Alexandria (?) ++
Will be in town for three nights, arriving Wednesday ~ 7:30 at the Crystal City Hyatt (sigh....., it's a business trip). Looking for recommendations for all three nights, but assume Wednesday would be somewhere in Alexandria because it's close and we'll be late. We're on three waiting lists at Mini-bar, but that doesn't seem promising so far. Other suggestions? Price isn't a problem, but memorable meals don't always have to be over the top, either..
Just wanted to thank folks for the advice. Our first night we could walk to Jaleo, which we wouldn't have known about without our Chowhound friends. It was quite good. Second night met some friends in Georgetown at Bistro Lepic (just average bistro food), but then ended up at Kinkead's for a wonderful dinner the last night (after some good sushi appetizers at Lotus Lounge first).. Thanks again!
Not sure if you ever watched the Next Iron Chef, but Chef Morou has a restaurant in Old Town called Farrah Olivia. Very different techniques used. My boyfriend and I had the Painted Soup (amazing) and the salmon (melted in my mouth). Everythig was divine. It's not cheap so perhaps you save it for a special night.
In crystal city, Jaleo's is def good for tapas (not extraordinary but decent ). I used to work there and we'd go there for happy hour. Also Bin 1700 is a nice loungy spot (not sure about the food).
KT is right about Hook- if you are in the mood for seafood, please give it a shot.
If you REALLY want to taste authentic food in the area, head over to Rosslyn (about a 7 min drive from you) for a $6 bowl of pho at Pho 75. We have that at least once a week.
In Alexandria, also some other suggestions are Majestic which has comfort food, Vermillion or if you want more low brow The Pita House for Middle Eastern. Hank's Oyster Bar is kind of in between casual, but good.
In Crystal City is Jaleo by Jose Andres who is one of our top chefs, reviews on here are always back and forth, but I like it for interesting tapas.
If you can't get into Mini-bar try to get into Komi (although they are about as difficult) or CityZen (if you have an above-standard American Express Card they can often get you in here, I shouldn't tell people that). Citronelle is tough to get a reservation at too, it is normally booked well in advance.
Also Hook is a really good choice for seafood in Georgetown and is ofter easier to get reservations too, than some other of the restaurants in its range like Central and Brasserie Beck and etc.
My 3 resources are Zagats, Washingtonian, and Washington Post (the latter two are free). On these forums, you never know who's giving you advice and whether they have a good palate. In Alexandria, Restaurant Eve is highly ranked. In G'town, you have Citronelle. You can go over the top if you want with their tasting menu but you don't have to.