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Fall in love with DC: any ideas?

My sister is coming to "check out" D.C. after years of living and traveling abroad: India, China, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Central America...and I am hoping to convince her to stay in D.C. She has a great adventurous spirit, but is not into high-priced, high style places, which she won't be able to afford anyway. She's been eating a lot of street food. Her expectations of what to pay are way out of whack. I need to ease her into a very comfortable reality.

I was thinking about treating her to several "neighborhood" days when she visits in April to give her the lay of the land food-wise. She doesn't eat gluten, so pizza, pasta, sandwiches (mostly) are out. Anyway, here's my plan.

1. An Ethiopian/U Street experience. 2. The 7th/9th street Verizon center area - drinks at Poste, Zaytinya, Proof, Jaleo, Oyamel, Oya and/or Acadiana (not all of them, of course!). Probably end up with dinner at Rasika, as she loves Indian. 3. We'll walk around DuPont circle, perhaps hitting Regent Thai, Mark and Orlando's...someplace local and low-key. 4. Woodley Park/Cleveland Park - maybe Dino, but I suspect she'd like Indique better. 5. Eastern Market area.

What am I missing? It HAS to be metro accessible. Places like Citronelle, Komi, Marcels are OUT. She just won't enjoy herself there. Thanks.

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  1. You seem to have some great suggestions...all places I was thinking of.

    2 other places I would add would be lunch at the American Indian Museum and drinks on the roof of Hotel Washington (that's where you get the great view of the WH etc correct?) If you can't get up to the roof because of the weather, perhaps some place else that is classic DC, like the Round Robin for mint julups etc.

    1. I'm not sure that the Hotel Washington's roof is still open. If it is it would be perfect.

      Pennsylvania Avenue is one of the great streets of the world. It's not important that you have dinner at a restaurant on it, rather that you just walk down it. Rasika, a block and a half off of it, would be perfect; alternatively, Central which is on it. Any of your other suggestions are excellent also. I like the area around Dupont Circle-it feels like areas of Paris, London or Vienna. Bistro du Coin is NOT a great, perhaps not even a good restaurant. But it has an ambience that is special, unusual for even D. C. It is also very much ALIVE and that is the purpose along with the neighborhood for going. 18th and Columbia is also a great idea-any of several places there but mostly the neighborhood. Capitol Hill, too. Something on or near PA Avenue. Dino and the area around it is excellent also. If he's there it will be special! In the suburbs I'd give serious consideration to the Eden Center and Thai Square in Arlington. I'd also find a way to go to Old Town Alexandria which is special and doesn't receive enough credit on here.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Joe H

        HW is closed for now. For 18th and Columbia, what's your best pick for something ethnic and reasonably priced? I thought about Eden Center, but it's a bit of a walk from the metro and if the weather's bad, that's dicey. She does love Vietnamese - maybe Nam Viet in Arlington, which is right by the metro? Minhs? Is there a better Vietnamese that is metro accessible?

        1. re: dcandohio

          Couple of thoughts-Pepe's taqueria has great tacos al pastor-if the weather is good buy a pound of the stuff (995 and you get tortillas and salsa) and head over to one of the parks. There is a great picnic spot by the creek down the snake trail in walter pierce park. From there you can walk on to Amazonia at the zoo. Falafel amsterdam is fun and the fries are to die for, Jerusalem falafel on Columbia by the safeway is maybe cheaper, also has a toppings bar. The burgers at BOurbon are great, but not ethnic.

          1. re: dcandohio

            Sorry, dcandohio, but I am not as up on the ethnic restaurants at 18th and Columbia as I should be. For me this would be as much about neighborhoods as it is about food or, the combination of both. I really like the area around Dupont Circle along with some lesser known areas of popular neighborhoods (i.e. the C & O Canal towpath in Georgetown). I also walk over 30 miles a week and one of the most inspiring, most enjoyable of all is the walk between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial in the spring. If you have access to a car I would also consider Annapolis and the foothills of the Blueridge or the Eastern shore around St. Michael's. I passionately love this city and believe it is one of the most beautiful in the world. Still, part of its attraction is what is available to us within an hour or so nearby. Don't discount a visit to a farmer's market either. Good luck.

            1. re: dcandohio

              i just looked it up and apparently it's becoming a W Hotel (set to open in 2009). Unfortunately, the article I read suggested that the W Hotel is going to enclose the roof top in glass. I really hope they leave it uncovered.

              1. re: dcandohio

                The vietnamese place in Cleveland Park is good. I forget the name but it's on the same side of CT ave as Dino and Ardeo/Bardeo (and between them).

              2. re: Joe H

                Just went to Bistro du coin, yes its kind of kitschy, but the food was better than I expected, sort of country French. Nothing refined, but still tasty. Try the moules normande, very tasty. Service is friendly too.

              3. Another place nearish DuPont could be Hank's. And another nice walk that helped me fall in love with DC is New Hampshire on a nice afternoon from the DuPont area NE to U street area (helped that I had a couple of drinks at the start of the walk and was heading to eat at the other).

                7 Replies
                1. re: Dennis S

                  We grew up in New Orleans so I don't think Hank's would really impress. If we're going to sit down to fish or oysters we'll do that back home.

                  1. re: dcandohio

                    Hank's is much more of a New England seafood place then a cajun/New Orleans. It's the only place in the city that I can go to when I feel home sick for my native Bostonian seafood. Very good cute, neighborhood seafood restaurant. But I understand your hesitation.

                    1. re: Elyssa

                      I didn't like Hank's. I'm not looking for "cajun," as most New Orleanians aren't Cajuns and don't eat cajun on any regular basis. I just don't think Hank's food is very interesting. I love the lobster/fish I get on the Cape...but I just haven't had great experiences at Hank's.

                    2. re: dcandohio

                      If she's eaten Indian food in India, Rasika should depress her.

                      1. re: WestIndianArchie

                        Laughing...but she likes the Americanized/Europeanized versions, too. Even when she and I were in Japan, when I had only two weeks to explore, we ate at an Indian restaurant.

                        1. re: dcandohio

                          In that case, you might also think about the Hawkers menu at Heritage India. I love it, but it's the only place I've had "Indian street food," so no idea how it would come across to someone who really knows.

                  2. Maybe one of the Peruvian chicken spots? El Pollo Rico is excellent. It's near the Virginia Square metro. I know it's not in DC, but it's some of the best chicken around. Plus, it's a total bargain.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dckw

                      Great idea. We don't have to stay in the district, but we don't have a car so being metro accessible is really important.

                      1. re: dckw

                        Oh yeah-El granja de oro on Columbia. NOT elegant, but cheap and authentic. We often get one of their whole chickens.

                      2. How about walking up 14 St from downtown to Columbia Heights -- could get hot chocolate at ACKC, a drink at St. Ex, end up at El Riconcito on Park (sort of kitty corner from the Giant) for dinner, which sounds like the kind of place your sister might really like. Then maybe dessert at Sticky Fingers, although it closes kind of early. Those wouldn't have to be the exact stops, but do you see what I mean? You'd get to see a lot of the interesting side of the city that way. And if you were up for it, you could walk back downtown on 16th (or take the bus), which can be pretty fun to see all the big buildings and hqs of major organizations.

                        I think Mitsitam at American Indian is a great idea, too -- although not exactly cheap.

                        It doesn't come up here often, but a street food kind of place is El Khartoum at the U/18th/Florida intersection. it could be part of a walk on 18th from Adams Morgan to Dupont -- and there's the Korean Restaurant on 18th near Lauriol, too.

                        You might also think about Mama Ayesha's, between Woodley Park and Adams Morgan -- sounds like it might fit nicely what you're looking for.

                        1 Reply
                        1. Great thread and I think folks have hit some top spots.

                          Thinking about my fave cheap, metro accessible eats where I've most felt a sense of community in DC:

                          Dim Sum: So much fun and cheap with a group. Rosslyn has a metro accessible place, though not as good as others. Wheaton also has a place that gets favorably reviewed. Wash. Post had a dim sum overview in recent months. While Wheaton is not charming in the manner that the other neighborhoods are, but it has a gritty, suburban, boxy charm that grows on me. And they have metro-accessible Karaoke boxes if your sis is into Karaoke (we hit Korean at Woomi first and then Karaoke).

                          Eastern Market, as you mention: my guests always enjoy the elbow-jostling activity at the diner counter inside Eastern Market. love the pulled pork, crab cake, and fish sandwiches. Also, in that neighborhood is the tiny, divey, greasy-spoon breakfast spot at about 7th and east capitol. name escapes me, but a real "feel-at-home" sort of place.

                          If the weather is nice, you have to take her to the Sunday drum circle at Malcolm X Park near U Street. Food related: The gelato cart in warm weather. Or bring a picnic. This improvisational drum circle has to be the coolest thing in DC.

                          HR-57: It doesn't get much cheaper than $6 or so for fried chicken, red beans and rice, and greens. Yes, there's a cover charge to get in for the live music (about $10-$12) But you feel like you're supporting the community. And it's BYOB (after a nominal $3 fee).

                          Another community-supporting activity involving pretty good food for the low, low cost of about $8-10: Friday Jazz night and Monday Blues Night at Westminster Church in SW (Waterfront metro stop). No overt religious overtones at this secular celebration of great music. $5 cover charge for the entertainment. Food catered by SW catering, which I believe is a joint economic development venture between the church and the community.

                          I'd vote brunch or lunch in the adam's morgan/U street area. Maybe lunch at one of the taquerias and then window shopping from Adam's Morgan over through U street area. Miss Pixie's, the bookstore next door, Goodwood, Pop, various clothing stores, etc.. I can kill loads of time walking that route.

                          Teaism: I always enjoy hitting Teaism for brunch or lunch with a couple of friends. Reasonable prices, nice atmosphere, etc. Either Dupont or Gallery Place location.

                          And I second the mention of Old Town in Alex. I'd say Eammon's except that it's battered fish. It's right across the street from the free-trade gift store, 10,000 villages and lots of other window-shopping possibilities. There are loads of other places to eat in Old Town, if Eammon's doesn't work.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: takajin

                            Great post! Lots of good tips and reminders, glad the OP inspired you -- thanks!

                            1. re: takajin

                              < the tiny, divey, greasy-spoon breakfast spot at about 7th and east capitol. name escapes me, but a real "feel-at-home" sort of place.>

                              You are probably thinking of Jimmy T's. It's at 5th (not 7th) and East Capitol Streets. Beloved neighborhood joint.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                Yep. That's it. That's a great little place. Haven't been in a long time.

                                1. re: takajin

                                  fortunately nothing changes at Jimmy T's...

                            2. I'd add Mourayo on CT Ave for probably the best Greek in town. Burgers at Palena!

                              1. For an excellent meal in Cleveland Park, go to Palena. I'm in DC frequently for business, and I love that place. My business partners who live in DC say it's one of their favorite restaurants. And we're all in the restaurant business -- we're hard to please. Check it out.

                                3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008