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Restaurant suggestion in DC for casual semi-business meeting

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Hi there. I'm looking for a DC restaurant suggestion for next week. Though I live in the area (Mont Co), I'm having trouble coming up with a place to take a professor out to a semi-business dinner, and was hoping to find a good suggestion here.

This is what I'm looking for (generally; I'll certainly take suggestions that don't fit the bill exactly, but might be close):

-moderately priced (dinner for 3 with a bottle of wine to run something less than $120, excluding the tip)
-casual, comfortable atmosphere - nothing too "trendy" (I don't want a place where I'll feel uncomfortable in my non-designer shoes with my non-designer purse)
-but good food, and not your typical chain restaurant (I like Clyde's, particularly the comfortable, casual atmosphere, but would rather take my guest somewhere a little more interesting)
-warm and inviting, but not so loud that conversation is difficult
-within short walking distance to a metro station (so, a restaurant in Adams Morgan or Georgetown, for instance, would be out)

I'm open to just about any cuisine, with the exception of a place that's seafood or pork centered.

If there's anything I can be more specific about, please let me know. Thank you very much for any suggestions!

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  1. How about Dino? It seems like it fits your criteria pretty nicely.

    1. dino might be a bit out of the price point. boulevard woodgrill in clarendon would fit the criteria. sonoma in capitol hill is more of a wine bar but the food is great and would be good for this. ray's the steaks (in courthouse) is perfect if your guests eat red meat, however, i've not been to the new restaurant so don't know if it's loud or not.

      1. how about Jaleo? large menu of tapas so usually everyone can find a few dishes they like. I usually get 3.5 dishes per person. I think if you limit your alcohol you can get out of there in your price range yet you will feel like you dined well. Gallery Place/Chinatown Red Line Metro exit

        1 Reply
        1. re: dining with doc

          Jaleo is a good idea, but I do think it can get pretty loud.

          Would an Ethiopian restaurant be too casual or exotic? Just a thought.

          RSJ -- PLEASE report back where you go!

        2. Thank you so much for your suggestions! I really appreciate them.

          Of the places recommended, the only one I've been to previously is Jaleo, which I definitely like, and would be a great choice. For some reason I had forgotten about the DC location, and was thinking that metro to Bethesda starting on the green line at College Park would be too far to ask my guest to travel. Gallery Place-Chinatown would actually be ideal as a location.

          Red meat: I'm pretty sure everyone eats it, and my husband would love it if we went to a good steak place. I've always wanted to try Ray's the Steaks, but never have.

          Ethiopian is definitely not too casual or exotic, but I don't know where to go for good Ethiopian food or what to order, as I've only had it once myself. That doesn't rule it out, I would just need some suggestions.

          I will check out all of the places you recommended online this afternoon, and will definitely report back after dinner tomorrow. Thank you again for your help!

          2 Replies
          1. re: RSJ072778

            For Ethiopian, I would strongly recommend Etete--it's located in "Little Ethiopia" which is right around U and 9th streets (U st. metro--green line).
            I've never been to Dukem, which is in the same area, but have heard good things.

            1. re: joann.hill12

              I agree with Etete. It's very small so depending on when you're going there could be a wait, and you do sit near other diners -- but it's not loud. They have a very small bar where you can wait if there's room. I think their food is better than Dukem, which is very big, with a big bar and TVs, feels more like a party -- but also often has waits. Across the street from Etete is Queen Makeda, which is very popular on this board and pretty homey, but I think Etete's probably your best bet for what you're looking for, if you decide on Ethiopian. (I haven't been to any of these places in quite a while.)

              And it's on your green line. And near lots of bars and stuff, if you want to go somewhere else for a drink or dessert afterwards.

              If you search the board, there are some very specific recommendations for what to order, but I bet you'd be happy with whatever sounds good.

          2. Reporting back! We ended up having dinner at Dino this evening at 7pm, and it was really perfect. I met our dinner guest at the bar, and we had a glass of prosecco while waiting for my husband to arrive, which was perfect. Despite the restaurant still offering their Restaurant "Week" menu, the restaurant wasn't busy (Monday night and all), but they still sat us upstairs in a quiet little room by ourselves. It provided the perfect quiet-ish environment that allowed us to talk throughout dinner, and it was nice not to feel crowded into a table for a change.

            The food was great. I started with the chianti-poached pears salad, which I really enjoyed, but my husband found his vegetable antipasto starter too sour. I had the zuppa di pesce as my entree, which was wonderful. The broth was light and flavorful with just the right amount of spice. My husband had one of the duck entrees, which I neglected to taste but he really liked. For dessert I tried the avacado gelato with red sea salt (I was already so satisfied with my meal, I figured I might as well take a chance on a unique dessert); the flavor of the gelato was definitely different - not very sweet - but the sea salt paired very nicely with it. The Restaurant Week menu also included a glass of muscato d' asti with dessert, which was delicious and a nice, sweet end to the meal.

            A good but pricey bottle of Pinot Noir put our bill considerably over what I had planned to spend for the meal, but that was fine. Dinner was all around very enjoyable, and was really a perfect choice.

            Thanks so much for all the restaurant suggestions! Dino was a great choice, and I'll keep the other suggestions in mind for future meals. Particularly Etete, which I'd really like to try sometime.

            Thanks again!

            1 Reply
            1. re: RSJ072778

              Really appreciate the report back and so glad it went well!