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Oct 3, 2009 08:19 PM

Visiting w adventurous young kids - Looking for places in Downtown and near Bethesda

I don't want a place where the definition of kids menu is "chicken fingers, mac and cheese, pizza"

(I don't mind ordering something for the kids off an adult menu and split it.) My kids are young (8, 5, and 3) so I need places where that would be ok.

We will be staying by the Grovesnor-Strathmore station so places close to that would be good. (dinner)

Prefer hole-in-the-wall with good food, reasonable prices. Don't want to end up at chains where I could eat at home. (but wouldn't :-) )

Also, we will of course be doing the whole national mall thing so suggestions there would be good as well.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Alan (from Raleigh, NC area)

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  1. Hi Alan, this thread has some good suggestions:

    I think most kids like Matchbox and Good Stuff Eatery. I've also eaten with friends and their young children at Firefly near Dupont Circle (it has a really nice kids' menu).

    Check out these places (all with good food and reasonable prices), and have a good time!:

    P.S. Here's Firefly's kids' menu:

    The food is top quality, and it's a fun menu. Btw, Firefy's adult menu (especially the roast chicken and the parmesan truffle fries) is great too!

    713 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

    Firefly Restaurant
    1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036

    Good Stuff Eatery
    303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

    5 Replies
    1. re: Gigi007

      Thanks! Looks like the other thread seconded Good Stuff and also recommended the place to eat in the American Indian Museum.

      There is a place close to my house (in Cary, NC) that has "kids under 12 can order anything on the menu in a childs portion for reduced price" Anyplace like this in DC?



      1. re: alan412

        Alan -- Just to add, I don't really understand why people recommend Matchbox for families. It gets very very crowded and you wait for your table in a bar area that is not kid friendly at all. I think because it's pizza and sliders in a popular hip place, people think it would be good for kids, but that hasn't been my experience. (note a recent thread where a mother was visiting with sophisticated teenagers, they stopped by Matchbox but gave up at the 90 minute! wait and went to Zaytinya instead -- much better choice, I'd say.)
        Personally, for a burger, I'd rather go to Ollie's Trolley, which is very convenient to a different part of the Mall than Good Stuff. For a more upscale burger, you could go to Central -- I think kids like yours would do fine there, especially if you go on the early side, and it's way better food than Matchbox. Both Ollie's Trolley and Central are very convenient to the Natural History Museum. But Ollie's is more in the small-scale, good food at good price category.

        The cafe at the American Indian Museum is definitely a good idea for lunch, but it also gets crowded and can be a bit confusing -- I suggest you take your time to browse, and note that you can get different dishes from different stations -- getting a variety of stuff is a good way to go there.

        And, one more thought -- if you do decide to get Ethiopian food, I would really recommend Queen Makeda (instead of Etete) -- it certainly fits your request for hole-in-the-wall, and I often see kids there. Better suited to family-with-kids dining than Etete -- they are across the street from each other. Dukem around the corner would be okay, too.

        1. re: mselectra

          You're correct that Matchbox gets crowded and that there's often a wait; like any other popular place in Penn Quarter, it depends what day/time you go (a 90-minute wait is par for the course during prime-time weekends in several restaurants in the area ). In any event, I recommended Matchox to the OP as it's one of my young nieces' favorite restaurants in DC and friends of mine who have kids love it too (even though it's not one of my favorites).. Also, IMHO, Zaytinya isn't exactly family friendly. I'd be more comfortable sending the OP to Jaleo than Zaytinya or to Central, as you suggested.

          1. re: Gigi007

            I recommend Matchbox, too- because for lunch the wait will likely be far less, and for dinner, you may get lucky- as I always have when I have been there- and never waited for more than 15 minutes for a table at prime dining time. If there is a significant wait, there are enough other choices w/in walking distance.

          2. re: mselectra

            Went to Ollie's Trolley today, and it was good and fit the bill. Good burgers, not terribly expensive. (I really liked the fries.)



            Tomorrow we have a Capital tour at 11am, so afterwards I will probably hit American Indian Museum.

      2. Jose Andres (Made in Spain, PBS) has a few tapas restaurants in DC, so these are places that serve small portions to everyone. No need to special order. Right now, he may even have a special menu going on at the National Gallery of Art.

        Jaleo at 7th and E, NW is close to the Mall. There is also a branch in Bethesda. You should certainly check them out. Search for specific recs onthis board.

        On your way back to Bethesda ,you could get off the metro at Dupont Circle and check out Teaism (R st., just west of Connecticut Ave.) for light Japanese meals. Counter Service.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          Thanks for the suggestions!


          1. re: Steve

            Andres' food will be overpriced for kid size portions!

          2. There is good news and bad news about downtown Bethesda (which a little south of Grosvenor station). The good news is that almost every place is family friendly, and a lot places are better and more interesting than national chains. The bad news is that commercial space seems to command sufficient price that there aren't that many truly hole in the wall places with cheap, great food. If you want a diner, Tastee Diner is one holdout against the gentrifying waves. Moby Dick's House of Kebab is another possibility. If you poke around you should find a bunch of other recommendations (Jaleo has a Bethesda outpost, as well as a location not too far off the mall).

            One place that is closer to Grosvenor is Addie's. It's reasonably casual, but it's not cheap and I'm not sure about how family friendly it is (although in my experience, if you eat early and the kids are reasonably well behaved, that goes a long way).

            If Teaism sounds good, you might want to check out the location near the National Archives (not too far from some of the Smithsonian museums).

            1 Reply
            1. Near the Mall your kids might enjoy Jaleo for Spanish tapas. Lots for them to try out, a bright, vibrant environment where kids should be welcome. Another option could be Oyamel (also owned by Chef Jose Andreas)...they have a grasshopper taco the kids might get a kick out of.

              Also on the Mall you should check out the cafeteria at the American Indian Museum. Not at all your typical cafeteria but a culinary tour around the various regional cuisine in this country.

              Not straight on the Mall but maybe they would enjoy Heritage India for Indian food or Etete for Ethiopian (they can eat with their hands without getting in to trouble!!).

              1 Reply
              1. I like to take my 5 year old son to Brasserie Beck at 11th and K Streets. They have a great brunch and he loves their belguim waffles.