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9 days in DC - Good local hangouts?

We are travelling to DC around memorial day week for 9 days. Does anyone have a top 5 list of their favorite local joints? Not looking for the tourist haunts...will be using metro...

A nice steakhouse?

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  1. for steak I'm a big fan of Capital Grill.
    go to Oya - love it there, the management is awesome (especially Aaron, the manager and Andrew, the somelier).
    I like the Rosa Mexicano down there, but not as good as New York's.
    Since you are in DC, you should get over to Old Ebbit Grill. DC Coast is pretty good too. For brunch in Georgetown check out Peacock.

    1. Favorite non-touristy local joints --
      1. Etete
      2. Colorado Kitchen
      3. Corduroy
      4. Taqueria Distrito Federal
      5. Montmartre

      I'd suggest a Korean place in VA, but you need a car.
      Favorite steakhouse: If you can't get into Ray's the Steaks I'd suggest Sam & Harry's just south of Dupont. It doesn't seem to get the attention of other places on this board, but I've never had a bad meal there.

      1. For metro accessible neighborhood eats, I would pick places that are indicative of the neighborhood. With that in mind:
        Adams Morgan: The Diner/Tryst - 24 hour comfort food. Tryst has nice nibbles, coffee, and couches (Tourist Bar: Madam's Organ)
        Dupont Circle: Kramer Books or Mark and Orlandos - surprisingly good food
        U Street: Etete for Ethiopian, Busboys and Poets for veggie friendly community vibe.
        Logan Circle: St. Ex for food, Helix for drinks and Halo for scenery!
        Herpes Triangle (Midtown) Sign of the Whale for burgers, Moby Dick's House of Kabob, and the Iron Gate for romantic patio dining.

        1. Ravi Kabob in South Arlington has the best Pakistani food in the area, although the service is awful. If you go, make sure to visit the original and not the "family" restaurant across the street. Definitely nothing touristy about it. Meanwhile, Aladdin's Cafe in Shirlington has wonderful Lebanese food and fabulous service.

          Pizza: 2 Amys on Wisconsin by the Cathedral is really, really good. Plus, they have deviled eggs for an appetizer, and where else can you find that?

          Thai: Kanlaya in Chinatown and Bangkok 54 on Columbia Pike in Arlington

          I would definitely agree with either Ray's the Steaks or Ray's the Classics if you can...I would love to go to either but haven't had the chance yet.

          Chinese: Full Kee in Chinatown

          Soulfood: Levi's Port Cafe on Barracks Row. They have very attentive and personal service. Oohhs and Aahhs on U Street is supposed to be fabulous but I haven't been.

          Good luck!

          9 Replies
          1. re: laney619

            1. Zaytinia (excellent tapas, trendy dc) Gallery Place metro
            2. 2 Amy's although it is a taxi from the metro unless you walk a good distance
            3. Palena Cafe Cleaveland Park metro
            4. Ray's for Steaks is a bit of a walk from the metro, but not far in Taxi and so worth it. Much better than the Palm, or Morton's or something...
            5. Corduroy McPhereson Sq metro I think
            6. Lauriol Plaza is very DC locals they have a cuban pork dish which is really good this one will probably bring some comments as it certainly isn't on the same level as the others, but oh well... they can try the cuban pork then dis... Dupont Metro

            1. re: ktmoomau

              Good suggestion with Zaytinia.

              I went to GW and live in NY now. I know plenty of people who still go back to DC just for a dinner at Lauriol Plaza.

            2. re: laney619

              Ravi Kabob is in North Arlington (Ballston metro stop).

              Ray's the Steaks is about halfway between the Rosslyn and Courthouse metro stops.

              My suggestions, other than those that were already made, would include Minh's for Vietnamese (Clarendon) and Eden Center, a Vietnamese shopping center (East Falls Church metro stop, then about a 1 mile walk).

              1. re: Lori D

                Eh, it's a matter of opinion I guess, but I consider that South Arlington. It's right before the intersection with 50 and has a completely different atmosphere than the neighborhood closer to the metro.

                1. re: laney619

                  Its address is: 305 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22203-3307

                  North of Route 50 is North Arlington; south of Route 50 is South Arlington.

                  1. re: Lori D

                    Geez, we're talking about a matter of about 200 feet here, really not that big a deal. I think of the split as being after the Harris Teeter. My boyfriend lives on S 5th Street and everything starting from Gates of Ballston onward has the feel of South Arlington. Not really worth quibbling about. I think of it as S Arlington, you disagree. Who cares?

                    1. re: laney619

                      Reminds me of this good BBQ joint in Raleigh, South Carolina...or was it Durham.

              2. re: laney619

                i think the new ravi has great service. even better than the other one since it isnt as crowded. but the people work in both restaurants, just different days. what an awesome place. i particularly love the seekh and the champ tandoori (lamb chop). amazing chickpeas and naan.

                1. re: kneelconqueso

                  Yeah, I thought the newer place had better service, but the original had better food. Might have just been an off night, of course. I've only been to the new one once. The chickpeas are AWESOME.

              3. 1. 2 Amy's
                2. Four Sisters (echoing the Eden Center thing)
                3. Bistro Du Coin
                4. Matchbox
                5. Restaurant Eve (followed by desert at Buzz, it's on Slater's Lane)

                1. My top five are in my profile. Click on me.

                  1. Two places that won't be here the next time you come back:
                    AV Ristorante near the Convention Center - an old style Italian restaurant that draws everyone from celebrities to old Italian families. People love it or loathe it. Tacky statues, sometimes surly waiters, great white pizza. Been around for more than 50 years and about to be torn down for yet more condos.
                    The Waffle Shoppe at 522 10th Street, NW, an Art Deco gem will also fall to the wrecking ball and thousands of office workers and cops and fireman will have no place to get plain old diner food downtown.

                    Ben's Chili Bowl is a must. Stick with the classic chili dog/half smoke on the menu. Don't get fancy at this place. You never know who you'll see as it's a regular stop for politicians, celebrities, students, regular folks. Again, another place that some people hate but others love for its place in the history of DC.

                    The bars in the 200 and 300 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue SE are great hangouts for Capital Hill workers and residents of that neighborhood. Everybody from interns to Members of Congress to celebrities show up. Hawk and Dove, Tune Inn, Pour House, Capital Lounge are all beloved local joints. Sonoma is an upscale wine bar with fancier food.
                    Eastern Market is a great place to be on Saturdays and Sundays. A huge street market with food stalls, artists and flea market. Restaurants from simple coffee houses to good French and Belgian near the Market and along nearby Barracks Row. Lots of favorite hangouts in one of the largest intact Victorian historic district in the US. In 2006, the Washington Post named Eastern Market as the best place to take out-of-town guests.

                    A beautiful restaurant for a summer evening is Seacatch in Georgetown. They have a patio overlooking C&O Canal where you can enjoy possibly the freshest seafood in the city. Always well prepared, lovely service. Not a joint, not a tourist hangout.

                    Steakhouse? Maybe the best value in town is the prix fixe lunch at Charlie Palmer's. An Angus strip loin with two other courses at $20.07 is hard to beat. It's a hangout for lobbyists and Members of Congress so I guess for them it's a "joint."

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: MakingSense

                      I agree with Charlie Palmer's. DC is a steak town, and most of the steakhouses all look the same. Charlie Palmer's is so bright and beautiful, and their side dishes are all a but unusual. Very different.

                      For a more traditional DC steakhouse, Capital Grill.

                      1. re: katecm

                        I'd disagree with DC being a steak town- it tends to be a steak town of mediocrity overall, though Ray's stands out as being the best value for steak for me. It's not as nice in terms of atmosphere, but the food makes up for that.

                        1. re: jpschust

                          You kidding? Quality aside, for a town of fewer than 600,000 people, we probably have more steakhouses per capita than any town of a comparable size anyplace. Every steakhouse chain in the country has an outlet here. Did anybody ignore us, other than maybe Outback? Or Ray's which has stuck to the 'burbs?
                          All those lawyers, lobbyists and executives have to have someplace to lunch on their expense accounts.

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            First off, your comparison is incorrect, because while it's a town of fewer than 600k in the district, the population is significantly larger than that. Also, you suggest that the chains make this a steakhouse town- most of those chains are poor at best. Chicago is a steak town, not DC- finding high quality dry aged meats in this town is very very difficult. We have very few local steak houses doing really high end steak.

                            (outback does have locations in the area and has meat about on par with ruth's chris)

                    2. Belga Cafe
                      Rest. Mio
                      Central (bistro)
                      Bistro le Pic