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Mar 13, 2009 06:30 AM

Maine Hounds in DC next week: ethnic hot spots?

While Portland has a range of really great restaurants, our ethnic diversity is...well, a little lacking. For example, we have Thai everywhere (adequate), but not a single edible Chinese, and no other SE Asian. No central Asian. No African, and little S. American. We know that Ethiopian is huge in D.C., and have some recs for that. But what else on the DC ethinic scene should be "don't miss" for us?

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  1. I would certainly try Ethiopian. I personally like Etete a lot. But I admit that I haven't tried a lot of the Ethiopian restaurants in the area.

    If you like Indian, I really like Heritage in Dupont Circle. I also hear really good things about Rasika, which is more high-end Indian. Also in the high-end range is Bombay Club, which is good (although its been years since I've been there).

    For Nuevo Latino cusine I like Cafe Atlantico. Great food, drinks and a vibrant atmosphere. You might also want to try their Latin Dim Sum brunch, which is delicious.

    1. Rasika should be on the list it is one of my all time favorites in DC, it is modern Indian and wonderful, let your server know you would like recommendations and he will take you through the menu, but don't miss the crispy spinach starter.

      Chinatown Express will have great noodles.

      We have wonderful Vietnamese, the closest to the city is probably Minh's in the Courthouse area it is metroable, although I haven't been I am awaiting a chance to get to Present or Four Sisters which are a bit of a drive, but very good.

      We have a large population of Salvodorian, and you can get pupusas and etc.

      Peruvian chicken- go to Arlington or Wheaton to El Pollo Rico.

      For high end S. American you could go to Cieba which I really have enjoyed. Also Cafe Atlantico has a latin dim sum brunch you might enjoy. I like their regular Saturday brunch a lot too.

      You might check out Tyler Cowen's ethnic dining guide (google) it will have a lot of information you will find useful.

      We have a lot of Middle Eastern food, as well. In the city Lebanese Taverna, a small chain in the area, and Mama Asheya's would probably be your best bets for that.

      6 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        You'd think Chinatown Express has great noodles but that's really not the case. For Chinese in DC, try Full Kee or New Big Wong. If you're out in the burbs, try Hong Kong Palace or China Star.

        For middle eastern, I personally like Bacchus of Lebanon (big selection of mezzes not offered by other middle-eastern restaurants).

        1. re: Ericandblueboy

          Where is Bacchus of Lebanon? We normally go to places out in the burbs like Leb Butcher, Lebanese Market, Laylinya, Ravi Kabob and Tarbouch because they are close to us, but none are metro friendly or in DC, as a caveat.

          1. re: Ericandblueboy

            I agree, Chinatown Express is horrid, and I cringe every time it's recommended to visitors.

            I would go to Himalayan Heritage to sample Indian and Tibetan food - it's in Adams Morgan, in the city (between Dupont Circle and Woodley Park metro stations).

            I would also recommend Etete for Ethiopian, close to U Street metro.

            A lot of people have recommended very high-end ethnic - unfortunately, as others have pointed out, most of the cheap ethnic places are in the suburbs and not particularly metro accessible. If I were you, I would try Kabob Place, which is convenient to Crystal City metro (amazing Afghan kabobs, and this is not a long metro ride from city center), and consider going out to Eden Center for Vietnamese (1 mile walk from East Falls Church metro, try Saigon Cafe and check the board for recent reviews).

          2. re: ktmoomau

            I always forget about Mama Ayesha's. That's a nice choice for Middle Eastern cuisine.

          3. I highly suggest you trying the Latino Dim Sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico on the Sunday you're here ( It's like nothing I've ever done before. Accompany it with one of their Bloody M"air"ys or a Mango Mimosa.

            1. Most of the really good Chinese restaurants in the DC area are in Rockville, MD. Joe's Noodle House, despite the English name, has wonderful Sichuan food. There is also A&J for Taiwanese small plates.

              There are also tons of Korean restaurants in Annandale, VA.

              Eden Center, in Falls Church, VA, is a shopping center that is exclusively Vietnamese.

              The DC area's ethnic restaurants tend to be in the suburbs - cheaper rent, plus that's where the customer base tends to live. Many of these are doable via Metro.

              Joe's Noodle House
              1488 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852

              Eden Center
              6763 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

              A & J Restaurant
              1319 Rockville Pike C, Rockville, MD

              3 Replies
              1. re: Lori D

                I second the rec for A&J. For Sichuan I would also add Hong Kong Express in 7 corners (despite the name, excellent Sichuan especially the Chicken with Crunchy Peppers and the wood ear muchroom salad.

                I think that Korean is especially strong in DC area with outposts in Annandale and some in Greenbelt. For BBQ Honey Pig {Columbia Pike} is my by far favorite. For cooked dishes, I think that Yechon {Hummer Rd} is good for all around although I can think of somewhere else that does each individual dish better. I like On Gad Jib {Little River Turnpike} not for the all you can eat BBQ (which is cooked on stone) but for their Bossan {Pork Belly, oysters, pickled cabbage, garlic, hot peppers, sauces that you roll up into rolls to eat, huge order}, the chicken soup in hot pot which is a small whole chicken considered to have health giving properties with dried red dates, herbs and served sizzling hot and superb duk man doo {dumpling soup}. The pork neck and potato casserole is super but it is a messy pick it apart with your fingers affair.

                1. re: deangold

                  deangold, perhaps you were referring to hong kong palace, since you name the famous chicken with crunchy peppers, which we had (again) last night. their chengdu salt and pepper shrimp is also really good.

                  i'd also recommend nam viet in clarendon. arlington is blessed with a great vietnamese population, and nam viet is probably the oldest and best known place. their grilled pork dishes are really nicely done.

                2. re: Lori D

                  I agree with Joes Noodle House and A&J. Eden Center overwhelms and intimidates me.

                3. Where will you be staying? Many of the best places happen to be in the suburbs. We can give a more focused report if we know where you will be. All of these so far are good suggestions BTW.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: chaofun

                    Thanks for asking, and thanks to all for the many great suggestions! Will be staying with friends in Woodley Park area, but "being tourists" most of the time.

                      1. re: mainemal

                        In the Woodley Park area, you'll be near Mama Ayesha's (Middle Eastern), and a short bus/cab ride away from a very good Indian restaurant (in my opinion) - Heritage India in Glover Park. Another recommendation: Inti (Peruvian)--accessible by metro/bus. Have fun!

                        Mama Ayesha's Calvert Cafe
                        1967 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                        INTI Peruvian Restaurant
                        1825 18th St, Washington, DC

                        Heritage India
                        2400 Wisconsin Ave NW Ste A, Washington, DC 20007