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Need Rec's for Restaurant in Penn Quarter this weekend

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Hi DC Chowhounds,
We are coming to DC for a concert this Friday at Verizon Center (staying at Courtyard) from Norfolk, VA. I haven't been to DC in years. We would like to find a bar/restaurant to have drinks and appetizers (small plates, tapas, nothing too heavy) before the show. We will probably be wearing jeans. We love to sit at great bars...looking for contemporary american cuisine, french, or italian. Price is not an issue. We'd like to be close to the Hotel/verizon center (walk or short cab). We are in our mid-30's, looking for a cool, fun urban scene and good food/drinks. I drink wine (by the glass) and SO drinks bourbon/whiskey. Restaurants I have looked at are: Central, Cafe Du Parc (can't tell if they serve food at the bar--don't really want a sandwich), and Proof.

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. proof, proof proof proof is perfect. especially if you're a big wine-drinker, and they also have some interesting bourbons as well. i had lunch there again today and continue to be impressed by the incredible food and service.

    1. Cafe Du Parc is going to pull you pretty far from the concert. I LOVE Central. Other options if you want to go the tapas or mezze route would be Jaleo or Zaytinya. Also, I love Zola, and it has a really nice bar scene, plus is half a block from your hotel. Get there early to snare seats at the bar.

      1. Regardless where you go, get reservations EARLY! Zola, Zaytinya, Zengo, Coco Sala, Rasika and Proof if you can get in.

        1. My first recommendation would be to eat at the bar or the lounge area (there are small tables) at PS7. They have the best "bar food" in town in my opinion. You can have wine or sample some of Gina's creative and delicious drinks (I know Gina is a fan of bourbon because she is teaching a cooking class in November with bourbon being the theme for the drinks section). As for food I highly recommend the tuna tartar sliders. The oxtail tots are also out of this world and I really like the various flat breads. It's a chic atmosphere with a friendly staff and excellent food.

          If it's Spanish tapas you want you can try the bar at Jaleo. I was there recently and had some delicious chicken croquettes and baby potatoes with a green herb dipping sauce--very good. The menu changes often and is very good.

          1. Thank you! We are now trying to decide between PS7, Central, and Proof, with Zola as a back up. On the map, it appears that Central may not be walking distance to our hotel or the Verizon center. Is that true? If so, it may help to narrow it down a bit! Thanks for all of your help!

            4 Replies
            1. re: alsky

              Central is at 11th and Penn, and the Verizon Center is on 7th and F. All told, it's about 6 or 7 blocks. Not bad at all. If someone is in stilettos, she may want to throw on a pair of flats and change into the heels on the sidewalk.

              1. re: alsky

                I can't say I loved PS7...it was good, but nothing mind blowing. Granted, I tried it with a few friends who wanted to go during Restaurant week.

                1. re: alsky

                  It's walking distance but just a little further than the other spots.

                  Those are all great choices---I don't think you can go wrong with any. But personally I would go with PS7 (it's one of my favorite restaurants in DC and I almost always dine at the bar.)

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    I can see if you were just going for HH, then PS7 would be a good possibility. However, there are a lot better choices in DC. I have found their food to be pretty boring there.

                2. Try Zengos. It's inventive, tasty, and fun. Have recommended it to a few people who have really enjoyed it. Check out their menu at www.modernmexican.com

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pgwiz1

                    If you go to Zengo get the XO edamame. I could go just for that, actually I have gone to happy hour just for that and a drink.

                  2. Jaleo (tapas) and Zlatinya (meeze or middle eastern small plates) both are perfect for your request and in Penn Quarter near the verizon center. Both are exactly what you are looking for

                    1. Thanks everyone. We ended up going to Zola and loved it! It was rainy and cold, and we happened to walk right by Zola on our way to PS7 and decided to try it. We stayed for the duration. They have an awesome happy hour ($4 wine by the glass and $1.50 appetizers) and a great bar scene. It was exactly what we were looking for! We went to PS7 after the show; nobody was there. It looked nice but we just had a drink and went home (tired by then!). Thanks again for your suggestions--I definitely need to get to your town more often, as it's only a 3+ hour drive from Hampton Roads!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: alsky

                        for your next visit, not sure when they start doing it, but in swimming pool/linen pants season the National Portrait Gallery serves ghastly and overpriced cocktails on the beautiful South Portico (why is it a nice setting usually=crap?) and the courtyard at the Hotel Monaco rivals any James Turrell minor 'Skyspace' site specific installation (although in a neo-classicist surround)