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In DC for convention, would like suggestions

We will be in DC next weekend (Saturday through Tuesday nights) at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel. We would like suggestions for places that are walking distance. I have some really fond memories from a few years ago when we were staying at the Hilton, much further down Connecticut Ave., of places like Lavandou, etc.

We are more interested in good than in fancy / opulent. We are partly on expense account (my wife is on my expense) but even then, we don't want to go nuts. BYOB is not particularly helpful (or convenient) but we are not closed to it. If you suggest BYOB, then please suggest a decent wine store.

We have a commitment already for Sunday night, but we are generally thinking along the lines of one night French, one night Italian (not red sauce), and one night Asian.

That said, I'll leave it to those knowledgeable in the area to tell us what they think is best in the area.



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  1. Dino (Italian) and Spices (Asian) are near Lavandou, a pleasant little walk up Connecticut. You won't hear unanimous raves for Spices (though I like it a lot, especially for sushi and the ginger-salad appetizer), but Dino might be a slam-dunk.

    I've heard mixed things about (and never been to) New Heights, but it's right around the corner if you're looking for an eclectic option that requires no travel at all -- I'd be curious to hear a recent report from someone who's been there.

    BYOB is a non-issue in Washington; for better and worse, we don't have that Philadelphia scene.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

      Dino is marvelous. Excellent Italian food, warm atmosphere, unfussy. If, as I detect from your BYOB question, you're interested in wine, it is unmissable. I'd recommend going on Monday -- they have a 1/3-off discount Sunday/Monday on $50+ wines, and their wine list is spectacular.

      And count me as one more vote for Palena's front room, too.

    2. you could walk down instead of up and go to Mama Ayshas for middle eastern food. they have a nice patio as well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jeserf

        For simple but well-done and good food, I'd try Open City. It's very close to your hotel and has great brunch, salads, etc. And, coffee comes with an animal cracker, what's better than that!?

        1. re: j fish 44

          I don't know that I'd necessarily recommend Open City. I think it gets a lot of hype, but that food really isn't all that spectacular. What I've gotten there has been mediocre diner food at best. The coffee is really good though.

          I would recommend one of my favorite hole in the walls in the neighborhood, Pines of Florence for Italian. You won't hear about it much on this website, though. Its on Connecticut just over the bridge between Woodley Park and the Hilton near Dupont. Its a favorite among my family and we've never been disappointed with a meal there. I personally love the chicken marsala, but they do have a pretty extensive menu and the prices are pretty reasonable, mostly between $10-15 for an entree.

      2. Nam Viet is one of DC's best Asian. It's at the Cleveland Park Metro Stop. The grilled lemongrass pork over vermicelli and spring rolls, Vietnamese steak, stuffed grape leaves, roast quail, soft shell crabs, are great as well as the soups: pho, vegetarian dumpling soup, sweet and sour salmon, and Hue Spicy Beef Noodle.

        1. Perhaps the front room of Palena? Not cheap, not overly expensive but very good. (Not really French or Italian) For French I think Bistro Du Coin isn't bad, I don't know how far it would be though as I don't make it to this area a lot, probably isn't walking distance...

          2 Replies
          1. re: ktmoomau

            sure, you could walk to Bistro du Coin, down Connecticut. Further than Cleveland Park though.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              If you want good french bistro food you might as well hop on the metro to Metro Center and get a great meal at Bistro D'Oc. While I like Bistro Du Coin (might go there tonight for dinner) as a neighborhood joint, I feel Bistro D'Oc is much better.

            2. You know Les Petits Plats is very good indeed,and the prix fixe is a very good value (? I think before 7). You are in France when you are there That is literally across the street from the Marriott on Connecticut. Open City is a good breakfast place, but nothing really special. Indique in Cleveland park is fabulous for south asian food. Agree with the suggestion of Palena's front room...

              1. There are lots of threads on this neighborhood. You could also search for ones asking about food near the zoo, since that's basically where you are.

                This one might be helpful: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/437422

                Some of my thoughts, just to mix in with what others have said:

                The Diner is okay and near your hotel -- and does have great coffee, which you can get to go -- but probably not special enough for your limited eating time. Doesn't sound like what you were looking for.

                You get more and probably better choice walking up to Cleveland Park (as other posters indicate), not far at all. And you are in walking distance of Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle, both fun neighborhoods, if you have time to check them out.

                New Heights, however, is very near your hotel and has gotten a new chef recently. I haven't been, but it sounds great.

                Somebody mentioned Petits Plats, which I have to say, you never hear anything about, so I was interested in the positive report.

                People on this board absolutely adore Dino and Palena's front room. And Palena has a famous hamburger and roast chicken (lots about it, if you search here). For me, it's the fries.

                You'll see lots of people after work walking around with carry-out pizza from Vace -- if you want something to take back to your room one night, but doesn't really sound like what you're looking for.

                Mixed reports about the Vietnamese place mentioned elsewhere here -- it probably depends on how much of a Vietnamese food aficionado you are. In general, the best Asian is in the suburbs, not the city. I like Spices, myself, but it does a little of everything, which some probably don't like. You might be better off going to a different neighborhood for sushi. But what I'd really suggest is that instead of Asian, you go over to U St for Ethiopian -- it's just something special about DC. You can take the 98 bus near your hotel, if you don't want to walk that far. Or, as someone else mentioned, Mama Ayesha's, for middle eastern, which is quite a short walk from your hotel.

                Enjoy (and please report back)!

                1. To answer your wine store question (try to), there's a liquor store on Calvert, quite near your hotel. I'm blanking on the name. I don't know enough about wine to really help you (except to see what others say above about Dino, I guess) -- but at least that's worth a try.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mselectra

                    It is called Sherry's and it is ok. (no calvert woodley that is for sure)

                    1. re: fishie

                      And now I realize, the OP wasn't really asking for a wine store, so this is moot anyway.

                      1. re: mselectra

                        Well, thanks, everyone. You've been very generous with your suggestions, I've printed them and am taking them with me. I'm sure we can't try everything, but I will report back, late next week.


                        1. re: FrancisdeR

                          Well, we're back and reporting back to all of you.

                          First of all, Dino was indeed a slam dunk. For those of you who have it as your neighborhood Italian place, I'm envious. We split a potato croquette appetizer (the unusual one on the menu) and each had a small plate of his pastas -- the lamb (menu) and the wild boar (special). The small plates were great and we had room to try the cheeses. Wow. And a really good value overall.

                          Mama Ayesha made for a great business lunch. I just wish I had specified I wanted hot harissa sauce with my couscous. I assumed all couscous came with hot sauce (it does in France).

                          Aux Petits Plats did not seem to me all that French, but made a very decent brunch. We were a little late so they were out of the roast lamb and goat's cheese sandwich. Boy, you weren't joking about it being close; it was the first thing I saw coming out of the hotel.

                          Our other meals were at Malaysian Kopitiam (M St., just south of Dupont Circle) which was very good and Lavandou, an old favorite of mine. Very authentic French food, a little rushed service (they had us out in an hour, although they just weren't that full) but nowhere as good a value as Dino.

                          Oh, and we went to Sherry's.

                          Thanks everyone for sharing your favorites.