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3 Have to go to restaurants in DC....

What would be the top 3 restaurants that should not be missed if going to DC?

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  1. One would be cafe milano in georgetown - decent italian food but it's a must to eat there for the people watching. from hollywood stars in town to testify on the hill or shoot some scenes for an upcoming film to bill clinton who has been eating there since he was president!

    2 Replies
    1. re: farah

      cafe milano is subpar at best, i wouldnt reccomend it in a top 3 restaurants list for anything.

      1. re: elegantelliot

        Right there with elliot on Milano - it's subpar at best: surly service, below average food, lame wanna-be NYC scene.
        That said, Citronelle, Cafe Atlantico (esp. Minibar), BLT Steak, and Central are all very good choices. I have only been to Blue Duck once and, while solid, was not thrilling by any stretch. While I have not yet been to Maestro or Rest. Eve - I have heard/read fantastic things.

      1. I guess it depends on where you're coming from, but . . .Cafe Atlantico, Vidalia, Dino

        1. Mini Bar and if you are inclined to cross the river, Restaurant Eve's tasting room in Old Town Alexandria.

          1. Citronelle, CityZen and Minibar.

            1. I think it really depends on what you are looking for, how much money you are willing to spend and where you are coming from. This Top 3 changes in my mind quite a bit. But at the moment for me its:

              2) Blue Duck Tavern
              3) Citronelle

              1. If we are limited to DC itself, and not the suburbs, then I would say Oohs and Aahs (soul food), Pyramids (Moroccan), and Jaleo (Spanish tapas).

                1. CityZen tops the list. It is amazing....if you can, call ahead and ask Chef to create a personalized tasting menu for you. He will knock your socks off. We've done this quite a few times and CityZen is above and beyond the rest (except maybe REDD in Yountville).

                  I'd also suggest Blue Duck Tavern if you're looking for simple, but amazing quality food.

                  Finally - Komi or Minibar are excellent. IMHO - skip Citronelle unless Chef Michel is on sight.

                  1. I think CityZen is over-rated despite my strong wishes for it to be better than it's been in my experience. Very good, but not best in class as it's billed, priced and usually reviewed.

                    Again, crossing the river, I think Maestro at the Ritz in Tysons is extremely under-appreciated while being superior to most and having one of the most approachable and enjoyable somelliers in town.

                    As long as we're crossing the river, you have to add Inn at Little Washington. It's still in "Washington" right? Lives up to all the hype in my mind.

                    Strictly DC? I guess I'd go with Galileo's Laboratorio when it re-opens (renovations underway). Roberto Donna is one of the best in the world in IMO. And he's a character so it's a fun meal. If you can go when he's doing a truffle menu and let them pair the wines, you won't be sorry, and you'll eat somethings that you'd never imagine. But go with a fat wallet.

                    I love Citronelle -- but on a lighter budget, try Richard's newer, more affordable venue "Central" that's at 11th & Penn. He calls it "the democratization of Citronelle." I think it's great.

                    Right now, I'd probably put Zengo on the list just because it's so different and fun. And I think the food is great. Unusual but successful combinations of Asian/Latin fusion.

                    I've never been, and it's not convenient, but I hear Black Salt in the upper NW/MacArthur area is worth the trip.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: VNovaCat

                      Yes I admire IALW as well, but visitors to our area need to know that Washington Virginia is 69 miles from Washington DC.

                      1. re: VNovaCat

                        I agree with your assesment that the somellier at the Ritz is very approachable and knows his stuff but Maestro in my opinion is very overrated for the price, your not going to leave there paying anything less than $400 for 2 and likely much more. I would steer clear of it and stay in the city and hit up CityZen, or Citronelle if you are looking to drop some serious loot. But otherwise a trip to Jaleo, La Tosca, Vidalia or Ceiba for some good food that wont cost you an arm and a leg.

                      2. are you going for food or for DC ambiance or both?
                        Jaleo for food
                        Capital Grille for DC ambiance (and politico spotting)
                        and Ben's Chili Bowl or Soul Vegetarian for local DC flavor.

                        1. Is location an issue? Would you like to eat and then walk around the neighborhood for a cocktail afterwards?
                          if location is not a factor (within the district), go to BlackSalt and Cityzen.
                          If you want to be in the heart of a bustling area, i suggest (based on food/service):
                          $$$ - Blue Duck Tavern, Marcel's, and Minibar at Cafe Atlantico (reserve well in advance - seats 6, 30+ one-bite courses, coolest thing ever.)
                          $$ - Oyamel, Cashion's Eat Place, Brasserie Beck (new!)
                          For tradition, take down dozens of oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill or visit the Occidental.
                          for less expensive options, get a chili dog at Ben's Chili Bowl, kitfo at Dukem (ethiopian), a Super Grilled Cheese at Stoney's.

                          if you want to be out all night, you can't go too wrong on U Street's new places - Al Crostino, Cream and Tabaq are all very hip places.

                          depends on if you want a named chef, great food.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: clfost

                            Jaleo? What is up with you people? Jaleo is overpriced and uninteresting. Jose Andres left that place a long time ago to focus on more interesting things like Minibar.

                            So, let's say you want to do one special meal, one nice meal, and one cheap meal:

                            Komi, Corduroy, 2Amys

                            Komi is the best restaurant in the district, for the price. Citronelle is excellent but overpriced, and could be in any city. There's something about Komi that makes you feel proud of DC.

                            1. re: The Gourmet Pig

                              Corduroy? 2 Amys? What is up with you people? Blue Duck Tavern?? Dino ??

                              Washington is becoming a destination for fine dining. Cityzen, Maestro, Restuarant Eve, Citronelle, Komi, Palena, Minibar, the list goes on but 2Amys, Dino, or even Jaleo as in the top 3 (or even top 10) Washington restaurants? No way.

                              1. re: Dakota Guy

                                Thank you, DG, for again saving me the trouble of pointing this out. Blue Duck, Jaleo, 2 Amy's, Cashions, Dino, Ray's the Blank, and Corduroy do not belong in any Reply that is not titled "Where should I go to grab a pretty good dinner and a decent glass of wine on a week night with a friend."

                                1. re: Pappy

                                  To be fair, the original poster didn't specify fine dining, which is why I recommended 2 Amys for a CHEAP MEAL, and corduroy for medium-range. Also, Corduroy can often be as good as, if not better than Eve or Palena. Of course, I agree that if money is no issue and you want three tasting menus in a short trip, Citronelle, Komi and Maestro are the picks. But don't knock 2Amys. That place is quality, and is just as much an important part of the 'food scene'. Those types of places will define a city's food. DC, for now, has some excellent food, and lots of mediocre crap passed of as good food, like Kinkeads or Bistro Bis. What makes New York or San Fran so great are not its top establishments but the quality of its medium range places.

                                  Also, who the hell thinks Soul Veg is good?

                                  1. re: The Gourmet Pig

                                    If you think corduroy is or has ever been better than Eve or Palena you're on something...corduroy can be quite good, but it's not aiming for nor is it achieving food on the level of Eve or Palena.

                                2. re: Dakota Guy

                                  I personally would describe Blue Duck Tavern as FINE dining. I went with my parents for the first a few months ago. All of us are major foodies, have eaten at most of the top restaurants in the US and all agreed the meal was fantastic. We all loved how the menu was set up. It was a feast for the senses in my opinon.

                                  We loved the open kitchen, the friendly service, and the food. That's fine dining.

                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                    Glad you liked it. I think they took a beautiful, civilized dining oasis, in what was Melrose and ruined it by creating a cold, sterile, loud, uninviting environment with impersonal service, an unapproachable menu and spotty food that they foolishly call a "Tavern."

                                    1. re: Dakota Guy

                                      If I were asking Chowhounds for their top 3, I'd expect some hole-in-the-wall family joints (without their own websites) to be in the mix.