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Help Plan an NYC Foodie's DC Weekend

My girlfriend and I are coming to DC for President's Day weekend and want to mix in some high and low food experiences between visiting the Mall, going to galleries, etc.

We're staying at the Mayflower.

We were thinking lowbrow (but still spectacular) during the day, and highbrow at night. Who can help?

(Favorite NYC haunts include Babbo, Perry Street, Eleven Madison Park, Nook, inoteca, wd-50, and more like that. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.)


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  1. Low Brow: Ben's Chili Bowl

    High Brow: Proof, Komi, Rasika, Central

    Bar: Off the Record (ask if you can check out the view from the roof)

    Bring your own bagels from H&H...good bagels are hard to find in DC. The best are over the river in Arlington at Brooklyn Bagels.

    1. Hit the Lounge at Citronelle for dinner. No reservations necessary. Go for the mushroom cigars, tuna napoleon, soft shell crabs, and the vichyssoise.

      No true Lowbrow near the tourist sites. North of the Archives is Jaleo for Spanish tapas. Cod fritters, apples and manchego, patatas bravas, grilled asparagus, spinach with raisins, trumpet mushrooms are all great.

      1. Low Brow: There is Jimmy T's on East Capitol and Tune Inn (they do right by scrapple) on Penn SE both walking distance from the Capitol, Library of Congress, Supreme Court.

        Port of Piraeus sells H+H, but not lox (WTF???) in a pinch cream cheese and a little taramasalata will do I suppose.

        sadly we've gradually been losing our low-brow divey places over the years. but if by low-brow you just mean "not swank" there's still plenty around just mostly not downtown. check the Chinatown thread.


        1. Makoto in Georgetown. The in house wasabi is worth the price of admission alone.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bigmackdaddy

            tons of great places in G'Town around M and Wisconsin - some dumps too.... have heard good about Makoto.

          2. I had a couple of decent meals at the Luna Grill near Dupont Circle.


            Good Breakfast. Good Burgers. Localish scene. Great Margaritas.

            1. If you're here when it's open, definitely go to Market Lunch in Eastern Market (low brow) for breakfast or lunch. Check out the cafe at the Museum of the American Indian for lunch (for the best food on the Mall, which, of course, is far from the best food in DC, but it's a special place).

              The Mayflower is a nice location for getting to lots of different neighborhoods with good food.


              1. Your hotel has one of the best bars in town; it's dark wood, loungy, with 100 martinis and usually some good free munchies. You might consider ethnic during the day (indian, middle eastern, oriental) because those are usually inexpensive. Good suggestions are pho (cleveland park), lebanese taverna (woodley park, near the zoo and also pentagon city) and the food courts at both union station and the old post office bldg have wonderful cheap ethnic eats. I second teh vote for the american indian museum also. Try the baked maple apple and the butternut squash. And the mexican hot chocolate!!
                For dinner, Obelisk (dupont circle, 5 course prix fixe n. italian), Proof (penn qtr), Palena (cleveland park). Cleveland park is a wonderful restaurant neighborhood in general w/ a couple good wine bars too. It's 3 metro stops north on the red line from your hotel. Oh yeah Vace in C.P. is good for a quick lunch...their slices may not be NY worthy but for here they are pretty darn good!

                1 Reply
                1. re: DCDOLL

                  I agree with the lounge at citronelle (no reservations needed) for highbrow and Ben's Chili Bowl for lowbrow (funky and good).

                  Eastern Market is always a good stop too.

                2. Low Brow during the day...Ben's Chili Bowl is right on, but Five Guys (numerous locations around the area) does a good job with burgers (note Shake Shack, but what is!!!)

                  High Brow...for fans of Perry Street, I think you'd really like CityZen. Citronelle is a must to really figure out what the best of DC is about. Unfortunately you are too late in the game to get reservations at Minibar, that to me is wd-50 on steroids (not that the quality is any different, but it's the culinary equivalent of "Weird Science" for sure). Other recommendations not mentioned yet: PS-7 (Penn Quarter), Acadiana (the po-boys at lunch time are the best anywhere outside of New Orleans), & Vidalia is certainly one of the best restaurants in town!

                  1. Also a lunch at CF Folks and Breadline is lowbrow, or the Greek Deli.

                    Highbrow: Hook, Citronelle, Palena, Komi, CityZen, The Source, Central ... there are lots of threads ont his that are recent like exquisite dinners, or etc that you should check out for those... there are a bunch within like the past week.

                    1. Oh and get southern food! It is one thing that you yankees won't be able to say you do better at home.
                      Vidalia is new age southern, not my favorite for real southern, but there is lots of lowbrow and in between if you search some are Creme, Oohs and Aahs etc.

                      1. I'll echo the recommendations for Komi on the highbrow end . . . my favorite restaurant in DC . . . and it's a short walk from the Mayflower. I'll likewise echo the recommendations for Ben's Chili Bowl on the lowbrow end . . . it's a DC institution.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Food Rockz Man

                          I´ll just tell you where I go for low brow and high brow, which may or may not be close to monuments, but dc is small and easy to get around:

                          low brow: Queen Makeda (Ethiopian), Etete (Ethiopian), Oohhs and Aahhs (soul food, not as good as it used to be but still pretty good), Taqueria Distrito Federal (tacos), Amsterdam Falafel, Nam Viet (solid pho, not the best but the best in city limits), Hank´s Oyster Bar b/w 5:30 and 6:30 for 1$ boutique oysters, Taberna del Alabardero happy hour 1/2 price tapas and iberico ham and best bartender in the city (Manolo)

                          High brow: Komi (i go once a year for my birthday and its amazing), Tosca (my favorite italian in the city), Citronelle Lounge (already spoken for), CityZen bar (4 star restaurant at a fraction of the price), Palena (you can go sit at the bar or the back room, depends on what kind of night you´re trying to have).

                          I know I´m missing some or many, but at least you have a few more options now

                          1. re: cleveland park

                            Low: Dupont Grille for Sat/Sun brunch (near Phillips Collection), Matchbox (in chinatown near amazing newly opened nat'l portrait gallery) for sliders -mini burgers, and 2Amys ( uptown- near nat'l Cathedral) for pizza.

                            High: Citronelle, The Source (upstairs), CityZen, BlueDuck Tavern, Vidalia, Ristorante Tosca, Eve (in VA).

                            1. re: keithdcil

                              High end -- Palena and Komi...you could also try Citronelle (their lounge is supposed to be very good, too) and arguably Tosca. But Palena (and Komi really) is a MUST.

                              Low End -- Try a nice greasy and somewhat southern breakfast at The Florida Avenue Grill. It's greasy good and it's fun just to sit at the diner bar and check it out.


                              1. re: keithdcil

                                I agree that 2 Amy's is a good place to stop, although I don't think it's low end. We can never get out of there for less than $40.00 and usually it's closer to $50.00. Great pizza though.

                                1. re: keithdcil

                                  not food, but Cleveland Park is right, the Portrait Gallery/American Art is stunning and a must esp. now the Norman Foster canopy is up in the courtyard. when the weather is nice there's a portico on the South facade they open for (over-priced) drinks. but prob. not til May or June. still go, the collections (it is 2 for one after all) and layout are indeed truly amazing. that 'hood is the hopping-est for street life and food at the moment outside of Adams Morgan or G'Town.

                            2. High Brow - Since you like Babbo, try Cafe Atlantico for spanish food. Mario Batali is known to hang out with chef Jose Andreas, when he is in town. Jose Andreas is a TV/Star chef on Spanish television and has a show coming this spring to the US. Upstairs at Cafe Atlantico is the famous food lab called Minibar which is really special but takes months to get a reservation.

                              1. Try Ray's Steaks in Rosslyn VA, decent prices for some great steaks!