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Sep 16, 2007 06:28 PM

DC Trip Eats.......narrowing it down.

Hi again!

Thanks for the suggestions so far on eats in Alexandria and DC.

I have 4 meals in DC or around so am trying to narrow things down. I have a few questions:

1) For Vietnamese, which would be better..... Minh's in Arlington or Saigon Garden in Falls Church? Is Saigon Garden / Eden Center even accessible by Metro?

2) I'd like to do an Ehtiopian place and was thinking about Dukem. How does Dukem compare to Etete or Queen Makeda?

3) Is Lebanese similar to Ehiopian? If I'm going to Dukem should I still consider a meal at Lebanese Butcher or Zaytinya?

4) Any worthwhile Korean in the DC area? And for Thai, which would be best? Mai Thai, Thai Chef, or Thai x-ing? Preferably one that is in an area different than Adams morgan or Penn Quarter so I can explore that neighbourhood too.

5) Lastly, any other suggestions? I'm going to do southern in Alexandria so not looking for Southern in the DC area.

Loads of thanks,


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  1. just my input for a few of your questions.

    1) if you want to do Vietnamese in Arlington, i think a better bet than Minh's would just be to have pho at Pho 75 in Rosslyn, right off Wilson Blvd; if you definitely want something else besides pho, i'd suggest going to Eden Center - it's not accessible by metro though, i believe closest one is East Falls Church, though prob'ly not walking dist.

    3) lebanese is not similar to ethiopian; i am a big fan of Zaytinya, which is good whether you're looking for "lebanese" food or not.

    4) all the good korean is in the 'burbs, i'm afraid, primarily in Annandale, VA. there is ONE korean rest in DC, on 18th St, south of Lauriol Plaza, called Mandu - it's not bad if you want to get a korean fix but not some place i'd rave over.

    10 Replies
    1. re: hollygolightly

      Thanks for your input.

      I don't have a car so Eden Center won't be possible.
      Somebody else said that Minh's is good for clay pot dishes. Any other Vietnamese suggestions? For pho and more?!

      Korean won't be necessary then. We get good Korean here in NYC actually.

      Sounds like I have a vietnamese, lebanese, and ethiopian meal option. Just need to come up with an interesting 4th option....maybe Thai.

      1. re: gtrekker2003

        Eden Center is very close to the East Falls Church Metro. When you get out of the Metro there are *always* taxis right at the Metro stop. It's something like a two minute ride (or eighteen minute walk) to Eden Center.

        Eden Center is unique in the US. It's a great place to walk around, explore the interior courtyards (which are not evident from the street), and nosh. It's a place where you could have a meal in one spot or walk around choosing snacks for various carry-outs (some of which have tables) or do both!

        There is a Lebanese Taverna at the Woodley Park Metro Stop in DC. The fatteh bel djaje (chicken over toasted pita chips in a yogurt sauce) is reliably very good. Zaytinya is an alternative. It is a swank place with excellent tapas. I like to think of it as Pan-Hellenic food.

        I think Etete and Queen Makeda are way ahead of the curve for Ethiopian food. Etete for more of a restaurant experience, Queen Makeda feels more like home cookin' to me. At Etete, I always tell folks to get the Fastening food platter (vegetarian) and add the fish for a couple of bucks. At Queen Makeda, I love the red lentils, greens, and the Yebeg Alicha (a kind of lamb curry). The Metro Stop is a block away.

        I think your fourth place should be Jaleo for Spanish tapas, where the olives at the table alone are worth going for. Try the trumpet mushrooms, the spinach with raisins, and tortilla espanol. You'll be in heaven.

        1. re: Steve

          Lebanese very different and worth it. Go to the lebanese butcher if you can (you will have to cab it). Zaytinya isn't bad either, but Lebanese Butcher is really the gold star of Lebanese in the area.

          1. re: ktmoomau

            In the Lebanese category, you might instead go to Mama Ayesha's (between Woodley Park and Adams Morgan) -- just to give you another option.

            This is Helen Thomas's (the senior White House correspondent) favorite restaurant, supposedly, and you have a good chance of seeing her there.

            1. re: mselectra

              I 2nd Mama Ayesha's. Very tasty food and far, far better then Lebanese Taverna. Plus it's a beautiful dining room.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Just to add, Zaytinya is a totally different kind of scene than the other Lebanese-ish places you're thinking about (Lebanese Butcher, Taverna, or Mama Ayesha's). I actually love them all, myself, but for different reasons -- not sure they really should be considered together, just because they all have middle-eastern based food.

                1. re: mselectra

                  And just to add Zaytinya had Middle Eastern tapas style food...but when mselectra says a different scene...that really means its a "scene." Pretty youngish crowd, busy, busy bar area, especially Thurs-Sat. I think it has a Euro vibe to it. Unfortunatly I'm not in love with the food. But if you are hoping for Lebanese/Middle Eastern cuisine but also want something hip in Penn Quarter this would be the place to go.

                  If you want delicious Middle Eastern/Lebanese cuisine in a more subdued yet pretty environment in DC I would give Mama Ayesha a shot.

        2. re: gtrekker2003

          You could try Burmese at the excellent Mandalay in Silver Spring. It's at 930 Bonifant St. and is a 5 minute walk from the Silver Spring Metro station.

          1. re: gtrekker2003

            I haven't eaten at Eden Center, but I really enjoy Minh's. The clay pots seem very well regarded, as a re the grilled meats. The grilled pork and vermicelli "Northern Style" is awesome.

          2. If you're not wanting to trek to Eden Center, then consider Nam Viet in Clarendon for Vietnamese.

            For thai, here's a good recent thread:

            3 Replies
            1. re: Dennis S

              I agree that Nam Viet is the best Vietnamese in Arlington and it is very convenient to Metro. Eden Center would be kind of a pain to take Metro then taxis, etc.

              1. re: jaydreb

                I prefer Minh's for Vietnamese. I think it is superb. Dukem is tha place of choice for Ethiopian cabbies, but Etete is well regarded. Absolutely do Zaytinya - it's a can't miss. In Old Town, Majestic Cafe is where you want to go for Southern.

                1. re: JRinDC

                  Zaytinya has been consistently getting worse, and the last 2 times we were there it was absolutely terrible

            2. Thanks everybody! I think I will try Nam Viet for vietnamese, and Zaytinya.

              What is the difference between Dukem and Etete? I really prefer local dives, local food, casual places, and ethnic atmosphere. Nice people watching is a plus. Suggestions?

              Lastly, I'm now torn between the 3 Lebanese places. Mama Ayesha, Lebanese Taverna, or Lebanese Butcher. How do these 3 differ? Which one has more homestyle authentic food? Again, I'm not into the atmosphere and don't care whom I bump into. :)
              Are any of the neighbourhoods are these 3 restaurants interesting? That could also be a helpful narrowing down factor.



              13 Replies
              1. re: gtrekker2003

                Lebanese Taverna is more like chain lebanese food.

                Lebanese butcher- whole in the wall real butcher shop with absolutely incredible gold star lebanese food.

                Never been to the other.

                1. re: gtrekker2003

                  Unless you want to trek to the Lebanese Butcher without car, I would do Pita House in Old Town (since you are staying there, right?). It is far better than Lebanese Taverna. Nice, small place

                  1. re: baconjen

                    Oh right, I forgot Lebanese Butcher wasn't accessible by metro. Yeah, I will try Pita House in Alexandria. Now I can either try Mama Ayesha as well or the Brumese place mentioned earlier. Or maybe a thai place from the other post.

                    Thanks, baconjen!

                  2. re: gtrekker2003

                    Did you say you're coming from NYC? And, if so, is there still super great Lebanese food there (in Bkln)? In my hazy memories, some of the best food I've ever had, but it was a long time ago. Just wondering how important it is for you to get Lebanese in DC. Now Ethiopian, I get that that's a must here.

                    1. re: mselectra

                      Hmmmm....mselectra, where was the Lebanese food in Brooklyn? You're not talking about Yemeni food on Atlantic Ave, are you? I'd be interested to know.

                      Also, if I were to trek out to Lebanese Butcher, does anybody know which Metro would be closest and how long of a cab ride it would be? And is there anything else interesting to check out in that area?

                      1. re: gtrekker2003

                        I'm not 100% sure, but I would bet East Falls Church would be the metro stop you would want. There really isn't much else there though.

                        1. re: ktmoomau

                          East Falls Church is the nearest metro stop.

                          If Google Maps is accurate, it's a little less than 3 miles and less than 10 minutes:

                          1. re: Lori D

                            Thanks LoriD. That is helpful. I think I'm definitely going to trek out here. Is this in the same area as Eden Center? Maybe I could go for some snacks there too before dinner. :)


                            1. re: gtrekker2003

                              Not too far, but you'll need to call your cab; there won't be any waiting like there generally are at the Metro station:


                              1. re: Lori D

                                Gtrekker -- Sounds like you're someone who would love Eden Center if you could manage to get there. I don't know anything about how taxi fares work in Virginia, but you're not spending lots on food, why not spring for the cab rides, right?

                        2. re: gtrekker2003

                          Seems like you've got a great list for your DC trip.

                          But, btw, has anyone on here suggested Peruvian chicken? Another one of those local favorites/obsessions here, and you can Metro to Pollo Rico easily (much easier than getting to Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church -- and the Arlington one, at least, is in a more interesting neighborhood, imo -- I haven't been to Md -- but it doesn't have yuca as the Md one does. But of course it's a different kind of food than Lebanese, I don't mean to suggest they're interchangeable.)

                          Do a search here for Pollo Rico, and you'll get a sense of the obsession. (Sorry, I can't get the Wheaton one to come up on Beta, but I linked to the Arlington one below. Both are near Metro stops, I believe.)

                          My memories of Lebanese in Brooklyn are 20 years old, and so very much has changed (you know, back when we were worried Giuliani would be elected... as mayor.) Somehow this thread made it pop into my mind. Hazy, but as I remember, it was Bklyn Heights or a little south, an area with Hasidic businesses and Lebanese restaurants. Not the first time I'd had middle-eastern food, but before hummos became so common. Transportingly delicious (in my memory) and it was amazingly cheap (again, in my memory), and the restaurant I'm remembering was not a hole-in-the-wall, either. Do you think that neighborhood is long gone?

                          El Pollo Rico
                          932 N Kenmore St, Arlington, VA 22201

                          1. re: mselectra

                            Thanks mselectra!

                            I will look into the peruvian chicken. Is it like Pio Pio here in NYC. I love their peruvian chicken and the yummy green sauce with it.

                            The area you describe could be Atlantic Ave although I haven't seen any Hasidic businesses there. I may not know the area well enough. Atlantic Ave is walking distance from Brooklyn Heights and has many Yemeni and Middle Eastern foods......Yemen Cafe, Waterfalls, Tripoli, Damascus Bakery, Sahadi's. Was this it? Not sure if these places have been around for 20 years or not though.

                            Thanks for the suggestions! I have so many great ideas here just so little time. :)

                      2. re: gtrekker2003

                        Dukem has the reputation of being the best Ethiopian food in town. It is large, generally crowded, has outdoor seating (which is nice) and hosts live Ethiopian music in the late evening. The food is very good, although I personally like Etete better. Etete is a small, cute, bright restaurant but there are few tables and you may encounter a wait (depending on the day, you might have a wait at Dukem as well). I agree with Steve that the vegetarian platter with fried fish is excellent and I like the atmosphere better. But you can't go wrong with either one! Happy eating.

                      3. Excellent Korean in Wheaton Maryland at the Woomi Garden, The tableside bbq of marinated thin sliced ribeye or small beef ribs, or shrimp, plus a superb seafood potato pancake. Everything looks good and there are always a lot of Koreans eating there. On the Metro Red line

                        1. Dukem was OKAY only to me. There are a lot of little hole-in-the wall types of Ethiopian restaurants around there though, on 9th Street I believe. You can't miss them. I'm told they are better than Dukem, but I haven't personally tried them yet. Anyone has a recommendation for one or more of them?