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DC restaurant itinerary 5 nights

Hello!

Just wanted say that I am having a great time reading your very informative posts on DC restaurants. My mouth is watering already, which is a problem, since I won't be in DC until late May.

I'll be in Washington May 23-28 with my parents and have been given the assignment (Yay!) of researching restaurants (my favorite part of a vacation). If I were travelling alone, I'd probably put Citronelle on my list as I really like to enjoy one true splurge; however, I'm not travelling alone and I don't think I can put it on my list this time. I'll be back, however -I live in the NYC area and I plan to take more mini-vacations to DC.

For now, though, I've got the following:

Central (ok, it's not Citronelle, but it is Michel Richard and it sounds like fun)
Vidalia
Komi (I'm not thrilled with the items on their extremely small menu but apparently the menu changes daily and it's getting way too many raves for me not to give it a chance)

I thought Zaytina and Cashion's were going to be definites as well, but now I'm seeing some very mixed reviews for both. With only 5 days, I'd like to find restaurants where there is more of a consensus as to how good they are. Jaleo's is also getting mixed reviews. Thoughts on these?

Colorado Kitchen seems like a really fun choice with a homey menu - is this a good dinner restaurant or is it really best for lunch/brunch?

Johnny's Half-Shell looks great, too, but I'm wondering if it's a better lunch spot (LOVE po boys). How's dinner? Looks like they don't have banana pudding anymore......too bad (LOVE banana pudding), but really everything else sounds out of this world.

Ideally I'd also like to try some Ethiopian (that's sure not something I can get on Long Island), but may save that for when I'm in DC again.

I know Palena's getting great reviews - not sure that we want to do two expensive restaurants in DC and I didn't think I'd lean toward any Italian places while down in DC (I can get tons of that up in the NY area). Still, it sounds delicious.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or tips you could give me - if there are other restaurants I'm missing, please.....I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks!

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  1. I don't think there are any *concensus* restaurants in DC. I've seen dissenting opinions on just about every place you mention.

    You can definitely get dinner at the Colorado Kitchen. They have a Sunday bruch that is good, but it's also quite often mobbed. The dinner menu changes weekly, but duds are few and far between. I would point you to a favorite, but I get something different almost every time I'm there. Fried and pan-roasted foods are almost always excellent. Be aware that they are closed a couple days (IIRC, Monday & Tuesday).

    Palena has a casual cafe in the front that is inexpensive, so you needn't rule it out on the basis of expense.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. To make Palena less expensive just eat off the bar menu- the chicken (I know this sounds strange) is divine.

        Personally for consistency I'd skip Cashion's, and I don't like Zaytinya or Jaleo.

        You really should hit Vidalia- the new spring menu is to die for.

        Central is excellent as is Komi.

        For ethiopian go to Etee or Dukem.

        Go to CO kitchen for brunch, skip it for dinner.

        If you have a car get out to old town and go to restaurant Eve or 2941 instead of either Komi or Vidalia for an expensive meal.

        1. I guess everyone has their favorites. Personally, I find that most places that try to do upscale Southern charge a lot of money for making food that shouldn't be too fancy, so I can't abide too much by Vidalia. Colorado Kitchen, on the other hand, never puts on much of a flourish, so it's just fine technique and some very good ideas. Very good for dinner.

          Jaleo for Spanish tapas, 2 Amys for Neapolitan pizza and Italian small plates, Central for American by a French master, these are some of my favorites. If you do a search for Jaleo on this board, you'll come up with many, many posts offering recommendations.

          And Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria is sure to be a delight. Go early in the day and check out the Torpedo Factory.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Wow, thanks for all the tips. Lots of opinions to sort through.....

            We won't have a car -I'm not sure that that puts Restaurant Eve out of reach as much as the price. The tasting menus are $95.00 and $125.00 - NYC prices. My parents rarely go out to restaurants that expensive; with wine, there's no way they will go for that. The Bistro menu looks nice enough, but if I were to spend the $ on a cab to Alexandria, it would be for the tasting menus - something I might consider if I were alone.
            Maybe next trip, because I've heard raves about this place.

            I love the idea of spanish tapas so I'll do more research on Jaleo. They don't have very many places like this on Long Island -it gets a bit tiresome to have Italian all the time- so it sounds appealing.

            Researching restaurants is fun, but it's tough -for every restaurant I put aside, another one pops up that sounds just great.

            Thanks for your help! I'll keep reviewing this board and will let you know what my list ultimately looks like.

            1. re: Betsypaige

              You don't have to do the tasting menu at Restarant Eve. Just order a la carte at the Bistro. Tourists of all kinds seem to be able to find their way to Old Town Alexandria, a tourist destination in its own right.

              And if Jaleo is interesting to you, then by all means search this Board. So many favorable posts over the years. Favorites there include the tortilla espanol, patatas bravas, spinach with raisins, grilled asparagus, eggplant flan, cod fritters, trumpet mushrooms, apple and manchego salad, and queso de tupi.

          2. While they're slightly different, Cashion's and Johnny's are owned by the same people. I prefer Johnny's (though like Cashion's) - I would think it would be a good lunch place though I've not gone there at that time.

            I know you mention nights, but a nice lunch only spot to consider is CF Folks, on 19th south of DuPont. If it's a nice day you can sit outside. Breadline is also a lunch only spot (each really are only at lunch during the week).

            Just to toss out a couple of other possibilities would be Black's in Bethesda or Acadiana on NY. Each do a different flair on Gulf coast fare - Acadiana focusing on Cajun/Creole.

            Last suggestion would be an early steak dinner over at Ray's in Arlington. It's a few block walk from a metro stop but the cab ride should be cheap.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Dennis S

              I would second Palena at the cafe in front. Quite good. I'd also skip Cashion's. I've never been thrilled, though I've never hated it, either. I've just always ended up being a bit disappointed. Johnny's Half Shell always was better in my view, echoing the previous poster, but th restaurant that took over Johnny's spot at 20th and P, Montsouris, has proven to be very good each of the five times I've been. For the original poster, I'd highly recommend putting it on your list. It is not expensive and turns out good French food. I think it fills a hole that has existed here in DC's restaurant repertoire.

              1. re: Dennis S

                If you're looking for a po'boy, Acadiana is head and shoulders over Johnny's Half Shell. They bring Leidenheimer's bread up from New Orleans and it is all about the bread. They get the whole thing just right, down to the dressing!
                Highly recommend Central. Fun way to experience Michel Richard's witty take on American food at a reasonable price. Great way to close out a day at the Mall museums.
                Beck may be open by the time you arrive. The new bistro by Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel's. Everybody's waiting for this one.
                Consider Taberna del Alabardero rather than Jaleo. They have excellent tapas and it's less hectic. They also serve a full menu of Spanish food in elegant surroundings. Considered by many Spanish ex-pats to be the best Spanish restaurant in North America.
                NYC spoiled me forever for US pizza so you're probably right to skip that. If you want quick lunch downtown, CF Folks is wonderful and I think more creative than the sandwiches at Breadline.

                Taxis are cheap within DC so you can get around easily. Three people sharing is often less expensive than Metro. To figure out how to get places by Metro (or connecting to bus if you have to) and how long it should take, use www.MetroOpensDoors.com

                1. re: MakingSense

                  "Taxis are cheap within DC"

                  If you consider $11 for two people cheap (for a one zone trip).