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Need 3 great DC dinners

My husband and I will be visiting DC from NYC in November for 3 nights, staying in Foggy Bottom. After lots of research on this site, I think I have decided on Dino and DC Coast, but need a 3rd rec. We don't mind spending up for a great meal. We would really like someplace lively, nothing formal. We love to walk and have no problem taking the Metro or a cab for something great. Thanks!

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  1. My suggestions would be either Hook, PS7, or Brasserie Beck. All wonderful, lively, and moderatly priced with delicious food and good drinks.

    I haven't been to Central yet but most people I know really like it and it certainly is one of the hot new restaurants at the moment.

    1. You have selected 2 very good choices. If you get to DC Coast ask for Rick or Terry. They are both excellent servers. Also the tuna tartar is a must!!! I have it everytime I dine there. Acadiana is a restaurant by the same group. Chef Tunks serves New Orleans style food that is just amazing. Located at 9th and New York ave ( i think) Food is great and the service is very good as well.

      5 Replies
      1. re: AProut

        I'd put in another vote for Acadiana--one of the most under-rated in DC, I think. Since you're in Foggy Bottom, maybe Cafe Milano in Georgetown?

        1. re: j fish 44

          I also recommend Acadiana. Since you are from NYC, it might be nice to get something with a little Southern/Cajun flair, which you can find more often in DC then NY.

          Another suggestion would be Creme on U Street. Creme is laid back with a home-cooked feel to its food. Also U Street is a great area to explore, grab a drink after dinner at any of the local watering holes or some dessert over at Busboys and Poets, a very cool coffee house/restaurant/bar/book store.

          If you are heading over to Georgetown I would suggest Hook over Cafe Milano which is much more about the scene then the food. Hook is one of the hottest new restaurants around with a focus on sustainable seafood. I ate there a couple weeks ago and absolutly fell in love with Barton Seaver's simplistic approach to seafood. Plus they have these great crudo (Italian sashimi) appetizers that are tasty and very inventive.

        2. re: AProut

          Just went to DC Coast. Had a tasty meal with a nice table upstairs by the window even though I booked only earlier that evening. One warning- you'll smell like a deep fryer when you leave.

          1. re: LJ123

            Ew...why's that? I didn't realize DC Coast has a lot of deep-fried food. I would expect that from Ben's Chilli Bowl or some other greesy spoon type places but not DC Coast.

            1. re: Elyssa

              Not sure why it smelled so greasy - I noticed it right away and still smelled it on my clothes later that evening; dinner tasted good but I would've expected better ventilation from DC Coast - especially as we were seated right under an air duct! (Brrrr!)

        3. Quite frankly, I don't think much of your choices.

          Central fits the bill- If you go to Central, share the 'faux' gras and rilletes. All the main courses are very good to excellent except I'm not all that fond of the lobster burger. Dessert is the only place here where you can go ahead and save your money

          Though as a footnote I will say Michel Richard's cooking is even better at the lounge at Citronelle. The lounge is not formal, but it is quiet.

          Zaytinya is another great choice - it's pan-Hellenic tapas. No reservations after 6:30pm, so eat early or brave the crowd. It's worth it, and you probably don't have anything like it where you are. The kibbeh and the salmon are sensational. too many great choices.

          DC Coast is a seafood restaurant. Black Salt is easily better. See menu below.


          7 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            I don't know, I think dessert at Central is worth it- the Kit Kat bar is excellent. Note that Michel Richard isn't cooking at any of his restaurants- there are exec chefs doing it.

            I highly disagree with you on Zaytinya.

            1. re: jpschust

              Michel Richard was never listed as the chef of Michel Richard's Central - still many of the recipes are of his creation or at least he takes credit for them in his cookbook. I'm not sure what the kitchen situation is exactly at Citronelle, but again, I'm pretty sure that what you are eating is his creation. The quality at both are great, with the lounge at Citronelle being a combination of informal setting and exquisite food.

              Of course, we can all disagree aboout Zaytinya. About three years ago, I wrote a post about "What happened to the flavor at Zaytinya?" when I thought the place was slipping. But I've been back several times since then and in my opinion, celebrated chef Jose Andres deserves his fame. The OP asked for three great meals, and I think she'll find them based on my recs.

              1. re: jpschust

                Isn't the Kit Kat Bar often also found on the Citronelle menu? I'm pretty sure it was there when I went in March but I opted for the creative and delicious Cintronelle breakfast. Not sure if the lounge menu is different then the main menu though and therefore has different desserts.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  I believe it still is on the Citronelle menu.

                2. re: jpschust

                  jps...did you ever try the shrimp dish at Zaytinya with the lemon, mustard and other stuff? I love that dish. Sure, though, there are some misses there, but that dish is great.


                  1. re: Pool Boy

                    I did try a shrimp dish there, though I can't recall that one off the description. There are certainly a few things on their menu that are good to ok, but the overwhelming majority of that menu is just poor and overpriced (yes, I get the double entendre (sp?) going on here). I'll give this place its few props- and one of them is its wine list. I think I have to agree with jparott that this is a place whose wine list is very important. I just wish the food were up to snuff to go with it. Someone needs to mesh their wine list with Lebanse Butcher's :)

                3. re: Steve

                  Just so you know, Zaytinya no longer has it's reservations-only-until-6:30 policy. I don't think they take a lot of reservations, but if you plan ahead you can get them after 6:30. Putting aside the quality debate -- though I'm still a fan.

                4. Come on up to Cleveland Park, an easy walk from your hotel. Front room at Palena. Dino. Indique.

                  3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                  Dino's Used Car Lot
                  6019 Baltimore Ave, Riverdale, MD

                  Indique Heights
                  2 Wisconsin Circle, Chevy Chase, MD 20815

                  6 Replies
                    1. re: jpschust

                      Hahaha mm Dino's Used Car Lot... funny the linking thing really has some odd quirks now and then.

                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        oops!! just went back to try it again. There are two listings for Dino's in CP, and the addresses are listed correctly. but, when you click on them, they bring up the used car lot!

                    2. re: Geoff

                      I don't think that's an easy walk! I mean you could walk it, and it could be fun, but Foggy Bottom to Cleveland Park would be a hike.

                      1. re: mselectra

                        yikes, you're absolutely right. I must have been thinking of a different post, with folks staying in Woodley Park.

                        1. re: Geoff

                          But that doesn't mean Cleveland Park's not worth the trip!

                    3. The front room at Palena is considerably better and more reliable (with better service) than Dino. You can order off the tasting menu in the front room, and it's wonderful.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jeserf

                        I have to agree with this post - Palena all the way. Nothing against Dino, but there are so many incredible Italian places with great wine list in NYC - I wouldn't use up one of my 3 nights on DC for this. I think you'd be better off with Palena on your visit down here. It's an incredible place!

                      2. I was trying to resist replying, since I'm really unqualified to answer your question, but.... if I had your dilemma, my list would include Hook (not DC Coast) and Restaurant Eve (but, I haven't been lucky enough to go to these, which is why they'd be on my list but also why I'm unqualified).

                        In the "lively, not formal" category, I would also consider Ethiopian food, which DC does so well (other "ethnic" food you're probably better off at home in NYC).

                        Just FWIW!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: mselectra

                          Thank you everyone! Now I am even more confused! Going to stick with Dino for one night, Central for one night, and the third night is going to be either Hook or Blacksalt (we love seafood). Thanks again! Actually, one more question. Blacksalt looks kind of out of the way. How far is it from G'town, if we wanted to grab a drink after dinner? Walkable?

                          1. re: oisselad

                            If you want to walk around after/before dinner, stick to Hook. Blacksalt is on MacArthur Blvd, not really near anything in that regard

                            1. re: oisselad

                              You said in your original post that you'd be willing to take a cab for something great. If the Black Salt menu appeals to you, go for it. You will almost surely be glad you did.

                              1. re: Steve

                                Yeah I agree. Hit Blacksalt and cab it there and back

                                1. re: Pool Boy

                                  Great call. Thanks so much everyone! How did anyone ever find good eats before CH?!

                          2. Obelisk! Great atmosphere, SMALL intimate and wonderful food AND you can go semi casual and feel just fine.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: DCDOLL

                              If I were you I would not go to DC Coast. Not even close to a top experience.

                              Obelisk and Komi are two of the best dining experiences in the city, hands down. If you wanted more formal, I would say Citronelle, CityZen, Palena (back room) or Marcel's. But since money is no object but you still want great food and a trendy less formal setting -- it just cries out for Komi and Obelisk.

                              Other options -- Oval Room, Makoto, Jaleo, Central.

                              1. re: JRinDC

                                With respect to 'formality' at the back room in Palena...I'm puzzled by the comments that it is formal at all. Sure, there are folks who show up very, very well dressed and put together (suits, ties, etc), but there are also folks who are not as dressed up as this. When I go in the summer, I go in nice pants, nice sandals and one of my higher end hawaiian shirts. In the spring and fall, I go dressed rather smartly, but this involves generally only nice pants, a nice shirt and nice shoes. I only go the suit or jacket with or without tie route if we're with friends celebrating something or the mrs. and I are celebrating something special.



                                1. re: Pool Boy

                                  I have to agree with this. Palena is a 'come as you are' type place, even in the back. S long as you aren't in ripped jeans and a t-shirt, I think you are fine, from a formality perspective. The only reason I reccomended the fornt was teh "lively" comment in OP's post. The back is certainly more refined -- and you can actually hear the other person speaking. For me this is not a bad thing, but a very very good thing. But it is also not a 'scene' the way the front is.

                                  As for the poster(s) suggesting away from Dino, I strongly dissagree. I love it. I agree that there is just as good Italian food in NYC, but you pay more there, and the food at Dino is unique, too. Deffinitely go. And order the lasagnette. Aside from the lasagna, I would deffinitely pay more attention to the smaller dishes and forget about the entrees. Just my personal opinion where their strength really lies.

                                  1. re: whiner

                                    from experience, you can easily find better and just as reasonable food in NYC compared to Dino, IMO. It's "different" in DC because of the wine list and the fact that it serves a purpose of casual yet "upscale" food.

                                    I think Palena is something you can't get in NYC, and worth going to.

                            2. I'd add a few others for consideration: Michel Richard's Citronelle: http://www.citronelledc.com/ and La Paradou: http://www.leparadou.net/

                              Both are well worth the cab, or whatever. If you enjoy great food, elegant dining and wine, either will do nicely.


                              1. Love Dino, no opinion on DC Coast. I'd go to the front room at Palena. Remember, you can order off the menu for the back room. Just ask.

                                Obelisk is intimate but casual. Think wicker chairs, servers in jeans. Awesome food and I really like the atmosphere there.

                                1. Thanks everyone! I have made reservations at Dino, Blacksalt (hope to try the tasting menu) and Central.

                                  Thanks again for all the great ideas!

                                  1. my 2 cents: obelisk, komi, hook, front room at palena. minibar for a truly fun experience if you can get in. i personally would skip dc coast if i had only 3 nights, and my one dinner at dino was truly disappointing (though it was a long time age).