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Place I "Must Dine" in D.C.

Visiting D.C. mid July and would like recommendations for a "must dine" restaurant.

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  1. It would help if you gave us some more details of what you are looking for. Price range? Location? Vibe? Goods you love or hate?

    1. As a food and wine destination DC has arrived.?price point w/wo great wine list even by the glass meat? fish? vegetarian? Are you driving,using public transportation?How important is valet parking or ease of location?
      There are some regulars here at CHOW,that know food and the area VERY well.
      Do you have an idea?party # special occasion?dress code or not ect/ethnic?
      WELCOME to my fair city ENJOY

      1. "Must Dine" is pretty vague and gives us few parameters...
        If price is no object, most would agree the top places in DC are:
        Citronelle, CityZen, The Source, Marcells, Ristorante Tosca, The Prime Rib and Minibar.

        1 Reply
        1. re: keithdcil

          KOMI is fantastic! Really interesting, well-prepared food!
          509 17th street NW (Dupont Circle)

        2. OOOPS / SORRY!
          Komi is actually on 1509 17th St NW (Dupont Circle)

          1. Komi, Etete, CityZen

            1. You've thrown us off because we don't know what "must dine" means.

              The Senate Bean Soup in the Senate Dining Room is absolutely "must dine" but you would have to be the guest of your Senator.

              Then again, Ben's Chili Bowl is "must dine" because it probably represents the 'national' meal of Washington better than any other place -- the half smoke.

              I would argue that the highest of the high end places mentioned in most of the responses to your post are not "Washington" in anything other than their geographical location. Whenever I go to a city, I like to sample the combination of local chefs, local ingredients and local traditions -- think chowder in Boston or jambalaya in New Orleans or cioppino in San Francisco. I absolutely love CityZen and Komi and Citronelle and the others, but their meals are not appreciably different than the best restaurants in any other big city.

              The Washington food that is truly Washington is the half smoke and Senate beans. You'll find them in many places, but I recommend Ben's. You're also on the outskirts of crabcake country, but that's a little more to the north of us.

              6 Replies
              1. re: BigEats

                I like the fact that DC has so much diversity (well, not much eastern eurpoean cuisine). I like to take people to restuarants they would likely not find at home... ethiopian, burmese, maybe some good dim sum, etc.

                1. re: BigEats

                  I actually believe that CityZen, Komi and Citronelle are appreciably different in their own way than what might be found in another city. I would also not discount Kinkead's, Black Salt or MiniBar. I would also argue that Jerry's in Seabrook-a D. C. suburb-is every bit as significant an iconic food landmark as is Ben's Chili Bowl. Ben's Chili Bowl has a great deal of character and personality, a real throwback to the '60's when the Howard theatre down the street featured James Brown and Ike and Tina Turner. Wings and Things was on 14th just down from U, across from the Safeway which was my first job in '62. D. C., then, was known for half smokes (many, many places featured these), fish sandwiches (the Maine avenue wharf) and Maryland style seafood, especially at O'Donnell's on Pennsylvania Avenue. Jerry's opened in the '70's and it continues as the best Maryland "style" seafood restaurant, perhaps in the state. I believe it is better than Suicide Bridge outside of Cambridge. It receives little attention on here but it is every bit of an icon when you are talking about "must haves." Certainly it's crab bomb and lump crab cakes (both made with Bay or Carolina lump crab meat) and lump cream of crab soup are the equal of any.

                  John B. will probably disagree with me-he won the Post's contest for naming D. C.'s half smoke the iconic food but I would have nominated the fish sandwich. Horace and Dickey's is the best today but, honestly, the best of all is now in Baltimore at Faidley's who serve a sandwich equal to what D. C. had almost 50 years ago and has now disappeared.

                  Must Dine: Komi, Jerry's Seafood (Lanham, MD), Ben's Chili Bowl, El Pollo Rico and Crisp and Juicy in Arlington (both superb Peruvian spit grilled chicken)-all unique experiences you will not find anywhere else in America or, if you do, not the equal of here. Perhaps Horace and Dickey's, too, realizing that Baltimore's Lexington Market has a better fish sandwich.

                  1. re: Joe H

                    I go to Ben's Chili Bowl every once in a blue moon. That was even my self-chosen Father's Day dinner a few weeks ago! But honestly, it is almost criminal to go there whenever Oohs and Aahs is open.

                    Most folks will have to go out of their way to get to this neighborhood, and if they do they should try the grilled shrimp, greens, and rice with gravy. This is a tiny, tiny soul food kitchen the likes of which would be almost impossible to find elsewhere. The proprietress is from coastal Carolina, hence the shrimp. In its own way, it has every bit a sense of place as Ben's, not as much history, but far more serious cookin'.

                    A half-smoke you can get from many hot dog cart vendors, but Oohs and Aahs is the the 'Real Thing'.

                    1. re: Joe H

                      out of curiosity Joe, where do you like to get fish sandwiches in Lexington Market? I live in Baltimore now and would love to try one from there...

                      1. re: MarcDC

                        Faidley's. On cheap white bread with cole slaw and cheap hot sauce. Serious.

                        1. re: Joe H

                          haha, not sure I can go there and NOT get the crabcakes... heh, I'll try

                  2. You have to go here.


                    I highly recommend the tasting menu with wine, and ask for Spencer, he is the best. Great restaurant and a must dine place. Great food, good atmosphere.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: console

                      Great is a strong word...

                      I'm not sure Mie N Yu would make the top 25 of my "must dine" list. You're Spencer, aren't you!

                      1. re: aburkavage

                        >> I'm not sure Mie N Yu would make the top 25 of my "must dine" list

                        It makes my Top 10 "Must Avoid" list, though! :-)

                        1. re: DanielK

                          Funny thing is what I originally wrote: "I'm not sure Mie N Yu would make the top 100 of my 'must dine' list."

                          Maybe I should change it back!!

                          1. re: aburkavage

                            I like the decor at Mie 'n Yu and the food's improved steadily. With 1,000 open table points and about half (or 3/4) the price of the Source or Ten Penh and just as good good, I'd go to Mie 'n Yu over those over 2 fusions joints. I wouldn't put any of the those on my "must" list as I did put Buddhakan one of the "musts" of Philly.

                    2. 2 Amys. On Macomb Street near the National Cathedral. Stellar pizza, solid overall menu, good prices.

                      If you're touring, it's in a nice area and convenient to the cathedral, the National Zoo and Embassy Row.

                      1. Citronelle, The Minibar @ Cafe Atlantico, The Prime Rib, Le Auberge Chez Francois,

                        1. Obelisk. 1789. you can search on here and get details on both.
                          However i see 'mid july' and fear you have come and gone already...