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Sep 23, 2009 08:41 AM

Restaurant dilemma

My little brother is a freshman at GW. Since I also live in the city, my parents, sister and three grandparents are all coming down for GW parents weekend to see the two of us.

I am pretty well-versed in the DC restaurant scene but am having a tough time coming up with a location for dinner. Here are the general requirements:

-Price: I don't think my parents want to spend $50 or so (drinks included)

-No ethnic restaurants (Grandparents are picky eaters and prefer Italian or some version of American cuisine)

-Stay away from small plates or menus with a ton of options. My grandparents are older and can get a little overwhelmed trying to navigate large menus, or many choices. Think meat and potatoes...

-Has a wine AND liquor offering: I initially chose Ray's and thought it would be a perfect fit; however, the women in the family like vodka/tonics over wine and the men love a nice manhattan before dinner

-No Clydes Restaurant Group Restaurants. They've all done it before and want something else

Any suggestions on places that may fit the bill for this type of occasion? Everything I have come up with on my own seems to be a little out of the price range: Proof, Tosca, any steakhouse besides Rays, Tabard Inn, 701, Palena (although the cafe may be ok), Equinox...

I'm having some trouble here. Thanks in advance

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  1. If you don't mind eating a little on the early side you could do Tosca's $35 "pre theater" menu.

    Dino might be another good option (Italian, has good wine and liquor offerings), except that the menu might have too many options (although perhaps if you do one of their prix fixe deals it would be more manageable).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Doh

      I was thinking Dino could be an option as well. Again, the menu is can be a little extensive, but it might fit the bill.

    2. Taking into account your family's preferences, I'd say Palena Cafe (but I don't know how the cocktails are as I've only had wine there). Tosca is great too--elegant, great service, and wonderful food and they do have a $35 prix-fixe, pre-theater menu . I'd also suggest Blue Duck Tavern (near GWU too!); depending on what you order (it's the alcohol that might push things over the price limit). I've taken conservative and picky eaters in my family there and they loved it. Good basic meat (beef and chicken) entrees. Wonderful ambiance too. Last but not least, Central might be another good option.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Gigi007

        The problem with Palena Cafe is that they don't take reservations, right? I wouldn't want to take 3 grandparents (and a party of 7) there without knowing if we could sit down within a reasonable period of time.

        1. re: Doh

          Oops, I forgot about the number of people in the OP's party. If it were only for a few people, it would be OK.

          So, slight adjustment to my recs. Tosca pre-theater menu, Blue Duck Tavern, or Central.

          1. re: Gigi007

            I would be careful with Blue Duck and Central as they would definitely be close to the price mark, but the food is very good, especially since Blue Duck's entrees (at least the meats) don't come with sides.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              Yeah, I had ruled both out. I recently ate at Central and the tab for two with drinks was close to $200. Worth the price, but its too expensive for this occasion.

              1. re: caphil07

                That's too bad. The older relatives in my family really enjoyed Blue Duck, and as I said in my previous posts, it would be within your price range (drinks aside--which will likely be the case at many other good restaurants as well).

              2. re: ktmoomau

                I've found that Blue Duck's portions--chicken and steak served family style--are quite large (generally enough for 2 and sometimes 3 people).The sides are not spectacular so we've only gotten a few of them. Let me say that I've eaten at Blue Duck many times, and without the alcohol (as I mentioned), the cost was within the OP's price limit.

          2. re: Gigi007

            Palena has wonderful cocktails!

            It doesn't get mentioned much here, but I think Cashion's Eat Place would also fit your needs really well. It's my family's favorite restaurant when they visit (it is in my neighborhood though, so that helps). I'm pretty sure it's within your budget, depending on how much you drink. They have a quite short, seasonal, menu that they take a lot of care with, but isn't super trendy, if you know what I mean. Always seem to have some meat and potato main course on there. You do need to be careful -- my grandmother ordered gumbo that was too spicey for her (I wasn't there, or I would have warned her). They also seem to take a lot of pride in the wine list (I don't know much about wine), but also do mixed drinks pretty well, think I've actually ordered a manhattan, myself. It's also very comfortable, low decibel level but not too quiet, and I think the service is wonderful in a casual but professional and knowledgeable-about-food way. Just thought it might not have been on your radar, so it's a thought.

            ETA: I think you're right about Palena, that it's not such a good idea after all, with the size of your group and no reservations.

          3. I second Dino and Tosca (for pre-theater). You might also check out.

            If it doesn't have to be right in downtown DC, Liberty Tavern would be an excellent choice that I would highly recommend. They have the steak and potatoes type of dishes like the wonderful pork chop or the steak, but it is all really good and they have big portions for a good price. Nice wine and liquor choices.

            Inside DC I would also recommend perhaps the Tabard Inn or Chef Geoff's which isn't my absolute favorite, but has some good things and is relatively safe. They have good burgers and etc.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ktmoomau

              Re Chef Geoff's, I and many others on this board don't recommend it. See:


              There are so many better alternatives out there, even for picky and conservative eaters.

              1. re: Gigi007

                Whole Chef Geoff's might not be a good recommendation, Lia's in Friendship Heights is great. Not that close to GW, but it is good food and service.

              2. re: ktmoomau

                I like the Liberty Tavern idea! Great menu for what you're looking for- small, but very well thought-out, and good, straight-forward food. Can get a touch loud on busy nights, but should be ok if you dine on the early-side.

                I'd also recommend Siroc for an Italian option. Again, a small but delicious menu, with some inventive pastas (tomato gnocchi w/ lobster cream and corn shoots was one I recall), as well as classics (fettucine w/ a meat ragu), plus meat and fish options. Very reasonably priced- fiance and I have gotten out of there for under $100 w/ starters (2), entrees (2), dessert (him), and wine (me).

              3. I'd recommend Dino, or if you're looking for something a bit more trendy but largely within that price point, maybe PS7

                1. Besides Dino, also in the Cleveland Park area, there's a reasonably priced good Italian restaurant that my friends and family like very much--Sorriso. The menu offers something for everyone--fresh pasta, good antipasto, and solid mains. The atmosphere is also very charming, and service is gracious and welcoming.


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Gigi007

                    For Italian which won't break the bank and is also pretty traditional, I like Sette Osteria in Dupont Circle. Would Bistrot du Coin be too loud? It fits your price range, cuisine needs, drink needs and it takes reservations.

                    1. re: dcandohio

                      Sette Osteria is a good suggestion. Regarding Bistro du Coin, I don't know if the OP's grandparents would like it. It is very noisy and boisterous.

                      1. re: Gigi007

                        I wondered about that. My parents (ages 78 and 82), who are grandparents, would LOVE Bistrot du Coin, but alas, cannot climb the stairs to the bathrooms.

                        1. re: dcandohio

                          Well, there are all kinds of people in this world. The OP's description rings conservative, and Bistro du Coin is not a meat and potatoes kind of place anyway. Added to that, in general it is not a place frequented by a lot of older grandparents in general. Last but not least, given that it's so noisy, you have to consider that it may be difficult for older people to hear in that environment. My father who is in his 70s (and a grandparent) did not like BdC for that reason in particular.