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If I move back to D.C....

where would you recommend that I live, for Chow purposes? I both like to cook and dine out. I hear there's a Trader Joe's in Foggy Bottom, and Whole Foods seem to be scattered everywhere. Any recs as I'm apartment hunting?

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  1. Especially if you like some true ethnic foods from a few cultures, then I'd put Arlington or Silver Spring near the top of the list.

    SS has Wheaton nearby which is teeming with destination hole-in-the-wall places. Rockville isn't too far for more shopping resources as well as places like Joe's and Bob's. You're also not far from Bethesda for more upscale dining, and to go SE a bit, you can get to Bladensburg w/o much problem. It's only getting to the south of the city or far into NOVA that would be a hurdle.

    Arlington also has those destination hole-in-the-wall places, but also has more upscale, especially now more and more along the Orange line. Alexandria - and on the way Del Ray - are close by. Trekking out to places like Eden Center is a short jaunt as well as going to Annandale for Korean. I tend to think the shopping options are better and more plentiful across the spectrum in Arlington, but I know it better. There are certainly many ethnic markets, and places like Whole Foods - including in Clarendon - right across the street from one another.

    Both would give you easy access to the District, too - just from different sides.

    1. As a place not to live (at least for the moment), Chinatown does not currently have a grocery store of any size to speak of, and many of the restaurants you see recommended on this site are pricier, upscale places. I have friends that live in that area (I personally don't) and those are their biggest problems. The no grocery store plus terrible parking means my friend has not been in a grocery store in 8 months or something like that - she gets it delivered. She is okay with that but that would drive me nuts!

      4 Replies
      1. re: DCLindsey

        While we have a car, I love living (and working) in Chinatown. We have been renting here for over 2 years and liked it so much that we bought a condo in the new City Vista building complex. That's where the 50,000 sq foot Safeway will be--what can be more convenient than going downstairs in your pj's to go grocery shopping? There will be rentals in this development (as well as plenty of condo owners renting out their units, I'm sure) if you're not ready to buy. While not having a grocery store is annoying, we have a car and frequent the Giant on 8th and O, Whole Foods in Logan, and Harris Teeter in Pentagon City. And if you don't have a car, delivery is certainly a viable option.
        As far as dining goes, I find we have a wide variety of cusines and price points in the area. Yes, the selection of good Chinese might be diminishing, but we still enjoy Tony Chang's (upstairs). And we like Kanlaya for Thai, Matchbox and Ellas for pizza, Jaleo for tapas, and Clyde's for brunch. Nicer (but still reasonable) restaurants include PS7's, Proof, Zengo, and Poste. Oh, and did I mention that City Vista will have a new Busboys & Poets (might go by a different name, but the same concept)...

        1. re: KWynn

          Yes, I agree with you that there is a lot of good stuff there right now, but the current lack of grocery store is a pain in the butt. Maybe the OP could give us a little more detail about price points for restaurants and other important issues? To me, PS7 and Poste are a lot nicer than my every day meals, and I work too late for happy hour. Plus, some of the places you mention, like Matchbox, are great, if you can get in! It definately depends on the type of person you are: I like living close to a grocery store for last minute buys so I don't live there, whereas my friend enjoys ordering a bunch of stuff at once, and she loves the neighborhood. (In fact, watch out, she's looking to buy at City Vista!)

          1. re: DCLindsey

            I agree that a lot of those restaurants are on the expensive side for everyday eating (at least with my very low budget and preferences). I always wondered where people who live around there would go grocery shopping!

          2. re: KWynn

            For those who haven't seen it yet, there's now talk of a Whole Foods coming into the space in PQ which was originally going to be a Balducci's. Read about it here: http://pqliving.com/?p=977.

        2. I think a big consideration here is whether you have/choose to have a car ... as well of course of what you mean when you say "dine out." We need you (and your tax dollars! :-)) in DC!). I feel particularly lucky -- we live in Cleveland Park and have fantastic metro access, so can get anywhere metro goes. We also do have a car, and very regularly take the trips to the burbs where the dominant and outstanding clusters of "ethnic" eats congregate - but are often not very metro accessible.

          1. Chow-wise I like Arlington. Not only can you find a little bit bigger place for the buck so larger kitchen you have grocery shopping not too far away at: Costco, Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway, Harris Teeter and the pinnacle Wegman's in driving range. Not to mention all the small thai, lebanese, indian and other small independent grocery stores near by. Metroing into the city doesn't take all that long and driving up to say Cleavland Park or somewhere downtown doesn't ever take me long probably about 10 min max, and then I can drive to Falls Church, Alexandria and Tysons in no time too. Plus VA chow is getting better and better. Plus you will probably be on the orange line so hoping over to the Eastern Market or etc is no problem.

            I have lived in Capital Hill, Dupont and now in Ballston, and wouldn't move from my current location! Unless you don't have a car and in that case don't live here.

            1. It's not worth it. If you enjoy full citizenship and decent food, live in the 'burbs. Or maybe Baltimore.

              1 Reply
              1. re: flavrmeistr

                I second Arlington, having lived in Silver Spring and Rockville before, provided you have a car. It's still good to live somewhere metro-accessible (I'm in the Courthouse neighborhood, and I love it - takes me less than 30 minutes to get to work downtown, and that's including walks to and from the metro). It's easier to reach most places in the city than some DC neighborhoods, and Clarendon/Courthouse are very walkable.

                You've got just about everything you need for grocery stores - Whole Foods, Trader Joe's about a 15 min drive to Baileys Crossroads, or metro to Foggy Bottom, SFW in Falls Church for affordable and surprisingly extensive produce/meat/ethnic ingredients. Just avoid the Giants/Safeways - overpriced and meh.

                There are so many ethnicities within a small radius - Korean in Annandale, Vietnamese (Eden Center)/Salvadoran in nearby Falls Church (and now, a Penzey's!). And there are lots of cute date night restaurants, stand-out fine dining options etc. Courthouse has a good farmers' market on Saturdays, and it only takes about 15 min to drive to Dupont or Eastern Market if you want to hit up those markets as well.