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Oct 16, 2007 02:15 PM

where to eat/stay on research trip to Libr. of Congress

Coming to DC in November for a one-night stayover to do research at the LOC. The last time I stayed at a hotel north of the Mall and a few blocks from Jaleo. I loved Jaleo -- it was easy for a person alone, I like spiced foods, and I particularly like offal. I'd love a similar kind of place. So if anyone has ideas for a good restaurant that meets the following criteria, it would be great:
1. walking distance to LOC;
2. walking distance to Union Station (I am a big walker so something between or near either the LOC or Union is fine);
3. not resistant to the solo diner;
4. ideally, should be well-lit enough for me to go over research notes and work while munching dinner; it would be nice to have a decent by-the-glass wine list to sip wine while working;
5. could be like Jaleo but doesn't have to be. I like most cuisines;
6. BUT I am a carnivore and actually don't like meals that don't have meat in them. Offal would be a plus.

And advice on a decent hotel that would enable me to stroll to the restaurant and back would be great. The last one was two or 3 blocks west of Jaleo but I thought it (Embassy? Ambassador? I've repressed the memory) was a dump and I'd prefer something nicer.


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  1. When I did regular research at the LOC, i would eat the rice, beans and roasted pork plate at Burrito Brothers. two blocks from the library. :-)

    1. I'd recommend the Hotel George, which has a great French restaurant, Bistro Bis, in it. It's just on the other side of the Capitol building, so shouldn't be a bad walk at all, and is only about two and a half blocks from Union Station. You might even be able to find some sweetbreads on the menu.

      1 Reply
      1. re: katecm

        I 2nd this recommendation. Bistro Bis is a wonderful restaurant and right inside the hotel.

        Other places near the LOC...for lunch I highly recommend Le Bon Cafe. It's a cute little french cafe with great soups, salads, and sandwiches. They also make lavender lemonade which I'm totally in love with.

        Also for lunch or dinner there is Sonoma, which is a delicious wine bar. I had lunch there recently for the first time and was thrilled with my dishes. (including the seasonal berry crisp dessert). I would feel more then comfortable dining there alone either at the bar or a table. It's also a nice place to get a pre-dinner glass of wine and perhaps some cheese.

      2. Sonoma wine bar is within one block of the LoC - it's decent for small plates and wine. Locanda is a new italian place aout 5 blocks away (the Post just included it in its dining guide), and Montmarte at eastern market (7-8 blocks away from LoC) often has Offal as a special.

        1. Don't forget Le Bon Cafe right next to the LOC...yummy.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Jeserf

            For lunch (or breakfast), if you want to leave the LC, Le Bon Cafe is closest and best -- and a good place for going over research notes. But I think it may not be open for dinner -- and not really what the OP seems to be looking for, for dinner.

            Since you like Jaleo, might at least see if Jose Andres's other restaurants seem appealing -- they're near Jaleo (which doesn't seem that close to the LC to me, but close enough). There are lots and lots and lots of restaurants in that area.

            1. re: mselectra

              I work right by Union Station and Jaleo is about a 20 minute walk from there. Just take E or D all the way to there. I recommend taking E over D because you walk by the cool lion statues over by the Building Museum. I also want to throw in Tacqueria Nacionale if you are looking for something on the cheap but delish. It's in the CSPAN building behind it's sister restaurant Johnny on the Half Shell.

              1. re: botnot

                Similar to Le Bon Cafe, T.N closes around 3 or 3:30pm....just an FYI.
                tasty, though - but best eaten right when you get it vs. taking it somewhere, as I learned.

            2. re: Jeserf

              Also I believe Le Bon might offer free wi-fi. I feel like I saw a little sticker advertising this when I was there a couple of days ago. That's always an added bonus if you are taking a working lunch.

            3. Capitol Hill Suites at 2nd and C, SE, is right across from the LOC Madison Building, still close to the Jefferson Building if you need the Main Reading Room and it's a safe walk at night. You'll be on the same block with Le Bon Café which is open for breakfast and lunch, but not for dinner. Great little local favorite.
              Capitol Hill has several worthy choices for dinner, among them Sonoma wine bar and the new Locanda on Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as the French bistro Montmartre at Eastern Market. Montmartre does an exemplary job with liver.

              Although it's slightly out of walking distance, we recently ate at Brasserie Beck on a weeknight and there were tables where you would have been able to read easily while enjoying a meal and a glass of wine. As long as you avoided the tragically noisy bar area. Excellent classic Belgian food.

              Also an easy walk across the Capitol grounds would be Wolfgang Puck's new Source restaurant that just opened this week. I haven't had a chance to try it yet but I'm sure between now and your visit there will be lots of comments on this board.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MakingSense

                I agree. You can't get more convenient to the LOC than Capitol Hill Suites - it's two blocks away. Also, one block away is the Capitol South Metro Station. Le Bon Cafe is right around the corner (for lunch too, not just breakfast). The other suggestions are good: Belga, Sonoma, Starfish Cafe.

                The above recs located slightly off Capitol Hill are all winners too: Jaleo, Bis, Beck.

                My all time favorite restaurant right in the 'hood is Monmartre over at Eastern Market (about 6 blocks). Hands down.