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DC for the weekend


My wife and I are spending this coming weekend in DC from Boston.

We are staying Downtown at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel and need a few recommendations.

On Friday night we are arriving late so we need a late-night recommendation, very open as far as type of cuisine is concerned and would be happy with a hole-in-the wall type place that serves excellent food.

Other than that we are staying through Sunday evening. So need some local tips for the following.

-Local Bakery that serves baked goods for breakfast on Saturday
-We will be doing the museum thing on Saturday so need a nice sit down lunch place near-by.
-Saturday night for dinner we want to try a restaurant that is unique to DC. Price is no object, but would like to find the perfect combination of great food and atmosphere. To give you an idea we love to eat at L'Espalier and O-Ya in Boston when we are looking for something more on the high end side of things.
-On Saturday evening would like to go to a nice Bar where the bartenders take their cocktail making seriously.
-Afterwards we are also huge Jazz fans, so any recommendations on a great live Jazz club would also be appreciated.
-Sunday: A great Sunday brunch, who serves the best brunch in DC?
-Sunday lunch: Looking for a rec on a great North African or Middle Eastern restaurant.

Thank you so much hounds in advance!!!

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  1. Well, without doing a search...
    1. Firehook
    2. Depends on what you mean by "museum thing" as there are a few, and if you want to see the native american museum, there's a great cafe there. At regular Smithsonians, there's not much to eat nearby. If you go up towards the Capitol, Le Bon Cafe next to the Library of Congress is good.
    3. Jaleo/Oyamel/Cafe Atlantico. Or, Obelisk. Or Central (probably can't get a reservation, but you never know.)
    4. I heart the cocktails at PS7. Others will know more about bars.
    5. This isn't the place for music recommendations, but HR-57 on 14th St has live jazz.
    6. Bisto Bis. Maybe Georgia Browns. Tabbard Inn is my favorite.
    7. Lebanese Taverna, Mama Ayeshas within the city limits would fit the bill.

    1. If you have a car, I'd recommend you drive to Alexandria (8 miles from DC) to have cocktails at the PX and dinner at Restaurant Eve, both owned by Chef Cathal Armstrong and his wife, Meshel.
      Todd Thrasher is one of the area's best mixologists and makes amazingly unique cocktails. The PX is a speakeasy type place where you get dressed for the occasion.
      A couple blocks away is Restaurant Eve with it's tasting room and bistro. Eve also has a very nice bar and lounge with equally elegant cocktails.

      For Sunday, you could visit the Dupont Farmers market. I always suggest grabbing a nice cup of coffee from Starbucks on Dupont Circle, and wandering through the market nibbling on samples. Atwater's and Bonaparte have great breads and pastries!

      1 Reply
      1. re: monavano

        The best cocktails in the area are at PX and Eve - every one I've tried is excellent and you definitely can't go wrong at either. If you want a phenomenal meal as well then I would highly recommend dinner at Eve. If you want to stay in D.C., PS7 is a good choice - try their gin cocktail with lavender and lime.

      2. If price is no object ... and you are willing to make it the event for the evening ... rent a car and go to Inn at Little Washington. It's unique to the area and AMAZING. Ethereal experience guaranteed IMHO.

        1. Don't know where you are staying, but you could go to the Eastern Market for baked goods.

          Central is really nice and near the Museums. Also TenPenh and 701 (sometimes 701 has jazz, but I doubt it has it during lunch). Zola is near the Portrait Gallery and Spy Museum. Also the Source in the Newseum is open, but I don't know about lunch.

          Saturday night I would go to Marcel's, Citronelle or I majorly Second Restaurant Eve and PX. The cocktails might be even better than the food. Although I don't think there is any jazz nearby. If you went to one of the others you could then taxi over the the 14th St area for jazz.

          For Sunday brunch I really like Bistro Bis, too. It is filling enough you might not want lunch. Also Poste is really good and a little lighter. If you happen to be in Northern Virginia instead of DC which I doubt Tallula has incredible brunch, I just went again on Easter Sunday and it seems no matter what I get it is amazing. If you were in VA for brunch, they also have some great middle Eastern lebanese butcher, lebanese taverna, lebanese market taverna, me janna, the pita house. In DC I like Zaytinya (although they have a lebanese taverna too, but I have never been).

          1. 1) Friday Night Late -- I've heard great things about Cork (but have not been myself)
            2) Bakery -- Can't help, but if you don't minda real 'joint' kind of place and more of a greasy spoon if you can't find a bakery option you like, then try Florida Avenue Grill. <urp>
            3) I'll echo the suggestions of Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico and Central (never been to the latter but heard great things. If you go to CA, get the guacamole. Another option would be Teaism (bento boxes, great tea and salty oat cookies).
            4) Saturday Night dinner. I cannot recommend more highly both Palena in Cleveland Park (easy metro hop) and Komi near Dupont (another easy Metro hop). I give Palena the edge, but both are fantastic.
            5) Sorry can't help.
            6) Sorry can't help (I'm a wino guy not a cocktail guy)
            7) Can't help much, but Georgia Browns has a decent brunch.
            8) I'll second Lebanese Taverna...


            1. Thank you everyone for the great recommendations.

              So far this is how our itinerary looks.

              Friday Night: Cork (quick question is that Cork Public House or Wine Bar?)
              Saturday Breakfast: Going to scrap the bakery option and give Florida Ave Grill a try
              Saturday Lunch: Central
              Saturday Dinner: Restaurant Eve (Would you recommend us renting a car for that trip, or would a cab ride be okay?)
              Cocktails: PX
              Saturday Jazz: Will search for a place in the 14th Street area
              Sunday Brunch: Bistro Bis
              Sunday afternoon: Going to pass on the Middle Eastern this trip (we will be back soon I'm sure) and take monavano's recommendation of walking around Dupont Farmers Market.

              Keep em coming, but I think we are pretty much set.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Matt H

                As for getting to Restaurant Eve - I wouldn't bother with renting a car. You can take a short walk from your hotel to the FARRAGUT WEST stop on the Blue line metro to exit at KING STREET. This ride will take about 15-20 minutes. Once you arrive at King Street it is a pleasant stroll through Old Town Alexandria to Eve and PX. There are lots of shops and restaurants along with way, if you want to go early to shop, window shop or just stroll. If you are concerned about using the metro for your return trip (though you should not be - it'll be safe), you can cab home, or take the yellow line (also goes to/from King Street) to L'Enfant Plaza, where it is easy to grab a cab and the cost will be much less than cabbing from Alexandria.

                1. re: Matt H

                  Cork is the wine bar on 14th St NW. I'm not sure how late you are getting in, but this wine bar is right near HR 57, so it would make sense to go the same night you are going to Cork. It has show at 9:30 and 1 am, so you can go pretty late. Its also BYOB so its a cheap option.

                  Central is not open for lunch on Saturdays, so you should find a different option.

                  Don't rent a car to go to Restaurant Eve, just take a cab or the subway (there isn't really good parking around there anyways). Plus -- check into the whole getting into PX. I think a reservation at Eve gets you in, but you may want to confirm. Dinner at Eve, plus cocktails at PX seems like an entire evening in itself (see above comment about doing jazz on 14th St same night as Cork)

                  The Farmers Market is only open until 1 pm, so going to Brunch and then to the Dupont market may not work timing wise. Eastern Market is open later. I'd personally switch to Belga Cafe near Eastern Market then walk right over. That is a much more efficient trip. There have been quite a few subway repairs recently, so with waits, going from Bistro Bis to Dupont Circle could be a hike.

                  1. re: Matt H

                    I love Florida Grill, but I might suggest that instead you go to Market Lunch for breakfast on Saturday, which also gives you the food market and flea market experience (and I think it's a better breakfast) -- and is also convenient to the Mall, a nice walk to the Capitol from there. As DCLindsey points out, you are unlikely to be able to manage both Bistro Bis and the DuPont Farmers Market on Sunday, so the suggestion of walking over to Eastern Market, instead, after Bistro Bis is a good one, also (a healthy walk, though!).

                    I agree with other suggestions that you make an afternoon out of Old Town Alexandria before Eve (which does have a parking lot right across the street, fyi), especially if the weather is nice. (I actually had a bad experience at Eve, but I seem to be in a definite minority -- and the cocktails were fantastic.)

                    BTW, on the jazz question, there's also Blues Alley in Georgetown. I haven't been to HR-57, but it sounds great and you'd probably have fun checking out the 14th St neighborhood. Check DC's City Paper online for music ideas, since on CH we shouldn't really get into that, I guess.

                    Oh and, one more thought -- since it sounds like Central won't work for lunch Saturday, consider Mitsitam at the Nat'l Museum of the American Indian, since you'll be doing the "museum thing" that day. If that doesn't suit you, search the board for other ideas in Penn Quarter or Capitol Hill.

                    1. re: Matt H

                      Definitely metro to Alexandria, you might consider a taxi to the restaurant it is a long walk at least for me, but I also tend to get dressed up when going out.

                      Do go to Bistro Bis, you can go to the Eastern Market after if you like, it isn't too far, but if you wanted you could get a cab too. Dupont isn't a bad metro from Union Station either so you could do it if you did it either earlier or later in my opinion, as it seems you want an early brunch.

                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        Yes, that's true, if you have an early reservation at Bistro Bis, you could get to DuPont in time for the Farmers Market, and you have to get back that way, anyway, to check out of your hotel, which is not too far south of DuPont. But... there have been really long delays on the red line, so you should probably check on that, if you'll have any tight timing on Sunday.

                        So, my suggestion would still be Eastern Market for breakfast on Saturday before the museums on the Mall. You can take the orange/blue line from Farragut West (near your hotel) there, and then work your way back west along the Mall, until it's time to get ready for going out to Alexandria.

                        Sounds like you'll have a great weekend!

                      2. re: Matt H

                        Since central is not open for sat. lunch, try Anthony Bordain's Les Halles on PA Ave.

                      3. I'm so happy that you've decided to try Eve. Chef Armstrong is amazing and the Tasting Room is truly a destination (if you can get a ressy at this point).
                        Regarding the metro, I agree that it's far cheaper, but being very familiar with Old Town, I can tell you that in heels, I would not want to walk the many blocks to Eve, which is on Pitt St. ESPECIALLY after several hours of dining.
                        Here's what you can do- the DASH bus runs up and down King St (you will be getting off at the King St. Metro stop). which is the main drag of Old Town (and I truly, truly recommend that you make an afternoon of it and enjoy the beauty of Old Town). Take it. It is free on Fri-Sun during the warm weather tourist season. I'm not sure if that's right now, so check out the website. At any rate-it's cheap if you have to pay. I do believe that it runs up until midnight.
                        Here's an idea that will blow your mind- do lunch at EVE and take the Potomac Riverboat Company's Monument Sightseeing Water Taxi from Georgetown to Old Town Alexandria's waterfront port. You will see the monuments, and the Cherry Blossoms in a magical way. Tour the Torpedo Factory, and walk up King St. to shop and dine. Pitt. St. is only several blocks away! After dinner, use your round trip ticket to go up the Potomac back to Georgetown.
                        You can use public transit to get to Georgetown, or the cab will be far cheaper than if your took one to Virginia. Check out the PRBC website for public trans info and schedules.
                        End the day with dinner in Georgetown! Begin the day with breakfast at Market Lunch! A dream itinerary.
                        Have fun!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: monavano

                          This sounds great, a possible alternative to going to the museums (especially since we have been to DC before)

                          The only thing is that I don't think I can pass up the 5 Course prix-fixe tasting menu, offered at dinner......decisions, decisions!

                        2. Wow! You guys have been great!

                          This is starting to get complicated in a GOOD way! I love having so many great options.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Matt H

                            For jazz would highly recommend Bohemian Caverns at 11th and U Street (near a metro stop, or a cab ride from from Rest. Eve). And the U Street Corridor is well worth the visit as a tourist, or local. They have an early and late show on Saturday nights. Don't know the group that's performing this weekend, but you probably can't go wrong. Half the price of Blues Alley, and an awesome venue. It's literally an underground cavern and a very intimate setting with great acoustics (couldn't seat more than 100 people).

                            Here's a link to a NY Times write up on U Street:

                            Enjoy your stay!

                            1. re: Matt H

                              The Mitsitam Cafe in the American Indian museum is really good; wonderful food from all of the Americas. The baked maple apple makes your eyes roll back in your head!
                              If you can fit it in, I would recommend Obelisk which is a wonderful northern italian gem at 2121 P street in dupont circle that serves a 5 course prix fixe menu with a few choices per course (the cheese is to die for) and a reasonably priced italian wine list. Service really good & warm & friendly. It's very small; like being at a dinner party (but you have your own table). It's 65 pp and it's easier to get a table during the week naturally. Dress is business casual-dressy, whatever you want.
                              I would also suggest if you are in the dupont circle area to go to Veritas wine bar; it's really small but they have wonderful wine (half and full pours plus flights) which is temperature controlled (halleluja) and great cheese & charcuterie (but no other food). Just a good happy hour stop.