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Someplace other than Old Ebbitt for dinner w/ visitors?

My parents and grandmother just decided to come to DC this weekend, and I'm trying to figure out where to take them Saturday night. I'd like it to be something that has sort of an "only in DC" feel. Old Ebbitt Grill was going to be my back-up if I couldn't figure out something more interesting, but it looks like they're booked so I'm starting from scratch. They're not terribly particular, and they have pretty simple taste, but I want to take them someplace they'll really enjoy. Dad's a pretty casual guy and will want someplace not too fancy or expensive. Mom is easygoing but would love some healthy, interesting choices. And grandma would probably appreciate someplace semi-quiet, food she can recognize, and easy & safe parking or Metro access. Someplace near a cool DC landmark would be great. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Classic DC is the Market Inn behind the House side of the Capitol. Best crabcake in DC, in my opinion. Been there 40 years and even featured on Food Network.

    1. I know you are looking for something not too expensive, but have you thought about the Prime Rib, classic old DC, 1789, old Georgetown, or Capital Grille? I mention the last because, it is right on Penn. Ave, across from the Nat'l Gallery, and nera the newest tourist attraction,the Newseum. And right down the street, shining at night, is the biggest DC landmark one can see, the Capitol.

      1. I think The Occidental Grill, or Cafe du Parc in the Willard Hotel would be very DC. I have not heard good things about Market Inn..
        I think Kinkead's is very DC too.
        Agree with Prime Rib and 1789

        11 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          I appreciate your suggestions so far. The more I think about it, though, I'm pretty sure that more than anything, they would love a dynamic place that has real personality, and would provide a unique and cool experience that they can't get in Syracuse, NY (which is where they're coming from). They'd prefer to see the semi-casual, interesting, local, and maybe even neighborhood-y side of DC, rather than the upscale places frequented by the fabulous, the powerbrokers, and the tourists, know what I mean?

          1. re: CaitRC

            If that's the case, take them to Ben's Chili Bowl.

            1. re: 4X4

              Haha, yes, my dad would probably be delighted with that. That's probably where we'll end up, after I spend my entire week stressing out over what nice restaurant I should take them to.

              Honestly, though, a step or two up from that would probably fit the bill. Any other U St. spots you would recommend? Creme? Marvin? Station 9? All look interesting, though reviews seem inconsistent...

            2. re: CaitRC

              Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, U St?

              1. re: nickdanger

                Yeah, any of those are fine. I live in Woodley, so I'm pretty familiar with the Adams Morgan/Dupont offerings. Am considering Casa Oaxaca. Less familiar with U St. restaurants, though the ones mentioned above look like possibilities. I just don't know anyone who's been to them and reviews I read online are mixed...

                1. re: CaitRC

                  What about Dino, Italian is often a good compromise food Grandma will recognize, can get something a little more healthy, not extremely pricey?

                  I often take the folks who have mixed comfort levels to Spezie or Tosca for that reason.

                  It isn't necessarily only in DC though.

                  Also what about like Cashion's or even perhaps Lebanese Taverna, Grandma will recognize all the good chicken dishes (I believe they even have roasted chicken with choice of sides like veggie and rice or salad or something), Mom can pick something healthier.

                  Or someplace decidedly American like Agraria in the Georgetown Harbor which isn't too pricey, very classic american dishes, but I haven't been in a llloooonnnggg time now, but when I was there they had some well executed simple dishes. Or Firefly as I remember it is pretty American fare, but not outrageous, although it can be a little louder, but I was there for Vday when it was packed.

                  Or what about Hank's Oyster Bar, Grandma will enjoy some more classic fish preperations, Mom will definitely find some healthy choices, and Dad can enjoy the DC seafood? They don't take reservations, but they do call ahead?

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    Agraria was pretty boring when I went, FYI.

                    Firefly was very enjoyable, but it is loud. I do think they have a back room, however, which may be more quiet.

                  2. re: CaitRC

                    In Adams Morgan, Black Squirrel has some lovely food that is mostly updated versions of classics. They can experience something new but not be too scared away, and it's a cute, neighborhoody setting.

                    1. re: katecm

                      I was thinking about that -- I've never been there but I've heard decent things about it. Is it more bar than restaurant, though? I guess my question is, would it be an OK setting for a family dinner? Not that my family is in any way opposed to bars or drinking, just want to make sure it's somewhat calm, etc. I've never been inside.

                      1. re: CaitRC

                        It's definitely a bar at night, but not even a crazy Adams Morgan bar. They do half-price burgers on Thursday, so you could check it out if you're nearby. I was there for dinner at 9 on Saturday and it was fairly quiet, with plenty of tables available. But maybe you should do recon just to make sure it's up your alley. If you go, definitely get the duck spring rolls!

                2. re: CaitRC

                  I suggest Sea Catch on 31st NW, Georgetown. It's on the canal, so you have a unique Washington view (if you have a window table). The seafood menu is familiar to anyone, and some of it, esp the clams, is excellent. It is nicely decorated with a friendly staff. And by the way, they have free parking.

              2. How about the Tabard Inn?

                1. What about 701, with the views of the Navy Memorial fountains? Bonus is outdoor seating, weather permitting. Great cocktails, too. RIght at the exit to the Archives metro.