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Apr 17, 2007 02:30 AM

Eats near the Ritz Carlton, Pentagon City?

Hi there!

I'm coming to DC in May for the Slain Peace Officers Tribute. Because the trip encompasses Mother's Day weekend, I have to haul along my three small children, PLUS my mom and her husband. Mother's Day brunch at the hotel (Ritz Carlton, Pentagon City) will run us $550. Eek. No thanks. Do you have any ideas for us (besides leave the kids and mom at home)? My mom says we should go to a Chinese restaurant because they don't jack up prices for Mother's Day. I don't know the area at all so I am at a loss and kind of desperate.

We're in town for five days, one of which is our anniversary so a couple "nice" restaurant recommendations would be great. Since we have small kids, I also welcome more family friendly restaurants. For me, I don't care so much about ambiance as long as the food is good. I love all types of food so I'm open to anything delicious.

I've read so many reviews here of places I'd love to try, but I have no idea what places might be close to our hotel. Since we won't have a car, please let me know if there are any good places that are walking distance or a short cab ride. I think my kids really want to try the subway too. You do have those, don't you? I guess that's way off topic though. Sorry. :) We haven't ever been to DC and are so excited about the trip!

Thanks so much for your time.

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  1. You're a short cab ride from Crystal City. There was a recent discussion on dining there:

    Kabob Palace is cheap, tasty, and family friendly. We do have a subway (called Metro) and fortunately Pentagon City is right above the Metro. You can take it downtown where there are plenty of family friendly options in Chinatown and Dupont Circle. Wilson Boulevard (Court House Metro stop) also has many ethnic options. You're a short cab ride from Del Ray where you'll find Del Merei Grill, Al's Cheesesteaks (mostly carryout but with a few tables), Hector's Place, Bombay Curry Company, and RT's Restaurant (creole/cajun), all family-friendly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monkeyrotica

      It's helpful to know that we're right above the metro and near Crystal City. I'll check out the websites for all the restaurants you named too. Would any of those be okay for Mother's Day? Thanks so much for the tip on the Crystal City thread. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. :)

    2. Evening Star Cafe in the Del Rey neighborhood of Alexandria (on Mt. Vernon Ave., about 3 miles from the Ritz Carlton) has a family atmosphere, fun funky decor, and a nice brunch where the courses run about $10 a plate. American fare.

      2 Replies
      1. re: weezycom

        I checked out their website and it looks like a great place my whole family will enjoy. That it's so close to the hotel is wonderful. I feel kind of guilty. So far, I have spent all my time researching restaurants and haven't even got around to checking out the obligatory tours we'll need to do. Can't imagine how I'm going to map out how to see all the sites and then hit the restaurants I want to go to. Well, priorities... first things first. Food. :) Thanks for the tip!

        1. re: weezycom

          I 2nd Evening Star. I had a wonderful pork chop there about a year ago.

        2. If you go to the Open Table page for Washington, DC, you'll find a link to restaurants offering Mother's Day special menus and specials. Acadiana mentions a $32 Mother's Day brunch, although there's no mention of a child's price or menu.

          Acadiana would be a lovely place for brunch. Not the best New Orlean food you'll ever eat, but looking at the posted Mother's Day menu (link below) I'd definitely be able to enjoy many of the choices.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Indy 67

            I liked the Open Table site. Saw a few restaurants I'd love to try (like Citronelle) but have no idea where it is in relation to our hotel. Citronelle looked pricey but good. I wonder if it is more pricey than good though. I think I read some posts on that last night so I'll look back through the old posts and see.

            Checked out Acadiana and will probably eat there for Mother's Day brunch once I figure out what the kids' menu may be. Acadiana looks reasonable and has an interesting menu. Thank you so much taking the time to tell me.

            I just have to say, I am so happy and touched that people that don't know me at all are willing to take time to help. That is just so darned nice. *sniff* I need a tissue.
            Thank you so much!!

          2. I echo the idea of taking the Metro. From Arlington Cemetery go, one stop to Rosslyn and go to Red Hot and Blue for BBQ or Pho 75 for Pho. Going the other direction, stop at Crystal City and go to Jaleo for tapas, Ted's Montana Grill (has a kids menu) or McCormick & Schmick's for an old, clubby steak and seafood place. There's also Charlie Chiang's and Legal Seafood in Crystal City too. If you continue going into Virginia, you can get off at King Street and explore many of the Old Town Alexandria offerings, which might be fun for the kids... I like Bilbo Baggin's (global fusion cuisine) and Taverna Cretekou (you can smash plates!) I have heard good things about Eamonn's. And the for teppanyaki (where they cook it in front of you) Tokyo Japanese Steak House is fun, right on the water, and entertaining as well as tasty.

            6 Replies
            1. re: anhdeluxe

              Wow! You're a WEALTH of information!! Thank you!!! My first grader is learning to write with exclamation points and kind of over-does them! Guess I've been influenced by that!!

              Well, we'll certainly be taking the Metro. The kids are probably more excited about that than the White House (which we don't even know yet if we'll be able to tour). I like your recommendations and think you eat like I do. You have so many interesting restaurants listed. I'm excited about the Greek restaurant, Jaleo, and my kids love teppanyaki. Is Charlie Chiang's real Chinese food or Americanized Chinese food? I will take time to figure out which of those we'll be able to fit into the schedule once I kind of figure out geographically where we'll be with our touristy tour of the local sites. Maybe I should have asked for great places to eat by the big tourist attractions. Is that too pushy to make two requests? Well, maybe I'll do it and then if nobody writes back, I'll know I over-stepped.

              Thank you so much!!

              1. re: Chow Now Brown Cow

                The restaurant situation near the Mall tourist sites is not wonderful. You really have to travel some distance away from the Mall to eat a better meal. With limited time to visit, that wouldn't be my choice.

                The best food -- and most fun -- is lunch at the Museum of the American Indian. The cafeteria is organized by stations, and each one offers food from tribes in a different region of the country. You could visit different stations to assemble a lunch of tortilla soup (Southwest), planked salmon (Northwest) and Pumpkin Pie (Northeast). I believe there's also standard offerings, but I've never chosen those so I can't be certain.

                There's a small cafe in the Smithsonian museum known as the Castle. (The dark red building bearing that name will be obvious. There's not much to see in this building since it's the administrative center for the Smithsonian museums.) The menu is quite limited -- just a few soup and sandwich choices but the food has a fresh, reasonable taste.

                The cafeteria in the passageway between the two wings of the National Gallery of Art is somewhat hit and miss.I've been happiest when I choose the simple options. Your kids will enjoy the gelato.

                Now to shift gears completely...

                My husband and I ate dinner at Citronelle less than a week ago, after a very long hiatus. (Our last visit there had been in the days when Michel Richard owned an empire of restaurants stretching literally from coast to coast. When Richard returned to his LA restaurant, we noticed Citronelle went downhill and we stopped dining. It has been some time since Richard closed his LA restaurant and moved to DC, but we hadn't made it back.)

                Citronelle has returned to its early glory. Many of the food choices combine wit with excellent food. All of the food wonderfully sourced and expertly prepared.

                Wit in food? I hear you asking. Yup. Mostly it works. My husband ordered the pasta "beluga" appetizer. It is served in a tin that evokes a caviar tin surrounded by polished glass nuggests suggesting ice. The pasta is topped by cuttlefish in its own ink that has been diced up to resemble caviar. In this dish, the taste does not take a back seat to the visual humor. I can't be quite as enthusiastic about the "breakfast" dessert. This consisted of a large plate displaying the familiar elements of breakfast -- bacon, softboiled egg, toast, and coffee -- created out of dessert ingredients. For example, a small piece of pound cake topped with the tiniest mound of whipped cream was the stand in for the toast with butter. Everything was tasty, but I wasn't wowed by anything other than the lemon curd topped with meringue that played the role of a soft boiled egg. My husband felt the same way and this is contrast to our feelings about our appetizers and entrees.

                For the record, I ordered the soft shell crabs as my appetizer. For entrees, my hub ordered the lamb and I ordered the veal. Those three dishes were fabulous. The coating on the crab was not the lightest tempura I've ever encountered, but it wasn't heavy enough to interfere with my enjoyment. Besides, Richard won me over by stuffing the body of the crab with additional blue crab meat. Yum. The veal is a cut -- hangar steak -- that I knew about in beef but never had eaten in veal. All the intensity of flavor that earns hangar steak the name "butcher's cut" in beef is evident in veal, too. Delish. The dish is served with sweetbreads which I adore but haven't eaten in ages. My husband kept raving about the seasoning of the lamb which he couldn't identify, but just loved.

                We were with another couple and their entrees included the same lamb dish and duck. We asked the sommelier for a recommendation, and he concurred with our choice of pinot noir. We gave him a price that was in the lower third, but definitely not the lowest. He enthusiastically recommended a pinot noir for the price that I think was the lowest on the menu. It was delicious. We were impressed that the sommelier was willing to sell us a wine for less than our threshold because it was the best combination.

                Go! Enjoy!

                1. re: Indy 67

                  Wow, we have such limited time there, I'm going to really have to narrow down the tourist sites we see and the restaurants. Do you think those museums you mentioned are worth the time or are the restaurants good enough that we should see the museums just so we can eat there?

                  Okay, I just tried to check some maps. It looks like most of the tourist sites are all clustered around the White House and it looks like our hotel is nowhere near there. There seems to be the Potomac River between us. At least I think I have figured out that when you say "The Mall" you mean The National Mall?

                  And Citronelle sure sounds like a delightful culinary experience. Loved reading your "review". You should write for The Post. I think if we can squeeze it in, I will make that our anniversary celebration place. I probably won't do the sweetbreads though. Haven't been able to bring myself to eat them since the whole mad cow deal. I like them fine but don't LOVE them.

                  Thanks so much for all the info. I'm printing all this out and taking it with me.

                2. re: Chow Now Brown Cow

                  I have to second Indy -- if you are going to eat at a snack bar -- Musuem of the American Indian is best, and then gelato at the Gallery of Art. As far as the Restaurant complex at Pentagon Row -- I really like Noodles and Company for family friendliness and the Creperie... Lebanese Taverna and the Irish bar are great but not very family friendly. Saigon Saigon is passable Vietnamese. And of course there's always Sweet Surrender Bakery and Maggie Moo's for dessert.

                  1. re: anhdeluxe

                    Oh my, all those sounds good. Is the Restaurant Complex at Pentagon Row near our hotel or near all the tourist sites? And I am sure the kids will like Sweet Surrender Bakery and Maggie Moo's. They don't have those out here on the West coast. Thank you!

                    1. re: anhdeluxe

                      Never mind! I figured out it's the same as the as the rec below which IS close to the hotel. Doh! I will claim it is sleep deprivation induced dementia. Sorry.

                3. You've gotten a lot of good suggestions and I won't repeat them here.

                  I just want to add that if you're looking for something in walking distance from your hotel, you're right across the street from Pentagon Row, which is a complex of shops/restaurants. None of the restaurants are "must-do's", but some are pretty respectable choices and are convenient. I can recommend Lebanese Taverna and Thaiphoon as being pretty good.


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jaydreb

                    Thanks for the link. That looks diversified enough where everybody in my family can find something they like. Now, when you say walking distance, is that walking distance for healthy adults or even walking distance for small kids and old folk? Hopefully it's convenient enough for us all to walk. Otherwise, I suspect I'll be schlepping over myself and bringing back take-out. Thanks for the recomendations on the Thai and Lebanese restaurants.
                    Victoria (who is really not a brown cow)

                    1. re: Chow Now Brown Cow

                      I'll try to cover all the answers to your questions from separate posts here.

                      Sorry, "The Mall" is indeed the National Mall stretching from the Capital to the Washington Monument. None of the Mall restaurants I listed is a destination restaurant so I wouldn't plan my sightseeing around my mid-day eating.

                      FWIW, the Air and Space Museum is the most-visited museum along the Mall. Since that's next door to the Museum of the American Indian, you could combine MAI's cafeteria with a visit to Air and Space. (The MAI is the most beautiful building imaginable, but most people come away disappointed after being in the crowded exhibits.) The Museum of American History is closed for renovation, but 150 highlights from their collection are on display at Air and Space.

                      Here's the link to the Smithsonian home page so you can decide which of the other museums you might wish to visit.

                      Other than the restaurants/snack bars I listed in my previous post, the food in the Smithsonian museums is really indifferent -- and I'm being kind. There's a snack bar in both the Air and Space and in Natural History museums.

                      I can't think of any restaurants that are close to the monuments: Washington, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea, Jefferson. (Other's may be able to supply restaurant recs around the monuments, but I'm drawing a blank.) Since you'll be with young children, you might want to fortify yourself with some fruit and a power bar until you can get to a restaurant for a meal.

                      The Ritz Carlton hotel is integrated into the Pentagon City Mall, on the east side. The Pentagon Row shopping area and restaurants back up to the Pentagon City Mall to the west. Your concierge will be able to supply directions, but to give you a general sense, I'd say it is no more than a 10-minute walk: exit the west side of the Pentagon City shopping mall, continue through the parking lot, and meander a bit through the Pentagon Row shops until you arrive at the restaurant.

                      You've said you're West Coast people. If you're from San Diego, you've got your own panda so you can ignore my suggestion that you take your kids to our National Zoo to see Tai Shan, our almost-two-year-old panda. Since the zoo is off Connecticut Avenue, a major retail street with plenty of restaurants, you should be able to find an appealing restaurant. I don't know that area well enough to make a rec.

                      1. re: Indy 67

                        Got it. The Mall and Pentagon Row are places to eat that are convenient but aren't going to be memorable culinary delights. Speaking of memorable culinary delights, I am still thinking about Citronelle though I'm not sure how to ditch mom and the kids for that one because I sure am not footing the bill for the whole gang.

                        Thank you for all the tips on site seeing too. Those are more helpful than you can imagine as I have been wondering how the heck to figure out how to see all the sites and eat some good food. I think we'll have to site-see and eat-to-live in the day time and at night, we'll seek out good restaurants more along the live-to-eat type.

                        We're not from San Diego, we're Orange County. About 15 minutes from Disneyland. So if any of you come out West and wants tips on where to eat around here, I'm your girl. Just ask and I will be more than happy to return the favor. You have been so nice. I told my mom and husband about you all today and they thought it was really great that y'all have been so helpful.
                        Thanks again.

                      2. re: Chow Now Brown Cow

                        Probably already answered above, but it's a pretty easy walk for anyone from Ritz Carlton to Pentagon Row.

                        1. re: jaydreb

                          Great! I'm telling them to pack comfortable shoes and dragging them all along. Thanks so much!