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Brits Visiting DC

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Hi, I am a British student, interning in DC for a semester. My family are coming for a 7-day visit in a few weeks time, and I'm trying to plan the best places to go. As an unpaid intern I'm excited about trying some slighty better (read more expensive) places, but at the same time I don't want to go ahead and book the priciest places in the area!
My first question is: they arrive on a Friday afternoon, and are staying in between Farragut North and West in terms of metro stops (they may have a car). We want to go out for dinner somewhere nearby. I don't think that a Friday night is the best time for them to experience Georgetown or Adams Morgan! So I was thinking the Dupont Area, the Penn Quarter or Chinatown are all fairly close. We are all adventurous eaters, but one wont eat sushi, and I don't think we want Italian. Any suggestions?
I've been reading the boards as much as possible to find some good options for me and for them! Thanks everyone.

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  1. Brit, here's what I think. Komi. Hie yourselves to Komi at 17th & P. Make a reservation. Cafe Atlantico, also great, but loud, in Penn Quarter. Like Indian? Inde Blue, down by the Verizon center is excellent - I had a tandoori lamb chop, it was like buttah. Want fun & loud? Zatinya. But truly, take advantage of your folks being in town with their credit cards and go to Komi.

    1. Komi is on the pricier end. They only offer a tasting menu, which is $75ish. So if that's out of price rance, I would suggest Corduroy (near Metro Center and MacPherson Square) or Restaurant Kolumbia (Farragut North). It's also not that far from Central Michel Richard(Federal Triangle or Archives Navy Memorial kind of behind the White House).

      1. I'd second the suggestion of Central Michel Richard--not cheap, but not overly expensive. Poste is good, not horribly expensive, and also not far, right by the Portrait Gallery in Penn Quarter. Cafe Atlantico is fun (though somewhat loud). I also suggest Ten Penh.

        1. First of all, Penn Quarter at night makes Georgetown look like Hay-on-Wye in February, so if you are looking to avoid a mob scene, I would go elsewhere. The Dupont Circle area has Pesce a chalkboard seafood place, and at 19th below M there is Nooshi for pan-asian. Or go north on Connecticut Ave for Lebanese Taverna (Woodley Park) or Nam Viet (Cleveland Park).

          In Georgetown, the excellent Mendocino Grill is not terribly expensive. Though shouldn't everything seem dirt cheap to someone coming from England?

          1. Someone mentioned Ten Penh -- that'd be a great choice. Might also consider Zaytina (Mediterranean tapas), Matchbox (no reservations, loud, but yummy), PS7's, CityZen, Rasika (Indian) and for the experience, Marakesh.

            1. Thank you for all your suggestions. I will definitely avoid the Penn Quarter in that case! Dupont is sounding promising. Pesce looks fantastic, but I am a little concerned about my youngest sister, who isn't a major fish fan. Poste looks good, as does Nooshi and Ten Pehn-we all love Asian-style food! I am hoping to go to Cafe Atlantico for the Sunday brunch!

              Everything is, of course, cheaper than the UK, but I still am a little cautious about taking my parents to somewhere as expensive as Komi, especially as my 2 sisters will be with them. For the Friday night, especially as it is Easter weekend, I feel a reservation is essential, but other nights less so.

              1. Komi is well worth your while. But given your location and what sounds like a desire not to be too adventurous, the Tabard Inn is where you really want to go. Tucked away on N Street, you'll feel like a DC insider and you won't be disappointed by the wonderful, regional American food, which is made with fresh local and often organic ingredients.

                Stay away from Ten Pehn -- it's ok but not what it used to be. I'd recommend Butterfield 9 on 14th Street. For something totally fun and different (and not expensive) hit Zaytinya or Jaleo. For Italian, Notti Bianci. I second Pesce for seafood, but that's all they serve, so that may be an issue. CityZen and Citronelle are sublime but way too formal and expensive for what you want. Consider also 1789 or Bistro Lepic in Georgetown.

                Avoid Marakesh at all costs -- lousy neighborhood, bad food and service, and way too expensive. Not a place to take parents, unless you really want to spend the evening eating with your fingers and watching out of shape bellydancers.

                1. I almost forgot -- Oval Room is a great choice as is Bombay Club (Indian) across the street. both are elegant, right by the White House (which will be a treat for the parents), near where they're staying, and the food in both is excellent. You won't be disappointed. I'd say either of those (or Equinox if you want to spend a little more) or Tabard Inn will work best for you.

                  1. Acadiana is really delicious high-end food with a New Orleans flare (same owners as Tenh Penh but better in my opinion). I have been there several times and it always seems to be a crowd pleaser.

                    I always have a good time at Zengo in Penn Quarter- it is latin/japanese fushion in a wonderfully fun atmosphere. Any sushi-lovers among you will be pleased but there are many other options.

                    For Indian, try Rasika. Awesome, inventive Indian- make sure you try the crispy spinach app.!!!

                    1. I haven't lived in DC for some time, but I do get back to visit on occasion...

                      My two must-hits in the expensive department would be Taberna del Alabardero and (slightly less 'must-hit') Palena. I was not impressed with Citronelle.

                      I was also impressed with Corduroy (especially given its wine list) on a recent trip, although, while the room was nice, there was a certain personality missing.

                      Dino I love. Relatively inexpensive Northern Italian in a modern setting and awesome wine list.

                      I really liked the rediculously casual atmosphere of Obelisk when considering the quality of the food. You rarely get a restaurant that with wicker chairs that you can go to in shorts with that level of service, sophistication, or quality.

                      1. I'll be presumptious and assume that your folks can eat in London more easily than in DC so I'd say that they can get much better Indian food there. Zyatinya is fun, but does not take reservations after 6:30pm. Corduroy is excellent food, great services, and a reasonably priced wine list (especially Burgandy) but the ambiance is somewhat lacking since it is in a hotel, but it is still one of my favorite restaurants.

                        If they want the quintessetnial American experience take them for steaks. Expensive, but very American. I like Charlie Palmer's, and the Prime Rib (but jackets are required) If you can get out to Silver Spring, Ray's the Classic is a great place to get a steak.

                        You might also want to go to Rockville to Urban BBQ, otherwise you can get BBQ at Capitol Q, near your hotel, or Rocklands. Neither is as good as Urban, but still BBQ.

                        1. I would definitely like to take them for BBQ at some point. Luckily we have several days of eating to do, there are so many choices!

                          The priority for Friday night is location and a reservation, so I'm looking at Old Ebbitt Grill or The Oval Room right now.
                          We will definitely go to somewhere spanish-y one night, somewhere Japanese-y, and I think maybe Ethiopian too. We eat a lot of Indian food at home, so I'm not sure whether they will want to eat Indian while here. Of course, during the week we will not want to eat at the most expensive places every night!
                          But thank you for all your suggestions, I really had no idea where to even start looking!

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: BritInDC

                            Spanish-y = Taberna del Alabardero. Seriously. Trust me.

                            1. re: BritInDC

                              I strongly recommend you don't do Old Ebbit Grill - it is basically just a tourist place with dressed up (but not very good) bar food. I would also steer you away from Ten Phen, which has seen better days.
                              Blue Duck Tavern is really good, and has very american food (not actually a tavern). I wasn't as impressed with Komi as most people on this board, and I don't think a family of 5 would feel particularly comfortable there ... it is small and has a very quiet, austere feel to it. Cashions has good food and a relaxed but still nice atmosphere. It would make lots of sense to go to a steakhouse (if you are meat eaters) - a few of the ones in DC are quite a scene. And do take the opportunity to try some ethiopian, if you haven't already.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                I had lunch at the Blue Duck Tavern earlier this week, and wasn't impressed. The food was good, but not as good as the high price would suggest. Nor was the food seasoned perfectly enough to warrant not having salt and pepper at the tables. The service was very good, though.

                                I also thought the room was rather cold and uninviting visually.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  It gets tedious hearing people trash Old Ebbitt as a tourist destination and nothing more. It hasn't been crowded for over 150 years without the locals. The menu is straighforward American fare from local suppliers - not tricked-up, trendy stuff. And it's a good place to take out-of towners, particularly foreign guests.
                                  It's a special relief to have such a place for a group of mixed ages and eclectic tastes. Non-adventurous teens can order burgers. An elderly aunt can have plain roast chicken. A plain steak dinner. Fried Virginia trout, liver and onions, a decent crabcake for those who want to try the local specialty. They have seasonal local treats like shad roe and a well-priced lobster special in the summer.

                                  Old Ebbitt Grill and its partner Clyde's in Georgetown fill a real gap in the local food scene. I am grateful to have them for many of the groups that I have to entertain who wouldn't enjoy many of the CH favorites in town. And when my guests insist on picking up the tab, I don't have to pick them up from the floor when they see the prices.
                                  If you personally want trendy food or know that your guests do, go someplace else, but accept OEG for what it is.

                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                    I will agree that it's not just for tourists, that said, the menu is boring but done correctly for boring.

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      I accept Old Ebbitt's for what it is: hideously noisy and crowded, with food not worth mentioning on Chowhound.

                                2. I should also add that they may be renting a car, I'm not sure. If they are, then we have slightly more options-I'd definitely look at Urban BBQ, for example. I was only introduced to the American concept of BBQ very recently, and I feel that it's something that they should share!

                                  1. I would also like to go somewhere for good Mexican food. It's not something that we really get at home. Any suggestions?

                                    1. The Old Ebbitt Grill is a good idea, as is any of the Clydes. The vibe at the Clydes is good, I like the ones in Chinatown and Friendship Heights best, the food is good, the service is good and the prices are good. Also, it's pretty American. As for Mexican food, that is a difficulty in the District. The best places requie a car and some familiarity with Bladensburg. However, Oyamel has reopened and is Penn Quarter. I went there several times when it was Crystal City and was overjoyed by it. It is very serious Mexican food, though as interpreted by a Spaniard, Jose Andres. The last I heard, at the Crystal City location, they were even serving some insect dishes. Oyamel is probably your best bet for Mexican besides these two holes in the wall. Pepitos Tacos in Adams Morgan (a tight fit even for one person) and Taqueria Distrito Federal in Columbia Heights. Wherever you go, try a Tamarindo (a Tamarind juice) or another agua fresca (cashew, horchata, jamaica - hibiscus).

                                      1. Not only is April 8 Easter Sunday, but that weekend is the kickoff for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Nobody in their right mind wants to drive anywhere near the Mall/downtown area. There will be a fireworks display on Saturday night. Restaurants will be pretty crowded all weekend with tourists. Get reservations early - like yesterday!!!

                                        Something your parents - and you! - might enjoy is a trip to Annapolis harbor. There are many restaurants and shops in the historic district and a lot of working boats still operating out of the harbor. A little bit of American history and some good local food that's sadly hard to find in Washington.
                                        For the same reason, I'd head down to Old Town Alexandria. Great restaurants down there and delightful shops that will appeal to your siblings. Not the usual shopping mall cookie cutter stuff.
                                        Frankly, they can get far better Indian food in London than in DC. Same for Ethiopian and other ethnic. I'd stick with what we do well here that's hard or impossible to find in the UK. Steak of course. Ray's, Capital Grill, Charlie Palmer, the Prime Rib. America just has terrific meat. Our barbeque is good and that's something special that isn't duplicated abroad. Even Rocklands in Georgetown does a decent job.
                                        Clyde's in Georgetown has a very pleasant atmosphere - less frat house that the Penn Quarter spinoff - and the general American menu is appealing to a wide variety of tastes. And there's Georgetown's shops to visit after lunch or dinner.
                                        I have never sent any of my houseguests to the Spy Museum who didn't adore it. If you haven't been, go with your family for sure!!!! Fabulous for teens and above. And lots of great food choices in Penn Quarter for before and after. It's close to Michel Richard's Central for some creative top notch food or to 701 which I think is consistently under-rated. It's also close to Capital Grill for that great steak.
                                        I think you mentioned somewhere that you work near the Capital, so don't forget Eastern Market. And maybe Montmartre.
                                        Congress won't be in session, but you may be able to pull a string or call in a favor and take your family to eat in the Senate Dining Room or House Members Dining Room. The food is pretty good but the surroundings are special and they'll think you have "arrived." Ask around in the office where you are interning. It isn't that hard to arrange.

                                        1. Thought Id sneak in and ask a question as I am also on my way to DC next week. Whats the name of that famous chili place in DC? I saw i on Rachel Rays tasty travels the other day.....Didnt look fancy but looked like they had great chili dogs.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Moz

                                            Ben's Chili Bowl

                                          2. Hot Dogs reminded me!!! How could we forget? Nationals season opener is April 2.
                                            Take your family to a baseball game. What could be more American than that?

                                            Eat American ball park food in the stands. Peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks. Dippin Dots are really strange.
                                            Some of the local fans will do their best to explain the game to you.
                                            They're in town through Easter weekend. Then on the road for a week.

                                            1. This may seem far-fetched, but if you know your boss and get along well, see if she/he would be willing to take your family to lunch at the Members Dining Room.
                                              can't get more "inside DC" than that, except for eating at the white house.

                                              1. An inexpensive but tasty venue if Full Key in the Chinatown. it is located on H Street between 5th and 6th Street. It is some of the best chinese I have ever eaten and great lunch spot if you have been doing any shopping or movie watching in the Gallery place area. In the Farragut North area David Gregory is a great fusion resaurant. A bit pricey but the food is flavorful and fun. For Mexican try Lorial Plaza on 18th Street in lower Adam Morgan. You can't make reservations, but it is worth the wait for table. In case you wre considering southern food try Georgia Brown in the Golden triangle area of DC. Its pricey but they do a great interpretation of classic southern dishes. Georgia Brown has a great Brunch on sundays. For less than $30 you get a full southern breakfast plus a seperate lunch order, which most people take to-go.

                                                1. I don't think that Laurial Plaza is particulary great, but it does have a nice vibe so you won't go too wrong. The Clydes group offers great value for money. Sure, Clydes (and Old Ebbitt) are not cutting edge, but if you want to impress foreigners with great American food and not break the bank, they will be a hit. The locations are beautiful, the service is fantastic and the food is good.

                                                  1. hanks for all your suggestions, everyone. So far, I have booked Old Ebbitt Grill for Friday night, because it is so close, and I have managed to book Central for one night too. I figured it was worth trying if my parents are paying!!

                                                    We will probably go for sushi one night, am I right in thinking that Sushi Taro is the best place to go?

                                                    I think I'd also like to try Zyatinya, and Ten Penh.
                                                    Then I guess Ethiopian one night, and maybe Oohs and Aahs, plus Taqueria Distrito Federal... and I'm out of nights!

                                                    What do you all think?

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: BritInDC

                                                      I agree with someone above who said your family is probably used to getting good Indian food --- but I still have to recommend Rasika. I love it. If I remember correctly, the chef came recently from London.

                                                      Also, BTW, I like Old Ebbitt and I think you should not miss the oysters. They have some of the best oysters in the city.

                                                      1. re: cokie

                                                        I'll never get the Rasika reccomendations here. It's not only not good Indian food, it's not even good.

                                                        1. re: jpschust

                                                          Gotta disagree! They're not trying to do traditional Indian food -- it's a modern approach. I'm not the only one who loves it. Sietsema gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

                                                          1. re: cokie

                                                            Sietsema also gave minibar a high rating- I often disagree with Sietsema, at times he's got his moments, but he's far from the end all and be all of reviewers. Our experiences there have both been terrible with food that was lackluster at best and service that was just ok to terrible.

                                                            1. re: jpschust

                                                              I'm with you on Rasika, jpschust. From the Pier 1 decor to the disinterested service to the bland food. As soon as that signature spinach starts to cool off, it's a leaden mess.

                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                I'm with Cokie - I really enjoyed the food at Rasika. Inventive and tasty.

                                                      2. re: BritInDC

                                                        Sushi Taro is absolutely the best place to go for sushi. I have found that Sushi Ko, Kaz Sushi Bistro, etc just don't measure up. Another good place is Makoto, but that's farther away, and small and you probably don't want to bother with that. Sushi Taro is consistently excellent, and close to where your parents will be staying, to boot.