Family Trip to DC This Weekend
My family (me, husband, 5 yr old (sort of a chowpup, sort of fussy, well behaved in restaurants)) will be in DC this weekend. I've been reading and narrowing things down. We're staying at One Washington Circle, so breakfasts should definitely be near there and it's nice if dinner is, too. No car, but happy to Metro or cab to places. We eat dinner early, say 6ish.
Arriving Friday around dinner time on Amtrak, so we thought we'd just eat at Union Station. Where to go. We don't want the food court, but do want casual and easy. Pizzeria Uno is a fall back choice - it's edible. I wasn't impressed with America when it was in NYC. I was in B. Smith's in NYC when it opened a million years ago, thought the appetizers and desserts were good and the entrees not so great. So, we're not inclined to either of those. How's Thunder Grill? How's Capitol City Brewing across the street? Any other thoughts?
Dinner. Definitely Jaleo one night. Sat, Sun or Mon? We need 2 more. Casual is good. We'd like to go in jeans. We don't need a children's menu, but would like a staff who's not horrified to see us coming with a 5 year old at our early dinner hour. We're not going for Ethiopian because we have no idea if our son will like it.
On the list are:
Blue Duck Tavern sounds amazing, but maybe a little too formal for jeans and a small child?
Pizza Paradiso in Georgetown (over 2 Amy's on the grounds of noise and sometimes undercooked crust)
Lunch. We'll probably be spending a lot of time in the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History. I've printed out a couple of threads about with suggestions for the capitol area in general, but I'd love suggestions near those museums. Breadline and Teaism are on the list.
Breakfast. Firehook, Bread & Chocolate and Breadline are all possibilities near the hotel. Anything else?
Thoughts on brunch for Sunday? No buffets. Jazz would be fun, but not required.
If we go to Chinatown for Chinese New Year's doings on Sunday, is there someplace you'd particularly recommend for lunch or dinner?
Circle Bistro in your hotel is very good, and Chef Cox is still there at the moment. I don't know why your son wouldn't like Ethiopian food, but be warned that it tends to be spicy, so that may be a problem with a young(ish) child.
There are not that many restaurants "near" the Smithsonian restaurants, but the cafateria in the Museaum of the American Indian is fun and quite good. To be honest, no restaurant in DC is horrified to see a well behaved child, especially at 6pm. Since this area has the highest incidence of two working parents in the country, and they have money and like to eat out, all the restaurants know how to deal with children as long as they are well behaved. You might try Dino in Cleveland Park (Italian food) go for meze at Zaytinya if Jaleo doesn't work out (actually I prefer Zaytinya) Matchbox (good pizza) in Chinatown, or if you go early the Palena Cafe (the front, not the dining room in back) and have the wonderful burger, hot dog, or the best roast chicken you ever ate.
I appreciate all these wonderful suggestions.
The thing about my son and Ethiopian is that we have no idea. There are cuisines whose spices and flavors he likes (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese) and those he doesn't (so far, anything Middle Eastern) and we have no way of knowing in advance. At most places, worst comes to worst, we can always order him a dish of plain pasta and he's happy with that with some olive oil and salt, but my experience is that it's not a fall back option at Ethiopian restaurants. He might love it. On the other hand, he might take 2 bites and refuse to eat and for various reasons, that's even more of a pain on vacation than at home.
Good to know. Maybe we should try it. My husband has never had Ethiopian and would like to and I haven't had it in years. I'm thinking Meskerem because it has more chicken on the menu than Etete or Dukem and . . . get ready. . .my husband doesn't eat red meat or lamb at all, I'm only so-so about fish and am not a big fan of vegetables and my son won't touch fish (used to love it, lost his taste for it completely, very odd), so chicken is useful. (Yes, we're a fun family to feed.)
OK, now here's my list:
Check in at the hotel and downstairs for Circle Bistro on Friday evening
Saturday bkfst, maybe Bread & Chocolate because it's nearby and open or maybe over to Eastern Market.
Saturday lunch. We'll be on the Mall. I'd love to swing by Cowgirl Creamery and buy stuff to eat, but then where to eat it? Or the cafe at the American Indian Museum? Or Teaism - Penn Quarter?
Saturday dinner, Dino
Sunday brunch, Firehook Dupont Circle
Sunday dinner, Jaleo.
Monday bkfst and lunch, more of the same
Monday dinner: Meskerem? PP (Dupont Circle is Metro accessible, but posts seem to indicate that food is maybe better at Georgetown.)
(I swear I put more time and effort into picking vacation restaurants than vacation sites and activities. On the other hand, DC in February with our pup is easy. . . Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum, Air and Space, Natural History, etc, etc)
I saw several folks in jeans at Blue Duck Tavern on my visit last week. Saw no kids, but I did dine quite late. It isn't my idea of formal, (ie there are no table cloths, food is served semi-family style in that you get it in a separate plate and the intent is that you then dish it on to your plate), and I wouldn't call the service stuffy either. Just completely, totally disengaged (robotic almost).
As for the food, it fell far short of amazing, and I can't say I'd recommend it. Hope to have a chance to post a full report soon.
Market Lunch at Eastern Market is a favorite of mine. The Blue Bucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes) are very good. So are the crab cakes. It's a quintessential "DC" thing and I would take visitors there for the experience. But, with kids, and a long line, and having to eat at a communal bar table......I'd hesitate. If you do go, they open at 8. Get there early or else you'll wait about a half hour to order.
You may want to check out the Terrace Cafe at the National Gallery of Art for brunch. Not sure if it's buffet though. It overlooks the National Mall.
Regarding Pizza Paradiso, there is also a location in Dupont Circle, which is metro accessible. Georgetown is not.
The Sunday farmers market at Dupont Circle is wonderful, and just up the block from Pizza Paradiso. There is usually a wonderful food event each Sunday. Last week, Jaleo made paella in an 8 foot paella pan!
For transportation to Georgetown, check out the Circulator Bus.
Final rec would be another DC mainstay where the politico's go to share libations and probably more than a few secrets! Old Ebbitt. Terrific for lunch. Great atmosphere. If you go on a weekend, make a reservation!! Great for brunch too.
"Casual is good. We'd like to go in jeans. We don't need a children's menu, but would like a staff who's not horrified to see us coming with a 5 year old at our early dinner hour."
Ristorante AV on NY Avenue north of Chinatown fits the bill. White pizza, homemade sausages, broccoli rabe, and a bottle of house red. You'd probably have the place to yourself before 6pm. Enjoy the Mario Lanza on the jukebox.
There's a Johnny Rocket in the Food Court at Union Station that's set off to the side so it doesn't feel like it's in the Food Court. B. Smith's isn't any better than your previous impression. The consensus on this board is pretty much that you should skip Capital City Brewing's food. Across the street from it however is the Dubliner, a good old Irish Pub with good burgers and other dependable selections. One block further is Johnny's Half Shell. Decent seafood but a little more expensive.
Firehook is the clear winner over Bread and Chocolate and they offer Sunday brunch. Good coffee too.
If you plan to finish out one day at the Museum of Natural History at 10th and Constitution, you can head just a couple of blocks north to 10th and Penn for an early supper at Michel Richard's new Central, the less expensive offspring of his 4-star Citronelle. Exciting for you and some easy-to-like things for your child. Not sure what time they open for supper.
Jaleo is close to the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery but you should look at Zaytinya, Rosa Mexicana and Rasika which are also close by. Cowgirl Creamery in that same area has great cheeses, breads, etc. to take back to the hotel for quality late night snacking.
I had no idea Cowgirl Creamery was in DC, thought they were only in California. Our DC trip is coming up and I think this could be the thing I'm most excited about! There are no great cheese stores near me. The best cheese selection we have is at Trader Joe's. I love TJ's but CC will be an entirely different experience, won't it?
One of the owners is a local girl so they chose DC's Penn Quarter for their first non-CA store. It's at 919 F St, NW. It's terrific. A wonderful place for visitors to pick up picnic supplies when visiting the food-wasteland National Mall. The artisanal cheeses they're famous for, charcuterie, bread and wine.
Close to the Farm Fresh farmers' market on Thursday afternoons that will reopen in Spring run by the same group that holds the Dupont Circle market.
Google both for hours when planning your trip.
Malaysia Kopitiam is only fair. Breadline is open only for midweek breakfast and lunch - it's not near your hotel.
No reason your son shouldn't like Ethiopian, does he eat fish? Fried fish is pretty simple, though it is served whole. Really, tibs are just grilled meat, so I don't think you should look at the cuisine as anything mysterious. Plus you get to eat with your hands. my kids loved it at that age.
BTW, Circle Bistro right in your hotel is very good, though I hear the chef is leaving. Nice decor, but jeans and a five year old are fine. Fried oysters and lemons are a great way to kick off any meal.
For your other two dinners, you might want to consider Full Kee for Cantonese in Chinatown and the Atomica at Pizza Paradiso - though the Margherita at 2 Amys is something special. I wouldn't worry about the soggy crust issue. Polpete, suppli, and rapini are also good calls.
Jaleo takes reservation up until and including 6:30pm. After that it can get crowded.