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Moving to DC for a few months--where should I eat??

Hi everyone,

I am moving from NY to DC for a new job--I will only be in DC for training, so I will be around a few months, a year max. I am really sad to be leaving all the food options of NY, but I figured this board would be the best place to start sniffing out the best of DC!

So if you had a few months to explore DC's food scene, where would you go? I am thinking high end to low end--the whole spectrum. I want the key experiences. So far I am very excited for a few of the high-end restaurants (Citronelle, Cityzen, etc.), the Eden Center (Vietnamese food in NY is pathetic), Southern food (Southern food in NY is pathetic), and lots of Ethiopian choices... what else? What is a great DC experience--bonus if it is something DC does better than NY?


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  1. Once the months lose their "r's" then you'll be able to partake in some crab. There'll be PLENTY of posts at that time. Generally you'll want to head to Baltimore or the Bay area. Prior to that, grab a weekday lunch at CF Folks and get the crab cake (from there your visits can explore the offerings more).

    Here's a recent thread on Southern: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/486481

    You've lined out general good approaches you can't get well in NY.

    Not sure how NY is with Sichuan or Korean, but there are a number of good places for each in the DC area - though most are in the burbs. Heading down 395 to Duke will get you to Hee Been - a top nominee for Korean - and Temptasian - one of the Sichuan places. Both are behind the KFC, with the Temptasian in the parking lot.

    And lastly, get some Peruvian rotisserie chicken. El Pollo Rico is the standard with which to start; one in Wheaton and one in Arlington (though I think one burned recently).

    1. While it's not NYC, DC actually increasingly has a lot to offer in terms of food (although you will want to get your fill of bagels and deli since we suck at that :) )

      I'm sure a lot of people will give you a number of great suggestions. Is there a particular area where you will be living and working? That way we can focus in on your particular neighborhood.

      1. For high end, Restaurant Eve in Old Town is tough to beat. Morou at Farah Olivia is also doing some unusal and tasty things.

        If you're a connoiseur of hot dogs, you should add DC's halfsmoke to your studies. It's not a NY dog or a Chicago dog, but unique to DC. Ben's and Weenie Beanie have them hot, or you could buy your own by the pound at Canales Meats in Eastern Market. For soul food, treat yourself to a taste test between Levi's Port Cafe and Ooohs and Aaahs and tell us who has the best collards, mac & cheese, and porkchops.

        Not food, but for drinks, I'd pit Todd Thrasher at PX against any bartender in NYC.

        1. Welcome to DC,
          My clients from NYC were recently impressed with Vidalia (southern).
          Chinese friends from Long Island always want to go to Seven Seas in Rockville (chinese-seafood).

          Some key DC experiences: Drinks at Round Robin Bar (in Willard Hotel). Oysters at Old Ebbit. Native American Food at the American Indian Museum. Giffords Peppermint stick candy Ice Cream. Halfsmoke at Ben's Chili Bowl. Power Dinner at The Prime Rib. Chai Tea at Teaism.

          1. DC getting there, but we are not yet NYC...so keep that in mind as you make your way around the restaurant scene! But I would suggest Komi, I agree with Restaurant Eve and Vidalia. If you can go to the burbs, I would try Mark's Duck House and for Italian in Rockville - Amici Mei. Lots of other good advice on the Board - welcome to DC!

            1. Here are my recommendations:
              For high end modern southern Vidalia is ok, but it isn't what I as a southerner think is southern food, for that I go to Southside 815 in Alexandria (this will be something VA does way better than NY if you like southern food) don't go with a sandwich, I don't think their poboys are all that, go with low country southern that is their strong suit, or go to the U St. Area or Levi's port cafe for other good southern.

              You really should get some crabs or crabcakes while in the area. If you have a car go to Baltimore or Annapolis. Cantler's in Annapolis is a great place to sit out and pick crabs in the summer. There are lots of threads on that. I haven't found a MD style crabcake I like in DC or VA, but others will try to tell you there is (they prob aren't from MD). There is something about fresh picked MD blue crab.

              I would go to Hook also for excellently prepared seafood. Their menu changes with what is fresh, and everything I have had there so far I really like. The Black Risotto is especially good if you like things cooked in ink. Their desserts are weak in my opinion you could skip them. The closest one I have come to like is the carmelized banana cream pie, but I still would change it.

              I would get Indian food at Rasika. Or some other places. I might go to blue duck if I was craving meat duck, veal, etc.

              Also I would get Lebanese. It appears you will have a car and if so you need to go to the Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church for a lebanese meal it is a restaurant the butcher shop is next door. There are some other lebanese places it is just the best.

              Get some chicken at El Pollo Rico or etc, there are tons of threads on that.

              Also if you have a car you might be able to get some good BBQ, but that is only way in the burbs. There are some choices search the threads there will be a number, also there is a new place I just read about in the Washington Post that I have yet to try but will be trekking out to soon. This could be another thing we do better than NYC.

              If you want steak go to Rays the Steaks or Rays the Classics it will be cheaper than some of the high end steak places and you will be happy.

              I would also go to Central although you are going to Citronelle, but I think they are both unique and very good.

              If you want a good italian sub you have two options: A. Litteri or The Italian Store. Don't even try to look for NY pizza, if you want pizza most places do more neapolitan style than anything else.

              If you want real spanish food Taberna del Aberdero is great. I like their happy hour tapas. Their croquettes remind me of Barcelona. It is probably the most authentic spanish restaurant outside of Spain in the US.

              Also Ravi Kabob in Arlington is really good.

              And I agree on Todd Thrasher, would bet on him against bartender really. He is also at Eve so you could go early to get his cocktails.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ktmoomau

                Wow! These suggestions sound great! I will be living in Dupont and won't have a car... but I will travel as far as the metro takes me! Though I might have to rent a car at some point during crab season... :)

                1. re: katie570

                  Also think about taking the train to Ballmer and eating a crab cake at Faidleys in Lexington Market (a must), craft beers and dinner at Brewers Art, Afghanistan food at The Helmond, and checking out the music, pit beef sandwiches and other sometimes quite good vendor food during ArtScape in the summer. I've missed plenty but a search of the board for Baltimore suggestions will give you an idea of what is within a short train ride.

                  1. re: Ellen

                    My mod for a trip to Lex Mkt is to find some outstanding fried chicken while there (far wall, about middle of the wall - the spicy chicken wings - being my fav), and then get the crab cakes to cook at home that night.

              2. Other low-end but tasty options:

                -4-piece fried fish sandwich at Horace & Dickies
                -the Reuben at Deli City is the best in town. Bar none.
                -the G Man Sub at Mangialardo's (only available at lunch)
                -the roast beef, turkey, or ham (on Friday) sandwich at Hodges.

                Lastly, DC's contribution to the fried food pantheon, fried chicken wings and mambo sauce. Danny's on H Street NE has the best I've tasted so far, but many Chinese carryouts downtown sell the stuff, to varying degrees of greasiness.