Moving to DC...
Hello DC chowhounders. My hubbie and I will be headed to DC mid August through at least late November, possibly December. We are so excited to get out on the great food scene there. Already looking foward to Michel Richards Central and interested in City Zen. Our favorites include real italian, sushi and seafood, thai, bistros, tapas, a great steak place, home style, southern cooking from time to time. We love doing brunch, and are big tea and coffee house, wine bar types. So basically anything goes, lol. We eat out at a high end place once or twice a month ($200ish for 2), and average to lower priced once a week or so. I would love to find a great cheese shop (its my favorite food on earth), a trustworthy butcher and fishmonger. I did see you have whole foods, but also love to hit the farmers markets as often as possible. I believe we will be living near Vernon Square/convention area. We do have a car, and are willing to drive for great grub. Any advice you can give, favorite spots, must go's, hidden gems, we appreciate it!
Here are my favorite 'hidden' meals in DC. But they are for the adventurous, in a way.
Thai X-ing: A restaurant with maybe three tables. No reservations, but you probably won't need them as most folks do carry out. Follow these recs: Red Curry Salmon, tofu soup, pad kana (this is made with pepper and garlic, you can add the protein of your choice.) Very secluded, private spot. Unreal experience.
Oohs and Aahs, a soul food joint at 10th and U Sts., only four stools in front of the open kitchen, but I think there are a few tables upstairs, I've never been. Grilled shrimp, greens, rice with gravy. Lemon pepper wings are also sensational.
The Lounge at Citronelle. Completely upscale, this is Michel Richard's cooking without a crowd or needing reservations or having to commit a few hours and several hundred dollars. Small a la carte menu. A quiet oasis, perfect execution.
Queen Makeda, Ethiopian, 9th and U. Completely family run, red lentils are a must here.
Some of the best eatin' is in the suburbs. Check out my favorites in my profile.
For some of your answers:
Farmers markets you'll want to hit up prob the Penn Quarter Fresh farms market. Cowgirl Creamery is also in Penn Quarter for cheese. For a butcher, you'll prob do best at Eastern market or a farmers market.
Do get out to Annandale, Va for Korean. Do get to Eden center in Falls Church, Va for Vietnamese. Do go to U st, for Ethiopian. Do go to Rockville/Wheaton, Md for Chinese. Get your hands on some good pupusas and saltenas as well.
And good places to at least start are dcfoodies.com, washingtonian.com, and washingtonpost.com. Welcome and have fun!
Moby Dick House Of Kebob is a local chain for Persian food. It is AWESOME! Casual counter service, but very clean. DELICIOUS freshly prepared kebobs (I love the chicken) w/ either rice or warm bread. There is a Moby Dick in Dupont Circle, DC and surrounding areas. I can also recommend Central, which you mentioned, and The Burger Joint in Bethesda, which is brand-new and wonderful. You may also want to try Neyla for tapas in Georgetown, and Matchbox in DC for amazing mini-burgers. Two Amy's for excellent fresh pizzas. I recently tried Creme Lounge on U Street in DC, and loved it. If you go to Creme, be sure to get the mushroom appetizer and coconut cake for dessert. Happy Eating!
I just want you to know this post is my bar exam study break dream...
Real Italian: in a city not known for Italian, really, I suggest Tosca, and if they have the rabbit ragu or veal still get it, Spezie or Obelisk. All on the high end Italian side.
Sushi: Tachibana in McLean, Sushi Ko- NW DC.
Seafood: For modern less traditional Hook is a favorite, also I haven't been yet, but on my list as it gets great reviews in Blacksalt. For more traditional seafood Kinkeads is good. For crabs go to Annapolis or Baltimore, it is worth the trip, really if you can make it to Cantler's in Annapolis, or places right over the bay bridge in the Kent Narrows you will get a good authentic experience. Get crabcakes at Market Lunch in the Eastern Market.
Thai- oh there are threads and threads on the best places, the most authentic are in Northern Virginia (NOVA), in DC Regent Thai and Rice are pretty good, I really like the jasmine rice at Simply Home it has a great jasmine flavor.
Bistro- this just encompasses so much. For the more french like bistro I would suggest Cafe Du Parc, Bistro Bis is like a high end bistro, but it is amazing for brunch or dinner, both are excellent.
Tapas- well for the ultimate tapas experience you could try to get into minibar, the chef Jose Andres trained under the head chef at El Bulli and makes 30 courses of one bite dishes. I like his greek tapas place Zaytinya, it can get really loud, but the patio is great, the pita is really good, and I really like the tapas, to me they are light and very flavorful, and they have a lot of good veggie ones so I can eat relatively good for me here. Taberna Del Aberderro is maybe the most authentic spanish restaurant in the country and has great very authentic tapas, the croquettas and cheese with honey and jamon are great. They are even better at happy hour when they are half off as it can get pricey. Also for an interesting take on small plates, Eat Bar in Northern Virginia (Clarendon) has the second best bartender in DC, and small plates called "amuse yourself" that are very good. The cocktails here can only be beat, by a place you must go for more high end Restaurant Eve, very good and their bartender (also at PX if you want just the drinks) Todd Thrasher is our best bartender his cocktails are a dream.
There are good threads discussing Southern food: for big styrofoam containers of home cooking go to Oohs and Aahs at U st. Haven't been to Creme, yet, I know I know Elyssa, maybe after the bar, better yet maybe after the bar you can drag me there, is supposed to be good. There is also Levi's Port Cafe and others, there were some recent threads on Southern if you run a search one was titled with Southside 815, but has lots of suggestions.
Brunch: Bistro Bis, Poste, and go to Tallula for brunch, I think it is the best in the area, right by Eat Bar owned by the same people, I feel like I must be in their fan club, but the ricotta, cherry pancakes are superb, perhaps some of the best pancakes in our area, the corned beef for the hash is homemade and it is just good. Market Lunch is open for breakfast and on Saturday for a limited time, they have great bluebucks- blueberry buckwheat pancakes, and eggs benedict chesapeake. Tabard Inn is also a good place for brunch. Florida Ave Grill has some Southern breakfast- not pretty or high end.
For tea- there is tea bar by Blue Duck Tavern in that hotel which is superb. There is also Teavana in Tyson's Corner, Teaism- which I am not a huge fan of but... and often there are tea people at the markets. And there are some other tea places, I actually normally get mine at Wegman's grocery as they have a big selection and turnover. I don't really drink coffee anymore, so I don't know where people in the district go now that Murky coffee only has its Arlington location.
We have tons of wine bars, Proof, Cork, Vinotecca, etc. Also the group that owns Tallula, Evening Star Cafe, etc, has a really good wine list, as does 2941 for more high end, new chef apparently good but still finding his grove, but the wine list was and still is really wonderful.
High End: Central, Marcel's (may be a bit above your range, depending on wine, b ut really good), Blue Duck Tavern, Komi, Palena- great food great wine list, also they have a cafe section in the front which is more affordable, but you can get items off the back menu, you have to get the gnocchi. Rasika- if you like Indian, it is amazing, great cocktails, dessert, food, service, all around great.
Cheeseshops: Cowgirl Creamery, Cheesetique in Alexandria, Arrowine for cheese and wine and Calvert, oh shoot, is it just Calvert Woodley Liquor Store, what is the name? But it has great cheese selection too, and most of the farmers market have cheese. As for butcher, I like the lebanese butcher in NOVA, or the people at the Eastern Market, and sometimes the Organic Butcher in McLean.
Dupont Farmer's market may be one of the best, I haven't been to the Arlington one yet, which is funny as I am an Arlingtonian, but have heard it is good, the Eastern Market it ok, but they have lost some vendors since the fire and everything and it isn't quite as good as it used to be, I think there is a lot more competition now for the vendors. Penn Quarter one is nice, not a huge variety, but the have some nice vendors in terms of quality.
For hole in the wall places you should also go: El Pollo Rico for crack chicken- yep addictive Peruvian Chicken, Lebanese Butcher for Lebanese, second Ethiopian, second Eden Center for Vietnamese. (A lot of good food is out in the burbs, it is where a lot of different ethnic groups have populated so you gotta travel for some good good stuff) Also pizza at 2Amy's is good stuff.
This is a phenomenal list! A couple of comments/additions:
I can confirm that Blacksalt is one of the best seafood restaurants in the City. They also have a great jazz brunch on Sundays - and a nice little fish market in the front.
I would add Kotobuki for casual, cheap sushi and kamemeshi (rice casserole that is especially good when the weather turns cold).
Rays the Steaks or Rays the Classics for the best steak you will ever eat - and in a casual setting. Charlie Palmer or Capital Grille (downtown location) for high end steaks.
Mendocino Grill is another wine bar I love.
The OP didn't mention Chinese, but I think there are a couple worth trekking to, specifically Joe's Noodle House, A&J (another brunch spot) and China Bistro (for dumplings).
Thanks so much! Esp KTmoo...glad to give you a lovely study break, bet you got hungry tho! Just by responses I can tell DC is a great town, anyone know anything about the area we will probably be calling home base... near Dupont circle/Vernon square... decent, dangerous, delicious...?