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Oct 24, 2007 11:03 AM

Good place for dinner

My family and I will be visiting DC next month and I am looking for place for dinner. We will be staying downtown, but we are not opposed to riding the Metro or walking a few blocks. We are looking for something that is unique (or semi-unique) to DC and not too cheap nor expensive. Around $15 -$30 entrees would be optimal. Thought about Les Halles, but read reviews that it’s hit or miss. When making suggestions, please keep in mind that my daughters are 3 and 7. Thanks.

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  1. 2 Amy's, hands down. Great for families, metro access and some of the best pizza anywhere.

    4 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      2Amys is a good idea.

      For Italian you can try Filomena in Georgetown.

      Les Halles is not a good choice. But if you are looking for good french bistro cuisine in a family-friendly environment I would try Bistro Du Coin in Dupont Circle or Bistro Francais in Georgetown.

      A good local chain for a quick lunch or dinner is Cal Tort. I know it's a burritto chain but the good is actually quite good there (I'm a tad bit addicted).

      Other places to consider would be:
      Matchbox (good pizza and mini burgers)
      The Majestic (if you happen to find yourself in Old Town Alexandria)
      Mai Thai (good Thai in the Dupont area)
      Georgia Browns (gourmet style southern cuisine)

      1. re: Elyssa

        I say Clydes by the verizon center is great. However if you want the DC experience another favorite and famous place to try is Ben's Chili Bowl. It's small and always crowded but the food is great. You get a taste of history. They have hot dogs, chili burgers and that sort of thing.

        1. re: x_otikchef

          Also around U Street I would suggest Busboys and Poets. Certainly kid friendly with good food at a moderate price. You certainly get a taste of the culture the historical neighborhood has to offer. They have cool artwork on the walls, sometimes live music, and a lefty-leaning bookstore as part of the restaurant/coffeehouse/bar/lounge. It's a very cool environment with all sorts of people from different walks of life.

        2. re: Elyssa

          Based on this recco we tried Bistro du Coin yesterday and found it very disappointing. The decor is cute and "French" but that's about all that is...definitely not the waiters. The food was mediocre at best. My mussels pistou (which implies garlic) had very little flavor and my husband's beef burgundy was heavy handed with no French finesse whatsoever. Definitely not on my recco list.

      2. Hmm I was trying to think of something pretty unique that is child friendly. If you have well behaved children you could check out Zola, which is spy themed and pretty unique the kids may like the decor.

        2Amy's does have good pizza

        Perhaps also Jaleo if they are adventurous eaters, it isn't neccessarily though unique to DC.

        6 Replies
        1. re: ktmoomau

          I was going to suggest Zola as well but I tend to suggest that for older children (8 or 9 and up). A 3 year-old might be a little out of place in that type of environment.

          Jaleo is also a good option which I was going to suggest. I ate there for the first time when I was 13 or so and really liked it. Again though it's mostly an adult environment around dinner time and especially on the weekends so I would suggest dining on the earlier end for Jaleo. Good spanish style tapas though.

          1. re: Elyssa

            Yeah uniquely DC with youngins is a tough one because I feel it is kind of an adult environment... I thought about Old Ebbitt (kind of DC, some of the food is mediocre some is pretty good) but at night it can be loud and crowded, which can be hard for kids.

            I think it depends on the comfort level of you and your kids eating out. How adventurous and well behaved they are... I know at 3 I would have been ok there, but I also knew early on any embarrassment to the folks at dinner and I wouldn't get to eat out as often, and I LOVED to eat out.

            Elyssa what about Creme? Would it be kid friendly? They would probably have good mac and cheese and other things a child would enjoy (I have never been)?

            If you are eating in the day the native american museum cafeteria is pretty unique and very good.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              I have 2 youngsters 6 & 7. they do really well at CPK, Cheesecake factory and so forth, but it'd not really unique to DC. The Native American museum has excellent traditional native foods and my kids loved it. Where is Creme?

              1. re: x_otikchef

                U St....check it out if you haven't been before. It's great southern home-style cooking.

                Hopefully the chef will be able to keep the quality up now that the new Station 9 has opened up down the street (also run by the same chef).

              2. re: ktmoomau

                Oh I have also never had Ethiopian here (I know tisk tisk me), but I have seen other people recommend that for people with kids, I remember in a past post someone said they could eat with the fingers and their kids liked that? And it is pretty unique to DC.

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  I've personally never seen children at Creme but I've also only dined there at 8pm and onwards...typically not a time when most 3 year-olds are out for dinner.

                  But the menu most certainly is child friendly, lots of home-style cooking like roasted chicken, shrimp and grits, and a gourmet hotdog. It's a smaller restaurant so if the kids tend to run around or need a lot of space I wouldn't recommend it. But if they are well behaved and you want a little taste of a Southern home then you can look into Creme.

                  In terms of the Native American Museum I highly, highly recommend it. I ate there actually twice this past weekend when my boyfriend and I were playing tour guides to a group of friends in town for a wedding. The food was so good Saturday we decided to go back Sunday for a snack (which turned into elk and salmon meals. :) ) Although I have to say my bf nearly needed to hold me back when I saw that the family sitting next to me had ordered their 3 young children chicken fingers and french fries when there were so many interesting, child-friendly, delicious, cultural options in the cafeteria. Don't even get me started on this topic. I'm twitching just thinking about the missed opportunity there. (Rant over :) )

            2. With apologies to Modawq1991, would you all mind if I expanded the original question to include recs for a family with three teens who also will be coming down to DC? Loved the idea of the Native American Museum, for instance, whatever the age of the kids! Many thanks.

              3 Replies
              1. re: pielady

                For teenagers I think the recommendations can be more expanded. You didn't state a price range, location, or picky eaters. But my top list would be:

                Pizza Paradisio
                Bistro du Coin
                Cafe Atlantico
                Busboys and Poets

                I had a rather sophisticated palate as a teenager (thanks Mom and Dad) but I certainly would have enjoyed dinner at any of the places listed above (especially Zola and Cafe Atlantico) as a teenager. I think teenagers are looking for a place that seems cool and adult-like while still having the ability to choose from a menu with enough choices that they can be experimental but not totally freaked out. (unless of course you were a weirdo kid like me who would eat anything at least once).

                1. re: pielady

                  I've never done this, but I've had this idea of doing a hot dog and hamburger tour of DC with teen visitors -- it would include, for example, the buffalo burger at the American Indian Museum, the half smoke with chili at Ben's, and could get you to upscale places, eg Palena's burger.

                  1. re: mselectra

                    They also have a good mini hotdog platter with homemade rolls at PS7. And of course you wouldn't want to forget about the variety of different hotdogs at M'Dawgs (which I think would be a teenagers paradise for lunch...unless they don't eat meat of course, but I believe there is also a veggie dawg.)

                2. Is the cafe at American Indian open for dinner? I would definitely suggest it for going with kids.

                  If your kids are adventurous eaters, or like stuff like lentils and chick peas and etc, Ethiopian is very DC (and you do eat it with your fingers). It can be a little spicy.

                  It seems to me that 2 Amys might be a hassle to get to, it's not near a Metro is it? I've actually never been to Matchbox, but would it work?

                  Ben's Chili Bowl is also very DC -- it's hot dogs and chili.

                  How about Oohs and Aahs -- also up in that neighborhood on U St -- you order at a counter downstairs and then there are a couple tables upstairs where they bring your food. I think it would be comfortable with younger kids. It's "soul" food, like fried chicken etc.

                  The board also tends to steer visitors to Teaism, which is a local chain (there are three of them in the city), and which would also be comfortable with little ones.

                  I actually think that Hank's Oyster Bar might be better than Creme (of Elyssa's favorite places ;) -- the mac and cheese there is really good (imo) and it seems a little more casual than Creme to me -- but I don't know either all that well. And I'm not sure that Hank's is particularly unique to DC.

                  I guess Market Lunch at Eastern Market is not open for dinner, but it would also be a good bet for breakfast or lunch.

                  It should be easy to find discussions of all the places suggested so far searching the board.

                  And I'm sure you'll get other good ideas -- I feel like I'm forgetting something obvious.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mselectra

                    PS: I think Busboys and Poets is also a good idea -- adult enough options for the adults, but also pizza and stuff and when the kids get restless you can take them to the bookstore, which has a pretty good selection of children's books they can look at there.

                    1. re: mselectra

                      American Indian Museum is not open for dinner.

                      Hank's is also a good idea if the kids like seafood. Hank's is also pretty small with a tight fit though so if the kiddies need space or tend to climb around a lot this might not be a good choice. But certainly fine for the teenagers.

                      The teens might also like Zaytinya. I'm not personally in love with the place but I've been told i need to give it another try. It's been about a year since I've been there last and I've been hearing good things. It's mezze tapas and very popular. It gets a little noisy and clubby later on in the night so an earlier dinner is always a good idea.

                    2. If you were thinking of Les Halles (which is not so good), then a much better substitute would be Central. It's a modern bistro in the same neighborhood. Start off with the faux gras and rillettes (it's enough for the whole family). This one of the few places in town where almost everything is great. I'm not so hot on the lobster burger, but anything else is A-1 Somebody should get the fried chicken. The side vegetables are all good. The food here is very rich; a little goes a long way.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Steve

                        I haven't been to Central yet but is appropriate for a 3 and 7 year-old to eat there as well?

                        1. re: Steve

                          I do not think I would take a 3 year old to Central, maybe a very sophisticated 7 year old.

                          1. re: ktmoomau

                            I agree. Central is not for kids. Downtown, I would take a family to Matchbox (great miniburgers) or Jaleo for Spanish tapas. 2Amy's would top my list if you are anywhere near the national cathedral. The original Clydes in georgetown has a menu that would work for kids and is very DC.

                            1. re: keithdcil

                              Well, I would take any kid to Central if I was already considering Les Halles as appropriate, which is what the OP mentioned. It's about the same ambience. It's not really for me (or you) to judge.