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LA Hound seeks recs for DC area

Hi all, I'm an LA hound who will be in D.C. with my g/f early June, trying to get a head start on trip planning. Will be in town for two and a half days - Monday afternoon 'til Wed. evening. Looking for meal / restaurant recs for our stay. Am planning on staying near DuPont Circle. Not sure if I will have a car or not (would appreciate recommendations in this regard). Depending on how accessible things are with / without a car, am certainly willing to venture out to Baltimore, Virginia etc. I'd like to do at least one very nice dinner - someplace trendy and romantic, probably Monday night - not worried about $ for that meal, and the rest of the meals more moderate (around $20pp before drinks). Would also like to focus on things that can't be found in LA, or are much better in the D.C. area than what we have in LA. Would appreciate any recs.

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  1. For romantic and delicious but not trendy, I'd try to get a reservation at Komi (walking distance from where you'll be staying). Not open on Mondays, however, which is true of a lot of the best spots.

    For DC-centric, I might try an Ethiopian place (e.g., Queen Makeda), or Colorado Kitchen, or (if you'll be in Georgetown), Hook or the Tackle Box. There probably isn't anything like Zaytinya in L.A., and if my latest meal there is any indication, I think it's emerging from a period of the doldrums. Lunch at the counter at cf folks.

    Most of the other best DC strengths, e.g., Vietnamese, Korean, are way out in the 'burbs.

    I'd also shoot for dinner at the bar at Palena on Monday or Tuesday.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MartyL

      Oh, and how could I forget?! 2 Amys.

      1. re: MartyL

        Go to 2 Amys for lunch then to the National Cathedral. The wait is much more reasonable. If its a nice day, stroll your way down to Georgetown and stop at Thomas Sweet for ice cream.

    2. No car needed if staying in Dupont Circle. Cabs for 3 days will be cheaper than parking. For very nice dinner go to Citronelle or CityZen. For more moderate meals - DC has worldclass Spanish food - try Jaleo, Oyamel or Zengo.

      1 Reply
      1. re: keithdcil

        Let me clarify... DC has world class chef and spanish media star Jose Andres, who has his hand in a few places in DC including: Jaleo, Oyamel, Zengo, Cafe Atlantico, Bebo and Zatinya.

      2. "things that can't be found in LA"

        I can't imagine what that might be.

        car only needed if you are going out to parts of VA or MD - if you're going to squeeze in B'more the MARC train and Amtrak are both quick rides. but that's a short trip you have planned to start with. as Keith points out it's cheaper to Metro/cab and I would add easier and quicker than dealing with parking.

        1. For the very nice meal, get the 10 course tasting menu at Le Paradou.

          1. I live in Baltimore, and go to D.C. periodically for food, museums, etc.

            For that short a trip you shouldn't even consider branching out to Baltimore...you won't even have time to do that much of D.C. And don't even consider having a car. Not knowing the city, you'd never be able to figure out where to park. D.C. has good public transportation (unlike Baltimore).

            The best expensive meal I've ever had in D.C. was at Marcel's, in Foggy Bottom. I've been to Citronelle and was disappointed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hal Laurent

              Marcel's would be an excellent choice for a nice, romantic dinner - and it is open on Mondays too.

              If you are willing to travel to Northern Virginia, Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria is my favorite restaurant. Everything I've ordered there has been delicious and they make the best cocktails in the area. Also, Old Town is a really nice area to walk around before or after dinner too, so I think a trip there one night would be a great idea.

            2. Hi I am in DC now also visiting from LA. i'm originally from DC but didn't do much foodie-dining at the age when I still lived here. I have reservations at the Inn at Little Washington. It's practically the cost of my rent- is it worth it, does anyone know??

              HastaLaPasta, my research indicates that Obelisk which is in Dupont Circle is one of the best in the city and looks trendy and romantic. Highest rated DC restaurant on yelp. Are we allowed to mentioned Yelp on chowhound? I am new here.. ;)

              I was asking the same- What can i get here that i cant get in LA?? It's tricky- both DC and LA are cultural melting pots and have everything, but i think LA has better food, generally. My mom pointed out burmese is big here in DC....2 Amys in on my list because I find pizza generally shitty in LA.

              I concur that you don't need a rental, the metro will take you mostly anywhere, supplemented with cabs you'll be fine. The metro even goes to the burbs like Alexandria and Arlington.

              Five guys burgers is a childhood nostalgia I want to relive.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sarahbeths

                While I don't think Obelisk is our best restaurant due to other rating like Washington Post, on here and other DC centric ratings, it is supposed to be very good. Something DC has that LA doesn't is Southern/Soul Food that you could get at Creme Cafe at 14th and U, although being from LA you might be overwhelmed by the unhealthy goodness of it all. There are other places to get it, but it is probably the best that is easy to get to by metro and is more pleasant to eat at.

                I highly recommend French food as well as mnadel think Le Paradou is a good choice, or Marcel's which is absolutely excellent, as Hal Laurent pointed out.

                And while Kiethdcil is true we do have world class Spanish food, I would argue that it is at Taberna Del Aberdero which is the most authentic outside of Spain ,and that Zengo and Oyamel are Mexican (and DC does not do Mexican worth any visit for a Californian), while Jaleo is Spanish.

                2Amy's it is certainly good in my book, if for some reason you don't want to venture all the way out to NW for pizza you can get good pizza at Pizza Paradisio or Matchbox for the OP.

              2. Although someone has already mentioned Marcel's, the same chef has opened a gem of a Belgian bra called Brasserie Beck. I recommend the potato gratin with pork belly, the liver parfait, and the brussel sprouts. Food here can be very heavy so be careful not to over-order.

                On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to try some Soul Food, my guess is that you don't have a place like Oohs and Aahs in LA, or maybe you do and don't know it. It is right across the street from the Cardozo/U St. Metro stop at tenth street. Only four stools in front of the kitchen. Go for the grilled shrimp, greens, and rice with gravy. Another great order is the lemon pepper wings.

                1. Hi All, thank you all for the recommendations. Its been very helpful. Seeing how I'm only going to have a chance to have two dinners in town, and one of those on Monday, its really too bad that the selection of restaraunts open on Monday is so small. Why is this? Are the local markets closed that day? In any case, more recommendations are absolutely welcome, especially for places open on Monday, and I will be sure to report back with my experiences after the trip. Thanks again.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: HastaLaPasta

                    Well some of our good restaurant close then and DC is a big reservation place most of our best restaurants book up like a month or at least a few weeks in advance it is crazy.

                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      despite all DC's a still a button-down place.

                      changing, yet...

                      I'm always amazed by the delivery and late night options NY and LA enjoy.

                      1. re: hill food

                        I'm sort of surprised to see how many people on here seem to think L.A. doesn't have good soul food. L.A. is the home of the chicken and waffle, folks. They don't just eat sprouts out there...

                        Anyway, I lived in Santa Monica for 3 years, and there's not a ton that we do in DC that you can't find out in L.A. (we certainly do not have Mexican food of that level, or the same consistently high level of sushi places, although we do have a couple very good sushi places), but a few things do shine, the most notable of which is Ethiopian. There is a huge Ethiopian contingent in DC and consequently there are enough Ethiopian restaurants around that provide high quality Ethiopian food. My personal favorite is Dukem on U Street, but Meskerem inn Adama Morgan and Etete on 9th (I think) are also very tasty.

                        The other "local" flavor is Maryland blue crab, so you might want to find someplace with a good crab cake or do an actual crab feast. Unfortunately, the best pick and eat crabs (and peel and eat shrimp) are generally found outside of the city - you'd probably want to go someplace like Jimmy Cantler's in Annapolis and that's kind of a schlep. Excellent crab cakes can be found in DC, however - I particularly like the crab cakes at Kinkead's and Equinox (the crab cakes at Oceanairre are also excellent, but Oceanaire is not exactly a local establishment, so if you want something unique to DC it's not the place to go). Kinkead's focuses on seafood and has sort of become a DC classic restaurant. Equinox is more eclectic (albeit , oddly, with a smaller menu) and also has a local following.

                        If you are looking for a real up-and-comer amongst chefs, your two best bets are Komi and Restaurant Eve. While Komi is closed Mondays, Restaurant Eve is open, but will require a car or cab to get to, as it is located in Old Town Alexandria. Still, if you want a really high end meal that showcases a talented and unique chef, and is unlike any of the high end places I ate at in L.A., the tasting room at Restaurant Eve would get my vote.

                        1. re: Ootek1

                          First go to Oohs and Aahs, then tell me if you've been to a similar place in LA. The proprietress is from Coastal Carolina. The grilled shrimp is tremendous.

                          1. re: Steve

                            Yeah East Coast Soul/Southern food is quite differnt in my opinion than the Soul food available on the West Coast. The use of seafood, sauces, biscuits, grits, crab and etc. Not as much into chicken and waffles together, etc. It is more low country... Soul food just refers to food, made with love over generations which ones soul was put into, not neccesarily the cuisine.

                          2. re: Ootek1

                            I was going to recommend a blue crab feast as well.

                            You can get pretty good crabs at the Quarterdeck in Arlington.

                            1. re: Ootek1

                              One more rec for blue crab feast. True, the best are a bit of a drive but you can get the feel at quarterdeck or Bethesda Crab House, both reasonably close to the metro on a nice day.

                              1. re: Ootek1

                                The crab cakes at Equinox are phenomenal. That being said, I wasn't all that impressed by the rest of the things on the menu we tried. Next time, I'd probably sit at the bar, have a glass of wine, and the crab cake.

                                They used to have delicious crab cakes at the Majestic in Old Town, but I don't see them on the menu anymore. Think they have them at Rest Eve though, and I've heard wonderful things about them.

                                Haven't tried Kinkead's yet. With my crab cake obsession as of late, I'll have to put it on my list.

                        2. While not trendy, Kinkead's (ranked #9 by Washingtonian, excellent seafood) in Foggy Bottom is open on Monday nights. In West End, you'll find Blue Duck Tavern (ranked #12, with open kitchen and great meat dishes) inside Park Hyatt Hotel. Walk a little further to Georgetown, you'll find Citronelle (ranked #1), 1789 (this in near G'town Univ), Mie 'n Yu (food's good but not great, Asian fusion, but very romantic, at least stop in for drinks).


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                            For the record, 2 Amy's sucked, very disappointed!! We atually DO have better pizza in LA than that bland offering.

                            1. re: sarahbeths

                              You realize you are replying to a two year old post right? Let's not dig up a two year old post without a good reason. There are more recent posts about this restaurant.

                          2. Tip to OP: I'm an LA foodie who just moved to DC. There's a good discussion around your same question here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/707161