Anniversary Trip to DC
My boyfriend and I will be celebrating our two year anniversary in Washington DC the end of May. We will be staying at the Hay-Adams Hotel next door to the White House. We love great food and great restaurants but we like to stay in the general vicinity of our hotel when traveling and enjoying the urban experience - therefore no cab rides to Bethesda. We love ethnic food and when we travel typically try to dine one night at a great Sushi restaurant, another night at a great Indian restaurant, then another night at a great Thai restaurant, and then maybe one night just try to go to the best for romance or view, etc. Keeping in mind, we love all ethnic food, but from what I can tell about some of the restaurants in DC our taste buds may not have been exposed to the MOST authentic. For instance when looking at some of the Indian restaurant's menus on-line, none of our ten favorite dishes are even on the menu! We will be staying for three nights and would love suggestions from all of you fellow foodies - thank you in advance!!
I am so very impressed with all of your suggestions! I feel like I have found the jackpot! I had finally chosen three restaurants for our three nights! We had an amazing time and I had some dishes that we will remember for a lifetime! Thank you so much to all of you for making this an amazing trip for us!!
An in-depth report for those who care:
The first night we went to Oya and sat right next to the fireplace! We loved the small plates and the wine flights. We had the Crunchy Tuna & Typhoon Sushi Rolls to start, and then had the Calamari, Lobster Dumplings, and a side of Broccolini. For dessert, we had the Ginger Cake and Fruit Salad.
The second night we went to Rasika. From reading this board, I knew we had to try the famous spinach appetizer, Palak Chaat. I had the Black Cod (again highly recommended on this board and I certainly agree) and the Lamb Roganjosh with the Baigan Bharta and Vegetable Tamatar. For dessert, we had the Chocolate Samosa, again highly regarded on this board, I found the flavor amazing but very difficult to eat/cut.
The third night, our official anniversary celebration, we went to The Oval Room. When we first looked at the menu, I thought it might have been the wrong choice - I saw the dreaded foi gras . . . But as 'high brow' as the menu appears at first glance - the chef is a genius and the wait staff extremely knowledgable!! We had two appetizers to start, the Tuna Tartar and Peekytoe Crab Salad - an absolutely amazing mix of flavors on a plate! We then had the Baby Greens Salad as a course. Then our entrees, he had the Chicken in a BBQ broth and I had the Lobster in a Lemongrass Broth. WOW!
Indian: I'll echo everyone's praise of Rasika. The spinach appetizer alone is worth a visit. On the down side, it is typical of restaurants that equate noisy with a hip vibe.
Sushi: Tachibana, my neighborhood sushi restaurant in McLean, is considered one of the best sushi places in the DC area. However, familiarity may have created my jaded attitude. I eat lunch there once every other week and dinner there monthly. Over the several decades I've been eating at Tachibana, I've had pretty much everything on the menu, including the daily chalkboard. If you don't have access to stellar quality sushi at home, then this is a possibility in spite of its suburban location, albeit a close-in suburb. (Without traffic problems, you're about 20 minutes from the Hay Adams.)
Instead, I'd recommend Makoto, a restaurant that would serve you sushi as only one course in an eight- to ten-course Japanese tasting menu. The downside of this restaurant is that it is in the Palisades area of the city -- significantly less than half the trip to Bethesda, but definitely out of the urban center.
Of the high end restaurants, the most romantic is Marcel's. CityZen, Citronelle, and The Oval Room are all Armani-sleek with amazingly good food and superior service, but they don't meet my specs for romantic. Marcel's has a unique format. The menu lists courses and options within each course, but essentially each diner chooses whatever he/she wants to eat and the kitchen sequences the meal properly. The food ranges from innovative to traditional.
Obelisk is probably a place you should eat only if you've already traveled in Italy. There are limited options for each course and some of them are a bit challenging. (I don't think tripe was on the menu on our last trip to Obelisk, but that's the kind of challenging I mean.) I don't think Obelisk is particularly romantic either. The central table is basically a work station and over the course of the evening it gets littered with wine bottles for diners and bread being sliced.
I love Black Salt with its wonderfully inventive, well-executed fish and shellfish options, but, again, this is in the Palisades area rather than the city center. Be forewarned that you'll walk through the store before coming to the restaurant.
Taberna is a romantic restaurant -- very old world with gilt framed art and velvet upholstery. You can sit next to your date at many of the tables, always a romantic touch. My favorite dish at this restaurant, swordfish with eggplant vinaigrette, hasn't been on the menu for a while, but I've enjoyed most of what I've ordered there. Their soups are uniformly delicious. Assuming your waiter is one of the older Spanish gentlemen, take the waiter's advice; I've found that some of my best meals have included dishes I wouldn't have ordered on my own. I always enter into the spirit of the restaurant by beginning my meal with sherry, something I never do at other restaurants.
Sounds to me you are looking for Bombay Club, a very elegant Indian restaurant with thick upholstery, large plantation shutters and formal service. We made it clear to the waiter we like our food spicy and he complied. Tried a variety of appetizers including the eggplant, paneer makhani, and the okra. Had the calamari as well, supremely tender.
This is on 17th below K St, so can't be more than about two blocks walk.
Definitely no respectable Thai nearby.
Also within walking distance is Taberna del Alabardero, a formal Spanish restaurant. I do not necessarily recommend the regular menu, but some of the tapas are excellent, particularly the patatas bravas and the fresh anchovies. The bar area has four very comfortable tables, and you can peruse both menus. This is not a place to get beef or chicken, it will be quite bland, but if you see razor clams or rabbit on the menu, that is more the way to go. Tapas are half price before 7pm, which would make them the same as full-price elsewhere. This is on 18th above H St., again a two block walk for you.
Strongly endorse both these recommendations. Had a great Valentine's dinner at Bombay Club and fine tapas at Taberna last weekend, both in romantic settings. Bombay Club is pretty much across the street from the Hay Adams. Also consider its sister restaurant, the Oval Room.
Within walking distance, though a somewhat mundane room setting, is BLT Steak. Ate there for the first time yesterday and it's best of class among top-end DC steak houses IMHO. Every element of the meal was world class. Think traditional steak dinner with a slight French bistro twist and superb service.
You must do Rasika, weather permitting it could even be a nice walk. It is Indian, and one of my top favorites in the city, always gets very good reviews, so I very highly reccomend it.
For sushi, Kaz will be walkable, I haven't had a great experience there, but other have. I like Sushi-Ko which would be cabable. You might also like Sushi Taro. Oya has good although limited sushi, I haven't been to SEI yet, but hear good things. Also if you want more low brow sushi Cafe Asia isn't too far either.
For thai definitely go to Regent Thai in Dupont Circle.
For romance I like Marcel's although it is very pricey in my book. I haven't been to Obelisk, but hear the food is great and that it is romantic. We don't have a lot of restaurants with great views and good food. The Patio at Cafe Du Parc in your hotel is lovely btw and the food there is quite good. Oh and add Equinox to your romantic list.
With all due respect, Rasika which is currently nominated for a Mid Atlantic Beard award, doesn't approach the two Michelin star Vineet Bhatia in London ( www.vineetbhatia.com ) or, on a different level, Eastzeast or Akbar's in Manchester. If I had never eaten at these (or several other U. K. Indian restaurants) I would have enjoyed Rasika much more. As such, it is an excellent U. S. restaurant but on an entirely different level from an "international" best. D. C. does have excellent Thai but the best of these really are in the suburbs. Superb Vietnamese, too. In the suburbs.
In the city you should really be trying to get into: Komi, MiniBar, CityZen or Black Salt for our best. Alternatively, Vidalia, Palena, Kinkead's. The best blow out dinner of all is the Chef's Table at Teatro Goldoni which Enzo (the chef) will occasionally do for two people. It is extraordinary and, I believe, superior to MiniBar. It is expensive. But so is the Hay Adams.
Happy Anniversary! Ok, so no cabs...are you willing to metro? I will assume Georgetown is out since you would need to cab.
If you'll metro, for Indian, I would definitely try Rasika...it's incredible and innovative. It's right off the metro Chinatown/Penn Quarter. I also like Indique (in Cleveland Park right off of the metro) for Indian (and it's more affordable than Rasika).
Again in Chinatown/Penn Quarter, SEI and Oya (owned by the same people) are very hip and trendy spots and good for sushi. I also like Kaz sushi downtown. Another great spot is Sushi Taro in Dupont but they've been closed for renovations. They were supposed to have opened this month I think, but not sure if they have. Anyone know?
For Thai, I've only ever had average Thai in DC, not really worthy of an anniversary trip...I hear Regent is good but I've never been.
Another cuisine you might consider is Ethiopian. There are so many places...I really like Etete near U st. (and off green line on U st. metro).
We are going to a Moroccan restaurant, Marrakesh Palace, in Dupont this wknd with friends...I will report back.
Additional restaurants that I really like and are anniversary-worthy (what is your price range btw?) are Obelisk (Italian), Blue Duck Tavern (American), Central (new American/French), Proof (wine bar), TenPenh (Pan-Asian), and Corduroy (American) CityZen is fantasic (and maybe the best out of all that I've mentioned) but very expensive.
I recently went to the Oval Room, right in your area, and it was very good...a bit stuffy but the food and service were excellent.
Okay, let me clarify will defintely do a taxi - just don't think we should have to go far to get great food in such an amazing city!! Price range . . . I never mind paying for what you get - we don't mind spending the money on amazing and likewise think we should spend slightly less on great - make sense?? Don't necessarily need stuffy and definitely don't need foie gras! Definelty report back on Marrakesh!