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Jul 8, 2008 10:44 PM

One meal near the White House?

I've got one meal in DC, but it has to be somewhere near the White House.

Considering Matchbox, Ellas or maybe Zengo.

Any other suggestions? No real food preferences. Just looking for something good and not too expensive.


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  1. Matchbox and Ella's fit the relatively inexpensive criteria. if there's no wait I'd vote Matchbox. they're both in Penn Qtr./Chinatown about 9-10 blocks from the WH - not a bad stroll and a very cheap cab ride, a walk to the nearest Metro would already get you halfway there) but within a few blocks of either and in between are a whole slew of great places that won't break most budgets.

    The Post critic has a chat on Wed. at 11:00 ET (free with registration, and I think they use the same server as CH as my CH screenname here shows up in the Welcome X! header.

    someone is bound to ask a similar question tomorrow (today).

    you're in LA right? forget suggestions for most Asian and Central American around there. only Atlantico in PQ and for Japanese would be Kaz in my book and that's not cheap and better to be found in CA.

    what can you not find in LA that would impress you for your price point?

    we seem to have largely the same culinary contributors just in far fewer numbers and mom and pop jewels of all varieties seem to fold on a daily basis sadly (but we may have you beat on Ethiopian - short cab ride up to U).

    1 Reply
    1. re: hill food

      Thanks for the link to WaPo. I'll check it out.

      I'm not really worried about finding something I cannot get in LA. Just looking for a good place to grab a bite to eat for dinner. I'm having other meals in DC, but this is the only one where I'm on my own.

      Thanks again.

    2. Others will disagree wildly, but Old Ebbitt Grill is close and quintessentially DC - especially if you get the 1/2 priced raw bar specials at one of the comfortable bars. You are also close to Taberna del Alabardero, near the World Bank, which serves very fancy and delicious but expensive tapas. In the bar, tapas are 1/2 priced from 3 until 7. If you can dine for a very late lunch or very early dinner, I'd combine 1/2 priced tapas (and Sangria) from Taberna, and then end with raw oysters (or vice versa) from OEG.

      4 Replies
      1. re: dcandohio

        Taberna would get my vote! Their Spanish tapas are amazing and their happy hour deal is a steal (get the croquettes!!!!).

        Another option would be Jaleo in Gallery Place/Chinatown.

        Matchbox is good but not some place I would go out of the way for if I only had one meal in the city.

        1. re: Elyssa

          But Penn Quarter is not as close to the White House. I'd suggest Equinox, which is just a few blocks north of Lafayette Square.

          1. re: bordeauxfan

            Equinox is an excellent choice, one of my favorite restaurants in the city. But it's pretty expensive (I'm pretty sure the last time I ate there the bill for 2 people was around or over $160.)

            I agree that Penn Quarter isn't that close but ipsedixit was asking about Penn Quarter restaurants so I just figured they thought that was close enough.

        2. re: dcandohio

          Good idea. Taberna is really great and good deal at happy hour -- which is just M-F, though.

          What about the place at the Willard, would it count as not too expensive?

        3. If you want something very close to the WH and inexpensive, I'd consider Teaism.

          1. I agree with bordeauxfan, with the exception of Old Ebbot Grill (a tourist magnet) many of the places suggested so far are a pretty good hike from the White House. I'd suggest Chef Geoff's ( or Les Halles ( If you're willing to spend a bit more money, consider The Bombay Club ( or Olives (, both of which are hangouts for White House staff and other Washington insiders, or Central (, which just won a couple James Beard awards, including best new restaurants. More importantly, all of the places are within four blocks or so of the White House.

            9 Replies
            1. re: FlaHopper

              Not Les Halles. Mediocre food. Bad service. There's so much better in the area.

              1. re: dcandohio

                I agree. Same with Chef Geoff.

                Brasserie Beck and Bistro D'Oc are not that far away from the WH and they won't cost you an arm and a leg to eat there.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Alright, I'll agree to disagree about Les Halles because I've read and heard several mixed reviews (though I've never had a bad meal there), but Chef Geoff's is a solid restaurant that's close to the White House and not terribly expensive. Brasserie Beck, however, is practically in Chinatown, expensive and a bad restaurant. As for Bistro D'OC, I've never been, but it is a bit far. However, I've heard good things.

                  1. re: FlaHopper

                    Bistro D'Oc is only about 2-3 blocks away from Chef Geoff's.

                    1. re: Elyssa

                      Beck is leaps and bounds better than Chef Geoff's IMO. Given the choice between the two I would eat at Beck 10 times out of 10. I would also avoid Olives at all costs. Service is shoddy and food is tired in my one experience there.

                      Restaurants with a little bit more DC appeal could be Jaleo (Penn Quarter) or Zaytinya (also Penn Quarter). Both are Jose Andres restaurants with better than average food, and good crowds. You can get away with not spending much since everything is small plates and shared. Out of the two, I prefer Zaytinya. People on this board have mixed feelings about Andres and his mini-empire of restaurants, but I find the food there to be fine and in some cases (depending on what you order) it is excellent.

                      1. re: caphil07

                        Jaleo and Zaytinya are two of my favorite restaurants, but they're 10 blocks from the White House. As for Brasserie Beck verses Chef Geoff's, I don't know that a debate over which one is better helps ipsedixit too much. I think Beck is an overrated, subpar restaurant that's a hike from the White House, especially for someone who's not from the area, and think Chef Geoff's is a quality restaurant that's only a couple block's away from the White House. So we can agree to disagree. Still, I wouldn't consider Beck close to the White House or particularly inexpensive.

                        1. re: FlaHopper

                          Agreed that Beck isn't all that close to the White House. On proximity alone, Chef Geoff's is a good choice.

                          Cieba is another restaurant close to the White House. I have never been, but a few people I know have, and they seem to like it. Not sure about the prices there.

                          Another option (as stated by a previous poster) is the much discussed and highly controversial (on this board) Old Ebbitt Grill. Passable food. Right near the White House. A DC establishment to be certain. If you like oysters I still think this is the best spot for them in DC. Worth a look in this case, I think.

                          1. re: caphil07

                            Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone. I'll report back on where I end up.


                            1. re: caphil07

                              I 2nd Ceiba. They also have a good happy hour with free appetizers. They list the special drink and free food on their website.

              2. Brasserie Beck is a winner. A true Belgian Bra. It's not cheap, but some absolutely sensational items don't cost much, either:
                Gratin of potatoes with pork belly, liver parfait, brussel sprouts. That and a bottle of Rochefort Trappists 10 and you'll be in heaven.

                Of the three restaurants you named, DO NOT go to Ella's. Zengo has good main courses, but three fourths of the menu are filled with overpriced mini-appetizers. Matchbox is only ok. But I would skip all of those in a heartbeat to eat at BB, and you don't have to spend more money.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steve

                  I agree with Beck. It's close enough. For comparison, Old Ebitt is at 15th and NY....Beck is at 11th and K (K is on block north of NY). That's a cheap cab ride (now that we have meters) or a nice walk. The beer is out of this world and the man who is in charge of the beer selection (can't remember his name) loves a good challenge and would be willing to suggest beers you may never have heard of. Also, the food is amazing. The skate wing is delicious. My BF really likes the lamb. The mussles are also wonderful. Big and plump with a sauce worth drinking on it's own. Order the brussel sprouts as an app. (they're a side dish option). Very good!