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Jun 10, 2008 01:36 PM

Crystal City Recs?

San Diego chowhounder going to be in DC in July for a few days. My GF and I will be staying in Crystal City near the Pentagon and am looking for some recommendations. Our criteria are:

1. Looking for local places unique to the DC area, I did some searching and it seems like in the Crystal City area there isn't much except chains.

2. Small casual dining options are preferred for lunch or dinner (sit-down or not is ok). Not looking for fine dining.

3. Is there any good asian food nearby? We'll be doing the usual touristy stuff in Washington DC so anything in the vicinity would be ok.

We will have a car so if we have to drive that is fine, but would like to keep it to places that are less than 30 mins or so away.


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  1. Eden Center (Vietnamese shopping center) is about 7 miles from Crystal City. There are a few other good Vietnamese restaurants in North Arlington.

    The non-chain restaurants around Crystal City tend to be clustered around 23rd Street.

    I like Bebo, but there are many who have bad experiences there.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Lori D

      Thanks for the tips :). Any other good asian cuisine besides Vietnamese in the area? Not that I have anything against it but Vietnamese food is pretty well represented in SD so it'd be nice to find some good Chinese, Japanese, or Thai food.

      Any specific restaurants on 23rd street worth going to? I read about Bebo on here, perhaps we'll give it a try.

      1. re: mliew

        The good Japanese restaurants in the DC area are few and far between. I have a feeling that you would be disappointed.

        The best Chinese in the area is in Rockville, not convenient at all. Hong Kong Palace (near Eden Center) has been recommended for Sichuan food. I've only tried it once and wasn't wowed, but I got carryout, and I understand that this is not the way to go there.

        There are a few good Thai restaurants on Columbia Pike in South Arlington, not far from Crystal City. The best is probably Thai Square.

        And, on another note, if you like Korean food, you're not too far from Annandale, which has many Korean restaurants. However, the traffic on 395, which is the most direct way to get there, can be pretty bad in the evening. You might be pushing that 30 minute barrier.

        You might want to try Cafe Pizzaiolo on 23rd Street for pizza.

      2. re: Lori D

        I used to work in CC too. Get out of the mall and highrises and go to the other side of Jefferson Davis Hwy. 23rd Street is your friend, with local restaurants all up and down, including the Crystal City Sports Pub mentioned here, and around the corner is Kabob Palace. There is plenty to eat and drink on 23rd St.

        And you're only about 3-4 miles from Old Town Alexandria, which opens up a whole world of dining. On the highest level is Restaurant Eve, but I happen to like Majestic (owned by the same chef) -- it's a local institution.

        1. re: BigEats

          Lived in Crystal City until a couple of weeks ago. "All up and down" is a bit of an exaggeration. It's a block. You have a couple of Italian and Ethiopian places, a sushi place, Hare and Tortoise, Sports Pub, Subway, a Tex Mex place, Cafe Pizzaiolo, and that's about it. None of those are particularly fascinating.

      3. You might care to try Jaleo, the tapas bar by Jose Andres, as that is unique to DC. Also keep in mind that being in Crystal City you are easily a short Metro ride from downtown DC. Crystal is on both the Blue and Yellow lines so you are easily downtown in a few short stops.

        1. I used to work in Crystal City so I'll throw in my two cents.

          Jaleo's is a great option for tapas. (The owner was on Top Chef a few weeks ago)
          I am not a fan of Bebo (bad experiences there with service).
          The Crystal City Sports Pub is right down the street- NOT for food, but for drinks. Go on the very top floor- all brand new. One of my favorite pubs. Lots of locals there.
          For Thai- go to Thai Square or Bangkok 54 on Columbia Pike (I'd say about 15-20 minute drive). Very authentic and not fancy. Bangkok is a bit more trendy.
          In Dupont- Hank's Oyester Bar. I have not been but it is a local chain (other one is in Old Town) that all my friends seem to rave about.

          Oh and I almost forgot- Kabab Palace in Crystal City is a great find! And open late from what I remember. Advice- don't get the buffet- order fresh. VERY casual. I highly recommend it- my family is from Pakistan (and very picky when it comes to Kabobs) and we frequent it often. Again- NOT fancy at all, in fact its where all the cab drivers go to.

          Have fun and report back!

          1. I love Carlyle Grand in Shirlington, which is about a ten-minute drive from Crystal City. Carlyle is owned by a group that owns several restaurants in the DC area, but it definitely doesn't have that "chain" feel. The food is always fantastic. They don't do reservations, but you can call ahead to be placed on the waiting list. Ask to sit upstairs; it gets pretty noisy downstairs in the bar area.

            Carlyle Grand Cafe
            4000 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206

            1. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Jaleo sounds interesting especially since I've only had tapas once before. I will also check out 23rd street and the Kebab shop. I'll try to post a trip report when I get back!