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Week-Nov 3-Bethesda Hyatt 4 days, Arlington

Sorry, I know this will be a long post. Son recently graduated from VT, lives 1 block from Ballston Metro stop in Arlington, working at Carderock in North Bethesda since Sept 1. Husband has 3 day conference at Bethesda Hyatt (on metro), I have 1 day conference in Chantilly. We are from Alabama, so can skip BBQ, southern comfort and New Orleans food. Son has car but will be working during the week. They must watch LSU-Bama game Saturday evening at 5-don't know if this is nationwide broadcast or not. I will ride the metro to DC at least one day that the husband is in conference and son is working (assume it would be safe to do it alone) and will try CF Folks for the crabcake sandwich. Son is very cheap and hasn't eaten anywhere good yet. Son voted to eat in this order: sushi, Italian, Thai or Indian, Brewpub, Steak, Ethiopian, American, French, Pizza, Spanish. Husband voted Greek or Mediterranean, Italian, French, Thai and then quit voting but said not Ethiopian. Son wants to try happy hour at Cafe Mozart, as he misses the German beer on his European graduation trip. I am considering Restaurant Eve, Ray's the Steaks, David Craig, Matuba, Passage to India, Black's Bar, Palena, Sushi-Ko, Thai Square, Dinos, Asahi Kaiten. We might go to Mt Vernon one day, anything there? So I need help eliminating or maybe better suggestions. Son might be able to swing lunch as well, but I can't eat 2 giant meals a day. Sunday night will be at cousin's in Fairfax. Now that you know our life history, any recommendations?

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  1. For the beer, you could show him Arrowine which is in N. Arlington on 29 east of Glebe (there's a little strip of "cute" store fronts - it's in there). Also the German Gourmet, which now has a location somewhere on Columbia Pike in Arlington. Of course, you could go to Brickskeller downtown (has 900+ beers) but not much chow worthy items for food (though the brats with warm potato salad is good).

    Thai Square is solid and something he would be able to afford after you leave.

    I'd say Black's if you're in Bethesda, but for a nicer treat hit BlackSalt on MacArthur Blvd in DC (this is easily reached by traveling N on Glebe, across the Chain Bridge and then a left on ? - sorry I can visualize but not recall name of street).

    Ray's is solid, but another nice place in a similar vein is Del Merei Grille in Arlandria. Steaks not quite up to the same level, but the overall experience matches or exceeds, imo. (Get the frickles if you go!)

    For the game, probably safest bets for watching it is ESPN Zone downtown, or Summers in Arlington (Courthouse area), but neither are chow spots.

    If you're interested, the area also has great Korean offerings, largely in Annandale or way at in Chantilly. Also Sichuan fare is fairly plentiful and very good. Hong Kong Palace at 7 Corners or Temptasian will be the closest for most of your trip. Either of these would probably be good for all of you and show your son some things he could afford after you leave.

    In any regard, for a recent grad living in Ballson, he needs to know about El Charrito Caminante on Wash Blvd, the multitude of Peruvian chicken places (El Pollo Rico being the starting point - on Kenmore), and the kebab places, like Ravi (on Glebe at Pershing). These will give him endless good food for cheap!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Dennis S

      Dennis, Thanks! He became a big fan of kebabs in Europe. And a big fan of beer in college!

      1. re: Dennis S

        So far I'm thinking for dinner - Saturday sports bar, Sunday relatives, Monday Rays the Steaks, Tuesday Restaurant Eve, Wednesday Palena back room (he can go to the bar area when we're not there), Thursday sushi (Sushi-Ko or Matuba, which should we do?) Friday son will be gone to Blacksburg and we fly out of Reagan around 8 PM, so we would have to eat very early-any suggestions? For lunch I'm thinking Thai Square, Jaleo, C F Folks, Passage to India or Indique Heights (which?), Pita House or Hank's Oyster Bar. That leaves out Persimmon, David Craig, Blacks, Grapeseed and loads of others. Is there something else we should do instead? I think I posted this in the wrong place. Thanks for all the help so far!!! Gail

        Oh, and I need dress code for these options if possible so we know what to pack. Thanks again! Gail

        1. re: glecroy

          I can't help you any more with food, I have never been to either of those sushi options. If you are flying out of Reagan and want early dinner you could do the Jaleo in Crystal City which is near the airport?

          Dress code wise: Rays is pretty casual you will see people in suits to jeans here, Restaurant Eve and Palena I would go for a jacket for guys, not necessarily a tie, but a nice button down shirt and slacks at least and optional but on my part highly recommended jacket since it has gotten a little cooler and the equivalent for ladies these are very nice places, and Washingtonians tend to be a little more formal than some other places in their dress.

          Your lunch places are all pretty casual, I think you will be fine in whatever is most comfortable here. The weather has been so back and forth lately, but it is getting a little cooler.

          You have a top list. Be sure to get reservations! And enjoy some wonderful eats.

          1. re: ktmoomau

            I'm actually thinking about Blacks happy hour on Friday before we go to Reagan. It's from 4-7, so I think it could work and looks pretty good.

          2. re: glecroy

            For sushi, Sushi-Ko is much better than Matuba, but put me in the camp that also recommends Raku (in Bethesda, not Dupont Circle).

        2. Try Raku in Bethesda for sushi and interesting pan Asian cuisine. It's great for lunch or dinner.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Ellen

            Ellen, I had that on my list, but have more places than we have nights. Lunch would be a good option if it's near the Hyatt, as we won't have a car most of the time.

            1. re: glecroy

              It's about two blocks away from the Hyatt on Woodmont.

              1. re: Ellen

                Do not go to Raku. Thoroughly mediocre, just like 99% of the Bethesda places. If you're eating near the Hyatt, definitely make it Jaleo for tapas.

                1. re: MartyL

                  You're right. Plenty of mediocre food in B'da. But Raku is not one of them. I like it. Lots of other people like it. It made Sietsema's top 100 last week. So they must be doing something right.

                  1. re: Ellen

                    Raku is wonderful in bethesda. Maybe MartyL is thinking of the Raku in Dupont - pretty medocre . I think they have different owners.

          2. You have a wonderful list, with many of what I consider the best eats in the city:

            I would go to Ray's if you can. It is known on this board as the best steak in the DC metro area, by popular vote, although I am sure there are a few people who will disagree. There will be a wait, but they will sell you glasses/bottles of wine while you wait. It is also not out of this world priced for a steakhouse, and especially the amount of food you get. I think it would be a good place to take him so he knows if he wants to splurge, but not break the bank he can get some good steak. And maybe he will also notice there are a lot of busy places there because the other restaurants in that strip are very good too.

            If you are going to Mt. Vernon your best bet is to eat lunch in Alexandria. With the above votes I would suggest The Pita House which is excellent, and both your husband and son should be happy. You could also do Rustico for the brewpub feel, but I think the Pita House would suit more tastes. And it isn't very expensive for lunch so he may go back! There is also some decent thai in Alexandria, but not as good as Thai Square, although Mai Thai is good and has a very pretty view over the water.

            Restaurant Eve is one of the top restaurants in the area so is Palena. I love them both dearly. Palena is more Italian, although kind of a mix I think of French/Italian. The front room can be really busy, the back is more elegant and takes reservations (the front part might now too) so you can choose where you want to go. The front room you can order off the cheaper cafe menu or the back room menu. There pastas though are incredible. Their gnocchi is a sublime experience.

            Also for Indian I really like Indique Heights.

            I figure he will find out about the cheaper places normally himself so why not splurge a little and take him places he wouldn't go? After getting out of school one of my favorite treats was when the folks would come to town and take me to nice places I couldn't afford.

            I haven't been to Raku, yet, but a friend in the area keeps wanting to take me when I am free.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ktmoomau

              Go to Ray's the Classics in Silver Spring if you don't want to deal with the no-reservations-just-stand-outside-and-wait routine at Ray's the Steaks. Same great food, same you-are-here-for-the-food-not-the-ambiance appearance, and a whole lot closer. Excellent Portuguese food in Chevy Chase (a few minutes from the Hyatt) at Tavira's on Connecticut Ave. Word is that you do best if you choose from among the specials. I worship Palena.

            2. The best things you can eat , of all that you mentioned, are at Thai Square and Passage to India.

              At Thai Square, go for both the crispy, lacey catfish and the tile fish appetizers.

              At Passage to India, order the selection of pickles and also the spices from the last page. Make sure you get some black lentils, lotus stem, and some other vegetables. Again, choose items that you can't find easily where you are from. Happy eating.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Steve

                So am I missing some of your favorite places or am I good to go? Thanks for the recs. Yeah, I bet there are a number of items we can't find easily here!

                1. re: glecroy

                  Sure, you'll miss some of my favorites, but you can only cover so much territory, plus you have to consider the wishes of the rest of yout family. Between cf folks, Thai Square, Passage to India, and Jaleo, you are doing very well for yourself.

              2. Bethesda-

                Hop on Metro to Cleveland Park and eat at Palena and/or Dino as your budget and tastes (N. Italian/Prvencal/Californian for Palena, N. Italian for Dino) and budget allow.