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Quick visit to DC, no kids

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My fiance and I are coming to DC for the weekend of the fourth. I haven't been to DC in fifteen years and need some good advice. I don't want kid friendly and I definitely need to have some crab!

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  1. Hanks Oyster Bar on 17th Street and Johny's Half Shell (on the hill) are both great places for seafood. They won't have whole crabs, but you will find tasty crab cakes and crab imperial.

    If you want whole crabs--picnic style--you need to go to Annapolis. Try Cantlers (sp?), which offers great seats on the water.

    1. here's a different take on crabs. go to an authentic cantonese restaurant and have them sautee you a dungeness crab with ginger and scallions. It doesn't get any fresher than that.

      1. For crab, you will want to go to the Quarterdeck in Arlington, VA. Easy enough to get to from the Rosslyn Metro or by car. They take reservations, which I recommend.

        My other suggestions for you are Jaleo for Spanish tapas (particularly the patatas bravas and tortilla espanol) B. Smith's in the former presidential suite at Union Station (especially a dish called Swamp Thang which is shrimp, scallops and crawfish over greens in a mustard cream sauce), and Etete for Ethiopian food (get the fastening food platter and the derek tibs.)

        10 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          The Quarterdeck is a great, great idea not only for the crabs, but for local color and a cold beer overlooking the Potomac. terrific suggestion

          However, words are not enough to say how terrible B Smith's is. Overpriced, middling-quality soul food, poor service. Union Station has some high points in the food court, but the main floor restaurants are generally clip joints and B.S. is a good example. Far better to go to Georgia Brown's Eastern Market, etc. if you are looking for that style of food.

          1. re: lawhound

            I third the Quarterdeck for crabs. What other type of eating would you like to do high end, low brow, moderate and casual? Ethnic preferences? The food scene has changed a lot in fifteen years.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              I like all of the above. I used to go to the Brickskellar, Cafe Berlin, Cactus Cantina, Maison Blanc, etc. I am thinking about trying Brasserie Beck for Belgium cuisine. Thoughts?

              1. re: coventry67

                You will like Brasserie Beck, the beer selection is really good, and the beer somelier is really helpful. And the food isn't bad either :). I have only been once, but had a wonderful time. I don't really normally like beer, but the waiter brought me out some little samples of things he thought I would like, and they found beer that I liked. I had the mussels and fries which were great. I forget what else we all had, but it was a blast. I personally think Brasserie Beck and Central are the two best rather new restaurants to hit the DC scene in a the last couple years.

                There are lots of threads on the more high end places if you want that.

                If you want to do a brunch I really like Poste, or Bistro Bis has an amazing brunch too (their dinners are really good too) which I would highly recommend it can be breakfast and lunch though fyi its a lot of food. I haven't been to Cafe Atlantico's Dim Sum Brunch, but it gets good reviews. Also on weekday and Saturday mornings market lunch at the Eastern Market has a great crabcake benedict although the line that weekend could be out the door. That is such an anomaly I never know what holiday weekends it will have no one for and what ones it will be packed for, but the blueberry buckwheat pancakes and crab benedict are good.

                I don't know where you are doing fireworks, but if you are in downtown that day you could make a reservation for Rasika, they have really good Indian in a hip atmosphere. Or Zaytinya.

                I like Zaytinya more than Jaleo myself for a Jose Andres restaurant. His pita and hummus alone makes it a good trip, but I have really enjoyed a lot of the dishes there. It can be really loud, but that weekend everywhere will probably be loud.

                There is so much good stuff, I can't even think of all the places you should go. There are a lot of good pizza places, but that kind of depends on what neighborhood you are in which you should go to.

                The key will just be to make reservations for everything because I am sure it will be a madhouse. I am sure other people will add lots of good stuff, all the options now really are amazing.

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  Thanks for all the good advice! Have early reservations for Beck's on Fri. Thought we could go to the park to watch fireworks? Is that a good option? I am staying at the Williard, where would you watch from?

                  1. re: coventry67

                    Depending on which way your room faces and how high up it is, you could have a good view actually. You should ask your concierge if you will be able to see them, or if you can see them from their restaurants.

                    Last year we were at the rooftop of the Hotel Washington, which is closed this year. And best friend was right next door at the White House, which was really awesome, I don't think we will get anything that good this year. We have rented a hotel room at Harborplace, although I don't know what the view will be like from there.

                    I bet the Ruth Chris in Crystal City that is in the top of that building has a great view, if you can get a seat near the window. I am not sure on which parks are the best, maybe someone else would have a good idea. You could always go up the GW parkway get off at Spout Run and go up to where it intersects with Lee Hwy to the Italian Store get italian subs, regular beverages to keep hydrated, wine, dessert, etc. Then go back down Spout Run to a park of the parkway? Fiance's Dad is a little 4th of July obsessive he would probably know, if I talk to him this week I will ask.

                    A park would be a great idea, they will probably be a little crowded, but you could get a nice packed lunch, some frosty beverages, etc.

            2. re: lawhound

              Thanks all for all of the advice! I think I definitely will try the Quarterdeck!

              1. re: lawhound

                Should i do the feast or order bigger ones by the dozen at Quartrdecks? You have to tell them when you make your reservations.

                1. re: lawhound

                  The Swamp Thang is an exceptional dish. The lemon pepper catfish and sides are very, very good. Maybe a bit pricey for catfish, but you are eating in one of the most outstanding dining rooms anywhere.

                  Like many restaurants in Washington, you can eat very well here or poorly if you don't know what to get.

                2. re: Steve

                  I wanted to thank all for their DC recommendations. Quartedeck was awesome! I also went to Brasserie Beck, Cafe Berlin, and The Williard for brunch. All are on my permanent list of repeats.

                3. Yes, Cantler's is phenomenally good but not worth the hassle during the summer. You have to go very, very early (think 2 pm at the latest). The small parking lot fills up fast, and you end up waiting in a long line of cars along the road just to get into the parking lot. That wait alone can be more than an hour. Then another hour to get a table, and since everything is cooked to order...they do not take reservations. Ever. So not the best option for a quick trip to DC. Having lived in Baltimore for years, and then having tried every place in and around DC, I can say that I haven't really found a place in or around DC that I think is worthwhile for crabs. I'll have to try the Quarterdeck.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    I lived in Baltimore for a year, and now am landlocked in TN! All we have here are chains and just a few locally owned places. Good food doesn't go over well here for some reason. Everyone wants fast meals and to be able to wear jeans. I will have to make another trip to just Baltimore soon.