Boston Hound in Washington
I am going to be attending an incredibly boring meeting in your great city in mid May, and I'm bringing my wife and two sons, age 2 and 8. We love to eat, and having just returned from Barcelona and Nice, rather spoiled. Our two year old is great in a restaurant, and our 8 year old had sushi as the food for his last birthday- his request.
The cost is not a major consideration. We want great meals, with an emphasis on food that is not necessarily indiginous to D.C., if that exists, but perhaps an ethnicity that we can't obtain in Boston.
Also, in my previous visits, some restaurants have a formality that is rather "foreign" to me, as are the twenty something staffers in their ties. We do not want to hit a place with a two year old and be treated poorly. We also want to avaid the generic Legal Seafoodsesque envirorment.
Any suggestions?? One of the best reviews on DC food came from Johnny Apple's book, and he once advised me to go to Obelisk- he actually replied to an e-mail from someone he had never met.
Thanks ever so much!!!
The only really "indigenous" DC foods that I know of are variations on other foods you've probably already had (the half-smoke is a lot like a Texas hot link, and mumbo sauce is apparently originally an imported version of a Chicago barbecue sauce), and while both can be good, neither is what I would call great, so it's probably a wise move to not go that route.
I don't remember seeing any Ethiopian places in Boston last time I was there; DC supposedly has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia itself, and in any case does have more good Ethiopian restaurants than any other city I've been to, so if you're not familiar with that cuisine, you might want to check that out instead.
For a completely different sort of meal, Restaurant Eve in Alexandria (just outside of DC) is great, and while I haven't seen kids there, the staff there is the sort that I can't imagine would treat you poorly. (It might be safe to call ahead just to make sure, though.)
If your children are well behaved they will be welcome at any restaurant. This area has the largest percentage of two working professional families in the country and they are used to eating out and taking their children to good restaurants. So, as long as they don't make a lot of noise and run around, they should be able to go anywhere.
That said, I've eaten Ethiopian in Boston (admittedly years ago) and think that what you can get here will let you know how good it really is. Etete is quite nice and while I will be castigated for saying this, I like Meskereem in Adams Morgan for taking kids to, somewhat more touristy, but it is also one of the oldest and best known Ethiopian restaurants in DC, having been around for over 25 years.
You haven't said where you will be staying, but DC is a small town really and easy to get around on the METRO and by cab. La Chaumiere in Georgetown is very good classic French in a nonstuffy atmosphere but can be busy. Kaz Sushi Bistro has very upscale and excellent sushi, (one of my favorites) 2 Amy's has the best pizza in town, and other great food too, just the place to take kids when the parents want a great meal and a bottle of reasonably priced wine. If you want one must hit spot, Palena (either the less formal cafe in front or the more formal, 3, 4 or 5 course meal white table cloth restaurant in the back) is one of the very best in DC and right at the Cleveland Park METRO stop. If you are into a great wine list Dino, also in Cleveland Park has the best priced list in town and it is huge.
Firefly, just south of Dupont Circle is excellent, and fun, with good simple cooking done right.
In any case, have fun.
The late Mr Apple was right. Obelisk is excellent. Reserve far in advance; very small, daiy changing fixed price menu.
In addition to the other places recommended here, I'd suggest Heritage India in Glover Park (excellent Indian and very comfortable)--a cab ride; Black Salt (modern sea food; unlike any place I've been to at least in Boston, but it's been a long time). In Palisades, accessible only by taxi, but not that far, on the other side of Georgetown.
Makoto (tiny, kaiseki) has the best Japanese I've had outside Japan
Washingtonian magazine recently published an appreciation to Johnny Apple, discussing another of his favorite restaurants, Equinox (New American cuisine featuring regional ingredients). http://www.washingtonian.com/articles...
Zaytinya, a Mediterranean tapas place in the Penn Quarter, is one of my children's favorites (during the week, go early, before the Happy Hour crowd kicks in).
I second Eve in Alexandria and Zaytinya not during happy hours (especially if you just got back from Barcelona you will appreciate this). Also David Gregory has a lot of inspiration from spanish foods (manchego, valencian rice) although they do them in a non-spanish way, they also have very good cocktails.
If your from Boston (haven't been in forever) you probably don't have much great Southern food so possibly Acadiana.
Also TenPenh is kind of different and very good always one of my standbys that I crave.