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Mar 18, 2008 12:55 PM

Solo dining without breaking the bank

Hi everyone, and thanks for all the fantastic information you've put up here. I'm coming to DC for the day, and will have one dinner to myself. There are a lot of recent threads on solo dining, but most of them focus on expensive fine dining (>$30 mains). While I'm drooling reading the threads, I'm looking for something a bit more modest, say around $20 mains (or less, of course) and perhaps with more of a neighborhood feel. A seat a the bar with good bartending and/or a good beer list would be a bonus. Also, Metro accessibility is nice (i.e. Adams Morgan is tough); I'll be coming from National.

Thanks so much in advance, and when you come to Boston please ask over on our board, there's lots of great eats.

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  1. A few places you might consider: Bistro D'Coin (Dupont Circle..I usually recommend Bistro D'Oc since the food is better, but BDC has more of a scene if that's what you are looking for. Plus the neighborhood is cooler to walk around in), Sette Osteria (I use to eat at the barall the time) and PS7 (go during Happy hour and eat at the bar in the lounge. It's cheaper and delicious).

    8 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Haven't been but have read great things about Queen Makeda. Not just the kitchen's exceptional twist on Ethiopian/Soul food, which is unique to DC, but for the homey atmosphere which I would think would be ideal for solo dining. (Went to Etete across the street for Ethiopian and like the looks of Queen Makeda better). It's near a metro but don't know that it has a bar. However, see the 2nd half of this string for bars in the vicinity.

      1. re: Elyssa

        Thanks for the ideas, these look great. I'm definitely not looking for a "scene" or to meet people, just great food. I'm expecting to eat, pay, and go to my hotel. I'm not adverse to meeting interesting people while eating at a bar, but the chow is more important.

        1. re: DavisSquare

          I think the bar at Brasserie Beck would be a great place for this. It has a great beer list, and you can make a great meal of appetizers -- a great lamb sausage with lentils, a very good quiche, and other nice choices --, or get a big pot of mussels and frites. Main courses are mostly over $20 but less than $30.

          1. re: BrianD

            It looks great and was at the top of my list until I read a couple of recent reviews that report it packed to the gills even on a weeknight, to the point where it's hard to find even a single place to sit at the bar. Is this (still) true? The food and beer look perfect, but I'm not interested in wading through a 3-deep-at-the-bar crowd and waiting 45 minutes for a barstool.

            1. re: DavisSquare

              It IS tough, and I have had to get a table instead a few times.

              What about Cork? It is at 14th and R or so? Which is not "too" far from the U St. Metro at 13th and U. During the week it is definitely possible to get a seat at the bar, and if you check reviews on here, you will see that the food is excellent... as is their bartender... and, while it is more of a wine bar, their few beers on tap are all of high quality, and not all that common.

              1. re: food.fiend

                Marvin would also be a decent possibility, right?

                I still say avoid the Dupont area as much as possible!

            2. re: BrianD

              I totally forgot about Brasserie Beck...good call Brian. Another excellent choice.

            3. re: DavisSquare

              How about Indique right next to the Cleveland Park Metro station.
              They have an interesting modern take on Indian cooking which I've found to be consistently delicious. Or Indique Heights, literally above the Friendship Heights Metro station, where you can try small Indian plates.

          2. Will you be looking for a lunch, too? 701 has a great lunch special, if you eat at the bar.

            LUNCH AT THE BAR

            $15.00 including a glass of wine or soft drink

            Chicken Cobb Salad
            with avocado, bacon, cherry tomatoes, eggs, honey mustard

            Vegetable Lasagna
            melted robiola and fontina, spicy tomato basquaise

            Twin Burgers
            with Smoked Bacon and Monterey Jack Cheese on toasted Brioche

            Fried Calamari
            with papayas, cashews, frisee, and spicy-sour dressing

            1 Reply
            1. re: katecm

              Sorry to say, I think it's a rubber chicken lunch for me. If they let me out long enough to eat (doubtful), I'll definitely keep this place in mind.

            2. what about Cafe St. Ex?
              they have a $30 3 course meal as well (maybe before 7pm?) and it's a good place to walk around if the weather is nice.

              also, there expected to be a ton of protesters in the city today, so i might avoid the dupont area if i were you

              1. How about Bebo in Crystal City? It's a stone's throw from National, and I've had some fantastic experiences sitting at the bar. The service there is better than the dining room, the wood fired pizzas are great, and the prices should be just about right!

                1. Thanks everyone. I ended up at PS7, eating in the lounge. The food and bartending were quite good, but very overpriced for a meal, and I left unsatisfied. I had the tuna sliders and, as suggested by the bartender, got 6 ($18). I was expecting sliders like White Castle sized, but instead, each one was about the size of a quarter, I kid you not. Good bread, about a tablespoon of nicely flavored tuna, but not much there there. Six of them would have been a good appetizer portion, but as a main, left me wanting. I also had a cheese plate which was well chosen, but pretty spartan. Just the cheese, a bit of jelly, some yummy candied nuts and a (very) little dried fruit. There was no fresh fruit and, worst of all, no bread, just crackers. Sliders + cheese plate + 1 beer = $50 tab (incl. tip and tax) and an unsatisfied diner. I felt like I should go get pizza afterward.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DavisSquare

                    the lounge is more of a small bites, happy hour (which is why until 7, everything is $7).

                    sorry you left hungry:(