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Recs near Reagan Center please


I will be in D.C. for a week long work conference that is being held at the Reagan Center. Am ISO of a couple of recs to relieve myself from the typical conference buffets. The conference does provide 3 meals a day but there is little variety and while not awful, it's still, well....buffet food!

I am staying at the J.W. Marriott right across Penn Ave from the Reagan Center. Walking distance from the center and/or hotel preferred but would be willing to metro to a different locale for a "must do".

I like all types of food (other than steak houses) and generally lean towards very spicy and flavoral dishes. While, I'm not "cheap" I'll be covering these meals on my own dime so prefer to find a couple of great, casual spots that offer great food at a fair price.

What hidden gems lurk in this particular section of D.C.?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Bistro D'Oc, a charming french bistro is nearby. It's affordable and delicious. I personally like their duck confit, goat cheese salad, and roasted chicken. But quite frankly---I have yet to order something (either off of their regular menu or extensive specials list) that I didn't like.

    Chef Geoff's is nearby. It's good enough. Nothing I would recommend if you weren't in the area and/or only looking for one meal. But I've had a few items that I've liked. It's a decent neighborhood spot which is affordable.

    You are walking distance to the incredible Central. If you want to splurge a little, I would recommend eating here.

    You are only a short walk or metro stop away from Gallery Place/ Chinatown, which has tons of restaurant options. You might want to check out Jaleo for Spanish tapas, California Tortilla for cheap tacos and burrittos (its a local chain which is good), Matchbox for pizza and mini-burgers, Cafe Atlantico for Nuevo Latin, and if you are able to get out before 7pm, I would check out PS7's wonderful happy hour in their lounge. Excellent drinks and fun foods like mini tuna tartar sliders and arrincini. As well as cheap drinks ranging from $2-7.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      I second the Bistro D'Oc recommendation. We just had lunch there this past Saturday, and business is down because of Ford's Theater across the street being closed for renovations. The food is still great, and it's really easy to get a table.

      1. re: Hal Laurent

        the unfancy-looking apparently lower-tier chinatown places are the untourist chowier ones and the metro to it is just steps from reagan and these are pretty good, starting with the boring looking full key, hanging char shu, shrimp dumpling soup, open late, serious wall-note specials that deserve translation and consultation with owner lady

        1. re: chowsearch

          yeah Full Kee looks scary, but it seems about the most interesting place on that stretch of H these days.

          the immed. area around the RRITC unfortunately doesn't lend itself to much adventurousness. good places are to be found yes, but few "hidden" gems. mostly quick lunch and expense account places.

            1. re: mselectra

              Not that far...another good recommendation.

    2. If you want to get a decent lunch, the Phillips Cafe has nice sandwiches made with meats cooked on premised and sliced to order. Turkey, roast beef, corned beef - all very fresh. The portions are large. The place can be accessed from 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue (an office building), or from E street (near 12th). It's a very short walk from the Reagan Center. Elephant and Castle is right on Pennsylvania. It's nothing special for food but it's good for a beer. Michael Richard's Central is also on Pennsylvania, a very short walk from the Center. It's definitely one of DC's hot spots now, and you can probably eat quite reasonably for lunch. Enjoy!

      1. If you're looking for some spice at lunch you could try the Indian restaurant in the Post Office food court. There's also an Indian restaurant in the shops at national place, which about a block north of the Reagan Building (it may actually be in the same building as the JW Marriott), and there's a 5 guys (burgers) in there as well, and there's a new sandwich place Devon and Blakely (on F I think).

        You can eat at the bar at Central. Down the block is Ten Penh (asian fusion more or less), which I like even better (also a bit of a splurge but not outrageous). A couple blocks further east is Teaism, which is also Asian influenced but more casual/inexpensive.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Doh

          yeah the food court in National Place is not bad, better than most (although the pizza stand is, well... what the heck was I thinking?)

          if you do go into the Post Office building, give yourself a few minutes to ride the (free!) elevator up the tower - killer view w/o the wait at the Washington Monument.

        2. I second the recommendation for PS7's happy hour.
          Its great!!

          I would avoide Chef Geoff's at all costs.

          I recently was taken their for a business lunch and it was truly horrible.

          1. thx so much for the recs - I'll definitely hit Central and Cafe D'Oc and hopefully with enough time will get to some of the other spots

            I will definitely report back on my experiences - thank you again for the recs!

            1 Reply
            1. re: chicaraleigh

              Enjoy---you'll have a great meal at both. Just so you know its Bistro D'Oc. :)

            2. addictive bacon cheese burger at Ollies - on 12? 13? and E NW.

              I don't even consider a side.

              1. Thank you for all of the great recommendations!

                I was able to make it to Bistro D'Oc and the food was absolutely phenomenal but the service was a bit lackluster. We arrived at the restaurant around 8:30 pm (due to flight delays) and from the moment we arrived it was obvious that the servers main goal was to get us out the door. Granted, it was a Tuesday night but...back in the day when I was a server, I would be THRILLED to get a party of 6 that was ordering several courses of food, cocktails and wine, especially on a Tuesday!

                Despite the abruptness of the service, I can not say enough about the food, particularly the foie gras - it was simply outstanding. The braised veal was tremendous and the homemade tolouse (spelling?) sausage was out of this world. What was most surprising about the sausage is that it contained nothing but pork, salt and pepper. They must use magic salt in that place!

                Had a chance to slip away to grab a quick lunch at Central - IMHO the food was good but I have to say didn't blow me a way. I'm guessing dinner might be a different story so I'll be keeping it on my list for next year when I'm back at the conference.

                PS7's Happy Hour was fantastic too!

                Other places visited (not by my choice): Ebbitt's Grill - Andy the bartender was gracious, made killer martinis and was truly knowledgeable regarding several points of American History which made my Ebbitt's experience memorable but I don't think I'd eat there again.

                Fogo de Chao - again not my pick - but, it made my clients happy so I rallied through the experience.

                Clyde's in Chinatown for drinks Thursday Night - some of the absolute worst service ever and the place was filthy. Thank goodness we were there only to drink and blow off steam from a week long conference. Reminded me of the places I hung out at in college (did I mention, not my pick?)

                Oh - one special note to the staff at the lobby bar at the J.W. - we had 400 employees and about 1500 attendees at this conference so at any given time, there was always a line at the bar.....the staff of the J.W. did an outstanding job of taking care of us and most importantly - keeping our tabs straight. The conference staff all wear red shirts so you can imagine with a rotation of about 400 red shirts things could get pretty confusing!

                Thank you again for your tips and if you're ever in Raleigh, I'll surely return the favor