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Fun restaurants in central DC, for teens and moms

I'm going to be taking my 14 year old and a friend of hers from boarding school to DC next weekend with my sister-in-law. We are all foodies and want great restaurants with some fun atmosphere that would appeal to the teenagers, as well as two moms. Any suggestions?

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  1. Without knowing cuisine or price range it's hard to recommend. However, I think your teens would really like Mie N Yu. Cool atmosphere and some unique food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jacey

      We don't really want to restrict it by cuisine and as long as it's not overly expensive its fine. We're really looking for some great restaurant experiences. Thanks for the suggestions.

    2. matchbox would be my first guess.

      1 Reply
      1. re: littlew1ng

        Matchbox is a great suggestion-one of my favorite places. Also, how about Coco Sala (esp if you are dessert people- they have 3 course dessert plates, choc tastings, Americanized tapas) or Central?

      2. Depending on cuisine preferences, teens would like Oyamel, Jaleo, Spices, Dino, Busboys and Poets, Bistrot du Coin, Vapiano, Nando's, Acadiana, Pizza Paradisio...I think in general that DC is very teen-friendly.

        1. I bet a group of girls (including teenagers) would love CoCo Sala. You could go for a full meal or just dessert. Other places you guys might like: Central, Cafe Atlantico, Matchbox, Cava, Sette Osteria, and Bistro du Coin.

          Make sure to update us on where you decided to go and what you liked. It's always good to have feedback.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Elyssa

            These are great suggestions. I'll report in when we return. Thanks!

            1. re: Elyssa

              Agree with CoCo Sala, Jaleo, Oyamel and Cafe Atlantico. Would also add Zola as an option. It's got kind of a cool spy theme going for it that I bet teens would like.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Good suggestions but I would delete Central and Sette. I don't think a 14 y/o would conisder these fun. I recently took my 15 and 16 y/o cousins visiting to Old Ebbitt Grill. They loved the very DC atmosphere. They said they thought "deals" were being made around them, and they really enjoyed the variety and well-prepared food. It's also very DCish and next to the White House.

                Another suggestion would be the steakhouse at the new W Hotel. Amazing food and not that outrageous prices for a steakhouse.

                1. re: Jacey

                  I've seen lots of teens (and younger children) at Central. Almost every time I go there I see some form of a family--which is pretty neat.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    They accomodate families but it's not "fun" like some other restaurant for teen girls. I've taken my cousins there in the past.

                    1. re: Jacey

                      I saw Geithner there a few weeks ago and I thought that was pretty fun. Would have thought so as a teenager as well though. I'm sure that gives you an idea of what type of teenager I was haha

              2. For an unforgettable experience try Ching Ching Cha teahouse in Georgetown. http://www.chingchingcha.com/ Their bento is delicious, atmosphere is great and a perfect place for a light lunch / afternoon snack. Not to mention great tea selection. Also in Georgetown, desserts at Cafe La Rouche.

                1. I would also suggest proof which has a fun but sophisticated atmosphere and very good food.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    love proof, but was thinkin it might be a little old for teens?

                    1. re: littlew1ng

                      I would have loved it when I was a teen? If they are all foodies. I didn't get the feel that they wanted something un-sophisticated. In fact when I was a teen I probably wanted to be more sophisticated than I do now. But it is very fun to me, I think it has a nice classic but casual vibe.

                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        I think they should do a pizza tasting in Columbia Heights, maybe check out the clam pizza at Pete's and then stop by Redrocks. If they're still hungry, then go to a hole in the wall for tacos (Taqueria Distrito Federal).

                        1. re: Ericandblueboy

                          Hahahahahaha ok ok I am in! I feel like I am being initiated into a foodie gang- we need to work out the details, will fb.

                        2. re: ktmoomau

                          I think I was the same type of teen as you :) My favorite restaurant was Olives when I was a kid (the original in Boston before Todd English sold out. :) )

                    2. Tapas restaurants are a great choice for this. Jaleo for Spanish, Zaytinya for pan-Hellenic, Coco Sala (but only if the weather is nice enough to sit outside, the inside is more like a nightclub with v. loud music) for cocao-based cuisine. The first two are from famed chef Jose Andres.

                      Do a search for specific recs.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Steve

                        I second the suggestion for Jaleo. My teenage nieces loved it when I took them there. I also agree w/ Elyssa's suggestions of Central, Bistro du Coin, and Matchbox.

                        P.S. If you want to do a mother & daughter tea (my mom and I always do it when she comes to town), the Park Hyatt's Tea Cellar is nice, and I've heard that the Mandarin Oriental is quite grand (just be sure to book in advance). Another wonderful place for tea that someone else mentioned on this thread is Ching Ching Cha, the Chinese tea house in Georgetown. Teaism is also interesting.

                        1. re: Gigi007

                          i'll third the Thinkfood suggestions (Zaytinya, Oyamel, Jaleo) and second Teaism in Penn Quarter.

                      2. Thanks for all of the great suggestions. We are going to do Matchbox Friday night, followed by dessert at Coco Sala. Saturday I couldn't get into Central or Proof, which both look fantastic, at decent times. We are going to try Zola, which looks great too. I think we'll try to do tea also, thanks for the tip, Flaxen V! I'll report when I return.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mountainhound

                          These are all great choices. Enjoy your meals and I look forward to reading your reviews!

                        2. Reporting back after a great weekend in DC. We tried to go to Matchbox Friday night but the wait was 90 minutes. We didn't have it in us to stick it out so we wandered around Penn Quarter checking out the options until we ended up at Zaytinya on 9th at G, which is part of the Jose Andres restaurant group of Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico, and Oyamel. We got a table in the bar almost immediately and the mezze menu format was perfect for a casual start to our weekend. I applaud them for their wine list and sticking to their mission as a Greek, Turkish and Lebanese restaurant. There are no California chardonnays to be found. It was refreshing! I had a Greek sauvignon blanc that was crisp yet round and flavorful then tried a robola, which was delightful, slightly heavier white that was able to stand up to the strong flavors of our dinner. We shared all of the dishes and there wasn't a weakness among them. The bread was incredible! We gobbled it down with a roasted red pepper and feta spread, hummus and a Turkish sheep's milk cheese called tulumu that is served with honey comb. We then had a Pide, or flatbread, with tomato sauce, cinnamon and oregano topped with Haloumi cheese. It was great combo of flavors. The roasted brussels sprouts were a definite hit as was the cerkez tavugu, a cold shredded chicken salad with cilantro and walnuts. The lamb bahar was another stellar choice, flavored with spice rub and grilled, served with tabbouleh and tahini. The happening bar scene was lively but not overly loud. We could enjoy our conversation yet feel we were part of the crowd. Our service was excellent and very helpful at guiding us through the menu. We, moms, left happily sated but the girls were ready for dessert. We headed to Coco Sala. The night clubbish atmosphere inside was a hit with the teens who loved the music and "the scene". We had a glass of wine while the girls split a 3 course dessert called "xocolatyl" an Aztec tasting. The "amuse" was churros with cinnamon creme and a dulce de leche sauce. It was good and exactly as advertised.The "main" dessert was a hot chocolate souffle cake with a "fiery" chocolate center. The "fiery" center was just that and if eaten without the surrounding cake in a bite was almost too hot. The combo was effective. It was served with espresso gelato. The final course or "petit fours" was a trio of cookies which were all very good. It was a good choice for the moment and we were all happy. The service was painfully slow but we weren't in a hurry. We were there for close to 1 1/2 hours.
                          The next day we headed to Georgetown to shop. We went to Mie N Yu for lunch. The atmosphere was definitely a highlight as we were seated in our own "tent". The hit, in terms of food was the banana walnut pancakes. Every thing else was forgettable. I had a falafel pita that was dreadful. The falafel had been pre cooked and reheated, or so it seemed. They was tough and dry. The pita had been grilled but at some point earlier in the week, as it too was tough. It was served with a side salad of "fresh greens in a light vinaigrette". When it arrived I thought it was wilted spinach. It was so overdressed and must have been sitting in the dressing for hours. The crab cake sandwich was fine, as well as the eggs benedict. The eggs were cooked perfectly but the hollandaise was flavorless. They were served with what appeared at first glance as nicely browned homefries, but in reality were greasy, soggy potatoes.
                          Dinner at Zola, 8th NW at F, was a wonderful experience. We had a "window" at our table into the kitchen which was great to watch the action. The service was superb and the food was excellent, except for the seared raw tuna app. We couldn't find the tuna! It ended up buried under its accompaniments of grilled frisee, mango and avocado. It was flavorful but too little tuna compared with the other items. The golden gazpacho with heirloom tomatoes and watermelon was a refreshing and flavorful way to start. My daughter had the Zola chopped salad, which was a to die for combo of crispy sweetbreads, quail egg, and St. Andre cheese on a salad. It was incredible! The crispy arctic char was another highlight, served on a sweet pea, zucchini and leek mascarpone sauce. The fish was cooked beautifully and the sauce was very flavorful and complimented the dish nicely. The hand cut noodles with 3 meat bolognese was also delicious. The sauce was pork, veal and short ribs and was incredible without being too heavy. Their wine list was interesting and well priced. A successful evening all around!
                          Sunday we headed to the Eastern Market and ended up at Montmarte for brunch. It is on 7th St SE, between C and D. We sat outside at a charming table and enjoyed the people watching and a delicious meal. I had the buckwheat crepe with wilted spinach, asparagus, tomatoes and onions. It was light and fresh. The quiche of the day was outstanding and the Croque Monsieur, and griddled Ham and cheese sandwich with a side salad was also great. Our service was very good and we would definitely head back if we are ever in the neighborhood. After returning the girls to school my sister-in-law and I headed to Proof , G St NW, between 8th and 9th, for dinner. It was a great experience! We started with a pan roasted softshell crab served on a fresh corn and dandelion salad. It was beautifully cooked and flavorful. One of the best softshells I have ever had! The carpaccio of Wagyu beef was excellent as well. It was served with pickled red onions, wonton crisps and a spicy asian inspired sauce. The combo was outstanding. The miso glazed sablefish was the standout though. It was buttery, sweet and savory and I am still tasting it. I am definitely returning for that dish again! My sister in law had the halibut, which she liked a lot until she tasted my sablefish! The service was fantastic and the waiter was very well versed in his wine knowledge of the wine list. I told him we were interested in something from Spain or Italy and pointed to a $60 wine to give him the rough idea of our price range. He said that was a wonderful wine but he did not recommend it with our entree choices. He suggested a Sardinian Vermentino at $38 which was a wonderful choice and it did complement our dishes very well. You don't find a waiter who will do that everyday. Usually they would push things up to $75! It is an impressive wine list with lots of choices in different price ranges. I'll look forward to exploring it again. The atmosphere at Proof is serene and quite, though it wasn't close to full when we were there. The lighting is all but non existent. We were seated with mini magnifying glasses with lights, if that tells you anything! It would have been nice to have a little more light to enjoy the beauty of the food as well. We will be going back though. Thanks to everyone for your help and guidance for a successful weekend of eating in DC!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mountainhound

                            Thanks so much for your review. Sounds like you had a fun trip!

                            1. re: mountainhound

                              Great report. Sounds like you ate extremely well. Except Mie N Yu, which I've repeatedly heard has disappointing food.

                              1. re: Steve

                                +! to what Steve said, and sorry that Mie N Yu wasn't a good experience (it doesn't surprise me at all.). Thanks very much for the insightful report.