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Visiting DC -- Need a week's worth of recommendations

We'll be in DC for a convention in November. Would like to get dinner reservations for each night well in advance. Based on previous visits and searching this board so far I'm considering Obelisk, Tosca, Kinkead's and Zola. If anyone can offer additional ideas I'd be most appreciative.

We'd like to stay within DC proper, and especially tend to favor Dupont/Adams Morgan. Upscale is fine, and we're also open to "ethnic", Ethiopian, etc.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. We had a good time at District Chophouse & Brewery, and Zed´s.

    1. If you are in Dupont, try Komi. A reservation well in advance, is a must though.
      I find Dupont a bit of a culinary wasteland, but other DC hounds may have further advice. My favorite spots downtown-ish as of late are: D'Acqua (upscale Italian), Ceiba (South American influence), and if you are near the convention center, get yourself to Corduroy. Meticulously prepared food.

      1. Upscale, definitely Tosca and I can add Corduroy. Ethnically speaking Ethiopian is good, try Etete or Dukems, the vegetarian platter or doro wat. The Jose Andres spots are winners, Jaleo and/or Zaytinya, especially Jaleo. I've never been that impressed with Zola.

        1 Reply
        1. re: justaddwater

          I 2nd Corduroy...the food coming out of that kitchen is amazing these days. I've never been to Komi or Obelisk but they are on my short list, are in the Dupont area, and are suppose to be great!

          You might also want to try a restaurant in the U St. area. I personally really like Cork (doesn't name reservations) and Creme (homestyle cooking with a southern bend).

          Other places to consider: Equinox, Palena (either the back of the house, which is more formal and takes reservations or the more casual front cafe), PS7, Central, Hook, Case Oaxaca (in AM..just had a fun dinner there a few weeks ago, cheap and yummy), Heritage (good Indian in Dupont), and Cashion's Eat Place (great neighborhood spot in Adams Morgan).

        2. I'd third the suggestion of Corduroy and second the notion that Zola isn't that impressive. The place itself is nice...maybe grab drinks at Zola and enjoy the ambience a bit, then head across the street to Zaytinya for dinner.

          Definitely try and get in at Komi...well worth it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Sabine12

            Thanks all for the great ideas. We will indeed be staying right near the convention center, so I will certainly add Corduroy to my list. And Zola will be relegated to my drinks column.

            For Ethiopian, what do people think of Queen Makeda?

            thanks again.

            1. re: triple creme

              Yes yes to Queen Makeda. I wouldn't expect them to take reservations. If they happen to be closed the day you go (they are closed on Mondays, I'm pretty sure), go across the street to Etete.

              I would add Cashion's Eat Place to your list, especially since it's in Adams Morgan.

              Based on the talk on here, I think you'll be best off with Corduroy, Tosca, Komi, Queen Makeda.... (of the places that have been mentioned, I haven't been to most of them, but I read this board pretty regularly, so I'm channeling others' recs, but don't just take my word for it), and how about also adding Rasika? Also near the Convention Center and very popular on CH is Brasserie Beck. Also check the board for the raves about Obelisk in Dupont.

              Also, if you haven't been and have time, you should go to Market Lunch at Eastern Market for breakfast (or lunch). I know you're asking about dinner, but it's really worth knowing about.

              ETA: oh, you already know about Obelisk!

              1. re: triple creme

                Queen Makeda is a true Mom n' Pop operation. More like eating in someone's home. Go and ignore the menu and ask for a variety of items. Everything served in bowls, family style, if you like. Greens and red lentils are tops, along with shiro, yebeg alicha, gored gored (partially cooked), and kitfo (I like mine cooked).

            2. Many of the places already mentioned are very good. Corduroy, Tosca, and Obelisk are all excellent (though if you are interested in varying your meals, note that Tosca and Obelisk are both Italian.) Komi is superb, but hard to get a reservation for. Another place I highly recommend is Palena, either the more formal back room or the less formal Cafe.

              I'd also recommend DC Coast, Brandon Cox has taken over as chef there and I have always enjoyed his cooking when he was at Circle Bistro.

              For a more casual Italian place, Dino is good, especially if you are into wine, he has the best priced Italian wine list in town. And it is huge (the wine list, that is).

              Jaleo is very good, although Zaytinya is more hip, and also good.

              Kinkeads is excellent. I'd also recommend Kaz Sushi Bistro if you like Japanese.

              Another excellent choice would be Taberna del Alabardero for Spanish food. Another place that is good, and formal is Marcel's for Belgian food. For more casual, he also has Brasserie Beck, but it can be noisy. Central is Michael Richard's is the more casual restaurant, but if you want to be formal, his Citronelle is considered one of the very best in the city. Excellent wine list (both Michael Richare, and Mark Slater, the sommelier are Beard award winners.)

              If you are in the mood for steak, and want to stay in DC proper, Charlie Palmer has an excellent view of the Capitol along with a nice meal. The Prime Rib is also very good for steak, but you need to wear a jacket. Very old fashioned place.

              I'd also recommend thinking about getting over to Alexandria (take the Metro to the King Street Exit) to go to Restaurant Eve.

              Finally, people are very high on Wolfgang Puck's The Source. I've only been for lunch, but it is good.

              When it comes to ethnic food, DC has more than its share, unfortunately the very best is in the suburbs, except for Ethiopian, for which I'd recommend Etete, which is fancier, but not overly so, and Queen Makeda. Malaysia Kopitiam is probably the best bet for Burmese food in DC (again the best is in the burbs). I have yet to find a Thai restaurant in DC proper that can hold a candle to the ones in the burbs.

              3 Replies
              1. re: dinwiddie

                Rasika is really worth going if you like Indian food and you've never had upscale Indian food.

                1. re: Ericandblueboy

                  And the service at Rasika is top notch too. It is one of my favorites of DC.

                  Tosca is very good too, except for their desserts, don't worry about saving room for them, but the other courses really make it worth it even sans dessert.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    Hmm....I was at Tosca last week and I really liked the dessert I had: the "modernized" Tiramisu...in fact, it was my favorite item of the 3 courses I ordered.

              2. you have the best in town listed...Obelisk. Don't miss it.
                1789 is good for an old fashioned fancy dinner out.
                Kinkead's is past its prime.
                Lebanese TAverna in Woodley park is really good; Lavandou is Cleveland park has great, reasonably priced french food.

                2 Replies
                1. re: DCDOLL

                  I really want to thank everyone for putting so much thought and care into these suggestions.

                  We have made dinner reservations for each night.

                  (Next visit we will hit some places that don’t take rez, like Queen Makeda, but this time it’s a must because we need a table for six each night [different groups of 6 people at each dinner]. Also this is a gigantic convention – upwards of 30K attend, and restaurants tend to fill up no matter what city we’re in.)

                  Our plans include: Obelisk, DC Coast, Zatinya, Tosca, Ceiba, and Corduroy, all of which are listed on Open Table, which is a huge plus. I’ll report back on all the chow after the meeting is over. Thanks again, and I hope to return the favor on my home Chowhound board next time you visit Boston!


                  1. re: triple creme

                    Thanks for all the recommendations. We're back in Boston and here's a brief report on all the places we chowed down:

                    DC Coast was solid but nothing extraordinary. I started with a nice fois gras, but the crab cakes I had for my main course were nothing special.

                    At Tosca I started with a something called squash pillows, which if I'd realized meant gnocchi I probably would not have ordered a pasta entree, but in the end I'm glad I did. The "pillows" were light, sweet yet tart, and deeply flavorful. I followed with a veal ravioli which was just exquisite. The atmosphere is a bit off-putting however. It's essentially one big flatly-lit room, not unlike a hotel ballroom.

                    Cordoroy was a superb meal. They do everything right. I started with a soup called, IIRC, rouge vif d'temps. It was absolutely lovely; at once rich and light, sweet and soft. For my main I had the chicken, which the server rightly warned me had a briny marinade. It did taste salty, but it was so moist on the inside and crispy outside who could complain?

                    We had to cancel our other reservations due to freebie offers we could not refuse, but I should mention I also enjoyed lunches I had at Five Guys, Blimpies (no kidding -- very respectable tuna sub) and Chinatown Express, and a breakfast dish I had at our hotel, the Sweet Pepper and Crab Hash at the Renaissance (And my DC also enjoyed his Tofu Scramble there.).

                    Thanks again for the recs and do ask us on the Boston board next time you travel north.