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food-obsessed moving to DC (orig. from NYC & currently in CA)

Is there a neighborhood (with some residential options) known for the highest concentration of truly good restaurants and/or where restaurants tend to stay open a bit later? Particular restaurant recommendations are also welcome, though I'll probably post again for specific suggestions after my move in August 07. Thanks.

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  1. Later = bar food in this town, thus Adams Morgan. Easy access to a lot of other things. Also DuPont circle.

    1. If you want the best late night 24/7 food in the D.C. area I would recommend taking the blue line over to Chrystal City and walking down South Eads St. to a place called Kabob Palace. When I first came to D.C. the place was always packed and the lines were huge but the food was great. Now they have opened a second store a few doors down to handle the over flow so you can get in and order very quickly.

      As for neighborhoods I would recommend Georgetown or walk around about U st. Georgetown can be a bit pricey but if you go at the right times you can get some deals. Clyde's on M st. has a great lunch menu that is only available if you sit at the bar between 4 and 7 M-F. Walk away from M St. on Wisconsin and you can go up hill to Martin's Tavern or down hill to Chadwicks, both of which are great local places.

      1. Georgetown food is overrated and living options there overpriced and not convenient.
        Residential for food, cleveland park is pretty good...same with the area around 14th Street.
        Living in Adams Morgan is like living in a fraternity house and not metro-convenient. The falafal is great, though.
        However, just live someplace near the metro and you'll be able to get to tons of great restaurants in just a short ride. When I first moved here, I lived off 14th Street and it was wonderful for my social life, but not my bank account!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jeserf

          Living in Adams Morgan is far from living in a frat house. It's a very culturally diverse neighborhood with fast access to shops. Sure, if you live right on 18th street it is crazy, but go 2 blocks back to 17th and you are in a whole different world. And as far as it being not metro convenient you are directly between 3 stops all within 10-15 minutes of walking distance depending on which side of the area you live on.

          Cleveland park is excellent, though if you live on 14th street you are apparently not metro-convenient as you are 10-15 minutes of a walk from a metro. That said, in all areas of the city learn to love the bus system- it's fast and eficient.

          1. re: jpschust

            14 street near the restaurants you're 5 minutes from U Street's metro, and now it's serviced by two lines off-peak. you're also 10 minutes from blue/orange and 10 minutes from red (dupont). i'd say it's the best location in terms of never having to change trains.
            I don't think there are any neighborhoods in DC that are specifically better for food than others - each area has a few gems that are worth exploring. Penn Quarter is kind of just becoming residential, but you'd have to travel for decent groceries.

            the bus system here is terrible IMO - not only have they killed 3 people in 7 days, but they're unreliable because traffic here is so bad (and as much as they try, the bus can't go over the traffic).

            1. re: Jeserf

              OK- my point is made, but I'll finish it with this- the best location to never have to change trains is really Gallery Place/Metro Center, but you do NOT want to live over there unless you really enjoy eating at chain restaurants all the time.

              if you live at 14th and church (pretty much the middle of Logan) you have an equal walk to U Street and DuPont as you would if you lived at 18th and Kalorama (just picking that as a central point in AM, not a place to actually live) to Woodley Park and maybe a touch longer to U street.

              That said, it's not a frat house, it just gets that perception because of 2-3 blocks of 18th Street from Friday-Saturday. Generally those assumptions are made by people who don't spend much time in the area and just look at it with a glaring eye from the outside.

              The bus system is truly a wonderful thing when you get to learn how to use it. And what's gone on in the last few days has been a very random anomoly. It's usually very safe and very reliable, you just have to learn how to use it.

              1. re: jpschust

                Adams Morgan: Actually, I've spent a lot of time there, but have stopped because no falafal is worth walking through Sig Ep or AEPi for.

                Buses: just remember to stand back or they'll run your feet over. And don't cross the street when you have the right of way because they don't stop when turning on red. One could say the busses not hitting more people is the random anomoly.

        2. DC is not very good for late-night dining, alas. But most neighborhoods have a few places, like Sette in Dup Cir, that are reliably open later. I'd much rather be in Adams-Morgan than Cleveland Park.

          1. Washington is not a late night town. Everybody with a real job has to get there too early the next day. Late night options are limited to the bar scene unfortunately. We're not NYC.
            Public transportation is excellent if you make the right living choices. When I worked downtown I grabbed the bus a block from my house and it dropped me a block from my office. The Connector goes across town from Union Station to the Convention Center and Georgetown. The Metro gives me other options and cabs are cheap. Late at night or when I'm in a hurry, about $9 + tip gets me where I want to go. Some of my friends who don't have cars, use Flexcar for periodic big Costco runs and such. I live on Capital Hill and can do most of my marketing on foot. Whole Foods is 15 minutes away on P St.
            All the city's neighborhoods have distinct characters from the People's Republic of Takoma Park that has its own nuclear policy to multicultural Columbia Road and upscale Kalorama. Some are better for 20-somethings, others for 50 year olds. Some for couples, others for singles. Lots of kids in some. Many gay couples in others. Find the neighborhood where you'll be happiest living that has the easiest commute. Prices are all over the places and there are always bargains to be had.
            There will be restaurants nearby or within a few minutes of you. If you live in a real city neighborhood, chances are you can walk to some.
            Most of the white tablecloth restaurants in town are in a swath from Capital Hill to Georgetown, north of the Mall (except for CityZen) and up to Dupont Circle (except for a few in Cleveland Park like Dino, Palena, 2 Amys.) All of about 3 miles - Washington isn't big. Penn Quarter has a lot mixed with the residential buildings there and a grocery is coming but when? There's a bit of gap around West End and Foggy Bottom. U street, Adams Morgan, Mt Pleasant, NOMA, and a few other areas are vibrant and fun but tend to have more ethnic, trendy restaurants, not "fine dining."

            1. The Penn Quarter is developing into a major residential and dining area. Lots of new condos going up nearby and there are plenty of nice restaurants in the area as well as around the Verizon Center at Gallery Place/Chinatown.

              1. Agreed on Penn Quarter as a good place to be. There are certainly LOTS of chain places to appeal to the tourist crowd, but also Cafe Atlantico, Jaleo, Minibar (where I've never been, but supposedly fantastic), Zaytinya, Matchbox, Rasika, Oya, my beloved Teaism. . . and many more, I am sure. Lots of modern new or renovated residential buildings - but not a neighborhood to live in if you're looking for a charming brownstone type home. Lots of little art galleries, and Cowgirl Creamery for cheese etc. - but definitely currently lacking a good grocery store.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Petunia

                  People were crushed when Balducci's bailed out. Not sure why they did.

                2. Totally agree with the pro-Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan crowd. These neighborhoods are right next to each other, so either one would have you a quick walk to many good restaurants. Unfortunately the late night business is a problem in DC, although Bistro Francais in Georgetown is fairly good and stays open late. And heck, you can always catch cabs at night in DC - the town is crawling with them.

                  1. Keep in mind that this is DC, so yes, as others have said here, "open late" is a relative term, as is "city."

                    That said, I love living in DC and really enjoy my neighborhood, which is the Logan/Dupont area, and would highly recommend it. It offers a good mix:

                    > A terrific Whole Foods (14th & P Sts) is within walking, as are a couple of Safeways for emergency basics and everyday things (and drug stores/pharmacies)

                    > There are restaurants galore, from neighborhood favorites to "destination" spots

                    > Further up closer to the U Street corridor there are a cool shops and more restaurants

                    > There a couple of theaters and quite a number of art studios

                    > It's within easy reach of Adam's Morgan spots, but far enough to have breathing room

                    Hope this helps...

                    1. Thanks, everyone. This has been very helpful.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ksabbeth

                        have to mention El Tamarindo... at 18th and U (right south of adams morgan, north of dupont).... went at 3:30 am the other night for a delicious meal of pupusas, tamales, and rice and beans... when i left at 5 the place was still going strong...

                      2. falafel at amsterdam! the best late night snack ever. in adams morgan. the greatest topping bar youve ever seen, the most delicious garlic mayo for french fries.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: elnora

                          Only someone who had never had a Little Tavern burger - or a bag o'three - could say that. That burger retired the late night snack trophy decades ago!

                        2. I agree with all the posts so far but I am assuming that the OP means the DC metro area. This would include Alexandria VA - old town which hasn't been mentioned. It is not at all the same as DC but has a LOT to recommend it.

                          This area is lovely to live in. completely walkable and it's finally (finally) becoming more of a food destination. It has lots of music of all kinds from piano bars to irish to bluegrass, to jazz. And the good restaurants keep increasing. Eve is getting national acclaim, and they are re-opening Majestic which recently closed. They also own a very posh cocktail bar on King st and an Irish pub type of place under it. 100 King Street is very nice. And then the newest ones Bastille and Farah Olivia. Both very good. For very good unpretentious italian there is A la Lucia. Soon to open is Overgrill which will be like Woodgrill in Arlington.

                          All this along with being directly riverside, very historic and only 5 minutes from DC. I recommend you look into this area before you move.