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A year of DC Eating - A to Z

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Today marks 1 year for me in DC, having lived in Texas (Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio) and Brooklyn (Flatbush baby).

This should be comprehensive. I miss BBQ, Tex Mex, Mex Mex, Good Steak for Cheap, Cajun, and Soul Food. But DC has great food.

The List.

Alberto's Pizza - great chicago style pizza. Love the fact they deliver.

Au Bon Pain - Office go to

Austin Grill - Wants to be Magnolia/Kerbey. That raises my hackles. I don't think they captured the quirks of ATX cuisine.

Baffeto - college level pizza.

The Banh Mi spot across from a pep boys in MD - Loved it, just don't know the name

Belga - 1st time, I went, didn't get seated. Second time was good. Truffle Oil on my beef, didn't notice it.

Ben's Chili Bowl - The first time I was in DC, my GF (now ex, yes i'm single ladies), took me here. Chili by itself? Terrible! But chili atop a half smoke with mustard and onion - SUBLIME.

Brasserie Beck - Steak and Frites - frites great, steak ehh. The bread pudding? to die for.

Breadline - I love that place. I actually ran into the owner one day, and before I knew it was him, i told him was my fave lunch in Dc.

Bubba's in Falls Church - Here, bbq means Pork. Quite a transition. I like small spots, and this was decent. The on-tap root beer is a plus even though it wasn't to my taste.

Butterfield 9 - It was good, but I'm not rushing back. I'm not really into the subtle flavors...

CA Tortilla - I'm not mad at them. Chipotle, Baja Fresh, (Freebirds) - everyone needs a mega burrito in their lives.

Cafe Atlantico - great for restaurant week, need to go back

Cafe Bardem - Etouffe means blonde roux, not tomato sauce.

Cafe Deli - on F street - Only Pho in downtown. got me through a few winter days.

Cafe Mozart - my first foray into German food. Pretty good genre.

Cakelove - No comment.

Capital Q - They really want to be Rudy's, but their sauce game is not that good. Still best Brisket i've had here.

Caribbean something or other - Over by Catholic U. Decent. Take out, like it should be.

Ceiba - Loved it. One of the better meals i've had in DC.

CF Folks - good lunch spot

Chef Geoff - Not remarkable to me.

Chix - If Haile Selassie, Jesus, Allah, and Buddah stopped by for dinner, I'd serve them a whole Colombian.

Ciro's? - there's another NY/NJ pizza joint off of 66, close to a mall, in the same shopping center with a bloom, best buy, and your version of Sam's. Good pizza.

Clyde's - No comment.

Con-e-island - It's ice cream, can you be mad @ ice cream?

Coppi's - as good as Pizza Paradiso imo.

Corduroy - good as well, can't wait for it to come back.

Cosi - I've been thrice. It's across the street from me, so I never go.

Delle and Campbell food cart - Miss those guys. Good sausage and chicken.

Devon and Blakely - lunch go to.

The Diner - another good late night spot

Dukem - Took a date, the locals taught us both that lentils were African Viagra. The date wasn't that good.

Eat First/Full Kee - no comparison to Fung's Kitchen or Tan Tan in Houston, but not bad.

Firefly - Best food that none of my friends showed up to eat. As I sat alone, I rather enjoyed my oysters.

Firehook - good brownies and cookies

Five Guys - A Texan would love this burger. I will buy stock in their IPO if that ever happens.

Fogo De Chao - Worked in Dallas, nuff said.

FuddRuckers - proof that chain/franchises don't deliver the same thing eveywhere.

Gelato Place in Reagan - Nice to have it close to work

Giffords - GREAT SERVICE. Maggie Moos could learn a lot. and I like the changing monthly flavors.

Haad Thai - close to work, not bad.

Hank's Oyster Bar - wow, great oysters. I mean, you'd expect them to be, but wow.

High Noon - good chicken nooodle

The Islander - Roti was good, so was the service. And as much as I love music, i'd rather be outside.

Jaleo - I need to go with a Tapas master, cause I must pick the wrong things every time.

Korean Place - in VA, really close to a target. cook the food yourself - GREAT!.

Kramer's - one of the best late night spots i've been to.

Krispee Kreme @ Dupont - Glazed on site....great....

La Tasca - a poor man's Jaleo?

Lalibela - My local and favorite Ethiopian spot. I've had pretty much every non-vegetarian option on that menu. I'm sure there's better, but I like this spot a lot.

Lauriol Plaza - I'm not mad at this place. It's fun, not particularly great food, but it's good enough.

Lebanese Taverna - good stuff. Went 2 days ago. Great mezes. And my lamb was good.

Legal Seafoods - It's no Pappadeaux.

Les Halles - it didn't occur to me that this was the Bourdain Les Halles - Steak and Frites great, better than Brasserie

Lindy's - lots of burgers. The lady is nicer than the guy. The burgers are good. And if you ask nice, you can get them to put the chili in a bowl with some Fritos.

Loeb's - It' s no Katz's (in Houston, in Austin, or the original on Houston in NYC), but I like the spot. I especially like the surly owner.

M'Dawg - i wanted it to be good, but i've been mildly miffed 3 times.

Maggie Moos - It's not Amy's. Hell it's no Marble Slab. I'll take Baskin or god-awful Coldstone over this place.

Malaysia Kopitiam - Good stuff.

Mango Mikes - haha. Umm, no.

Matchbox - fun!

Meskerem - I prefer Lalibella, but this place isn't terrible by any means.

Minerva - good buffet, but i hope there's more to it.

Moby Dick - fast food Mediterranean? who'd thunk it.

Mrs K's - wow, now that's what I call brunch.

Nirvana - good for Veggies! me not veggie.

Oceannaire - My waiter put a bib on my girlfriend without asking her. I could see how this place could be good, but it has expense account written all over it.

Old Siam - generic thai? Is there such a thing?

Oya - Scene? Restaurant? Wearing a suit, I felt really conservative. Food was okay...

Penang - I had something with Taro - interesting.

Pho75/88 - I'm from Houston and most of my HS friends were Vietnamese...but my palate is unrefined. I liked it.

Pizza Paradiso - Napolitan style? High End? I like it for what it is.

The Prime Rib - Jump started my weight training regimen. Oh, the humanity. Good stuff.

Rasika - high end indian? That's the theme, but I didn't really see it in the menu.

Soho - king of the weigh your food and pay for it places, imo - they have friend plantains and mango every day. can't deal with much else there though.

Sweet Mangoes - :-| <- Unthrilled. I'm only snobby about Jamaican food, and this is the best i've had in town, but i make better @ home. Grrr.

Thai-Tanic - Might be generic, but me likey.

Trader Joe's on 25th - The line that wrapped around the store intimidated me.

Tropicana - See Sweet Mangoes. Sorrel shouldn't be 5 bucks.

Tryst - I like the place, the couches are great. i wonder how many tables they turn an hour.

Valentino's Pizza in Alexandria? - Ny look, but it's thick pizza.

Vinh Kee - Falls Church - Chinese Seafood? I liked it a lot. Would drive out there for it.

Wasabi - I like the conveyor belt, reminds me of Japan. The Sushi...i'm no expert, but I don't think it's the very best in town. The game of trying to grab it before other people is what makes it fun.

Washington Deli - not bad pizza, ny-style, sauce kinda sweet.

Wegman's - best grocery store in DMV

Whole Foods on P Street - I lived in Austin for 13 years. The flagship Whole Foods is the most opulent grocery store i've ever been in.

Zaytinya - Fun, more fun that great food though. I liked it. Much like Oya above.

I may have missed a few restaurants, but i've been pretty pleased with DC cuisine.

I want to thank chowhound for all the info and reviews.

Happy eating,
WIA

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  1. I can't help but notice some things missing that might fill in a few categories:

    Good Steak Relatively Cheap: Ray's the Steaks

    Soul Food: Creme, Oohs and Aahs, and if you want low country Southern Southside 815

    We have cajun places too, but I haven't been to them, but maybe other people can comment on that, don't get the cajun at Southside 815, really their low country is the only way to go.

    Also you may check out the online menu at Old Hickory Grill could be your type of place.

    I assume you want TX BBQ I am no help on that... if you wanted other BBQ I might be able to give you some recs though, although there are huge threads on that, and one of my faves closed last year.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      That would be one I missed. I went there before x-mas.
      Reading the menu, I was very amused at the, "the reason our steaks are so cheap". Haha.

      Great steak though.

      1. re: WestIndianArchie

        I also meant to tel you for Mex-Mex you might try Gaujillo by rays, I had not really a mex-mex thing there lamb tacos and a chorizo chimichanga both were good.

    2. Very entertaining mini-reviews! I'm generally in agreement with all of 'em for the ones I've tried. Except I want to add that I also miss Italian food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sacrilicious

        i'm sure it might not compare to some of the places in NY but have you tried Anna Maria's in dupont? i assume you are talking good old fashioned red sauce italian?
        if you are talking high brow italian Obelisk and Tosca are great.

      2. WIA -

        I'm originally from TX as well (grew up in Austin, went to school in San Antonio, got married and lived in Houston), and I just wanted to compare/contrast with some of your listings:

        Austin Grill: No, it's not as good as what you can get in TX (have you ever been to Los Cucos in Houston?); but I haven't been able to find better Tex Mex in this area. The table salsa is good and spicy, the barbacoa is to die for, and the portions are HUGE. They're just missing a couple of things: a good green salsa, and borracho beans.

        Capital Q: Again, not as good as TX (you're right on Rudy's; also refer to Goode Co. in Houston and Salt Lick in Austin); but best you can get here. The sauce isn't half bad - especially the hot version.

        Five Guys: good, messy burger and GREAT value. Someone needs to bring Beck's Prime up here though. I think it would work well in downtown DC, Bethesda, and Tyson's.

        Giffords: I just had a pint of that tonight from the grocery store, and I had no idea they had a shop. Where is it?

        Les Halles: refer to the posts here - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50578...

        Here are some of my recs:

        Piola (on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington): awesome brick oven pizza. They have like 30 or 40 some odd different pizzas, and some look weird, but trust me - they're good. Go on Sunday evening after 5:30 for their No Limit - you can try slices of different kinds.

        Eammon's (on King St. in Alexandria): really good (and authentic) fish and chips. Get it to go, unless you like sharing a table (there's only two tables and some stools to sit at).

        China Garden (in Rosslyn): OK, I haven't been here - yet. I've been meaning to go because I hear it has some really good dim sum. I've been missing the Sunday dim sum at The Golden Palace on Bellaire in Houston, so I need to try this place out.

        Carlyle Cafe (on 28th St. S. in Shirlington): great crab cakes, great bread, favorite place to brunch.

        Rio Grande Cafe (on Fairfax in Ballston): second best place to get Tex Mex in this area.

        Thing is about DC is that there's no real "cuisine" - it's kind of a mish mash of cuisines from everywhere because of all the transplants from all over the country. You might be able to find a Tex Mex place or a BBQ place (or even a Cajun place), but it's not going to be nearly as good as in Texas.

        Best,
        Kari

        2 Replies
        1. re: javachik

          Thanks JavaChik.

          I'll check some of those out.

          1. re: javachik

            Carlyle's crab cakes do use filler in them, so if you enjoy the Great American Restaurants local chain you should go to Coastal Flats (in Tysons Corner and Fairfax) where they make the crab cakes with all jump lump meat.

          2. That is a pretty impressive list all done in just a year. But I can't believe you haven't made it to Palena (or Komi) yet. You're missing out dude.

            www.roguefood.com

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pool Boy

              it's on the list. Central, Citronelle, Mini-Bar, Hook, Grillfish, Komi, K, Vidalia, BLT, Source... Thanks to chowhound, i'm never w/o a place to try

            2. Any suggestions near Union Station? I visit on business near there and haven't found anything too interesting within short walking distance. B. Smiths and the Dubliner about the best options so far.
              I'm here for the next couple of nights and would like to try something new.

              3 Replies
              1. re: dhausle

                Bistro Bis is good, there is a Taqueria right near there by Johnny's on the Half Shell (never been it might be wortch checking out on here if you do a search) that is good.

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  I 2nd Bistro Bis. It's the best restaurant in that area in my opnion. If you are dining alone, you can always sit at the bar. The bartenders have always been very friendly to me there. When I go for brunch, I usually sit at the bar and they let me hang out, drink coffee, and read the paper.

                  Also if you are on a expense account, you can always check out Charlie Palmer's Steak House.

                  If you are willing to walk over to the House side of the Capitol (Capitol South/Eastern Market area) you can go to Sonoma or Old Siam for decent Thai. I hear Locanda and Montamarte are good.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    I'll second Charlie Palmer's --- Excellent steak. A good wine list and they let you BYOW domestic wine (2 bottle limit) for free! What's not to love? And the ribeye is freaking amazing.

                    www.roguefood.com

              2. Wegman's -- can't compare to Central Market in Austin, or the flagship Whole Foods.

                I read your entire list, hoping you knew a good Tex-Mex place. Oh well.

                But hey, you have to try Rocklands BBQ in Rockville or Arlington. Willard's near Dulles is good too. Now, it's not home but it's WAY better than Bubba's.

                Cajun: Louisiana Express in Bethesda or French Quarter Cafe in Germantown.

                Soul Food: Flavors in Falls Church (or is that Annandale)?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Transplanted Texan

                  Louisiana Express in Bethesda in closed

                  the best tex mex ur gonna find is rio grande (uncle julios) imo

                2. Does "no comment" come from the saying "If you have nothing nice to say..." or was it somewhere in between blah and good?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chelledc

                    I couldn't add anything useful to the conversation for the 2 that got the "no comment".

                  2. It turns out there's more than one Target in VA -- what Korean Place are you referring to?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: aburkavage

                      Haha, I wish i could tell you. I think it's off VA-7, but I'm not sure because I wasn't driving. Always a mistake :-|

                      1. re: aburkavage

                        Han Sung Oak Restaurant