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Apr 11, 2008 11:39 AM

DC: Penn Quarter, June 14-16

For our annual post-beach sojourn to the nation's capital, we (my wife, 14-year-old son, and I) are staying for a couple of days in June at the Marriott Metro Center. We'll be going to the International Spy Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, among other things.

So what's good to eat in the Penn Quarter area? Remember, we'll be dressed as tourists, so nothing upscale. I guess we need "eats" not "dining."

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  1. A few suggestions for non-upscale but tasty places in the neighborhood:
    - Matchbox: good pizza and burgers and brunch
    - Potbelly's: hot sandwich chain - kind of fast food-esque, but ingredients are fresh and it's a great place to grab a quick bite
    - Capital Q: barbeque
    - Five Guys: totally greasy burgers and fries!
    - Jaleo: Spanish tapas
    - Vapiano (the Chinatown location will probably be open in June): upscale fast self-serve Italian with fresh ingredients

    3 Replies
    1. re: hollygolightly

      I've heard a lot about Five Guys. Is there one near our hotel or the museums we're frequenting?

      1. re: jmckee

        There's one in the National Press Club Building food court, on F between 13th and 14th.

        Another good lunch spot that is very close to both of those museums is Teaism, on 8th just south of E.

        1. re: jmckee

          There's a 5 guys at 808 H street, 3 blocks west of your hotel. It has better hours thanthe one @ the National Shops.

      2. Ella's is also good.

        I like Gordon Biersch (it's a chain oh no!) and Chinatown Express.

        The above poster had lots of good suggestions though!

        1. 2 Easy suggestions near the Spy Museum: Matchbox ( which is fun and has casual food (great mini-burgers and pizzas). Also Clyde's (, which makes for a nice dinner but you can still get away with fairly casual dress. There's several other good options in that area (Zaytinya & Jaleo, among others) that you might want to make a quick change for but are worth it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: zooly1

            I second (or third) matchbox. I think it is exactly the type of place you are looking for.

          2. If you visit the recently opened Newseum, they're supposed to have a very good cafeteria. Prices are very reasonable considering the real estate, but the $20 admission may be a deal killer.


            1. Here's where we ended up:

              We ate dinner Saturday evening at Chinatown Express ( in (where else?) Chinatown. Outstanding noodles and dumplings, hot and sour soup, egg drop soup, and good company; we were seated at a large table with a couple that lives in DC. I highly recommend this place. Actually, I now fantasize about going to Chinatown and eating my way up one side of the street and down the other.

              Dinner Sunday (Father's Day) was at Ella's ( This wood-fired pizza place isn't cheap, but it sure is good. I had the pizza melanzane with red and yellow peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, red onion, and goat cheese. It was sensational.