DC restaurant for large youth group (35 people)?
I am a teacher taking a group of 30 (well-behaved) high school juniors to DC next month. I would like to find a restaurant that is relatively inexpensive, that would be able to accommodate a large group, and where I wouldn't be mortified to be disturbing the quiet, romantic meals of other diners. If there were a possibility of pre-ordering our meal, that would be great, but it's not a requirement.
I was hoping to be able to expose the students (mainly African-American and Latino kids from NYC) to a cuisine they might not be familiar with--I was thinking some kind of Asian, or perhaps Ethiopian? I don't expect them to be super-adventurous eaters, so it can't be too 'out-there'. But the food needs to be genuinely good--I want to turn them ON to something new, not turn them off forever.
Can anyone recommend a place that would be suitable? Anywhere in DC should be fine--we'll have a coach bus for transportation.
OK, this is kind of a tricky question. Most of the really authentic and not too expensive ethnic places are too small to accomodate your group. I'm guessing that you are talking about dinner?
Regarding Ethiopian if you went to Dukem really early and made reservations that they would have enough table space to accommodate you.
Another thought - you'd probably take up most of the tables, but how about calling ahead and going very early (5 pmish) to Full Kee in Chinatown? That would also put you close to the Chinese Arch Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art and the Spy Museum (expensive). Some of your adventurous students could try the ducks blood with scallions and the less adventurous could have shrimp dumpling soup.
How about korean BBQ? I think Woo Lae Oak in Tyson's Corner might be able to handle your crowd. If not, there are other Korean restaurants in Northern VA. Someone more familiar with Korean options in NOVA might be able to help guide you. Another Northern VA idea would be Vietnamese at Four Sisters in Eden Center?
There are a number of Ethiopian places with a lot of room where you would not be bothingering people in Arlington on Columbia Pike. One is very close to the Air Force Memorial and Pentagon. This is actually a closer drive to the memorials and Smithsonian than the U St Ethiopian places, but it is not in DC. (Maybe a 5 minute drive from the Lincoln Memorial with no wrong turns.)
I have taken out-of-town picky eaters to the one right beside the Air Force Memorial, and they left happy. I don't know the name, but could probably find it if needed. Price is very reasonable. Off the top of my head, I think dishes are $7 to $13.
Spices, in Cleveland Park, may be fun. While not necessarily massively authentic, they have a pretty pan-Asian menu in a very cheerful, casual atmosphere.