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

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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.

              2. Look at Capitol Hill. Its Eastern Market neighborhood was recently named by the American Planning Association as one of the 10 Best Neighborhoods in America and food was a big part of that, both the historic Market itself and the restaurants, shops and community around it. http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/n...
                Housing prices are lower than in PennQuarter which is the next neighborhood over so you can easily get there and to adjacent Chinatown and the Verizon Center section for the nightlife. The neighborhood is diverse with kids and longtime residents of all ages. There's a new Harris Teeter due to open in the Spring but in the meantime, there's the weekend farmers' market and Yes! Natural Foods, bakeries, shops of all sorts, two Safeways, Florida Avenue Market, and easy access to the suburbs including the Costco and Sur La Table at Pentagon City just across the Bridge and Whole Foods on P Street if you decide there's something you can't find on the Hill. There's a new food co-op due to open on H Street next year and probably a Trader Joe's as well.

                7 Replies
                1. re: MakingSense

                  Trader Joe's, really? What's the story with that? Where? (I think they were trying to get them into the Target shopping center that will someday open in Columbia Heights, after they tried to get Whole Foods there, but both fell through, I think because of lack of parking -- but I'm not sure. Seems like the neighbors are pushing for a nice organic-y grocery store there to complement the giant Giant across the street.)

                  I was just walking through Eastern Market earlier today thinking how great it would be to live around there, it's beautiful and convenient and so much going on nearby. I know there's great food in the suburbs, but it's the urban life for me, worth it for the car to gather dust.

                  FYI, to the OP, I think a Harris Teeter is also coming in in Adams Morgan, maybe on 16th St around there? And, there are lots of farmers markets in this area, so you'll probably be near one in most places you'd end up. The Dupont one is pretty impressive, and it's year round.

                  1. re: mselectra

                    Pretty strong rumors are that TJ's will probably go into the Dreyfus development at 3rd and H across from Abdo's Senate Square. Both are big residential complexes with some office and retail. The community has been working with the developers and the Zoning Commission's about to sign off. Those ANCs get out in front of stuff so it's a lot less contentious than in some other sections of town.
                    What neighborhoods want isn't always what fits with corporate location models. Columbia Heights is really close to the P Street WF and that may have been a bigger reason than parking. Also the WF demographic model.

                    The Dupont Market is great but remember it's only 4 hours a week on Sunday morning - you snooze, you lose. Eastern Market is open 6 days a week. We also have the PennQuarter market on Thursday a short bus ride away.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Oh yes, Eastern Market is just special, (and you're such a good booster for that neighborhood ;)) I just was trying to throw in some other perhaps useful info for the OP. Yeah that Thursday night farmers market is great (though I hardly ever go). Is it year-round, too?

                      1. re: mselectra

                        Penn Quarter Market is beginning of April to mid-November. Even the Dupont Market drops off in what they have in winter. http://www.freshfarmmarket.org/market...

                        Some of the local farms are starting to use hoop-houses which grow produce in the ground with covers - different from greenhouses where plants are in pots or are grown hydoponically - but I don't know if any of the organic folks are doing that yet. If they do, maybe we'll start to see more stuff this winter.
                        A lot of the Amish use them so they keep supplying through most of the winter, at least for lettuces and things like that. But they don't use sprays of any kind so I'm OK with it.
                        There's a good Amish Market in Annapolis and a few others around the suburbs.

                    2. re: mselectra

                      Columbia Heights may be getting their wish after all - and something better than Whole Foods! The local group Yes! Organic Market may be going in at Union Row (14th at V Street) according to reports on DC Councilmember Jim Graham's website. We have one on Capitol Hill and it's terrific. A lot of the same brands as WF, but lower prices. Bulk grains, spices, teas, etc. And your food dollars stay in your own community. Look for Yes! circulars in the ads package in the Post or try one of their local stores. There's one in Adams Morgan, Cleveland Park/Conn Ave, Brookland.
                      http://amandamc.blogspot.com/2007/09/...

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        Thanks. A friend also recommended Takoma Park. I've never been out that way. Is it worth a look?

                        1. re: brendastarlet

                          There's two Takoma Parks - the DC neighborhood/Historic District and the MD Takoma Park, sometimes known as the People's Republic of Takoma Park for its quirky politics. The DC/MD line runs through them. They're great neighborhoods with easy public transportation access to downtown.

                          Takoma has a terrific farmers' market and good shopping nearby. The same people who run the Sunday Dupont Circle Market hold one in nearby Silver Spring on Saturday. Easy access to lots of restaurants, including the Baltimore and Annapolis areas. The upscale restaurants aren't on that side of town or in that area but you can get to them quickly and easily when your budget allows.
                          If the home-work commute is convenient, it's well worth looking at Takoma. Neat area.

                  2. I've lived in Foggy Bottom for 20 years and really like it. I thought the Trader Joe's would give me a respite from the awful Watergate Safeway, but it didn't. TJ's has lots of products, only a few of which are great. The plus with Foggy Bottom is that it is central to most things. You can walk to Dean & Deluca, the Metro is there, cab to Whole Foods. The rents are high because of the university close by.

                    1. I live in Adams Morgan which works for me food-wise. There is good fast food, (pepitos taqueria, albertos, plus the taco truck) good metro access, shopping wise there is the safe-dog and there is a new Harris Teeter opening up, trader joes, whole foods, rodmans and calvert woodley are in spitting distance.

                      1. While I loved living in logan circle when I first moved here, I could not justify the cost of rent and the general cost of living (everything is just more expensive),...especially on a Hill Staffers salary.

                        Now I live in friendship heights, and I do love it. I love being RIGHT over the border - being able to vote in an election is nice. But I'm a 10 minute ride from Dupont, I often walk to Georgetown, and I can walk/drive to whole foods, trader joes, or anywhere else for that matter. There are loads of restaurants between Tenley and Bethesda worth visiting and I can walk to them all.

                        I think my neighborhood is way nicer than those my friends live in on the VA side - just seems like there are more families, fewer drunk people at night, and all that.

                        However, if I could pick anywhere to live in DC and money wasn't an object, I'd live either in Dupont or Cleveland Park, FWIW

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jeserf

                          I live in Cleveland Park and love it. Been here for 3 years now and let me tell you its very nice having 4 grocery stores (Magruders, Brookeville, Yes and Vace), many bars (uptown tavern, aroma, atomic, CPBG, the 2 irish bars). There are many restaurants which i dont appreciate as much as i should b/c the grass is always greener on the other side but: Palena, Dino, Spices (which i dont care for, but its good for take out), etc... 3 delis (Vace, Mediterranean and Byblos) and you're a metro stop/bus stop from all over dc.

                        2. I personally love living in Dupont Circle. You are within walking distance to 3 different grocery stores (Whole Foods, Safeway, and Trader Joes). Near a few different liquer/wine stores. And lots and lots of restaurants.

                          Plus the metro is right there on the red line which can take you to some of the best restuarants in the city. You are walking distance to both Georgetown and Adams Morgan--both nice places to dine.

                          And one of my favorite parts about living in Dupont is the Sunday Farmer's Market.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Elyssa

                            the farmers market is a great perk to living in the area...but, i've swapped it for the sunday b'more farmers market :)

                            If i stay put in DC for another year, I'd consider moving back to that area (I was at 15th and mass)

                          2. We just spent 3 months living in Dupont while waiting for our house in VA to be built. Although it was a nonstop freak show, there are a gazillion bars/restaurants and of course the dupont farmer's market. Even so, with the experience of living in the area twice now i would agree with the Cleveland Park crowd that it is by far the best "chow" hood anywhere. That includes groceries & restaurants. Plus you are close to Dupont, Adams Morgan, and not too far from georgetown & foggy bottom. There is a great whole foods in Tenleytown, just 3 metro stops north that is way better than the one in Logan. And it's metro-able. Best places to eat in CP: Dino, Palena, Ardeo, Lavandou, Indique. Bardeo is an awesome wine bar as is the bar in Dino.