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Feedback on my restaurant list please

I'll be in DC for 4 days in March for a professional symposium and will be staying at the Omni Shoreham and have been researching restaurants. I prefer to walk or easy metro so am looking mostly in Cleveland Park/ Adams Morgan/ Dupont Circle area, although I'll take a taxi if I decide I must travel further for a great meal. I'm looking for a mix of experiences and will likely be dining alone but might connect with others for a dinner. Lunch has to be quick (we have 2 hours between morning and afternoon sessions.) I will need 3 dinners and 3 lunches. Here's my list of possibilities so far. Any feedback on any of these places will be helpful as well as recommended additions to consider.

For lunch:
Cafe Atlantico
The Diner
Vace (take out)
So's Your Mom (take out)

Dinner Possibilities:
Palena
Bistro Napolean ***especially looking for current comments on this place
Vadalia
Lavandou ***especially looking for current comments on this place
Cashions
Central
Marcel's

I had dinner at Citronelle 4 or 5 years ago (the last time I was in DC) and it was amazing and I'm considering returning but am not sure I'd enjoy the experience as much dining alone so I'm undecided. All feedback is welcome.

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  1. You might consider "Open City" as an alternative to "The Diner." They have the same owner but OC is within walking distance of Omni Shoreham, on the NE corner of Calvert and CT?

    1. Lavandou changed ownership a year ago and is now highly avoidable.

      If you are alone, go to the Lounge at Citronelle. It's upstairs from the dining room. Small a la carte menu. Get the new vichyssoise, soft shell crab, mushroom cigars, Tuna Napoleon, or anything else that looks good to you. Excellent service, nice surroundings.

      You can check out the menu on the website:

      www.citronelledc.com

      Across the street, Mendocino Grille is also a very good choice. Especially for charcuterie, salads, seafood.

      www.mendocinodc.com

      I am personally not that impressed with your list. Especially that Cafe Atlantico is my least favorite Jose Andres restaurant. I prefer Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel in that order. All nearby.

      1. Haven't been to all of the places, but on that list I'd go for Atlantico, Palena, Cashion's and Central. Skip Vidalia, it's overrated and overpriced.

        1 Reply
        1. re: biscuit

          I love Vidalia!!! I had a wonderful experience there. Vace does have excellent pizza and the sandwiches look very good. I would also add Hook to your list. It is a new restaurant in georgetown that is very good.

        2. Steve, Thanks for the heads up on Lavandou. This is something I did wonder about. I'm thinking that I'll skip Citronelle this time and go to Central instead and eat in the lounge. Also definitely planning on Polena, just not sure if I want to make a reservation and do a multi course dinner or play it more by ear and aim for the cafe.

          I'm really curious about Bistro Napolean if anyone Chowhounders have actually eaten there. The Diner is off the list and replaced by Open City, which apparently is much closer and hopefully won't be totally mobbed with other convention goers!

          My understanding is that Vace has great takeout pizza and grinders, which I thought might be a good lunch option with so little time between sessions. Same for So's Your Mom, which I know is a 10-15 minute walk but I keep reading raves about their sandwiches.

          I welcome suggestions of really great dining recs if these don't seem the best choices. I enjoy French or new American more than serious ethnic.

          2 Replies
          1. re: plafield

            I think Equinox would be great for you. It's a longtime favorite, and while the menu changes often I think these are still being offered: scallops with baby bok choy, chicken salad with cashews and cranberries (for lunch), grilled salmon, profiteroles and the chocolate-banana dessert...

            It would be a quick metro ride down to Farragut North from your hotel -- you'd just have to walk a few blocks south of the metro station. equinoxrestaurant.com

            1. re: plafield

              I adore Vace's pizza. Better when you can order a pie, but if not that do a good job of reheating their slices.

              It's hard to go wrong at Central. The food is very filling. It'll just be a tough decision on what to order. (But the Lounge I was referring to is at Citronelle in Georgetown, not at Central. Open only for dinner.)

            2. How about the Mendocino Grill in Georgetown? They do have a very nice charcuterie plate (as mentioned) but the food is quite good as well. I am partial to sitting at the bar and enjoying some food and great wine. Any chance you'd cross the river to Alexandria? You can sit at the bar at Restaurant Eve and enjoy the full bistro menu and enjoy either great wine or cocktails. A cab ride from the city is about 20.00 or you could do a metro/cab combo there and cab back.
              Vidalia isn't the best for dining alone and if you've been there - why not try something new? Central is good but be aware that it can get rather loud inside. But the food is good and Michel Richard can be spotted frequently. I have never dined alone at Marcel's but do enjoy the food there. CityZen has a nice bar area that provides a view of the dining room and open kitchen.

              2 Replies
              1. re: alexfoodie

                Thanks everyone. Equinox looks like a possibility for lunch one day. How long do you think it would take to get there from the Omni?

                I arrive on a Thursday need dinner that night, Saturday night and Sunday. I've pretty much decided on Palena for Thursday(early dinner at the cafe and then back for the opening program at the Omni at 8:00PM) and Central for Saturday night. Sunday is still undecided. I really like the look of Napolean's website/menu but can't seem to find anyone on any of the food boards who's actually eaten there . I also think I could be happy returning to Palena's Sunday night, which seems quite easy to metro to, (or even walk if the weather is fine) from the Omni.

                1. re: plafield

                  To Equinox, you'd take the red line a couple of stops south, toward Takoma Park. When you get off (at Farragut North), you'd walk about two blocks south. All told, I'd say no more than 15-20 minutes.

                  Palena is definitely a nice walk up the hill from Woodley Park, if the weather's good. Central is a solid choice. Unfortunately I can't offer any info on Napolean -- haven't been!

              2. I can only speak to the places I've been, but your list looks pretty good.

                I would echo Minger's comment about trading Open City for The Diner. The Diner is good, but a little bit of a greasey spoon (better for a hungover breakfast). Open City has some great sandwiches, pastries, and coffee drinks. Also, if you have some time in the morning, head over to Adams Morgan and hang out at Tryst (also owned by the Open City / Diner group)...it's one of my favorite places in DC to have a coffee and read / people watch.

                So's Your Mom is one of the few places in DC where you can get Boar's Head sandwiches; I eat there at least twice a week...good pick.

                Napolean is pretty good. I've only had brunch, but the crepes were pretty tasty.

                Cashion's is a great pick. In my top 5 for restaurants in DC. Excellent food and service.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gatorfoodie

                  Thanks everyone. Plans are shaping up. I'm skipping the opening thing at the Shoreham on Thursday night to get to an 8:30 meeting in Foggy Bottom. I get into town around 1:00 and I figure I'll check into the hotel and make my way by metro to the mall and go to the National gallery until it closes at 5:00. I'm thinking about Marcel's for an early dinner (metro) and then it's a nice, easy walk to my meeting on 21 and G in Foggy Bottom.

                  Friday evening I get function food at a dinner that's part of the conference but Saturday it'll be Palena's and Sunday I'll take the metro to Central. I'd loved to hear your opinions on Marcel's.