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Mar 6, 2008 09:19 AM

casual DC

I'm coming to town in May with my non-chowish significant other and mother in tow. I'd still love to hit up some amazing restaurants though. We'll be doing all the normal tourist things and we won't have a car. I'm definitely willing to travel for good food, but nothing much more than a 15 minute cab ride. We haven't picked our hotel yet, but like I said, we'll be in the tourist areas. Since those two are non-chowish, I'm guessing anything too upscale might scare them. Any ideas? They will eat ethnic food, I'm guessing Italian and Asian are the safest. Feel free to suggest anything though, I can always do internet research and cull the list down later. Please include restaurants for all meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!

P.S. None of us are big wine drinkers, so no need to worry about that. Only my significant other will drink anything and he actually tends to like girly cocktails. I know, funny.

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  1. For Italian, I enjoy Dino. It's a cozy, unintimidating restaurant. DC is known for great Ethiopian, but I'm going to venture to guess that might be a little overwhelming for your mom and significant other. Creme is a great little restaurant. Again, not too fussy and great, homey dishes.

    For lunches, look into Bread Line. Great, great sanwiches. For breakfasts, many posters recommend Teaism. I'm a coffee drinker myself, but they are meant to have fresh pastries and delicious teas.

    1. Well, if you want to go for a nice dinner at some point, I'd send you to Central, where they can get non-scary food (like roast chicken) cooked amazingly well.

      Matchbox would be good for delicious mini-burgers and pizza. Depending on your mother's age, you may want to make that an early dinner, though because it can get loud in there.

      1. Thanks guys, Central and Creme look right up their alley! Anyone have good seafood recs? I forgot to add we all love good seafood. I'm a big fan of a great raw bar.

        14 Replies
        1. re: debbie421

          I am going to get flack for this from some. But. From your description of them, you might want to try Old Ebbits for this. Very old-school DC (there is a recent thread on it) and, while nothing is "excellent", it is good, solid food, and they have a great raw bar. And crab cakes.
          Or, just basic good seafood, and a raw bar, I *love* Hank's Oyster Bar.

          1. re: food.fiend

            Hank's, small, laid-back, outside tables, darn good lobster roll.

            1. re: food.fiend

              I also read an article about Black Salt. Which one is better?

              1. re: debbie421

                Black Salt is the better option for raw bar. You might consider hook, but they donĀ“t have a traditional rawy bar like Black Salt has.

                1. re: cleveland park

                  blacksalt is not near any hotels and they wont have a car.

            2. re: debbie421

              For good seafood we really only have a little more upscale places, although I think Hook is kind of casual, except maybe Hank's, if it was me for seafood I would go to Hook or Kinkeads, which is very nice, but I don't think it is too too stuffy. Although I haven't been to BlackSalt. I would not go to Old Ebbitts for seafood, except perhaps oysters or shrimp at the raw bar, but fresh fish no.

              1. re: debbie421

                Tell them to bring earmuffs if they go to's the loudest place i've ever been...and it's spendy for a 'bistro'. Proof is another option in Penn Quarter with a much more subdued but just as cool vibe. That place could make a wine lover out of all of you!

                1. re: DCDOLL

                  if its the loudest place you have ever been you must not get out that much.

                  1. re: elegantelliot

                    you have no idea...i have been out all over the world to all kinds of places and when i am spending alot of money i just like less of a din. i have a stressful job and just like to relax at the end of the day. Not listen to everyone else's shouted conversations.
                    and YES I have been louder places like concerts but not restaurants. Let's just drop the subject...i won't change anyone else's mind about Central and nobody will change mine. Peace.

                    1. re: DCDOLL

                      didnt mean to strike such a chord. i have also been to several restaurants and i think Central is on par with most of the hip, trendy bistros i have been to. Its definitely not intimate and quiet if thats what you are going for, but i dont think it tries to be. to each his own :)

                    1. re: DCDOLL

                      yea this rant about how loud central is, is too loud for me

                      1. re: DCDOLL

                        I've only been to Central once, sitting at one of the bar tables, in front to the left as you enter the restaurant. My thought at the time was it was much more pleasant, in terms of noise and general comfort level, than many other popular/trendy restaurants, especially in Penn Quarter. Just off the top of my head: much more pleasant than Hook or Matchbox (I'm talking about noise and seating, not food, necessarily, and certainly fewer visits than others on here.)

                        1. re: mselectra

                          the bar area is indeed loud, seated later at a table on the other side (proper table), it's not so

                          maybe someone should start a noise thread.

                    2. Also for lunch by the sites Breadline is right by the white house as mentioned above.

                      In Chinatown, Chinatown express has good noodles if you are around their for the spy museum and don't want to go to Matchbox, although I really like Matchbox.

                      By the mall is Central as discussed above, but also the Nativa American Museum has a great cafeteria with Native American food called Mitsam I believe, but I may have spelled it wrong. Also in the bottom of the Newseum that I don't know if it will be open when you visit or not, but looks like it will be a really neat museum, but already open in it is a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and the downstairs part isn't too expensive and is supposed to be very good although I haven't gone yet.

                      Right by Central is also TenPenh (10th and Pennsylvannia) which has asian fusion that I think is really good and the in-laws to be who aren't too adventurous like it. I like their spicy calamari salad, but it is pretty spicy.

                      And if you wanted to splurge for brunch near the capital and union station Bistro Bis has a really good brunch. There is also a huge food court in the bottom of Union Station, all sorts of normal food court stuff on the second level liek Au Bon Pain, Corner Bakery, Uno's Pizzeria and etc if you are near there and are hungry. I know sometime when you are touring it is all about what is close not neccessarily destination eating.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        Newseum is open and looks interesting

                        never a line for the Indian at Union Station.

                        also around the corner is Tacqueria Nacionale (I haven't been, but hear nothing but good) behind Johnny's Half Shell - 4 and N. Capitol NE


                        1. re: hill food

                          Tacqueria Nacionale tastes great but (at least when I was there last) has no tables, is only open for lunch, and is closed on weekends.

                      2. My favorite casual place for seafood is Pesce in Dupont Circle. It is tiny restaurant that is fairly laid back (they present the menu to you on a chalkboard)and always delicious. You can't make reservations unless you are 4 or more but the wait is never that bad. I like Hanks a lot but I actually prefer Pesce because I feel that the food is more consistent and you can end your meal with a delicious housemade dessert (as opposed to the peices of bittersweet chocolate you get at Hank's since the kitchen is not big enough to make desserts).