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Ethnic Restaurant Ideas

I have been asked by a group (4-6) of elderly women for advice and assistance on two unique restaurant experiences for dinner in Washington DC this summer. What is the type of ethnic dining where you feed other people? I saw it on the travel channel but I forget what country was represented by this type of experience. Also any other ideas on dining experiences would be appreciated. These women are adventurous and would enjoy a new experience. The actual food while important, is probably secondary to the experience, if you know what I mean. Thanks for your help!

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  1. Eden Center at 7 Corners in Virginia probably tops all other ethnic experiences. It's a Vietnamese shopping center full of restaurants, bakeries, night (& day) clubs, sandwich shops, grocery stores, all of Vietnamese persuasion. It's a trip for me and I live only 15 minutes away.

    Honey Pig as well as other Korean BBQ joints in Annandale are always interesting.

    Eating with your hands at one of the Ethiopian restaurants?

    1. >>>>What is the type of ethnic dining where you feed other people?<<<<

      for the entire meal?
      "elderly" ladies at eden center might be overwhelmed. i'm just sayin'..... it is hectic, and varied with holes-in-the-wall eateries and shops, there would be lots of walking and it'll be HOT and HUMID. not easy to park. on the other hand, maybe that's what they want. "welcome to little vietnam" (sans the communists....). i shop at that grocery every now and then, and it is interesting to go see the fish in the back, and the ducks in the front, and buy green papaya for my som tum.

      i'd take them to vietnamese in the clarendon neighborhood of arlington, to nam viet. good service. good food. cold beer. calm atmosphere. easy to park. not any "scene" or excitement, but vietnamese is a cuisine that is special here in northern virginia.

      how old are the ladies, what health are they in, where are they from, what foods are they used to eating?
      i'm thinking of my mom. she would not like eating with her hands. (but i think ethiopian food is a one-note johnny, anyway.....).

      2 Replies
      1. re: alkapal

        Alkapal, have you been to Present? http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?... includes photos of a recent multi course meal that seven of us had there. I believe it is the equal of any Vietnamese restaurant here or even on the West Coast.

        1. re: Joe H

          joe h! you are a naughty, naughty boy, tempting me with that incredible place while i'm hungry. on their website, their dishes look so beautiful and delicious.
          i also enjoyed the discussion and reviews on don rockwell. i need to start looking at that site.

          my first order at present must include the crispy rockfish, most certainly -- and pretty darn soon, at that!

          thank you very much for the tip.

          how would i ever have known to find vietnamese food at a restaurant called "present"?

      2. If you want ethnic in DC, I'd recommend Ethiopian food for adverturous eaters, but be warned, it is spicy for the most part. There are plenty of places to try, do a search for them on this board.

        The DC area is also well known for Thai food, again there are lots of good places, the ones I know are in the MD suburbs as unfortunately the best ones are not in DC proper.

        In Arlington there are lots of very good Korean restaurants.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dinwiddie

          annandale has the korean restaurants. arlington, none that i know of....

          1. re: dinwiddie

            "The DC area is also well known for Thai food"


          2. They are in their early 70's pretty fit, they all walk about a mile per day. They live in Lancaster County, PA, right in the heart of the Amish country so they are used that type of food but we have lots of different cuisines nearby. While the ideas you gave sound great and I will surely pass them along are there any suggestions for specific restaurants especially those located within the city of Washington.

            1. Not sure, but I have a feeling the "feed to each other" idea is from a travel channel show that visited Etete, an Ethiopian restaurant at 9th and U NW. I don't know that feeding to each other is actually much of an Ethiopian thing or not, but I do remember that another customer fed the host (what's her name, sorry) and they kind of made a big deal of it on the show -- so maybe that's what you're thinking of? I haven't noticed a lot of strangers feeding each other when I've gone out for Ethiopian. BUT I do think your ladies should definitely definitely get Ethiopian food while they're here!!, and Etete would be a good place for them. Actually Queen Makeda, across the street might be better. Dukem around the corner is pretty fun and a lot bigger. There are a couple others around there that are supposed to be good. Just be sure to go somewhere in Little Ethiopia, around 9th and U (using the U St Metro stop), that is recommended, really that's important.

              I think they'd love Eden Center, too, but it's not right in DC and might be a bit of a pain to get to for them. But it's certainly a special thing about this area.

              Would middle eastern food seem "unique" to them? If so, they might enjoy Mama Ayesha's, which is in DC proper (nearish the zoo and convenient to the Woodley Park metro stop) and not too loud or crazy. But it's not as special as Little Ethiopian or Eden Center.

              I wouldn't describe early 70s as elderly! Isn't 70 the new 40? They sound totally up for a good DC visit.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mselectra

                You are exactly right when describing the show on the travel channel, I also forget the name of the host. These ladies are cool and you are right again, 70's are the new 40 and I am in my late 40's and I think these women could run circles around me. Thanks for the excellent recommendations, I think Ethiopian one night and middle eastern, thai, or korean the other night.

              2. They might also enjoy upscale Indian at Rasika?

                3 Replies
                1. re: ktmoomau

                  That seems like a great idea, if it's in their price range. I haven't been there (really want to go), but I understand that it's very loud, if that's an issue.

                  I was going to say, also, there's a nice Korean restaurant in DC proper -- Mandu, I think -- that supposedly is watered down Korean if you know the real stuff like in Annandale (a DC suburb), but is a comfortable place and the food is good and I suspect a very respectable introduction to it. I've taken visitors there who had never had Korean food and they loved it. It's on 18th St, in the southern part of Adams Morgan near DuPont. They have outdoor seating, and it's a nice neighborhood, too, for sitting outside in the summer.

                  For middle-eastern, I already suggested Mama Ayesha's -- which also has outdoor seating (and, if they care, they are likely to see Helen Thomas there). But for less home-style and trendier, Zaytinya is a lot of fun. It can get loud and scene-y, but I went recently at an odd time, like a little before 5pm on a Sunday, I think, and had a wonderful relaxed meal, tried new things that we loved. It's a small plates restaurant, which I think is especially fun with a group because you can all share, and if you don't like one dish you're not committed to it -- so it's easier to be adventurous.

                  PS: Very nice of you to help this group plan their trip! I know it's a ways off, but I hope you'll remember to report where they do end up going.

                  1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                  Rasika Restaurant
                  633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

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

                  701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                  1805 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                  1. re: mselectra

                    "where you feed other people" I didn't see the show on the travel channel, but that is an Ethiopian custom. You would feed an honored guest, your mother, etc... DC is great for Ethiopian food! As some others have mentioned Dukem and Etete are very good. I also like Lalibela at 14th and P NW. It's not fancy, but the food is very good. Dukem used to have dancers on Sat night (not sure if they still do- I haven't been there on Sat in a while) If your guests are looking for an experience as well as good food, that could be a really fun night. Ethiopian dancing is very unique.

                    One word of caution, Doro Wot is often considered the national dish of Ethiopia, but many Americans don't like it very much. It's a thick spicy sauce with one chicken leg and a hard boiled egg. For newcomers, I'd recommend the lamb or beef tibbs and a vegetable sampler.

                    Sounds like your vistors are a lot of fun! Let us know how the trip goes.

                    1. re: marie m

                      I'll add my voice to the Ethiopian vote, but I disagree that Doro Wot is not well-liked. The only reason I find it slightly difficult is that the chicken isn't deboned, and the that egg is whole, both of which make it difficult to apportion out a bite-sized chunk with the injera.

                2. For fancy Japanese, I would take them to Makoto...the tight setting, the thing about having to take off the shoes, and the controlled service could be an experience for some. The food is quite good.

                  For home cooked Japanese, I would take them to Temari, where it's informal but very authentic food, with TV blasting Japanese food videos. Be sure to get the specials. After you are done, go upstairs (from the back) to the Japanese grocery store, and book store and that would make a nice cultural trip.

                  For Chinese, Dim Sum at just about any large Dim Sum places...two big ones in Wheaton. Look for a good hot pot place, it could be fun.

                  Edenn Center is a must... A good Korean place in Virginia may be good too.

                  I do challenge them to consider Peruvian chicken at Pio Pio superchicken in Wheaton on a busy weekend evening.

                  1. hey, is there still that french place where everyone on waitstaff is on rollerskates? or is that loooooong gone?

                    1. Ethnic shmethnic...go to Maryland and eat crabs till you fall over!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: EmoryJ

                        yes, i had thought the same thing -- since it *is* the summer thing to do around d.c. ;-).