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DC only good eats w/kids

Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for chicken tenders and burgers. We are a family of 5 taking a week long trip to DC for vacation/education. We will NOT have a car, and thus Metro accessability is a must. Our kids are 13, 11, and 9, so we're not talking highchairs. My family appreciates good food. We are not avant-garde per se, but good food will make the trip more palatable :-) for my husband! We're not opposed to sit-down meals, but since we will be the proverbial tourists, good to-go food recommendations would also be appreciated. Any budget recommendations are also appreciated! Thanks so much. I have enjoyed reading other posts. Trying to absorb as much as possible before next week!

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  1. If you are at the mall visiting I would suggest the cafeteria at the Native American Museum, very good food.

    Also perhaps Matchbox in Galleryplace/Chinatown for sliders and pizza? I think there are some recent threads with kids in the title you might search for.

    Also check the menu at Brasserie Beck it is casual enough I think it would be a good option that you might be able to do with the kids and the hubby will enjoy the 15 page beer list.

    Perhaps CF Folks for lunch.

    Where else are you visiting? And where are you staying?

    14 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      the ice cream parlor at the american history museum used to be a great afternoon snack. charming! :) don't know if your kids will be up for ethnic food but there is tons of it in dc and it's fun and can actually be quite kid friendly.

      1. re: AMFM

        Thanks for the tip! My map shows the American History Museum closed until 2008. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

        1. re: Jocelynas

          sorry didn't know - due for an update though so i can see why! :)
          have fun. sounds like you got some great suggestions.

      2. re: ktmoomau

        ktmoomau is spot on with all the recommendations! Native American Museum is an outstanding place to eat and I make special trips down there for the meal. Cafe Deluxe is a little more upscale, but very family friendly and there are several locations, depending on where you're staying. If you are going to the zoo, Spices in Cleveland Park has Asian-fusion (dumplings, noodles, sushi) and lots of families from the neighborhood go there. Also, near the Woodley Park is Open City and in Adams Morgan is their cousin, The Diner. Both have great staff, good food, and lots of space for you to spread out in. They have mac & cheese, but it's made with gruyere.

        1. re: indcgirl

          indcgirl--Thanks! Probably won't attempt the zoo, since we're so close to SD Zoo. Rather do things specific to DC. But it sounds tempting just for the food! Gruyere mac & cheese sounds wonderful. Will remind me of Geneva. Not the same as raclette, but still wonderful!

        2. re: ktmoomau

          We are staying at the Residence Inn Capitol--not too far from the Native American Museum I've heard. Thanks for your recommendations!

          1. re: Jocelynas

            I certainly recommend the delicious restaurant/cafeteria at the Native American Museum. Lots of choices and fun to see the different cuisines from the various regions of the US.

            I agree with the suggestions of CF Folks (best crab cake sandwich in DC. You should know they are only open M-F 11:45-2:00. Check their website www.cffolksrestaurant for daily specials) and Matchbox.

            In addition you can get great burgers at Five Guys, various locations around town. Another local chain that I really like is California Tortilla (various locations). They have salads, burrittos and tacos...while it's a chain it's still excellent quality and they create a really fun environment for kids and adults alike.

            In terms of sit down places some places that you guys might like are Pizza Paradisio (Dupont Circle and Georgetown), Zola (it's attached to the Spy Museum and has a really cool James Bond theme. It's certainly a more adult spot but if your kids are use to eating more gourmet food they will like this place and get a kick out of the decor), Jaleo or Zaytinya for tapas (Spanish and Middle Eastern respectivly), if you like Italian I would head to Filomena in Georgetown for big plates of homemade pasta and huge pieces of delicious cakes. On U Street you can check out the restaurant/coffeeshop/bar/bookshop/community area called Busboys and Poets. Shows a different part of town then most tourists see and the food is very kid friendly. You can also check out Creme for a little homemade taste of the south.

            For Indian I would suggest Bombay Club (more upscale) or Heritage (in Dupont Circle). And for thai I would suggest Mai Thai also in Dupont Circle.

            1. re: Elyssa

              Five Guys can be wildly inconsistent. It depends entirely on the location. You can search for good/nasty ones.

              Also, if your child has a peanut allergy, the place is verboten. Piles of unshelled peanuts everywhere.

              For a classic, cheap, local burger, there's still Ollie's Trolly near the White House. Burma in Chinatown is still good and cheap if you're not in the mood for the usual chain places.

              1. re: monkeyrotica

                i'd believe that about five guys since i know folks who think it's really average at best and compare it to places i think are dreadful but the one close to us that we go to all the time is fabulous. bummer if you hit a bad one!
                but i am always surprised the peanut signs are as small as they are.

                1. re: AMFM

                  The one I go to in Dupont Circle is very good. I'm not a major fan of their fries but I think their burgers are great. A guilty pleasure for sure.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    The trick I've found with Five Guys fries is that you MUST open the bag they come in ASAP. If you get them carryout, by the time you get back to home/office, they're hopelessly soggy.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      COMPLETELY agree. they are gross if you take them home. but if you eat in or if you've eaten them in the car so that there are none left for your husband by the time you get home they can actually be quite yummy!

                      1. re: AMFM

                        Good pointer. Because I find them just way to soggy/greasy. I do like the Old Bay like seasoning though. Kind of a local flavor thing which is fun.

          2. re: ktmoomau

            Sorry, I see I forgot to mention we're staying at the Residence Inn Capitol. We are looking forward to all the recommendations. Thanks for your help chowhounds!

          3. http://www.bananacafedc.com/menu.htm
            This is a short walk from Eastern Market metro. YUMMY! Their ceviche is THE best. Carnitas -- fabuloso! Zarzuela de Mariscos (mixed seafood in lobster bisque) -- what can I say? Close to Heaven. Fun, a little noisy. Good stuff! (Near my office, and every client gets a visit.) -- LARGE portions, enough to share, certainly. E.g., ceviche starter is really enough for 3-4; or an entire meal for one! Free chips and salsa, which are homemade and good! I highly recommend it for your trip!

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438323 -- see this

            also http://www.chowhound.com/topics/429272
            excerpt re Senate office bldg. cafeteria:

            According to Frommer's: "the best deal for visitors is the Dirksen Senate Office Building South Buffet Room, First and C streets NE (tel. 202/224-4249)." It mentions a lunch buffet with carving station for only $12.50 (kids, $8.50), and no tax. Presumably breakfast is similarly a great deal, with good prices and cafeteria style for fresh fruit, cereals, eggs, toast, etc. Nice for kids who won't eat much. Au Bon Pain and those are so heavy on bread, and not so much other good things. NOTE: ONLY WEEKDAYS (I think, check for sure)

            8 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              Nothing fancy but for a quick meal on the go if you're near the White House, the Old Ebbit Express has a daily pasta, several; entree offerings, sandwiches and salads. It's one of the best available quick food options downtown -- and it's very portable.

              1. re: alkapal

                Really? I work right near Banana Cafe and always have to go for birthday parties etc. I think it's pretty mediocre...especially in terms of ceviche. Their sister restaurant Starfish Cafe right down the street is a little better and also has ceviche.

                If you are looking for food in Eastern Market and something with a Latin touch I would suggest the Tortilla Cafe (?) right next to the Market. Or eat at the Market itself...go and get great breakfast or crab cakes at Market Lunch or deli sandwiches for $3-4 at one of the sandwich stands. Or for thai in that area you can go to Old Siam. All of these places are better then Banana Cafe in my opinion. And if you are coming this weekend, I believe they are holding their Oktoberfest which might be fun to check out (and you and your husband might enjoy their Beer Garden).

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Oh yeah def don't miss the Eastern Market. The Market itself sometimes is hard to eat at (few tables), but is good. Tortilla cafe and Tuncliffs are good. I normally get breakfast stuff at Tuncliff's, I don't think I have ever had their lunch, but I am sure they would have something.

                  I would recommend Jaleo over Zaytinya as Zaytinya really is more of an adult spot.

                  But lots of good suggestions on the thread!

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    All the places along Market Row at Eastern Market have outside tables so you should be able to get someplace to enjoy your food. Tortilla Café, Prego, Tunicliff's, Market Lunch, Marvelous Market, Montmartre, Murkey Coffee, Port City Java, Bread and Chocolate. Tunnicliff's has nightly specials.

                    Eastern Market has a terrific Flea Market plus Arts and Crafts on Saturdays and Sundays that the neighborhood kids and teenagers love so your kids might enjoy exploring that.
                    The Oktoberfest is on nearby Barracks Row and has activities for all ages on Saturday.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      I didn't even think of that! Def go to Eastern Market- get there early (we get there around 10-11 on either Saturday or Sunday) walk around the tents and browse- they have great cheese vendors too, and grab lunch. I can't name good places around there but there are a ton of places within a few blocks.

                  2. re: Elyssa

                    What about rebuilding after the Eastern Market fire not too long ago? Is the Market up and renovated? I haven't a clue.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      The Eastern Market food vendors are in the temporary structure located across the street from the burned-out Market. It looks like a huge white tent. Can't miss it.

                      http://news.wjla.com/news/stories/080...

                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        And the new, temporary structure is actually really nice. It's not the original of course but it's still quite nice.

                        I would also recommend on Barrack's Row (8th St) Belga Cafe for Belgium food and Old Siam for Thai food.

                2. Ella's wood fired pizza near the spy museum is extremely kid (and adult!) friendly, especially for a weekend lunch. You are not too far (waterfront metro stop) from Cantina Marina, which is probably too adult-oriented during the evening, but would be great during the day for burgers. It's right on the water, facing National Airport, so you can watch the boats and the planes taking off and landing. It's very casual - a shorts and flip flops sort of place. I always see families with kids at Jaleo (near Verizon Center). You can eat reasonably there and have a bit of an adventure.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: dcandohio

                    the pizza at matchbox is lightyears better than the pizza at Ellas, IMO.

                    If you're near the white house on a week day, go to Breadline at 17th and Pennsylvania (it's 18th and I-sh). It's very, very tasty. In fact, if it weren't so warm out today, I'd walk the many blocks to get their food today!

                    1. re: Jeserf

                      What's the best at Breadline? Because I have not been impressed.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        besides those cookies with mascarpone cheese in the middle? mmm

                        I really enjoyed the BLT. my friend really liked her roasted veggie sandwich.

                        I'm sure it isn't for everyone, but I enjoy it...especially because near my office is just cosi/au bon/potbellys

                        1. re: Jeserf

                          Just wanted to confirm for you that the American History Museum IS closed for renovations. They do have a small collection of American History Museum items in the Air and Space Museum on display on the second the floor. We always have a car when we visit, so I'm not sure if an Ethiopian restaurant would be Metro accessible or not but I'd look into it.

                          1. re: Rick

                            I'm not an expert on Ethopian food but the restaurants in Adams Morgan on 18th Street are a short walk from the Woodley Park Metro.

                            Also there are a few on U Street which are metro accessible. If you are interested in Ethiopian I'm sure others can give you pointers on where to go.

                            1. re: Elyssa

                              For Ethiopian, which adventurous kids might like (eating with your fingers and all) -- go to the U St Metro stop. The old place on 18th St in Adams Morgan isn't as good, I think most would agree (unless you're in that neighborhood, I guess).

                              -----
                              Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant
                              1114 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                        2. re: alkapal

                          At breadline I love the sausage sandwich, chicken and goat cheese, bbq sandwich, but I love the place. It is busy and can be hard to get a table at times, but good.

                          1. re: ktmoomau

                            i've never noticed it busy when i've been there!

                            i've always expected there to be a line, or the place packed, but the two times i went last week (yeah, i know...it was those darned cookies!) it wasn't very busy at all....

                            1. re: Jeserf

                              Well I wasn't there last week was taking a break for my waistline... but whenever I go it is packed, but I also eat a pretty normal lunch time lunch.

                              1. re: ktmoomau

                                maybe it was too early...i'm sure it gets packed, i was just surprised that it wasn't as busy as I was expecting. there were even table outside!

                    2. If you want something different and cool- in georgetown there is a hibachi placa called Benihanas...I took my little cousins there and they LOVED the tricks the guy was doing like throwing shrimp tails into his hat. The food is pretty good- not cheap but the entertainment is worth it. Can anyone think of any other hibachi places closer to the metro? Please don't say Matsutaki I didn't think it was very good.

                      Please let us know where you go I love reading what people thought about the restaurants.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: xena1441

                        It's a typical Japanese steak house. I think it is really pricey for what it is, but an option...

                        1. re: ktmoomau

                          the only negative is that they probably have one at home since it's a chain. but while i want to hate those types of places for being overpriced and cheesy - i like the food at some (some are dreadful admittedly) and my kids LOVE it. i figure it's worth paying for the entertainment!

                      2. Take the fam to Locanda on Cap Hill. Walk from hotel. 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Good, homey and fresh italian food not too expensive. It's very new, so many don't know it exists yet. FYI- It is being reviewed by Tom S our local citic/food god (to some) in this Sunday's Wash Post.

                        1. I don't think anyone has yet mentioned Teaism, which usually comes up as a good place to go near the Mall, 8th and D between the Natl Archives and American Portrait. (There are two other locations as well.) I've taken kids your age there, and they liked it. The salty oat cookies are famous. It's also a good place for breakfast (if you don't need coffee, tea only) -- I think the kids I took had French toast....

                          It IS a shame that American History is closed! Totally changes what to do with visitors....

                          FYI, Nat'l Gallery has gelato. The Nat'l Gallery's sculpture garden is a nice place to hang out, can dip your toes in the fountain (at this time of year) -- and the cafe there has decent food.

                          And I'll put in my vote for American Indian Museum cafe -- as well as Eastern Market.

                          Le Bon Cafe, near the Library of Congress, might be good to know about, too.

                          -----
                          Teaism Penn Quarter
                          400 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

                          Le Bon Cafe
                          1310 Braddock Pl Side 1, Alexandria, VA 22314

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mselectra

                            I certainly 2nd Le Bon Cafe. It is an adorable little cafe that serves both breakfast and lunch. It has French-inspired food. I really like their tuna salad sandwich and their lavender lemonade. Much better then any other sandwiches or eats at that price line on the Hill.

                            1. re: mselectra

                              Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions! Now it will just be difficult to choose! I really appreciate everyone's comments. I'm off to pack!

                            2. America in Union Station is fun for kids that age. There is something on the menu from every state.

                              1. El Pollo Rico in Arlington - 932 N Kenmore St. Incredible Peruvian chicken, french fries, and cole slaw, served with two dipping sauces - garlic mayo and jalepeno. That's basically the whole menu. Get your food at the counter and sit at one of the many tables. The best rotisserie chicken you've ever had. Take the Orange line to Virginia Square-GMU. It is about three blocks away on N. Kenmore between Wilson Boulevard and Fairfax Drive.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Pete G.

                                  I 2nd, 3rd, and 4th this recommendation but only if you happen to be out that way for some reason.

                                  The chicken is AMAZING and quite addictive but clearly this is pretty far away from the basic DC-based activities. So unless you are heading out to Arlington for some reason you might want to skip this. It's very, very good though.

                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                    While not in DC, it is not "clearly pretty far away."

                                    Metro takes 16 minutes to go from Smithsonian to the Virginia Square stop. From there, you are three blocks away.

                                    If the OP doesn't want to leave DC, that's certainly his/her choice. However, locations in Arlington that are Metro-accessible are not that far from downtown. Remember, many years ago, it was part of DC.

                                    For the OP, if you are interested in Vietnamese food, there are a few very good choices in Arlington. Much better than what you will probably find in DC.

                                    1. re: Lori D

                                      Adding a link to El Pollo Rico -

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