crystal city good eats?
i have a business trip coming up and am staying at the crystal city marriott.I am looking for a dinner suggestion in that area, but not chain food. i'll be in meetings all day, so am hoping to find something close enough to walk, rather than having to metro after a long day. first priority is good fresh food, second priority is a nice atmosphere, conducive to catching up with friends without having to yell across the table.
thanks in advance for sharing your local knowledge.
I'd agree with Jaleo - it's a chain, technically, because there are three of them, but it's not a big chain. The tapas are wonderful and it'll give you a chance to sample some food from one of DC's best-known chefs, Jose Andres. The Jaleo downtown had a great sangria happy hour - perhaps the Crystal City one does, too.
Try the restaurants along 23rd Street. Those are more "mom & pop" type places than what you'll find along Crystal Drive. Kabab Palace also has an eat-in area now which has been getting pretty good reviews.
There are also a few "chain" places on Crystal Drive: McCormick & Schmicks, Jaleo, Ted's Montana Grill...along with a few non-chain (Neramitra Thai, Bailey's Pub & Grille).
Everything is about a 10-20 minute walk from the metro, depending on how fast you walk!
If you go to any of restaurants restaurants along 23rd Street, you'll want to take the 20th Street underpass to safely get across Jeff Davis Hwy. It's a much more civilized experience than perching on the island in the middle of a congested street with lots of cars zooming past -- inevitable since the road is too wide to cross in one light. I can't think of a single restaurant on 23rd that I'd walk to in preference to a meal at Jaleo.
Don't worry about Jaleo being a chain. It's run by a local chef with only three other branches, all in the metro area. McCormick & Schmick et al are nation-wide chains run by distant corporate offices. Apples. Oranges.
Here's what we ate for dinner Saturday night at Jaleo:
Bay scallops w/sofrito, serrano ham, and wine
Beef short ribs braised in red wine
Grilled asparagus with Romesco sauce
Endive with goat cheese, oranges & almonds
Mixed verdict: Fried calamari w/aioli sauce (A more garlic-pungent aioli sauce would have pushed this into the sublime category: tender calamari with the lightest of breading and NO oiliness. Frankly, I should have simply asked for a wedge of lemon. The calamai itself was so good, that's all it needed.)
Pleasant but entirely forgettable:
Narrow strips of grilled onion, eggplant, and red pepper in olive oil