C. thing - maybe D.C. is all bad, or so bad that this place is relatively good. But I ate at The Source tonight - loved it, and CityZen the other night - loved that too.

        No love for Pesce.

        Pesce Restaurant
        2016 P St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

        CityZen Restaurant
        1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

        1. re: foodiemahoodie

          I'm not a huge fan of Pesce either but I don't think it's suppose to be a straight Italian restaurant.

          ANd I woudln't consider DC's dining scene all bad based on one restaurant. You went to the Source after all and had a great meal.

          Pesce Restaurant
          2016 P St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            Great olive oil is frequently bitter. For some Americans, it's an acquired taste.

            1. re: foodiemahoodie

              There are many restaurants that do not, as a matter of course, bone whole fish, both in Italy and the US. Not a comment on Pescebecause I have not been in years, but just as a lover of whole fish served on the bone.

              1. re: fudizgud

                Pesce is not an Italian restaurant, BTW. Some dishes have Italian influence, clearly, but brie salad, dijon sauce, and hummus indicate quite a few influences. The website no longer indicated who the chef is, but he used to be a French friend of owner Regine Palladin. not a single Italian wine on their wine list!

                I agree; I am not surprised about getting whole fish on the bone and I have no expectation that the waiter there will debone it for you. It is not that kind of a place at all.

                Pesce Restaurant
                2016 P St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                1. re: Steve

                  I think the original owner was her husband, the much missed Jean-Louis Palladin.

                  And I'm with the people who don't expect their whole fish to be boned. That said, my original recommendation of the place is more than 3 years old now, and I haven't been back in that time, so can't really speak to how it is these days.

        2. just search DuPont on here. You'll have loads of results.

          1. Try the Tabard Inn on N Street. Nice atmosphere and probably one of the best brunches in town.

            Both P Street (where Pesce is located) and 19th Street south of the circle have a number of good places.

            1 Reply
            1. re: CMACDC

              Brunch can be very very loud.

            2. Can't say I agree about 19th st. Levante is an idea of Turkish food only an Austrian chain restaurant could create. Although Mai Thai is farther down, and a great Thai place for food and conversation. I agree about Pesce, and also recommend Mourayo, an innovative well-run Greek-ish restaurant a few blocks up Conn ave. Etrusco is in the same direction, a quiet, pleasant Italian place, with well-made food.

              1 Reply
              1. re: moreskordalia

                But at lunch during the week there is CF Folks for one of the best crab cakes you'll ever have.

                Agree with Hanks Oyster Bar, including service. Also with Obelisk (though it's been a few years now for me) and Pizza Paradiso.

                I'll back Childe Harolds if you're just looking for a beer and a burger.

                A small trek to the north part of Adam's Morgan on Columbia RD is Cashion's Eat Place. These same people own Johnny's Half Shell, formerly of DuPont but now of Cap Hill. I actually prefer Johnny's over Cashion's, but the latter is walkable and still quite good. Both are not cheap but not overly expensive (both suitable for a very nice upper mid priced meal).

              2. Childe Harold on the circle.

                Pizzeria Paradiso on P west from the circle.

                2 Replies
                1. re: CDouglas

                  I wouldn't eat at Childe Harold to save my life. Poor bar food at best.

                  1. re: jpschust

                    Couldn't save its own life, apparently --- Childe Harolde closed in November: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                2. Hmm, no req other than good food? Am surprised that Obelisk hasn't been mentioned yet, next door to Paradiso's. Look up "dupont" like the 2nd responder said and you'll get plenty of suggestions.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hungryT

                    Obelisk is one of my faves in the city. one of the reasons is it's semi-quiet in there; maybe due to the small size. Redchair, it's northern italian, 5 course prix fixe with a few choices per course. Cheese course is awesome. Reasonably priced italian wine list. $65 pp. make res well in advance. its at 2121 P street i think.

                  2. The Oyster Happy Hour at Hanks is amazing. Oysters for $1 and good bber. I also like the clam chowder a lot.

                    1. Hank's Oyster Bar, in general, is Awesome - neighborhood feel, Bistro Du Coin is a busy little french place - open late night with yummy food, Firefly (hotel Maderia) is also nice with good fare, and there is a new place Called Jacks in 17th and Q, I think which is supposed to be laid back an good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: yparky

                        The service at Hank's is a little lacking but the food is worth it- hit it at happy hour and avoid it otherwise.

                      2. Thai Chef is on the north end of Dupont and has relatively decent Asian food, but nothing spectacular to rave about. Their drinks are especially good.

                        The Russian House Restaurant and Lounge has perogies which are tasty and they also offer a vodka sampler platter which offers 6 samplers of vodka infusions (flavored vodkas- such as blackberry, kumquat, passion fruit, garlic-horseradish, cinnamon-apple, raspberry, etc.) for a moderate price.

                        1. I'll second Firefly. Its south of the Circle on New Hampshire. Very nice vibe and great meaty entrees. Thaiphoon is also a good place to go just north of the Circle. It can get very busy, but a date and I found it suitable for conversation.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: KGinDC

                            I third fourth and fifth Firefly, definitely a favorite of mine and the brisket/pot roast is the best I've ever had (even over my mom's and hers is amazing)

                          2. My three favorites are Pesce for consistently top-rate, fresh seafood and excellent desserts, Montsouris for French brasserie-style food and great classic desserts and Sesto Senso for excellent Italian. All are steady performers and have perfect atmospheres for relaxing conversations.

                            1. Yeah, Firefly is a good place, for both drinks and food But no one coming from SF is going to be impressed by Hank's, with precious portions, poor service. One is better off with Montsouris.

                              1. Blue Duck Tavern just south of Dupont Circle in the Park Hyatt.


                                1. I'm a huge fan of Aioli at 22nd and P. Really, really good quality ingredients, friendly service, and reasonable prices. Between them and Urbana at the Pallomar (good happy hour wine and pizzas... a little over priced otherwise) there are some good options west of the circle.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: triplea236

                                    Aioli, kind of a take out place, is new, but I'm not a fan. The sauces are very strong, and the pasta is more like chinese noodles than say spaghetti or lingini. The redid their menu. I wish them well, but ....

                                  2. I enthusiastically agree with the suggestion of Etrusco for dinner, if you like very correct, delicious Italian, with refined service, white table linens, elegant quiet atmosphere that makes you feel you are in Italy, all at reasonable prices for this city. Mourayo is a nice "new"-Greek along the same lines, but the wines are largely Greek and the dining room is a little cramped.

                                    1. Thaiphoon has great Thai and drinks.

                                      1. You may want to try some of the extended restaurant week locations as well as the suggestions listed. You did not mention a price range or which part of Dupont your hotel is located but here is the list near Dupont (short walk or cab ride) that have extended restaurant week.

                                        Whole Month of January
                                        Il Mulino
                                        Tabaq Bistro

                                        2 weeks
                                        Mio - Jan. 31

                                        1 week
                                        Corduroy - Jan. 26
                                        Georgia Browns - Jan. 25
                                        Teatro Goldoni - Jan. 27
                                        Urbana - Jan. 27

                                        1. the tabard inn is excellent. whether you just want to have drinks in the cozy, woody living room lounge with fireplace, have a delicious brunch (try the light and dreamy fresh made donuts with your coffee) or check out the dinner offerings, you won't be disappointed.

                                          1. Some others...

                                            Iron Gate (across from Tabard Inn)
                                            Floriana Mercury Grill
                                            Dupont Grill

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Jacey

                                              I've never been to Iron Gate or Floriana but have walked by them a million times. What are they like?

                                            2. I'm wondering why Mark and Orlando's isn't on the radar here? If I had been tipped off about it I would have made a point to try it.

                                              The menu looks interesting and the prices aren't bad. It's also on P Street near Pesce, Hotel Palomar, etc.

                                              I liked Pizza Paradiso which I think is run by Obelisk.

                                              Mark & Orlando's
                                              2020 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036

                                              Pizzeria Paradiso - Dupont Circle
                                              2029 P St NW Ste 102, Washington, DC 20036

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: mlgb

                                                I recommend Mark and Orlando's all the time. It's a great little neighborhood spot and perfect for parties where a variety of tastes (and budgets) might be involved.

                                                1. re: Elyssa

                                                  KOMI. I am astonished that no one has recommended this gem, one of Washington's best. Johnny Monis is a world class talent. If you can score a reservation, do it.

                                                  After that I would do Obelisk, Tabard Inn, Pesce, Blue Duck, Firefly, Hanks, or Etrusco. Komi and Obelisk are tasting menus only. The rest are a la carte.

                                                  1. re: JRinDC

                                                    Spot on. If you're willing to spend some dough, Komi is far and away the best restaurant near Dupont (or, for my money, in DC).

                                                    Mark & Orlando's was indeed lovely and underrated, but I believe it's been closed for a year or more.

                                                    Firefly is nice for cocktails, and I love their potroast and their matzoh ball soup. Other stuff can be uneven, and not many veg options.

                                                    1. re: marcj

                                                      This is a 3 year old post...hence the outdated recommendation of Mark and Orlando's.

                                                      1. re: Elyssa

                                                        Well that's an excellent point--I guess I need to remember that just because something pops up on the front page, it doesn't mean it's all new!

                                                        Still, RIP M & O's.

                                                        1. re: marcj

                                                          You can find the chef from Mark and Orlando's over at Creme now.