NYC Hound visiting DC
I'm visiting Alexandria and DC for a 3 days in early Nov. Will be staying at Embassy Suites for a conference and visiting DC during spare time. I'm coming from NYC so am really looking for places or types of food that we don't get here. Generally, are there any food specialties that DC is known for that is so-so in NYC? This will help narrow down choices since I will only have a limited number of meals.
Any places you'd recommend closeby to Embassy Suites for lunch? Looking for dives or moderately priced meals ($20 in total).
Since you are staying in Alexandria, you can't miss Restaurant Eve (if it's in the budget). Make a reservation now for the tasting room. I can't say there is nothing like it in NY but it is SO wonderful. Anything with pork belly is great. It's expensive but I was assuming the $20 comment applied to lunch. Actually, I think they do have a lunch special for like $15 or so.
Things that are so so in NY: How about Ethiopian? I like Meskerem in Admans Morgan okay, but some of the more experienced chowhounds are always raving about Dukem which I have yet to try.
NYC doesn't have a lot of southern influenced places either. Vidalia downtown and Majestic (Alexandria) would be wonderful choices for this.
Cheap lunch places in Alexandria - Eammon's (owned by Eve group) for great fish and chips.
Have fun and let us know what you think!
In terms of Southern cuisine I would also recommend Georgia Browns and Creme. GB's has incredible souther cuisine (try the fried chicken) but it can be pretty noisy in that room.
From a more intimate meal in a great part of town I would suggest Creme. The chef uses a lot of family recipes with a southern influence to it. Just wonderful down-home food for a reasonable price. My favorite meal there is the mushroom appetizer to start, then the delicious roasted chicken, and to top it off the coconut cake. Afterwards you can go grab a drink at Local 16 or some of the other fun U Street drinking holes.
Oh and I certainly, certainly 2nd Restaurant Eve as a must if you are in Old Town. I just had the most fantastic anniversary dinner in their bistro 2 weeks ago. It's a new favorite!
You don't get Southern food in NYC go to Southside 815 in Alexandria, get like the low country shortcake or other real Southern things. Not expensive.
And I second Eve although it isn't a dive it is good.
Thanks baconjen and ktmoomau!
I think I have the Alexandria part sorted out now. I like the sounds of Southside 815, Restaurant Eve (if within my budget.....didn't see the $15 special baconjen mentioned on their online menu), Eamonn's and Majestic Cafe. All look good. Which of these places are closest to Embassy Suites?
As for DC....I did some more searching on this site and it looks like Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Lebanese, and Ethiopian are the specialites within DC. Is this correct? I am interested in all of these foods. (I'll have southern covered in Alexandria so don't need anymore) I would love to try a different cuisine within each of the main different neighbourhoods in DC so that I can eat and explore. :)
So far on my list are:
Ethiopian (Dukem, Queen....., one of those restaurants in that neighbourhood). Any suggestions? I'd like something authentically ethiopian.
Any moderately priced Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, or Lebanese suggestions? I don't care for atmosphere, just tasty food. Budget is up to $20.
Thai Square in S. Arlington, VA is a local champion of Thai home cookin'. The tile fish appetizer is my favorite dish. Annadale, VA is an enclave of Korean restaurants. There must be over thirty there, some with no sign or menu in English. Gom Ba Woo is a very good place. My favorite Korean dish, though, is the soon du bu (tofu stew) at Vit Goel, aka Lighthouse Tofu. Order it full spicy. Very good ribs, too. Only two or three items on the menu here.
Eden Center in Falls Church, VA is a Vietnamese Shopping Center with dozens upon dozens of places to eat. A fantastic place to visit. Eat outside at Saigon Garden and have the minced clam hot pot, shrimp on sugar cane, and simply grilled meats you can order by the skewer.
Go to DC for Ethiopian, check out either Etete or Queen Makeda, both on 9th street.
The Labanese Butcher in Falls Church is your best bet for Lebanese. Shawarma, kibbe, soujouk, salads, felafel.
And last but not least, Myanmar in Falls Church. You can do a search for recs on this board. Goat, tomato tofu, ginger salad, whole roasted fish.
Zaytinya is great, but it is not true Lebanese - it's a hip turkish/greek/lebanese influenced small plates place. But I love it and would have it on my list as an out of towner. Lebanese Butcher in VA seems to be the chowhound favorite for authentic stuff, but kind of a hike from DC. Lebanese Taverna original location on Connecticut is more convenient for you. I have not been there in a long time, but it used to be good.
Vietnamese and Korean - again Virginia. Do you have a car? Vietnamese favorites are in the Eden Center and Nam Viet in Arlington. Hee Been is a Korean place in Alexandria (not Old Town though) which has individual burners on the table for doing your own BBQ. Most of the good Vietnamese/Korean are in the suburbs, although someone else might chime in with a DC recommendation.
I just remembered the Embassy Suites is at the King St Metro end of Old Town. It's not the best restaurant area really. Eve, Eammon's and Majestic are all clustered in one area farther down King St (about 6 blocks from the water). I think there is a shuttle along King from the metro, though, which would be quick access (Dash?) The only thing I know near that end worth mentioning is Hard Times Cafe, which is a good place for chili that has been around forever. I especially like their original recipe and Cincinnati style (you can order a bowl with both kinds, split down the middle). And it's totally cheap. Be sure to skip the 'chili mac' which ruins the flavorful chili by putting it on top of cheap yucky pasta.
My 2 favorite Thai restaurants in DC are Mai Thai and Thai Chef...both in Dupont. Thai Chef has the added bonus of having pretty good sushi and Mai Thai has awesome drinks and outdoor seating.
Also if you are out in VA you might want to head over to El Pollo Rico for some amazing Peruvian chicken.
And if you are in DC during the week (Mon-Friday 11:45-2:30) head over to CF Folks in Dupont Circle for the best crab cake sandwich in town served by one of the wittiest restaurant staffs in a fun dive.
Nam Viet is accessible by Metro (Clarendon stop in Arlington). U street accessible by Metro. Everything in Penn Quarter accessible (Gallery Place or Archives stop) - this includes Zaytinya and Jaleo (spanish tapas). Lebanese Taverna is right across from Woodley Park metro stop. Palena (another chowhound favorite) is near Cleveland Park stop.
Metro stops are farther apart than NY subway, but they go to many of the major walkable areas as long as you want to go somewhere in DC or close in suburbs (Arlington, Alexandria). Most of the restaurant websites list the closest metro stop. One exception - through some baffling example of city planning, Georgetown is not really metro accessible - it's a LONG walk from Foggy Bottom. Same goes for Adams Morgan area really (so I think Dukem is probably more accessible by metro than Meskerem for Ethiopian).
Oh, and I just remembered something else important - can't believe I forgot this! Pita House in Old Town Alexandria on Cameron St is cheaper and better than Lebanese Taverna IMO (awesome shwarma sandwiches) You will love this little place! You could easily take that Dash shuttle down to the Potomac end of King street and go to this place. Mai Thai is down there too - great location - not the best Thai you'll ever eat but decent and nice atmosphere.
I love the Pita House! Lebanese Butcher is better, but not metro accessible. A lot of the best ethnic is in the burbs where people have their own little towns almost like Korean/Thai in Annandale etc.
In DC for Thai around the 14th and U metro stop I don't think Simply Home or Rice is that far away, but I don't live around there anymore so I forget. Maybe check A map I will try to put links into them. I also like Regent Thai at 18th and T which isn't too far from the Dupont metro.
407 Cameron St, Alexandria, VA 22314
1608 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
1412 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Regent Thai Cuisine
1910 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Minh's is a great Vietnamese place near the Clarendon metro. Anything in a clay pot is bound to be especially yummy. I've been to the Nam Viet by the Cleveland Park metro and it was very hit or miss. The didn't have basil or mint for the pho and I think anise was missing from the soup.
Zaytinya is not Lebanese, it's Turkish served tapas style; it's unique and worth trying - I'd go there over Jaleo, which is run of the mill Spanish tapas. The Lebanese Taverna has wonderful soups, falafel, and hummus.
If you're going to be near 9th and U, and want a true DC experience, Ben's Chili Bowl is a must and you should order the classic half-smoke, split. Don't worry, they'll know what you mean. They also have veggie chili that is actually good! Ben's is right near the U St-Cardozo metro, the best time to go is at night after a few drinks. :)
Georgetown is more easily accessible now via the Circulator, a very simple bus system. The leg to Georgetown runs later than the others, too. Miss Saigon on M St. is good, but I seem to remember it as pricier than Minh's. Zed's Ethiopian is popular and was very nice and clean the last time I went (which was many years ago). If you're a movie buff, the St. Elmo's Fire bar was modeled after the Tombs, a really popular bar with the Georgetown University crowd. Here, you can get an excellent crabcake sandwich, another DC specialty food that I am surprised wasn't on your list. The wings are good and you can visit the nearby Exorcist stairs.
My favorite Thai place in DC is in Bethesda, but it's near the metro there - Bangkok Garden. Bethesda Crab House is a bit farther from the metro, but they have all-you-can-eat crabs. If you are willing to work for your food, you have to get crabs. There are a couple other places in Bethesda I haven't been to but should be ok.
Most good Korean food is in the suburbs, not accessible without a car. There is also a Lighthouse close to the Twinbrook metro in Rockville, but that is another 20-30 minute ride into MD from Dupont. They specialize in Korean tofu soup, but I have had better Korean in Manhattan, anyway.
Not an exclusive DC experience, but not one I think you'll get in Manhattan - go to Krispy Kreme! There's one at the top of the Dupont metro when you exit North. Best when fresh (the "made fresh" sign is lit) and eaten quickly.
You can easily get to Georgetown by taking the metro to either Dupont Circle or Farragut West and then for $1.50 taking the Blue Bus to Georgetown's M Street.
There is also the Circulater bus that goes to Georgetown from a variety of places including Golden Triangle and Union Station.
Plus the walk from Foggy Bottom is not that long---15 minutes or so. On a nice day or night its quite nice. It's not as far to get to as many people say. And there are a number of Vietnamesse places to try out there. Not to mention the wonderful Citronelle and my favorite Hook for wonderful, wonderful seafood.
SInce you won't have wheels, the U St/Cardozo metro stop on the Green Line is a kind of Chowhound central. Etete and Queen Makeda are a block away. Two more blocks east is Pyramids, a Moroccan dive with excellent food. One half block more takes you to Thai X-ing. mostly carryout with one table inside and one makeshift table outside. The best Thai food in DC proper.
515 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Florida Ave NW and 6th NW St, Washington, DC 20001
For lunch, around the corner from your hotel on King Street you will find Perfect Pita. I love their vegetarian hummus pita and their chicken gyro is great as well. For Thai, Mai Thai is located at the end of King Street (another location in Dupont mentioned in previous post). Catch a cab over to Delray, another part of Alexandria to The Evening Star Cafe. Entrees are priced $15-25 but you always could just go early and grab a glass of wine and appetizer. Enjoy!