I will be visiting DC in July with my husband & children & enjoying many of the standard tourist attractions. As people who love food we're wondering if there are any great family friendly lunch/dinner spots nearby those attractions? We are happy to take the metro to Adams Morgan or another neighborhood if the food is worth it. We will be dining with children so we wouldn't be interested in anything too upscale but ethnic (ethiopian) food is fine, a place where we could enjoy some crab or a loud brasserie would suit our needs. Price isn't really an issue. Thanks for your suggestions.
For ethnic cuisine, I would recommend Miss Saigon on M Street in Georgetown. The Vietnamese food is excellent and before or after dinner you can walk up and down M Street and Wisconsin which would be fun and 'touristy'.
There are a couple new trendy brasserie's in the area which I think you could bring children to (primarily since the atmosphere is already somewhat loud). Central and Brasserie Beck fit this description and both have excellent food. If you enjoy beer, definitely go to Beck - they even will do beer pairings with your meal.
Another family friendly place to try would be Matchbox for burgers and pizza near Chinatown.
You might consider an afternoon at the zoo and then walk to either Woodley Park (downhill) or Cleveland Park (uphill but not hugely). Both have metro stations to take you back to your hotel. Woodley Park has a couple good food options: Lebanese taverna, primi piatti (italian), petits plats (french), and a couple indian places. Most have outdoor seating. Cleveland park is a local restaurant treasure...2 irish pubs, lavandou (french), Yanni (greek), indique (indian), dino (italian) and a new tapas place whose name escapes me. Adams morgan also has some good ethnics east, esp ethiopian but there's no metro there. Woodley Park and dupont circle are closest but at least a 15 mn walk each, maybe more w/ kids.
Cabs here just switched to meters (they were zoned) and are probably more budget friendly than they used to be and can be a Godsend when you are tired & hot. If you are on the mall, the Mitsitam cafe in the native amerian museum has wonderful 'food of the americas' that your kids would probably love (southwestern, south american, etc)
You might search threads for kid friendly there are normally a good amount of these threads which have some good tasty options. For the crab: you can get crabcakes at the Eastern Market at Market Lunch which is not a bad walk (but with kids it would be an easy metro or cab to the capital. Hank's Oyster Bar sometimes has crab preperations right now they have softshells I am sure they will switch to something else soon. You might check this recent thread for a crabhouse: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/528102
or also maybe Cantina Marina, I have never been but I think they do crabs.
During the weekday near the White House, breadline is great for sandwiches that are interesting and salads and etc. Gallery Place/Chinatown is a short walk from the mall so you might research that area. Good pizza for lunch at Matchbox (the wait at dinner is out of this world). There is good food in the cafe of the Newseum if you are going there, in addition to Mitsam being good too. But there are lots of good suggestions above and lots in other threads. Also on Thursday if you are near Galleryplace Chinatown the Penn Quarter market has Dolcezza Gelato (they also have a store in Georgetown) it is probably my favorite frozen delight in DC.
My kids and I have really enjoyed the following places, all excellent Chowhound experiences:
Queen Makeda, Ethiopian, not far from the U St/Cardozo Metro stop. Family run restaurant.
Quarterdeck, in Rosslyn, Virginia for picking steamed crabs. Mesquite grilled shrimp is a MUST order.
The Lounge at Citronelle. Expensive, but what a treat! If you go early, you will probably see other families there.
Standard tourist attractions? Then by all means, don't miss the cafeteria at the American Indian Museum, at least for lunch. Extremely kid-friendly! And you can "tour" the regions with ethnic Indian foods -- maple turkey in the northeast, plank salmon in the northwest, bison burger and frybread in the Plains, etc. Don't miss it.