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What can I get in DC I can't find in LA

I lived here for a few years about a dozen years ago. My wife who has never been, and I are coming to meet friends, Co-workers and explore the city and possibly head to Baltimore for one day. I have some places I remember from my time that I want to go to but I also realize the city has changed in the years I've been gone.

I want to Hit:
Julia's Empanadas [No one in LA can make a SaltiƱas Empanada worth a damn]
Ben's Chili Bowl [No one in LA has heard of a Half Smoke]
Georgia Brown's
Jaleo [can one get in on a weeknight?]
Possibly Maine Avenue Fish Market

That's what I can think of for now. Also, I am looking for a place to host 20 or so people for drinks and noshes near 7th and Mass Ave. Fado if it is still there is a bit small and loud so I am looking for options.

Thanks And Take Care

- P.

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  1. Don't forget your Ethiopian. I recommend Etete.

    Drinks and noshes call for PS7. It'll be pricer than Fado, but they have happy hour munchies and the cocktails are amazing. Call ahead and they'll reserve space for you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: katecm

      Thanks for that. LA has decent Ethiopian but I am not a fan of Injera though my wife likes it so we'll try somewhere

      An PS7 Sounds Good Especially with their Happy Hour.

      1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

        for some reason, the injera in DC is very different than other cities. like how Parisian and even SF bread is better or NYC bagels are just different.

        I used to hate injera until I tried the stuff around U street.

        and yeah anything Central American around here is not going to change your world. we can find some pretty darn good options, but nothing like SoCal.

    2. There's not much you don't have in LA. But there are a few things....

      Go to Oohs and Aahs for Soul Food from Coastal Carolina. A hole-in-the-wall with some tables upstairs to take your food to. Go for the grilled shrimp, lemon pepper wings, and broiled crabcake. Get the rice with gravy as a side.

      Go to Quarterdeck in Arlington for Steamed Crabs. If you there, go ahead and get an order of mesquite shrimp.

      Cafe Assorti is a Kazakh Bakery/Cafe in Arlington. Do a search onthis board for recs.

      Zaytinya serves some unique pan-Hellenic tapas.

      Jaleo is not swamped like it used to be, plus I think they now accept reservations.. That area has exploded with so many restaurants.

      You can get half-smokes at any hot dog strand. If you go to the neighborhood of Ben's, then go to Oohs and Aahs instead. You'll be happy you did.

      1. Chesapeake Bay blue crabs!

        1. >Julia's Empanadas [No one in LA can make a SaltiƱas Empanada worth a damn]

          Then maybe Julia's isn't the place.

          >Ben's Chili Bowl [No one in LA has heard of a Half Smoke]

          Good, but I don't know if I'd write home about it. (I did take my visiting family here)

          >Georgia Brown's

          High End Southern? hmmm,

          >Jaleo [can one get in on a weeknight?]


          >Possibly Maine Avenue Fish Market

          It's fun to go as a local, but the food is typically deep fried or steamed.

          Depending on your time frame, I'd go to Minibar or Latino Dim Sum @ Cafe Atlantico.
          And along the high end lines, there are a good # of chefs out there who are pushing the culinary envelope.

          And you can't forget Mumbo Sauce on 4 chicken wings.

          1 Reply
          1. re: WestIndianArchie

            Dunno about the dim sum at Cafe Atlantico. While I liked the food generally at Cafe Atlantico, the one time I was there for the dim sum it was quite a letdown.

            An LA equivalent would be like Mr. Chow, and Cafe Atlantico's "dim sum" menu is sort of a dumbed-down version of Mr. Chow --- and that's not a good thing.

          2. Walking to work today, I passed a place that you probably can't get in LA, because I think DC is their only US market right now: Nando's peri-peri. Great place to stop for lunch.

            1. If you don't mind going to northern VA - Arlington (not too far from DC) there is Ray's hell burger, Ray's the steaks and also Five Guys (all good cheap eats and I doubt are in LA) :)

              7 Replies
              1. re: xoxoamy

                They have a couple of Five Guys locations out in LA. It was a respectable burger and fry experience but on the greasy side.

                1. re: DrBruin

                  LA has a high bar (In-N-Out Burger) to meet for your run of the mill burger joint.

                  1. re: dpan

                    I totally agree... mmmm double double. I have to give the nod to 5 Guys for the topping selection. However, I order my double-double with extra lettuce, extra tomato, grilled and raw onions... and it's pretty much heaven in a bun.

                    1. re: DrBruin

                      xoxoamy points out Ray's Hell and the thread goes to 5 Guys? Ray's will make in and out go crying back to mommy.

                      1. re: DrBruin

                        With all of that, how can you tell what the burger tastes like? <g>

                        Whenever I'm in LA, I nearly always try an In-n-Out burger to see if I can figure out what the big deal is, and I'm always disappointed. It's OK, better than McDonald's, but for a basic burger with basic toppings, 5 Guys is clearly the winner. But I'll have to say that I have my consistently better 5 Guys shops, and given the local differences I would expect that a 5 Guys in LA might tend more toward competing with In-n-Out.

                        1. re: MikeR

                          In-n-Out and HellBurger are entirely different hamburgers that really can't be compared. The best of In-n-Out are grilled onions on melted cheese with spread which is a gloriously greasy burger that has a certain "taste." A double double, a 3 X 3, a 4 X 4. I've had all of them. But still, it comes down to the "taste." HellBurger is entirely different with a 2/3+ lb hamburger that has an entirely different flavor and texture to it. In-n-Out also has fresh french fries (which you can have with grilled onions, cheese and "spread" melted on top). HellBurger has potato chips which, for me, are a real minus. French fries and hamburgers just go together.

                          The real comparison for HellBurger would be Cassell's or the Apple Pan which many consider to contend for the title of L. A.'s best hamburger. In-n-Out and Tommy's are almost cult like places that have their own unique tastes. (A double chili cheese would be Tommy's standard-it was also our wedding meal. Serious.)

                          Still, HellBurger is one of the best hamburgers in America-maybe even the best. Anyone visiting from L. A. should go to it-it is better than Cassell's or the Apple Pan. I believe much better. But, if I had to choose between HellBurger and In-n-Out across the street from me I would choose In-n-Out.

                          Only because there is a unqiue "taste" that I really like.

                          Five Guys? I believe they are far too inconsistent. When there was only the first one on route 7 near Bailey's Crossroads we would drive there from Reston. Today, with two of them within two miles of me I rarely if ever go. In-n-Out has some issues with consistency also but they are not nearly as dramatic.

                          If I were visiting D. C. I would also go to El Pollo Rico in Arlington, Kinkead's or Black Salt and rent a car and drive to the Narrows on Kent Island for crab cakes and cream of crab soup or Cantler's in Annapolis for crabs. Also, Vidalia. For me, without question, Cafe Atlantico instead of Jaleo. L. A.'s Bazaar was founded here at Atlantico with MiniBar inside of it.

                          1. re: Joe H

                            I would not pursue burgers, which LA has aplenty. Get a steak and cheese sub at Mario's in Arlington. The Lefty Special is unique to Mario's. In Baltimore, do some grazing at the Lexington or Cross Street Markets, especially Faidley's for the rawbar.

                2. Soul food! Unless you go to the deep south or to someone's home, you can forget about having good soul food - but it is available in DC (although I am not sure i can name a restaurant - perhaps others on the board can help you find the best soul food in DC?)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cornFusion

                    I already covered that in my post above.