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Nov 5, 2008 11:46 AM

Coming for a conference and need recs

Hello DC Hounds!

I'm heading down to your fair city in mid November and would like to know where I should hit up for dinners. We're going to be a group of around 7-12 and will be in the downtown (Convention Center) and Dupont Circle (our hotel). We are an adventurous bunch of eaters (all into "ethnic" food as we're all ethnics anyways) and need at least 7 recs from all you. Our budget is for around $50 per night for the complete dinner (not including drinks). I'd really like to see at least a few recs for good "New American"/"american fusion", asian, italian, southern/bbq, indian and persina restos. We'd like to stay near the convention center and the hotel (or a $10-20 cab ride for something really special). It would be ideal if there are bars/pubs near the recs, as we'd like to stay late into the night nearby to drink and talk.

Thanks for the help!

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  1. We have a lot of the "New American," as you say, but one new place that is getting a lot of buzz is Founding Farmers, which focuses on sustainable food. I have not yet been, but plenty of friends have raved. It wouldn't be too far from Dupont, as it is in Foggy Bottom.

    For Fusion/Asian, The Source (a Wolfgang Puck) may be a bit overpriced, but may be worth a splurge. You can also eat in the lounge, where the good is excellent, but perhaps less Asian-influenced.

    For Indian, DEFINITELY get to Rasika, and please order the crispy spinach. It's to die for.

    Other places to consider would be Central and Brasserie Beck. Also, if you want to stay closer to Dupont on a particular night, Firefly and Hank's Oyster Bar wouldn't be far at all. Last, if it's a cold night, get a drink in Tabard Inn's lounge.

    1. Geographically, DC is not a big city, and they have a pretty good subway system (METRO) so you can consider places that are not around the convention center. It will also depend on where your hotel is.

      As to ethnic, you should have Ethiopian one night. Etete (1942 9th Street NW), Dukem (1114 U St. NW), and Queen Makeda (1917 Ninth St. NW) are probably the consensus best. All are in the "Little Ethiopia" area of the U Street Corridor.

      You should also consider Zaytinya (701 9th St NW, Gallery Place METRO stop) for Turkish small plates, or Jaleo for tapas (480 7th St. NW)

      Near the Cleveland Park METRO (Connecticut Ave) are are Dino, good Italian with a fantastic and well priced wine list, Palena Cafe for great American food (with a much fancier and more expensive Palena in back).

      Other places are
      Brasserie Beck (1101 K Street, NW)
      Central Michael Richard (1001 Pennsylvania Ae, NW)
      Co Co Sala for fantastic desserts and chocolates (929 F street NW)
      Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW near Dupont Circle)
      Kaz Sushi Bistro (1915 I Street NW)
      Bistro d'Oc (518 10th St. NW)

      I guess that is enough to start.

      1. It's probably at the edge, or perhaps just out of your price range, but one of the best "New American" restaurants in the entire metro area is right across the street from the convention center - Corduroy! Corduroy is a long-time favorite of the Chowhound community in the area, and they moved into fancy new digs within the past year, so the decor finally caught up with the food. And first rate service. And a reasonably priced, thoughtful wine list. And a nice bar/bar menu. Can you tell I'm a fan? :-)

        1122 Ninth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

        1. $50 for the WHOLE meal, or $50 per person?

          9 Replies
          1. re: Jeserf

            $50 per person!

            You can't get a decent meal for less than $15 per person these days anyways!

            But back to the conversation at hand: I was at Zaytinia when I was last in DC and absolutely loved it. How is Jaleo in comparison (taking price into consideration)?

            Also, it seems as though Central is a lock for our "New American" choice and an Ethiopian choice will be welcomed... Corduroy is a little pricey, though I may try it out on my own with a few close friends who don't mind splurging every now and then.

            That means, out of 7 recs needed, we've got 3 locked in (Zaytinya/Jaleo depending on your thoughts, one of the Ethiopian restos, and Central). Any thoughts for the other 4? I'm not a huge fan of Italian and would only go if there is someplace that does amazing, innovative fare and not your regular pasta and pizza.

            Thanks again all!

            1. re: nader

              Go up to Cleveland Park and eat at the bar at Palena. you can order off the back room menu, too. Excellent Desserts.

              I'd throw Dino in cleveland park, too, but it's Italian.

              Jaleo is touch and go. Not incredible. But not offensively bad either. I think Cafe Atlantico might be better, but I'm sure others can weigh in.

              1. re: Jeserf

                I agree - I really like Jaleo as a fun place to go with friends, but I think Andres's other places are more interesting. Oyamel, his Mexican place, is a similar idea, but very interesting. Order several different tacos (including one with grasshoppers), so you can sample a lot.

                Don't forget to lock Rasika in! It's amazing.

                In your have French food lovers, two reasonably priced bistros that are more tradtional than Central, so wouldn't be too repetitive, would be Bistro D'Oc (very charming and sweet) or Cafe du Parc (a bit brighter and more modern).

                1. re: Jeserf

                  Palena at the bar is ok for one to two people but that is a tiny spot for a group, unless you do back room then you push the price.

                  Second Rasika as amazing indian food with great drinks and excellent service. And great bars around (it is near Jaleo and Zaytinya).

                  Brasserie Beck is very good too and I think the portions are pretty substantial for the price, not a ton of bars, around but it itself has great beer.

                  I don't know if you could do Tosca in that price range, although it is near Zaytinya and etc too, but they have great Italian, I haven't been to Spezie now for a little while but it was really good last time we went too for Italian.

                  We don't have a lot of Southern that is good for big groups. Acadiana is right near the convention center it has Cajun Southern and can handle big groups, but I am not sure if it is quite the best the area has to offer. Georgia Brown's is ok, but a little pricey for just fried chicken and etc.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    gotta echo for Rasika. and I'm not particularly crazy about most Indian. skip GB's and share some of Central's fried chicken with your cohorts since you're going there anyway. GB was great and it's not bad now, but...

                    1. re: hill food

                      Alright, so here's the list so far:

                      Indian = Rasika
                      Meditteranean = Zaytinya
                      Ethiopian = Etete
                      Bistro = Central
                      Mexican = Oyamel

                      Now I just need a good, homey, big plates and lots of napkins kind of BBQ joint (if any!), an Italian closer to the city center (or where we are), and a resto that may be considered a uniquely DC experience...

                      Thanks for all the recs!! Keep 'em coming!

                      1. re: nader

                        If you insist on Italian (it's not that we don't have good Italian, it's just that it's not DC's strong point), I'd probably send you to Tosca, near Metro Center. They have some pretty interesting dishes that are usually well-prepared. I Ricchi used to be amazing, but has really dropped off in quality. So, I'd recommend them in that order.

                        BBQ is not our strong point, and while Acadiana is nice for some southern, it's not a BBQ joint. The best BBQ is probably Rockland's, which is a casual place in Glover Park, not near you.

                        I'll mull over uniquely DC. Most people would probably say Old Ebbitt because of its decor, its age, and its proximity to the White House, but the food is not special. Maybe the most uniquely DC things would be the old-school hotel bars, like the Round Robin in the WIllard (read about the history of the Willard, it's incredible) or Off-the-Record in the Hay Adams.

                    2. re: ktmoomau

                      I went to Acadiana with a large group and thought they handled it well. We all liked the food and had a good time.

                    3. re: Jeserf

                      disagree about Jaleo. I have been there a million times and the food is consistantly good and interesting. Same owner/James Beard award winning chef Jose Andres owns Jaleo, Zaytinya, Cafe Atlantico and Oyamel, all in the Penns Quarter near the convention center

                      if you are interested in Asian, both Chinatown Express and Eat First in Chinatown are authentic Hong Kong style duck/noodle houses where at times you could be the only non Asian in the house. Great food, great prices. If at Eat First, try the Hong Kong noodle soup with shrimp dumplings, the clay pot noodles, the clams in black bean sauce, the aberdeen shrimp and believe it or not both the fried rice and the low meins are great and make you wonder what you have been eating at your neighborhood chinese restaurant.

                2. You'll have better luck finding your Italian food near your hotel in Dupont Circle. Sette Osteria is the casual sister restaurant of Cafe Milano in Georgetown. It is not out of this world, but consistent, within your budget and and has a fun atmosphere.