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DC Labor Day weekend

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A group of us from Boston and Toronto are meeting up in DC Labor Day weekend. We are arriving Saturday Afternoon and then heading out Monday afternoon. We are staying either in the Capitol Hill or Downtown area.

On Saturday we would like a quick and cheap lunch place downtown while we are sightseeing around Capitol Hill, any type of cuisine is fine just as long as its quick (Counter service would be perfect)

Saturday Night: What is the best Ethiopian in the U Street area?

Sunday we plan on visiting two museums, starting off at the Holocaust Museum and then ending up at the Museum of Natural History. Any recommendations on a nice bakery for breakfast near the Holocaust Museum and then a Lunch recommendation near the Museum of Natural History would be appreciated.

Sunday Night: We are pretty flexible on this night as far as type of cuisine is concerned, anything from American to Ethnic is fine. The only criteria would be a lively atmosphere, good cocktail menu, a little on the trendy side and most importantly great food of course. We would also like to keep the entrees under $20-25 range.

Monday: A really great breakfast place.

Finally we would like to try out Ben's Chili Bowl sometime during the visit, what is the best time to check it out and avoid the crowds and line up as much as possible.

One note in conclusion, we will be carless and relying on the Metro and our feet, so all the restaurants would need to be Metro accessible.

Thank you very much in advance!

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  1. Instead of Ethiopean I would add pollo a la brasa to your list. The D. C. area does a better job with this than anywhere else in America.

    1. On Capitol Hill Le Pain Quotidien and there is a little Mexican joint by the market I am forgetting the name I want to say tortilla is included in the name has counter service and is pretty quick. Although because of the Eastern Market a lot of Capitol Hill tends to be really busy. There is a Cosi further up closer to the Capitol if you are really in a bind. Or you could go to Penn Quarter, it isn't too far.

      For lunch wander up to Penn Quarter there are a ton of options Matchbox, Zola, Poste, Cafe Atlantico, Zaytinya, PS7, Oya, even Five Guys and Potbelly's on the lower end depending on what you want. For dinner some of the above places listed might work, although the entree prices might be a tad higher, on Capitol Hill Sonoma is nice and in that price range I believe. Central also might work.

      There is not much of anything near the holocaust museum, except the mandarin oriental hotel which isn't right next door either. I would grab something near your hotel.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        KT, do you mean Taqueria Nacionale? That's what I was going to recommend.

        If you want something more casual for lunch, I'd throw Teaism out there. Some people are divided about Teaism, but I love it, and it's hard to find anything like it.

        For bakery near the Holocaust Museum, I believe that Cafe du Parc's downstairs bar (in the Willard Hotel) has breakfast goods. You may want to call to check, but that also means you get to see the gorgeous Willard, itself worth visiting.

        For Ethiopian, I'm a sworn Etete fan. Get a whole bunch of different orders so you can try a lot.

        1. re: katecm

          No, I actually meant the place right by the market Tortilla Cafe I think it is. Yes depending on what side of the hill they are on Taqueria Nacionale would be good too, is it open on the weekends? I always forget.

          I am one of those against Teaism, except their rice pudding and cookies, those I will eat. It seems to be a love or hate place.

          Cafe du Parc is a pretty good walk from the holocaust museum, but really there isn't much around it, as it is in a section with mostly all federal agency buildings, and major roads.

          1. re: ktmoomau

            I suppose you're right, it is a haul. I'm often guilty of telling visiting friends and family that it's "a quick walk" somewhere, since I have no problem walking a mile to get to dinner. By the end of the second block, they're wondering where the restaurant is and I'm plowing ahead, enjoying the view. Ooops.

      2. Thank you very much for the rec's thus far. We actually booked our hotel and are staying at the Renaissance Downtown.

        Kate: As far as walking a little bit we don't mind at all, most of us are from Boston so walking is all we do!

        1. Had a great weekend in DC, beautiful city and still one of my favorite places to spend a weekend.

          Here is a quick recap of the food:

          Five Guys Burgers: We have a couple locations in the Boston area and I think its a solid burger joint. We arrive a little later than usual and there was one around the corner from our hotel so we stopped in for a quick bite. Good solid burger and is better in DC than it is in Boston.

          Dukem: I have had some very good Ethiopian in NYC and Boston, but Dukem was better than anywhere else I have been to before, but DC is the "place" to try this type of cuisine, so it makes sense.

          We ordered a few combination platters to sample a bit of everything. The first thing that stood out to me was the Injera, it was so fresh, tasty and much lighter than what I am used to. The highlights of the meal was the Kifto, Goden Tibs and the Lamb Wot. The Kitfo we ordered Medium and was not overcooked at all, the Tibs were great with the Dukem sauce. I also noticed that there were quite a few selections of Ethiopian beer (Five choices if I am not mistaken) Which usually I have noticed only one or two at other restaurants.

          The atmosphere and service was also very nice. The U street neighborhood in General is one of my favorite places in DC.

          Ben's Chili Bowl: After Ethiopian we went out to a Lounge for a few drinks that night in the area (btw, the bar tending at Pure Lounge is suprisingly really good) After the night out we went across to Ben's to try out a half smoke. I get why this place is special in every ones heart and there is some history there, but the food was really mediocre. I wasn't expecting much, but probably will not go back.

          Oyamel: After trying to get reservations at Central (closed Sunday for dinner) we ended up making reservations at Oyamel. I know there are some strong opinions on this place from what I have read. Put me and the rest of our table in the YES camp. Whatever you say I think the menu is very interesting and well executed in my opinion.

          It turned out to be restaurant week, so we opted for the RW menu.

          Cocktails: I had the Zombie and my wife the Pomegranate Margarita. Very good bar tending at this place. The salted foam at the top of the margarita was also a nice touch.

          Guacamole: I love how they prepare it table side. Very well done, decent size portion and everyone loved it. The Tortilla chips were excellent as well.

          Ceviche de Salmon Curado en Mezcal: I have had some really good Ceviche many times in my life and this version did not disappoint at all. Very fresh, lightly seasoned and not overwhelming. It allowed the ingredients to stand out on their own.

          Hearts of Palm Salad: They were out of the Cactus salad, so I opted for the replacement on the menu. This dish was okay, nothing special really.

          Costilla de res con Mole pipian: This was such a great dish. The short Ribs were so tender they were almost creamy. The Mole sauce was complex and delicious. Very well executed Dish.

          Tamale Verde: My wife ordered this dish. What a great Tamale from the sample I had, everyone who ordered it was impressed, even a friend that lived in Mexico for a while said it was excellent.

          Leguna Taco: Tender and well sauced tounge. Topping were simple and the tortilla tasted home made.

          Grasshopper Taco: This was not included on the menu, but I had to try one. Texturally it was very nice, the sauce was tasty and I actually liked it more than even the tongue, which I also really enjoyed.

          The desert was a chocolate custard. Very nice dish as well, the sea salt at the bottom really balanced the sweetness of the custard well.

          Overall a very good meal. The service was decent as well and I appreciated that they did not rush us, even though we ended up spending over 2 1/2 hrs at our table.

          Miss Shirleys Cafe: We spend part of Monday in Baltimore before our flight out from BWI. I went here last month when I was in Baltimore and I have to admit I am kind of addicted the chicken and waffles so we ate here. Just like last time the chicken and waffles were so good, such a great place and menu.

          Thanks again for all the recommendations.