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Sep 14, 2009 10:28 AM

Going to DC...any recommendations?

I'm going to Washington DC next month and I want to check out some of the "must have" places, whether it is the hidden find or the obvious choice that everyone knows.




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  1. There are a lot of links but are you interested or averse to any certain type of food? What is your access like and where is your "base of operation" and budget?

    1 Reply
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      Everything is an option. I have access to the Metro, so I can cover pretty much any area. I know usually more specifics will get you more responses, but I am so wide open.

    2. "Hidden finds"

      Follow these specific recs, you will do some fantastic eating:

      Thai X-ing: Only a couple of tables here, so getting seated is sometimes difficult..A unique experience. Everyone goes for the red curry salmon, a MUST ORDER. More like eating in someone's home rather than a restaurant. Maybe call first. Opens at 4pm. For a rounded meal, go for the tofu soup and the pad kana. Don't expect spicy food here. Just expect it to be great.

      Oohhs and Aahhs, at 10th and U Sts, NW. A soul food kitchen with four stools, plus an eating area upstairs. A real dive. Conveniently located, though, across the street from the U St/Cardozo Metro stop. Get the grilled shrimp, the lemon pepper wings, or the broiled crabcake, in that order. Greens and rice with gravy as sides.

      El Rinconcito, 1129 M St., NW. Salvadoran. Carne Deshilada - order this with egg. Very good tamales also. Loroco papusas to round things off.

      Higher class stuff:
      Brasserie Beck., Belgian, go for the potato gratin with pork belly, the brussels sprouts, and the liver parfait. Rochefort Trappistes #10 to drink, of course.

      Central: The combination duck rillettes/faux gras appetizer. Food here (as for BB above) is very filling. Softshell Crabs if they have them. Fried chicken or the tuna burger if not. House wines are more expensive than good. Go for something else.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        Just because I love his place at the Bazaar, is Jose Andres's place worth going to? I think it's called Atlantico?

        Steve, those all sound real good, thanks!!!

        Keep em coming.

        1. re: sarcasmsk

          I love Cafe Atlantico, but confess I've only been for brunch. The brunch is awesome, and really different from anything I've ever had. Have heard it compared to his very exclusive, very innovative, Mini Bar (in the same restaurant, just 6 or so seats in front of the kitchen, have never been myself, so again, can't compare). The brunch is known as latino dim sum and is a selection of a lot of small plates. When I've been we've ordered a la carte (about 3-5 dishes apiece), but I think a good way to go is the prixe fixe offering. I think it's about $35 and they pick the most popular dishes to serve so kind of takes the guess work out. Anyway, it's a fun experience, in Penn Quarter.

          1. re: sarcasmsk

            If you want to try an Andres restaurant you could also try Oyamel or Jaleo.

            1. re: sarcasmsk

              DC is a Jose Andres playground.

              Cafe Atlantico was his first place. The regular menu is only ok. Inside, there is Minibar, which is only six stools, VERY expensive, and difficult to get a reservation. On Sundays, there is a Latina Dim Sum Brunch where you can order a la carte or a 14 course brunch for $35. Both Minibar and the Brunch are fantastic.

              Jaleo (Spanish Tapas) was his next place, and it is my favorite. Rustic European cooking. So simple and very well executed. Search for my recs.

              Zaytinya is pan-Hellenic tapas. Also a very good restaurant, a bit more pricey and fancy than Jaleo.

              Oyamel is Mexican. Well researched, good food, though I think the antojitos are below par, especially for an Angeleno.

              1. re: Steve

                A friend of mine said something about Ray's Hell Burger...Thoughts? Feelings? Comments?

                1. re: sarcasmsk

                  Exceptional. And a good value to boot. Huge burger, soda, and side of corn for $10. Located about four blocks east of the Courthouse Metro Stop in Arlington, VA. If you go, I advise getting nothing on your burger, no cheese, nothing, and don't put any condiments on it either. Also do not order more than medium rare as it will come out well done. But this is a burger worth going out of your way for.

                  If you don't mind going to this very close-in neighborhood, then right across the street is a casual but very nice Kazakh restaurant called Cafe Assorti. Excellent stuffed breads with egg and scallion, cabbage, or ground pork. Also very good soups, manti (enormous stuffed dumplings, get the pink sauce). Plain tasting, but deeply satisfying and hearty fare.

                  1. re: Steve

                    I second everything Steve says, except to suggest the au poivre burger at Ray's.

                    1. re: sweth

                      The only reason why I suggest not getting toppings on the burger, at least once, is to go ahead and taste the burger by itself. It's fantastic and doesn't need toppings.... but maybe some of them are very delicious. The only one I've tried is the bone marrow, and I think it detracts. Of course, it's more expensive as well.

                      I'm sure I'll go ahead and take your 'au poivre' suggestion for the next time.

                      1. re: Steve

                        I like foie gras on my's really good.

                        1. re: Steve

                          I'm actually not a fan of most of the toppings there. But taking a good burger and adding in a nice layer of black pepper is hard to mess up, and so they don't mess it up and the result is Good.

            2. You might check out the top ten thread here on the board it lists a lot of peoples favorites.

              Where are you from that might make a difference in what you want to eat... I am thinking LA?

              I love Central I go quite often- pretty obvious, but I really enjoy it.

              Rays Hellburger is really good, my favorite burger. I really like the au poivre burger.

              To me breakfast or lunch at the Market Lunch is a must do for visitors the blueberry buckwheat pancakes and crab cakes are so good.

              If you want a great view of the city you might make a reservation for the bar at the top of the Hotel Washington now the W Hotel.

              I also think if you are from anyplace that isn't known for great Indian you should check out Rasika it is a favorite of mine too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ktmoomau

                I live in LA. Going to MD/DC/VA to visit college buddies...went to U Maryland College Park. I currently work at a hotel in Beverly Hills, so expanding my knowledge of other cities is helpful to me professionally as well.

              2. Got to hit Ben's Chili Bowl. Been there for 50 years or close to it. It survived the riots in the 60's when all buildings in that area were vandalized or worse. They haven't changed a thing inside or out. Their chili half-smoke is one of the true tasty treats in the country.
                U Street corridor and metro accessible.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jac0077

                  i like Ben's Chili Bowl, I really do. My problem is that out-of-towners go out of their way to get there, and in the same neighborhood they could instead be eating fantastic soul food at Oohhs and Aahhs. Have you tried the grilled shrimp at Oohhs and Aahhs? Or the lemon pepper wings? Compared to this, the food at Ben's is pretty lame. Some of the better street vendors in DC serve a chili halfsmoke 100% as good.

                  Nice ambience though at Ben's. I recommend eating at Oohhs and Aahhs, and then poking your head in at Ben's.

                2. Rasika for Indian
                  Charlie Palmer Steakhouse- for Steak, and an amazing rooftop terrace view, call ahead and ask to see the view
                  other good options are Palena, Komi, and Tosca.

                  There are so many other great options as well.

                  What type of food are you looking for?