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Jun 16, 2009 02:12 PM

DC Over Labor Day

Hello fellow chowhounds,

I'll be coming to the DC area over Labor Day. Staying in Rosslyn off of Fort Myer Road and would like to know whats around that area and in DC to catch a quick bite for breakfast before heading to the sightseeing.

I was in DC about five years ago and tried out Jaleo, Bistro Bis, and this little German place in a little house slight NE of the Capitol (owner was an older German lady). They were all great and I really enjoyed Jaleo (although it was a bit frantic and tight).

So my other questions besides the one in the first paragraph are these:

Is that area of Rosslyn still an okay place? I remember it catering to the business traveler it seemed?

What are some good places to eat in (I'd like to venture back to Jaleo by Ford Theatre) DC proper area as well as Rosslyn? I've seen mention of Ray's Hellburger. Also, I may finally get to Georgetown this time. I remember seeing that there was a good Ethiopian place there.. maybe it was Zeds. Anyways, I'm not looking to eat at the same places as last time. Cashion's I heard was good and so was Vidalia's. I may eat one or two nice nice dinners (not necessarily needing the full jacket and tie). I guess what I"m looking for are good places for lunch that will leave money for better experiences for dinner. Most of our (gf and I) time will be spent probably going through the Smithsonian buildings. I would love to try Ben's Chili Bowl, but I don't know about going all the way to U-Street and not sure if it would be worth going just for that.

Lastly, what are some good and safe nightspots for jazz or big band?

I may have more questions later and sorry that this is a jumble of thoughts.

Thanks :-)

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  1. Consider dining at 1789. Through mid-September, the 1789 restaurant offers its wonderful Summer pricing deal. This means three courses from most of the menu (upcharge on very few items) for $40.

    There's a new chef who has modernized the cuisine. Even with the updated options, the restaurant isn't cutting edge, but I think dining in a Federal townhouse with each room decorated in a way appropriate to the region makes for a very DC experience.

    The Manassas Room is the most casually decorated with barn planks for wall treatment and Civil War era posters and maps. The Carroll Room (aka the Fireplace Room) is the most formally decorated.

    After dinner, you could take a romantic stroll back to your hotel.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Indy 67

      I second 1789 for a great dining experience.
      Cashion's is great for brunch.
      I've only been to Vidalia once but was very underwhelmed considering the cost and expectations.

      1. re: joann.hill12

        Same feeling on Vidalia... For the money I would rather go to Palena or Blue Duck I think they are around the same price. Or Kinkeads for seafood or Corduroy. But a lot of people seem to like it. I felt a little ripped off.

        If you really want to go to Vidalia they have a 3 course $20 lunch special that seems like it would be a better deal.

    2. For live music, the DC Blues Festival is on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, at Carter Barron Amphitheater. It's free, no tickets required. There's usually an after-party. I think this year it's going to be at the Silver Spring American Legion. Details at

      1 Reply
      1. re: 4X4

        I think I remembered reading about this when the idea of DC for Labor Day was a bit of a whim. I'll definitely have to check it out and thank you.

      2. Since you are staying in Virginia, you might want to try Minh's or Nam Viet in Clarendon for Vietnamese.

        Cafe Assorti (Kazakh food) in Rosslyn serves breakfast. I haven't had that meal there, but I can vouch for their coffee.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lori D

          I should have made mention that we will probably just be taking the train to DC and making the switch at Union Station. Does this make things a little less accessible? Probably but the metro goes to just about any destination we'd probably want to go to and then walk from there.

        2. I would also like to know the areas I should avoid for my own safety (and especially at various times). Last time I was there and started to walk to Jaleo from the White House.. it seemed that more and more vagrants were showing up. I've not ventured to the other neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle. So I don't quite know whats there as far as good restaurants be they casual or fancy and so I'm eventually going to make a little map so if I'm in the area I'll know what is around.

          2 Replies
          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            Pretty much all of downtown is relitively safe at this point. The city has grown leaps and bounds over the last several years so there are more people out on the streets downtown over the weekends. If you are staying in Roslyn you should try and have drinks at Domaso in the Hotel Palomar. Great views. In Georgetown Hook is quite good. And if you liked Jaleo but want to try something dfifferent you should try Oyamel or Cafe Atlantico which are owned by the safe chef and fantastic.

            1. re: anunez

              Good to know that most places are safe now.

          2. Right in Rosslyn in the strip mall that has Ray's Hellburger all the other restaurants are great too: Pho 75, Guajillo and the Bistro place.

            The only places I would avoid at this point is North Capitol Hill, H ST NE area. I go there with company but not alone. But DC has really gotten pretty nice. There are still homeless in the parks and squares, especially along K St. but nothing I would worry about.

            U St. has many of the Jazz places, but I haven't been there in a while so I don't know exactly what to recommend food-wise as there are many new places. I used to really like Coppi's, I still haven't been to Creme, but should. And St. Ex was good.

            Downtown you have tons of option if you walk up off the mall into Penn Quarter and Chinatown. And Central is right there and really good, not too expensive but you need to make a reservation as it can get pretty full and sooner might be better than later.

            I like Tacklebox for casual lunch as well, their grilled fish is always fresh and tasty. It's in Georgetown. And it isn't a far walk (after if you like cupcakes go around the corner to Georgetown Cupcake).

            DC isn't a big breakfast place... so I am struggling with breakfast in Rosslyn. I always got good chai tea from Jay's in the metro building there when studying for the bar and friends said they had decent coffee, and they have a tivoli which has good croissants.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ktmoomau

              Yeah the last time I was there I was fortunate to stay at a place that had a free (and decent) breakfast. Thank you for the effort though. The only thing I remember about Rosslyn as far as dining went last time is that I could walk up a hill and get to a Ruby Tuesdays.. Though I'm not looking to eat at chains as with most foodie type people. I want to get a sense of what the city has to offer food wise and/or travel to other lands by being able to eat foods like Ethiopian that I can't get here.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Just thought about something. I have never been to Leopold's Kafe in Georgetown but it isn't a far walk and then you could ride the circulator bus into town, I think they serve breakfast.

                Also if you are headed into the Capital near Union Station I love Bistro Bis for brunch I think they have breakfast too. And there are some places near the mall that serve breakfast on opentable although I have only been to a few for brunch like Poste. So you could always walk into Georgetown or metro in to eat breakfast?

                You will have to walk up-hill to go to the strip mall with all the stuff. I think eating Vietnamese and Ethiopian are good option as we do those well and there are some pretty close to Rosslyn able to be accessed by public transportation. Ray's Hell burger is a burger but is def worth a stop.

                Central is definitely worth a stop the food is really good, not necessarily unique to dc, but the chef is our chef and the food very inventive and good.

                For the dinner you are far enough out to get a reservation at one of the big boys if you wanted to spend a little more.

                I also love Rasika for Indian or Bombay Club (same owners). It is Indian but a little different from your normal Indian cuisine.Both are metro accessible.

                The best Ethiopian is at U st. You can find threads on ethiopian where people debate what is best, but I don't think Zed's is considered the cream of the crop.

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  Neither Vidalia nor Cashions is worth the money. In Adam's Morgan, Casa Oaxaca and Grille From Ipanema are both better than Cashion's, and in order to get there you'll have to jump in a taxi, so you could skip all of them and go to Ben's Chili Bowl, which is in the same general area. Try to avoid anything involving physical activity after eating at Ben's, and if it's your first time, you have to get a half smoke with chili and cheese, no questions.

                  You'll be a 10 minute walk to Georgetown over a nice bridge with great views, so you should venture over. Neyla is a great spot if you're with your gf, the food is very good and the ambiance is close to perfect for a date. I would second the hook recommendation as well. Clydes is always good, even though it's a local chain. If you go further up Wisconsin (a short cab ride), you can go to Surfside for semi-cheap mexican, and it's really good, especially if the deck is open out back.

                  As for general great restaurants in the area, you cannot go wrong with Rasika, Oyamel, Central, PS7s, and Cafe Atlantico, all in Penn Quarter. The Source, in the Newseum, is amazing, but the priciest of the bunch.

                  Have a great time!

                  1. re: thehamburglar

                    It has also been suggested that I try Pasta Mia (if I can stand the line), Teaisms, and a place called Sticky Rice. I've looked over some of the above suggestions and saw on another food thread some amazing things at Cafe Atlantico (that seemed like things you'd get at El Bulli) at least in the amuse or in between meals. Proof seemed well rounded as did Obelisk with the latter being more pricey of couse. Kinkeads seems to be a bit of an institution. I thought there was a good breakfast place in Georgetown (maybe I'm thinking a soulfood place instead). What does anyone know about Art and Soul (aside from the Pres eating there and that Art Smith is the chef)? It seems a bit over priced for what it serves. PS7 seems good and its good to know that the chef cut his teeth by working through the industry. Tabard Inn for a lunch seems nice, but may be out of the way. As far as Ethiopian the two spots that seem to jump to the top are Etete and Queen M. I've read that Good Stuff Eatery has a Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake thats to die for and that I should check out some chocolate shop called Artfully Chocolate or ACKC. Lastly, I've read and been told that if I have to eat in a museum cafe that the one at the Museum of the American Indian (Native American) is my best bet. What I hope to do in the next few days is come up with a game plan to pace myself. Yeah spontanaeity is good, but I like to have a bit of a plan.

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      Teaism- it's ok. I was never thrilled with the food there, but it was ok. The baked goods and rice pudding are good.

                      Sticky Rice- It's on H ST NE, it has creative sushi rolls and fusion food. A little alternative. I really like it but if you like traditional sushi it's not the place for you. The area is a cool area you will probably have to cab to it, I wouldn't walk, fyi. Also nearby Granville Moores has good mussels.

                      What you might be seeing at Cafe Atlantico is either Minibar (30 one bite courses, but it has 6 seats and you have to call at exactly one month ahead at 9:30 to get in) they also have a dim sum brunch on Sundays that has small plates. Minibar is very molecular gastronomy, and they use that in some of the other foods, they put their eggs in a hot water bath to poach them and they have a delightful texture. They have good Saturday brunch too.

                      PS7 also has a great bartender, I haven't eaten there yet, but will soon, except at the bar but have liked most everything I have had.

                      I have heard complaints about Mitsam at the Native American Museum so I think perhaps it has gone downhill from when it first opened, it used to be incredible.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        Pasta Mia--good affordable Italian if you're in the area--the line can be a real pain. I certainly wouldn't go out of my way for it. I used to live in the neighborhood so it was a good neighborhood spot but nothing spectactular.
                        LOVE Proof and Obelisk...both are consistently wonderful. I think the 5-course pre-fixe at Obelisk for around $65 per person is a great deal. Proof is more of a "scene" but the food and wine is fabulous.
                        Art & Soul is also a great spot with great outdoor seating. I particularly loved the ahi tua served over fried green tomatoes and you have to get one of the hoecakes!
                        I've only been to PS7 once and was not as enamored by it as's been a while so I need to give it another try.
                        Tabard Inn is very cozy and intimate...if you are in the area, I think it's definitely worth going to.
                        I've only been to Etete and highly recommend it.
                        The milkshakes at Good Stuff are INCREDIBLE!!! The Toasted Marshmallow and Milky Way are out-of-this-world.
                        I took a truffle-making class at ACKC and yes, the chocolates and drinks are great. I would also recommend Biagio on 18th street for fine chocolates too.
                        I was at Mitisam a few months ago for lunch and thought it was fantastic (although a bit pricey)...definitely the best lunch option while museum-hopping on the Mall.
                        Enjoy your visit!