dc trip dining options
My wife, son (10) and myself are visiting DC in two weeks for several days and would like to get some lunch and dinner dining options. My wife and I both love good wine and food and my son also appreciates good food and will put up with a fancy/semi fancy place as long as it is somewhat kid friendly, (he has allrady eaten at Chez Panisse, Cafe Grey, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, etc). We also like good!! interesting and/or classic dining options that aren't fancy. We will be doing the typical tourist things so lunch places near tourist attractions would be great. We will be staying near the White House so walking to dinner would be nice sometimes, if that is possible, otherwise we will be taking a taxi. Thanks for your help.
I can't guide you to the ritzy picks, but I can toss a few very tasty leads your way.
My favorite place is 2 Amys. They do the best pizza I've ever had. It's an artisan place, baking crusts to crispy/chewy perfection in a wood-fired oven and topping them with prime ingredients. You can get more traditional combinations or opt for gourmet creations. Good sides, appetizers, desserts, beers, wines. It's very family-friendly but keeps a bright, stylish space. Prices are very reasonable. It's right by the National Cathedral on Macomb Street. (By the way, if you tour the cathedral, check out the grotesques on the outside. Guaranteed the only Gothic stone cathedral with a carved robot featured in the architecture.)
Running close second is Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, on Connecticut Ave. near DuPont Circle, very close to the metro stop. It's a 24-hour bookstore/restaurant combo. The menu has good variety and everything is excellent. Dishes are very creative, wine and beer lists are pretty extensive (the menu suggests good pairings), and their Sat/Sun brunch is the best in town. It's a quality spot that has a cool/casual vibe. Sidewalk seats are nice in fine weather, but If you can score the upper deck seating area that overlooks the bookstore portion it's much quieter and good for people watching.
Lebanese Taverna is a great local chain (6 restaurants and a few cafes strung from Arlington to Baltimore) if you like Middle Eastern cuisine. Classier than "chain" implies. I've only been in Arlington at Pentagon Row, but there's one in DC on Connecticut Avenue right by the National Zoo/Woodley Park metro with reportedly lovely ambiance. I'm a sucker for their braised spiced lamb served over mashed chickpeas and topped with fresh yogurt and pomegranate seeds. Yum.
Cafe La Ruche is a good spot, an earthy little French bistro tucked away on 31st St. off the main drag (M St.) of Georgetown. It's a casual place with a solid menu and fair prices, unlike some of the traps nearby. Near the White House you'll find Aroma, a fine Indian restaurant at 1919 I (Eye) Street. Good eats near the mall seem spare to me. But if you find yourself cornered into having to grab lunch at a Smithsonian cafeteria I understand the National Museum of the American Indian has a pretty unique, well-prepared cafeteria selection of traditional Native American foods. There's also a tasty Mexican tapas place north of the Mall near the Capitol end, but I can't remember its name or exact spot. The discovery was accidental.
All the above are in nice parts of town. Seems to me the DuPont Circle area, especially the corridor along 19th Street, has a cluster of good options. A good reference book to use is the Washington Post Dining Guide by Tom Sietsema, the Post's food critic. It has a good variety of places with smart reviews, and it should be easy to find at the bookstores in town.
We seem to be covering this a lot, over and over let me see if I can find some threads for you.
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493147 (near white house says for veggie, but can be both
I just don't feel like repeating so much, sorry. I think these will be really helpful though. Oh, here is a good one too on high end dining: