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Mar 1, 2009 06:14 PM

Coming to DC with 8 year old

Hi everyone,

I've been coming to DC from Columbus Ohio on business for years and am thrilled to finally be bringing my 8 year old son with me this year for his Spring break. We'll be staying around Dupont Circle (at the hotel Madera) and hanging out during the day by the museums. I was wondering if anyone could recommend both chain and non chain restaurants in the area that has good food I would like (I'm a bit of a foodie but can take it down a notch with kid in tow) and that he would like and that is reasonable in price. Please feel free to mention places that have so so food but are particularly fun for kids, it this exists. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as always! Also, if you have any other advice just in the general DC w/ kids arena please let me know. The only thing that is missing for us is that our hotel doesn't have a pool.....

Thanks in advance!


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  1. If you are museuming it Smithsonian style, the cafeteria in the Native American museum is actually pretty good, I like the indian tacos (fry bread).

    The Source also has a cafe with Wolfgang puck pizza and etc.

    By the White House for weekday lunch Breadline has great sandwiches (line but it moves fast) that would be both kid and foodie friendly.

    I think for dinner Founding Farmers would have food approachable for all ages and the price isn't too too bad for DC.

    I think Nando's Peri Peri would maybe be fun? It can be spicy though, but they have a non-spicy version. It is roast chicken, it is in Chinatown not too far from musuems. Chinatown Express would be fun to watch the noodle man in the window then eat some tasty noodles.

    I am sure lots of other people have other good suggestions and will chime in.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      I agree 100% on Founding Farmers. There's enough to satisfy your foodie cravings and really simple, but fresh and delicious, food for your son.

      I think Vapianos would be a good choice too. Especially for lunch, made to order pastas and pizzas, there is one off Dupont Circle.

      You should also try Zaytinya. While the Greek style tapas may seem exotic, the Patates Tiganites Me Yaourti (crispy potatoes with yogurt and caper salt ) are just french fries. There are a few plain options that would work for a child, and plenty more for you.

      1. re: ktmoomau

        Nando's Peri Peri is really fun. Great wings. I can think of many 8-year-olds that would love to split a big plate of wings.

        With the Native American museum, I also recommend Teaism and the cafeteria underground between the National Gallery of Art and the East Wing. Teaism has a limited, but imaginative menu for both breakfast and lunch. The National Gallery's food is a step up from most cafeterias, and the location is very convenient and surprisingly pretty for being underground.

        Teaism Penn Quarter
        400 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

        National Gallery of Art - West
        333 Constitution Ave, Washington, DC

      2. I always take younger family members to Luigis off of L street just south of Dupont. Its the kind of place we would go to at home in Philly, casual Italian, pasta and pizza -- the kind of place where dinner comes with a salad or minestrone.

        1. I 100% agree with the recommendation of the American Indian Museum cafeteria. The food is actually really good and its a fun way to teach kids about a certain culture. He can choose food from various regions.

          If you are up on the Hill or at museums nearby other places you can check out are Le Bon Cafe for a good lunch (sandwiches, salads, soups etc) or Good Stuff Eatery for burgers, shakes, and a Top Chef sighting (it's owned by Spike from last season).

          There are also a bunch of options near Gallery Place/Chinatown. I would try Cafe Atlantico for Nuevo Latin cuisine, Matchbox for miniburgers and pizza, Clyde's for classic American (a local chain which is pretty good),Jaleo for tapas or California Tortilla, another local chain, with tacos and burrittos---it has a fun feel that kids might appreciate.

          Also near the mall is Central. I've seen kids there a number of times. There will be something more gourmet for you and your son can get a gourmet cheeseburger or fried chicken.

          In Dupont Circle there are a number of options. I would try Pizzeria Paradisio (on P St) for great pizza (and an interesting beer list for you). Bistro du Coin for french bistro cuisine, Hank's Oyster Bar for east coast-style seafood (including a great lobster roll and plenty of fried seafood), Sette Osteria for more pizza and pasta. There are also 2 different Pinkberry-style fro-yo spots in Dupont, which might be fun for dessert (or a special treat)--Tangy Sweet and Mr. Yogato.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Elyssa

            Thanks everyone ! This is great! I'll let you know how the trip goes!

          2. There is no need to compromise for high quality food just because you have an 8 year old.

            In the Dupont Circle area, you should definitely walk up to Teaism on R St. Japanese Tea House with light meals. Order and pay at the register, then hunt for a space to eat with tray in hand.

            if you pass in front of the White House midweek, you should aim to eat lunch at Breadline, a rather famous sandwich shop in the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Ave. Any day of the week, go for the Italian Sausage Sandwich or the Felafel. Special sandwiches are offered once a week, like the bbq, philly cheesesteak, or the cubano. get the flavored water to drink.

            If you head up to tour the National Cathedral (and you should), you are in the neighborhood of 2 Amys, the best margherita pizza in DC and one of the best in the country.

            If you find yourself near the museums, either on the Mall or at Gallery Place (American Art and Portrait Gallery), then try one of the main Jose Andres restaurants, Jaleo ( for Spanish tapas) or Zaytinya (pan-Helenic tapas). My kids adore the lemonade at either place. At Jaleo, make sure you order the oxtail and the patatas bravas. At Zaytinya, go for the carrot and apricot fritters and the salmon. plenty for kids to enjoy at either location.

            Founding Farmers is a good place to have in the repertoire, I like it, but don't go out of your way. Nothing special about the food: only that it is mainstream American and not too expensive for a rather trendy atmosphere and downtown location. Really good for folks that enjoy cocktails with their order of pot pie.

            1. I agree with many of the suggestions already given. In the Chinatown area, I second the recs for Nandou's Peri Peri, California tortilla (though it's very much a fast food joint), and Chinatown Express (6th and H). Matchbox probably hasn't gotten a mention b/c there's always a wait and the only place to wait is a crowded bar area (with good beers on tap), but there pizza and American bistro standards are consistently good and kid friendly. You could put in your name, go see that famous colorful Obama portrait at the portrait gallery, then come back and eat.
              There hasn't been much discussion of the Capitol Hill/ Eastern market area. I would strongly recommend Good stuff eatery. The burgers and fries are good, shakes are supposed to be great, and I've seen lots of kids there. It's right by the library of congress. For just some nice urban wandering, how about Eastern Market? In the market you can get a treat at the bakery, or have lunch at Market Lunch, and there are many casual cafes nearby.
              A rec for something to see, I love to take guests to the national botanical gardens, between the capitol building and the American Indian museum. Don't miss the orchid room.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chaussonauxpommes

                The eastern market sounds like a very good idea. Just our kind of thing. I'll look it up.

                1. re: martaburke

                  The bluebuck pancakes at Market Lunch there are really a treat! I'm not sure if they have them during the week (they do serve breakfast, just not sure if the full menu) and the wait on Saturday can be an hour or more -- worth it, but be prepared. It's convenient to the Library of Congress and that side of the Mall. Weekends the flea market at Eastern Market, right next to the Eastern Market building, is also really fun -- after your bluebucks!

                  Just took a quick look at the rest of the thread, and you've gotten good advice for sure (except that I've never before heard anything very good about Luigi's, but I haven't been there). I just want to underline the suggestion for the American Indian Museum cafeteria, since I'm not sure if people always believe it.

                  Also convenient to museums is the Five Guys at H & 8th NW -- for a quick inexpensive burger.
                  And no one has mentioned Ollie's Trolley -- I bet an 8 year old would like it (if you eat burgers). I like their fries a lot, too.