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Aug 27, 2009 05:10 PM

DC - ethnic neighborhood restaurants

My husband and I are spending a weekend in DC in September. We're staying at the W Hotel (former Hotel Washington), but can travel to dupont, penn quarter, U street, georgetown etc. if we need to. We'd love to find a couple of good neighborhood restaurants for casual dining with a lively atmosphere - places where locals go, not visitors eating at the nicest restaurants in town. Really good food, but not necessarily expensive or high-end. Of particular interest are ethnic restaurants including mexican, middle eastern, italian, spanish...
thank you!

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  1. Mexican, casual, I would do TECC on Washington Bvld. in Arlington. Tacqueria el Caminante Charito is a very nice hole in the wall that serves excellent corn tortilla tacos with goat or chorizo or beef, but they have a delightful taste of radish and cilantro, instead of cheese and sour cream. Middle eastern, I would go with Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church, completely family run, a very nice hole in the wall destination. But Ravi Kabob is nearby...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ziv

      Didy you read her post? Did it say anything about NOVA?

      1. re: Ericandblueboy

        we are looking to stay in the district. thank you!

    2. In DC Proper (although arguably, there are better restaurants of every variety in VA or MD)

      mexican - Casa Oaxaca
      middle eastern - Marrekesh
      italian - obelisk, tosca
      spanish - Jaleo

      2 Replies
      1. re: WestIndianArchie

        FYI -- just hoping that out-of-towners realize that some of the recommendations for places in NoVA are pretty close to their hotels in DC -- less than a half-dozen stops on the Orange Line to Courthouse and Clarendon. In fact these Virginia neighborhoods were once part of DC pre-Civil War.

        Now Falls Church, Wheaton etc are a different story.

        1. re: bordeauxfan

          Actually, TECC and Lebanese Butcher are a bit of a hike from the Metro stops they are closest to. Ravi Kabob is only a few blocks from the Ballston metro, though.

          However, most ethnic restaurants in the DC area are in the suburbs - rents are cheaper, populations they serve don't tend to live in the city. And the examples that the OP listed are not, for the most part, really well represented in the DC area.

          I don't think I would define Obelisk or Tosca as casual dining.

      2. You should definitly do Ethiopian. I prefer Dukem in U street. Other people will voice a preference for numerous other joints. Restaurants in Ustreet, Columbia Heights, and Cleveland Park tends to be more neighborhood-ish, rather than Penn Quarter and Dupont.

        1. Really neighborhood, and ethnic, are Taqueria Distrito Federal and Queen Makeda, but I don't know if they fit lively atmosphere (Queen Makeda sometimes has live Ethiopian jazz upstairs). A few other places that *might* be sort of what you're looking for (totally top of my head) are Mama Ayesha's, Cashion's Eat Place, Bar Pilar or Cafe St. Ex, Granville Moore's.

          In DC "locals" might have a more complicated meaning than other places, since a lot of people live here just a few years. Happy hours at trendy places is part of local culture, if that makes sense.