This weekend near Union Station (recs needed)
Hey 'Hounds. I'm coming in from NYC for a weekend away. Staying at the Affinia Liaison Capitol Hill 415 New Jersey Avenue NW.
Tried to get a reservation at Citronelle a few weeks back, but no such luck. Will likely try the lounge.
I'd love some recommendations for:
1. walking distance - kickass good coffee, maybe a breakfast brunch
2. Vietnamese (NYC is not as good as Boston, which I hear is not as good as DC)
3. solo bar dining (small plates preferred)
4. any good "local flavor"/dive bars
Can you help a girl out?
If you want a really transporting experience for Vietnamese food, you should make your way to Eden Center in Virginia (East Falls Church Metro stop), then a vary short cab ride. Similar experience maybe to some of those Chinese malls in Queens. At least 23 Vietnamese restaurants plus cafes, bakeries, and other shopping.
Two places that I like very much:
Bay Lo, the most adventurous, there will be a language barrier, but the menu has English on it. Just not that accurate. Go for the miscellaneous salad (don't ask), goat roll (a bit of a misnomer) and their special, the Bay Lo 7 (pork, shrimp, and meatball served with rice noodles and herbs).
Nha Trang: Just had a big bowl of rice noodle soup with shrimp paste (extruded into the shape of 'worms') that was sensational. Excellent roast quail. Overall good menu, less adventurous than Bay Lo, but still quite exotic.
Bay Lo is not the kind of place to stay open after 8pm, but Nha Trang should be open normal hours.
Both of these are located in an interior hallway (marked mall entrance) on the east side.
Bar dining,small plates: so many good choices for this. Jaleo, Zaytinya, PS 7 (more so for Happy Hour) CoCo Sala (almost a nightclub later at night), can get quite loud, excellent food, can sit outside and people watch.
Dive Bar: Ugly Mug , across from the marine barracks on Capitol Hill, though not really near your hotel, mini-burgers, steamed spiced shrimp, fried mozzarella sandwiches.
1. For brunch or breakfast I would go to Bistro Bis, a short walk from your hotel. You can also eat solo at Bistro Bis if you would like.
2. Sorry can't help you our here.
3. For solo bar dining you might want to try PS7 (the oxtail tots and tuna sliders are both excellent, plus best bartender in town), Central (especially if you can't get into Citronelle you can head to the bar at Central and try out Michel Richards menu), or Jaleo for true Spanish tapas (although I've never personally dined there alone).
4. For local flavor/something unique to the area you might want to try out Ethiopian and some of the bars on U St.
Bistro Bis has great brunch.
For the dive bar you would probably love the Tune Inn or Hawk and Dove.
Small dining with small plates... maybe Zengo only because it has a bigger bar area that isn't packed. Zaytinya has great food but the bar there is always jammed unless it is pretty early and not happy hour, and I don't love the bar at Jaleo. I would consider Proof too. I haven't been to many of the wine bars that have small plates though so one of those might be nice? I have heard Cork is great but you have to get there early to get a seat.
The restaurant in your hotel, Art and Soul, is very good. Art Smith, the chef, was Oprah's chef. Get one of the hoe cakes, for sure. You are also quite close to the Dubliner, a true local bar. Kind of a dive. Untion station is on the red line metro, which connects you with the rest of the city and area easily. For Vietnamese, I recommend catching the orange line to Courthouse, just outside of DC proper in Virginia, to Minh's. Very good. If you get on the orange/blue line to Eastern Market, you are close to decent coffee, and lots of dive (Intern) bars along Pennsylvania Avenue. The few blocks of 8th near Eastern market (to your right as you exit the metro), off of Pennsylvania, have many good solo dining options. Also, the area around Gallery Place/China town, on the red line, has many bars and restaurants. Zaytinya and Jaleo are recommended for small plates. Try also PS7 and Proof for more upscale drinks/food.
For coffee, go to Peregrine, near Easter Market (it's on 7th almost at the corner of Penn. For local bars, go to the Tune Inn on Penn and about 4th on the Hill. It's a great bar and is definitely a local dive. For Vietnamese, the Eden Center is a Vietnamese shopping center, but you would need a car, or a somewhat ambitious bus ride. You can also go to Arlington for that.
I second the rec for Art and Soul--the ahi tuna served over fried green tomatoes is fantastic.
Bistro Bis nearby has a wonderful brunch.
Sonoma on Penn betw 2nd & 3rd is a wine bar where you could sit at the bar and get some apps, pizza, etc.
On 8th street near Eastern Market is Cava-fabulous Greek-inspired mezze.
Enjoy your stay!