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Mid-price dinner near DC convention center, safe to walk?

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Hi! I have a group that is meeting up in early November at the DC convention center, about 10, no kids, professional group but not too stuffy. We will want to do a Monday night dinner, we'll want to be able to have some good conversation, so the atmosphere is important. I'd also like it to have excellent food! We will all be staying in various places, probably most are near the convention center but also folks will range from virginia to bethesda, so simplicity calls for walking distance. Many out-of-towners, so someplace that is safe to walk to/from at night. I have no idea about food preferences of this group except that it shouldn't be a place full of fried food, so it would have to be general. I did a search of the board, and see things like matchbox, zaytinya, bistro d'oc, cafe atlantico, and palena comes up a lot but I don't think that is nearby. I have no idea where to start! Thanks!

Ann

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  1. I think Corduroy would be perfect for you. It's in the Sheraton hotel just a few blocks from the Convention Center, and 3 blocks from the Metro. They also have free valet parking, if anyone has a car.

    The food is Modern American, and has both "safe" choices like chicken or steak (both of which are OUTSTANDING, by the way, and worth ordering), and more inventive things as well. It's one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

    Decor is understated, so the room is a bit plain, but it's also a reasonably quiet room, so you can actually have conversations at the table. Most of the places you named are on the loud side.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      Thanks - that does sound good - the price might be a little high, looks like entrees start at $20 - or the others might not be bothered by that at all - I'll have to check. Thanks again.

      1. re: DanielK

        Not to threadjack, but isn't Corduroy moving further up 9th Street sometime soon? Or is that something that will happen next year?

        1. re: botnot

          Corduroy is going to close around the end of the year, but there's no word yet on when Tom Power is opening his new place (yes, on 9th St near the convention center).

      2. You should be safe walking, especially if you stay south of the Convention Center. And you're a pretty walkable distance from lots of restaurants -- I'll leave it to others to suggest which ones would be best, but several that you've mentioned (Zaytinya, Matchbox) are not too far -- depending on your group. (Palena is not nearby, you're right.)

        Also, I wonder if Acadiana would suit you? It's quite close. So, I think, is Brasserie Beck, but not quite as close. Just to consider for your list.

        9 Replies
        1. re: mselectra

          Thanks for the directional guidance - that does help. I'll add Acadiana to the list, thanks!

          1. re: andreaplants

            You may have already seen on the Convention Center website a list of restaurants that are "walking distance" -- but it's very long and a lot of them I don't think are close at all. Doesn't seem very helpful to me.

            Would you report back where you end up and how it goes? Always helpful for the next time someone asks!

            1. re: mselectra

              Yes, I did see that! Actually I can't get the current list to open but I have a cached link or something that a friend sent. Glad to have confirmation that not all of them are close - and yes, it is a uselessly long list and corduroy, for example, was not on the list I saw!

              I would love any more tips or suggestions - I may also call one of the nearby hotels being used for the convention, or see if the convention folk have any tips.

              Will post on what we do!

              1. re: andreaplants

                Acadiana is a good pick. It is very close and they do a good job accomodating large groups.

          2. re: mselectra

            Brasserie Beck definitely close enough to walk. and I discovered last week that they have two or three separated rooms that can be reserved for large parties.

            1. re: Geoff

              I 2nd the recommendation for Brasserie Beck. My other suggestions would be Acadiana for delicious food with a cajun twist (try the bbq shrimp or the trio of deviled eggs) or PS7 for some place chic with a fun menu.

              All are close to both the metro and walking distance to the Convention Center.

              Since you have such a large group though I would highly suggest making reservations in advance. All places should be able to accomidate a large group but reservations are certainly needed.

              1. re: Elyssa

                PS7's is a bit pricey though if you include drinks and are on a budget. I was disappointed in their food last time I went.

                I would shoot for Matchbox.

                1. re: xena1441

                  For a group of 10 Matchbox can be very difficult. It can get very noisy there and they don't take reservations so unless you get there super early you could be looking at an hour+ wait at a very crowded bar.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    I heard they would take reservations ONLY for big groups? But I could be incorrect, I forget who told me this.

          3. Thanks, everyone! So I'm hearing Corduroy, Acadiana, Brasserie Beck, or PS7. I do want to make reservations ASAP. Are there any warnings against any of the four places, if all else is equal? ie too expensive, too stuffy, too loud, food not reliable, not enough choice for everyone?

            Thank you!

            7 Replies
            1. re: andreaplants

              All are really solid choices. You might just want to Google Map each of them and see which is closest to the majority of hotels. Otherwise you have a grouping of some of the tastiest restaurants in the area.

              It really depends on what type of cuisine you are looking for.

              Corduroy: New American cuisine...slightly lacking in decor at the moment but solid cuisine choice
              Acadiana: Cajun/Southern Cuisine. Lots of room to accomidate large groups.
              Brasserie Beck: Great Belgium bistro food. Excellent mussels and frites. And with a big group I would recommend being seated at the chef's table so you can check out all the action in the kitchen.
              PS7: Fun, inventive food in a chic surronding.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Acadiana is the best bet of the bunch - hip atmosphere, good food, lively but not too noisy.
                Beck is good and fun but can be loud.
                Corduroy is in the other direction - no windows, very sedate - not much fun.
                PS7 is glacial. I have stopped going there.

              2. re: andreaplants

                It really depends on your crowd and what they like. I think Brasserie Beck has gotton some bad reviews on this board recently, but I have not been. All of the places should ahve choices for everyone.

                1. re: Annapolis07

                  I went about a month ago with a large group (14 people) and they took excellent care of us. Everyone really loved their food and people got varied entress (not just frites and mussels). The only reason why I would stay away from Brasserie Beck is if you have some non-meat eaters. Doesn't seem to be a whole lot of choices there...the menu is heavy on pork, seafood and meat.

                2. re: andreaplants

                  Beck is VERY loud. I don't have enough recent experience with the dining room at Acadiana or PS7 to talk about that. Corduroy is quite sedate.

                  All have very good food, and would do well with a group.

                  1. re: DanielK

                    Now that you mention it Beck can be a little loud. I just thought that might have been because I was with such a large group though.

                    I've never had a problem with the volume level at Acadiana or PS7

                    1. re: DanielK

                      Courduroy has an amazing scallop entree--each scallop is perched on its own little pillow of mashed potatoes. YUM.

                  2. i love matchbox and go often, but i always find it VERY loud. i think the price and offerings might be better suited for a variegated crowd (basics kicked up a notch), however ps7 is very delicious, much more creative and way more quiet. i would put it about twice the price (at least) of matchbox though and the portions are tiny where some diners are concerned.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: applerochez

                      I love Matchbox, but agree it is loud. From a price point it is probably your best bet. They have great sliders and good pizza in a fun if not loud atmosphere. I don't think they take reservations, so a large party will wait a while for a table.

                      1. re: Annapolis07

                        good point, i didn't think about that! i usually go as a party of 2 and we wait an hour nearly every time... 10 would probably be a tough thing to pull off.
                        what about zola? i've never been (but have been meaning to try), but i've heard they have great escargot and they have char! i know they take reservations...

                        1. re: applerochez

                          Zola is another of my favorites. Their tuna tartar appetizer is delicious.

                    2. WOW. Thanks for all the great information! I've also had recommendations of Tosca or DC Coast. Google Maps was great, I see all of these are south of the convention center, and I can save all the restaurants on one map. I wish there was something in the same price range, that had the great fresh food of corduroy, with more selection (like Brasserie's sheer number of menu choices), but good ambience, but not too loud!!!!! Sounds like Corduroy would definitely be perfect in the new year, when they move. Thanks again for all of this great information.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: andreaplants

                        Tosca is great, but pricey. DC Coast would not be my pick. Better off with Corduroy (great food), Zola, PS7, Brasserie Beck, Proof or Acadiana.
                        You've gotten good advice here and can't really go wrong.

                        1. re: andreaplants

                          Something no one has really mentioned, but all of these places and the area itself fall within the category of "safe to walk to." I don't want you to be discouraged from trying anything out because you don't feel comfortable!

                          1. re: DCLindsey

                            Thanks for that - i did get on google maps and saw that everything is south of the convention center, and so was reassured.

                        2. If you want an experience, you should try Marrakesh. It is pretty much right next to the convention center and handles groups well. Might not be so good for the unadventurous.

                          The trip is worth it just for all the celebrity pictures on the walls.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: JustinS

                            And the belly dancers who's skirts tend to almost fall off much to the excitment of your boyfriend and all his male friends. (Not speaking from experience or anything ;) )

                            Not sure if it's necassarily the place to go with business associates though. It's a lot of fun but its more the place I recommend for bachlerette parties etc.

                            Some of the dishes are pretty good though...all served family style and you more or less eat with your hands. Certainly entertaining!!

                            1. re: Elyssa

                              Big smiles!!! Maybe my husband and I will go there another night, I've never been but have always heard. That's just too funny, considering the group of professionals I'm coordinating. Wish I could say more to share the smiles - Suffice it to say that your comments made my day....

                            2. re: JustinS

                              The food at Marrakesh is absoutey horrible. The dancer is fun but everytime I went there I left completely unsatisfied and hungry.

                              1. re: xena1441

                                Could not agree more about Marrakesh--it is AWFUL for vegetarians, who you may have in your group. I second the recommendations for Proof, Zola & Acadiana--all delicious and quiet enough for a group!

                                1. re: j fish 44

                                  I was originally going to recommend Proof since I really enjoyed the food and service and the champagne cart is always fun, but I found it a tad bit noisy that last time I was there. I think it's because it was packed to the gills and the bar was about 4 people deep just to get up and grab a glass of Merlot.

                                  But perhaps there are certain tables you can ask for for larger groups. The one I saw (was sitting next to) when I was there was situated near the bar and door...and therefore possibly not the best place for a group of people to hold down a conversation. But someone else might have a better seating arrangement suggestion. Because the place is hot, hot, hot right now and for all the right reasons.

                                  1. re: j fish 44

                                    Marrakesh is the most overrated restaurant in Washington. And it's not rated that highly. If you want good food, avoid.

                              2. Hi, everyone! Well, we decided on Acadiana - will let you know how it went! Of course, now I am really interested in Corduroy, and will try to go there one of the other nights!!

                                Oh, and if you want to recommend "must try" dishes from Acadiana let me know - their menu isn't huge

                                Ann

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: andreaplants

                                  Fried pickles

                                  1. re: andreaplants

                                    For dinner, the turtle soup. For lunch, the roast beef po boy.

                                    1. re: andreaplants

                                      I love their deviled eggs appetizer. Def. get a basket of their delicious biscuits and my boyfriend swears by their bbq shrimp.

                                      1. re: Elyssa

                                        OK so i had a whole big reply and computer fritzed. We did acadiana, put us in back room/type area. it was perfect size wise but we definitely noticed that it was just a bit too loud. I had a hard time hearing the person across from me, and for 13 of us, we ended up just in our little groups around the table which unfortunately wasn't what we wanted.

                                        That said, everyone really enjoyed it, the location was perfect, and the food was great. lots got the steak, there was a tilapia special many others got, I got the salmon. I don't really like fish so I asked what they recommend given that - It was a great choice, very delicious. Biscuits were great, elyssa!

                                        Dessert - I think we got some.... can't remember!!!

                                        Anyway, sorry to start out with the negative but THANK YOU - despite the noise issue it was very successful and the food was wonderful.

                                        1. re: andreaplants

                                          Thanks Andrea for the review. That's good to know about the noise level in that back room. I'm a little surprised since you were in a seperate room from the rest of the restaurant. But it's something to keep in mind when recommending it to others for groups. Aren't the biscuits to die for? I could make a whole meal just out of that.