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2 dinners in DC

Hi y'all,

I'm telling you, I'm having a problem finding places that I love in DC. I usually stay in Dupont Circle.

Here's what I'm looking for: There will be four of us there next weekend. I need two dinners. I'd like something fun and one night maybe a little nicer, maybe romantic. Both places with character and great food.

We'll be staying at the Renaissance on M Street, but we'll be working at the DC Convention Center on Rhode Island on Saturday and Sunday.

We love tapas, we tried Zayatinya a while back and weren't super impressed, we had a bad service experience. I've been to the Tabard Inn for drinks and an app, I'm hearing very mixed things about it. Be honest with me. Plaza Lauriol -- I like the energy and the atmosphere, the food is ok, but we just moved from Phoenix, so we're tough judges of Mexican food. But anything like this atmosphere, caliber would be welcome. We were at the Brewer's Art in Baltimore last week and really liked that, so if that's a point of reference, I hope that helps.

Any BOYB's that are great?

I'd like one less expensive to moderate place, $100 for all of us not including drinks, tips, tax and one moderate place, maybe $175 for all four not including drinks, tips, tax.

Maybe Ethiopian would fit the bill the the less expensive option. I hear Elete on U Street is great. What about Jaleo or Cafe Atlantico?

We're pretty adventurous. Thanks so much in advance!!

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  1. Jaleo is reliably good Spanish tapas, and a lively, casual environment. (I assume you mean the 7th Street location.) It gets crowded, but does take reservations (and is on opentable). Etete is a great choice for Ethiopian food, which is a good local, so to speak, specialty here in D.C. It's fairly small and, at least when I've been there, moderately sedate, so not a scene like Lauriol. Do you like Indian food? Rasika downtown has very good food and a fairly upscale, stylish atmosphere. This could fit your nicer/romantic criteria. We usually end up spending between $55 and $60 a person there, including a couple of glasses of wine per person. If you go, be sure to order the palak chaat, a crispy spinach appetizer that's like nothing I've had elsewhere. As to BYOBs, I don't know that we have them here -- at least the ones where they don't serve alcohol so you can bring a bottle of wine for no fee. Most places here would charge a corkage fee if you byo.

    1. Matchbox(chinatown), Chi Cha Lounge (u st), Bistrot Du Coin (dupont), L'Enfant (Adams/Morgan/Dupont): For a fun atmosphere with energy that's also somewhat reasonable--This depends on what you order but if you basically get an entree and share an app, you should be fine.

      Cashions is quite good for a nicer restaurant

      1. It's not a BYOB, but hit up Dino for a great, very well priced wine list and all reports on this board have been showing the new chef to be a hit. That could be your 100 for all of you place if you go early and order from the menu de la serra. (sp?). Dino is located on the Red Line of the metro at Cleveland Park- it's right by the exit of the metro.

        You should generally just skip mexican food in DC. I don't know why, but DC just really doesn't have that fantastic Mexican food that so many other cities have.

        If you're willing to travel to the burbs, I'd hit up Tallula or Eat Bar- both very very reasonable (one side is a bar, the other side is a full service restaurant). Not BYOB's for sure, but very reasonably priced wine list.

        Note that there are no BYOB's in VA as it's not allowed by state law (don't get me started).

        Some other places I would think of trying to hit while in town would be Central- that would be a 175 place and you'd be pushing it a little bit, but the food and service are both excellent.

        Tabard inn is great for drinks and an app, but dinner service is extremely mixed. Sometimes you're going to have the meal of a lifetime, sometimes you're going to be ready to kill just about everyone in there- it's just very uneven.

        I think at both Jaleo and Atlantico you're going to have an experience similar to what you had at Zaytinya- at least that's been my experience at each of the Andres restaurants.

        Another place you might think of that I really love is Firefly- that's another 175 place for you. Firefly is in DuPont circle and leaves you plenty of places to wander around and enjoy afterwards.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jpschust

          Thanks and keep 'em coming.

          mbp, we do like Indian, so I'll look into that.

          Jacey, I've been to L'enfant Cafe and it's a possibility. I've heard lots about Bistro du Coin, so I'll look into that too.

          jps, I'm with you on the BYOB, I live in Norfolk, and the liquor laws are crazyola! We'd prefer to stay in the city on this trip, I think. Your comment about Jaleo was what I was afraid us, so I think we'll skip it. Maybe Tabard Inn will fit the bill for pre or post dinner drinks. I've seen Firefly many times, I'll investigate.

          Thanks to all!

          1. re: jpschust

            I went to firefly with a few girlfriends a few weeks ago, and while it was good, we were expecting better - the chicken my friend got, while good, was nothing spectacular. I had the chicken pot pie and left thinking my moms is better.

            The starters and the desserts were the stars.
            It wasn't a bad meal, just a little disappointing because we were all expecting something better for the price, and all agreed our expectations might have been a little too high.

            1. re: jpschust

              On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can BYOB to Dino for no corkage fees. Otherwise I believe it's $20 unless you buy a bottle from their wine list.

              http://www.dino-dc.com/wine_list/inde...

              Either way, I would second the Dino's rec; it's really great food and reasonably priced!

              1. re: gyozagirl

                To clarify: Tuesday & Thursday unlimited free corkage except for Restaurant Week. Otherwise $20 per bottle with one free corkage for every bottle you buy. No Free corkage Restaurant Week {August 11 thru August 17}.

            2. You might be able to do Brasserie Beck for one meal. They have a large beer list (I don't know about BYOB) that is very impressive and good food. And not extremely pricey. I think their website is www.beckdc.com.

              Also what about some Lebanese? I bet they don't have a lot of that in Pheonix, and it can't be ont he lower end side. I think the best places are in NOVA, but if you want to stay inside the city I think there are some places. All I really know of is Lebanese Taverna in the Woodley Park Area, and I think it is pretty good for Lebanese.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ktmoomau

                Speaking of Lebanese-ish, I think Mama Ayesha's can be romantic, good food and not expensive.

              2. I would also recommend Lavendou in Cleveland Park for moderate place. Also next weekend if you are willing to go to Bethesda, there is a food festival on Saturday. There are different foods to sample. There are some good restaurants to try there too such as Grapeseed.

                1. You also might think about Cafe St. Ex (on 14th), a fun scene and good food (just went for brunch yesterday, first time in a while, and the burger is still the best). And maybe Busboys and Poets, in the same area, more or less -- is it a lounge, a bar, a restaurant, a bookstore, a performance space? It's all that and more ;). I think both of these would be in your $100 range, but more expensive than Ethiopian. Both are actually near Ethiopian, and also near other bars and stuff, in the U St neighborhood.