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3 nights in DC with a 15 yr old

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I'll be in Washington DC with my daughter (first time--graduation present) and am looking for great food, great atmosphere--something to knock her socks off. I'm not looking for something "kid friendly"--she loves good food as much as I do.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Make sure to hit Central- trendy amazing food!

    1. the minibar at cafe atlantico would certainly be a knock your socks off experience!

      1. The Willard Room at the Willard Hotel. Fabulous space, old world service and menu with some table side preparations, things you don't often see any more. Lunchtime buzzes with lobbyists, lawyers, Washington's elites.
        The Hotel is part of Washington's history. Presidents hung out in the lobby and your daughter will recognize many names among the famous guests of the past.
        Lots of good food in town but she'll remember this place.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MakingSense

          As you say, the Willard Room is a place to go for the scene rather than the food. However, at WR prices, the visitors may be wincing at the end of the meal. Perhaps the OP can call the bar to see if there are non-alcoholic drinks available so both mother and daughter can have the Willard experience at a fraction of the price.

          If you are willing to spend big bucks, I enthusiastically recommend Michel Richard's flagship restaurant, Citronelle, in addition to the previously mentioned Central. Richard creates dishes that taste divine and are visually playful. The "breakfast" dessert, in particular, feels like a guaranteed hit with a fifteen-year old.

        2. I was exactly like your daughter when I was 15. Thinking back I think I would have really enjoyed Palena (take her to the cafe and teach her what a real hamburger should taste like :) ), Cafe Atlantico, Zola, and Bistro Du Coin.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Elyssa

            Zola, Bistro du Coin?

            Even at 15 I could have told you those places weren't good.

            Palena is a great idea, though. Take her to Komi, which is really special. And Obelisk. Man, I wish I had had a mom like you.

            1. re: The Gourmet Pig

              Sorry I meant Bistro du Oc.

              But either way I still think Bistro du Oc and Zola are good. On top of that I would have thought the decor at Zola was incredibly cool. I agree with a lot of the other places people mentioned: Citronelle, Taberna, Central. I just thought I would give suggestions that wouldn't totally blow the bank---they are here for 3 nights.

              Plus most teenagers, regardless of if they know good food or not, are really going to enjoy a cool scene as well. Something that makes them feel like a grown-up, not stuffy. I think my suggestions offer that.

              I stand by my suggestions for sure!!!!

          2. Zaytinya... as a 15 year old who I am sure is already an adult a trendy place like this should make her feel very cool, and hip. And the food is great too! I second Central and Cafe Atlantico too!

            2 Replies
            1. re: ktmoomau

              I don't know that I'd go so far to say the food is good at Zaytinya or Atlantico- I'd say it's mass produced and decent, but good? nah.

              1. re: jpschust

                You're right. She should go to Jaleo instead ;)

            2. Palena would deffinitely be my top pick under those circumstances.

              Taberna del Alabardero if she likes really earthy, rustic food in a slightly more European setting. REAL goumet Spanish food of a quality rare in the United States. Not that it really matters to her, but David Bueno, the sommellier and a manager, is one of the nicest and coolest guys working in a restaurant in DC.

              Obelisk for incredible (though limited choices) Northern Italian food in an wonderfully relaxed, inviting, setting.

              For a cheap dinner or a nice lunch I might check out Nam Viet in Cleveland Park. The Orange Beef is SO awesome. I don't know where you live but if it is an area that doesn't have a good Vietnamese restaurant, this is an even stronger possibility.

              For a moderately priced dinner, I love Dino. Granted, part of the reason to go there is their killer wine list. But even apart from that, I think it is the best value I know of for European-inspired cooking in DC, and the ambiance is a lot of fun. Ask to be seated upstairs. And if either of you likes lasagna... (And don't let my emphasis on value fool you, they don't use the very most expensive ingredients here, but I REALLY like this restaurant, not just because it isn't so expensive.)

              A note about Citronelle: I had a bad experience at Cintronelle when I was 23 and my girlfriend was 21 (or maybe we were 22 and 20). We were deffinitely looked down upon because of our age, even after ordering a $170 wine off the list -- and clearly KNOWING wine. I don't know how that affects what a server might think of a parent-child table, but just to let you know. Also, we were unimpressed with the food. Good, but not great (and I know that Michel Richard was in the kitchen that night). Regardless of price I genuinely prefer the food at Taberna del Alabardero, Palena, Tosca and Obelisk.

              Since I moved a couple of years ago, I've not tried Komi or minibar, both of which I hear really good things about.

              1. There are lots of ways to go. Kinkead's is back on it's game and if great for seafood. Marcel's is wonderful Belgian food, old world service, and quite formal. Zyatinya is lots of fun (they do not take reservations after 6:30) trendy, and you can experiment since it is all small plates. If you want something different and advertursome, go for one of the better Ethiopian places, Etete is good, and I actually like Meskereem even thought it is not the favorite of this board. They won't break the bank either. Whiner's recommendation of Taberna del Alabardero is a good one too. Unlike him, I like Citronelle for a fancy going out place. (Of course I'm older than he is too, but he is better looking. :) ) Just make sure that they know that you want it to be a special dinner for your daughter. I took my son there for his 18th birthday and he loved it. CityZen is also one of those places that will impress. Finally, while it is not the favored steak place in DC, Charlie Palmer's is one of those power places, and if you ask for a window table, you get a great view of the Capitol. Can't get more DC than that.