georgetown suggestions for foodie new yorker coming to town
If there's some non-negotiable reason you need to eat a meal in Georgetown, then the list of suggestions you've received should serve you well. However, I suspect you're noticing that folks are trying to expand your geographic focus. The reality is that Georgetown is not a stellar food destination.
Here's a list of contemporary American restaurants that better match your criteria other than location. Incidentally, they're in no particular order:
Blue Duck Tavern
The Oval Room
The WASHINGTON POST's 2009 restaurant guide is now online. Here's the link to that list. (Scroll down to the Contemporary American category)
Citronelle, Bourbon Steak, La Chaumiere, and Mendocino are the best restaurants in G'town M St. 1789 is a little walk away but a nice place. Hook is decent seafood, nothing spectacular. Neyla offers decent middle eastern, as does Fettoosh. Pizza Paradiso offers decent gourmet pizza.
You might check out Blue Duck Tavern, it is in West End sort of between Georgetown and downtown. Really good American cuisine, wonderful roasted meats which the weather has been perfect for recently, bone marrow, I like their grits. It is upscale but causual with a lot of stone but then with quaker tables and chairs. Has a really nice bar area too.
You might also find Equinox by the White House appealing as it is normally very fresh and seasonal.
Georgetown in somewhat limited for good food so you may want to get out a bit. You sound like you might really like Vidalia downtown too, I am not wild about it, but so many people are and it seems to fit your food preferences and they have a great lunch deal if you are downtown during lunch hours.
I definitely think Blacksalt is worth a visit.
You could also hop a cab over the bridge into Virginia (about a mile) to Clarendon to Liberty Tavern which has good causual contemporary American food. I also really like Eventide nearby I am not sure how someone would classify it foodwise.
If you made it up to NW in Cleaveland Park I think you might really like Palena you can sit in the front and order off the cafe or back menu. Really warm friendly cafe with great food. The pastas and soups are great.
Central to me is contemporary american fare with a French twist (and a couple French dishes like cassoulet). Very creative from one of DC's top chefs. Not as market driven but very good and creative.
If you could hop over the Restaurant Eve they are very market driven too. And Dino should be on your list. The owner Dean really does a great job finding fresh ingredients and using them in a way that really highlights their flavor. It's in Cleaveland Park too.
In Georgetown -
Cafe LaRouche for quiche and a dessert not contemporary but delicious.
Leopold's Kafe in Cady's alley for contemporary Austrian/German
Dessert at Dolcezza mmmmm seasonal artisinal Argentine gelato.
I also second Mendocino for dinner / great wine.
Hook maybe? I've never been but it's "sustainable"
There's a burger at Rugby that blows my mind...I can't remember what it's called but it has grilled pineapple and a fried egg on it.
I don't know where all the Breadline love is coming from. It's decent but it's not out of this world, though I do want to try G Street Foods. I'd rather go to the Greek Deli on 19th between L and M and order the special from Kostas.
Cafe La Ruche (no relation to the Libertarian) is MOR French bistro. Not chef-driven at all. Don't expect the menu to change with the market.
The Greek Deli is a carry-out only that serves competent Greek food. For the U.S. Huge portions that are oily and bland. Nothing creative like Mourayo in Dupont Circle and certainly not chef or market driven. He has specials, but they are the same ones every week. Tomatoes in the salad year round, etc.
The first two times I went to Breadline, I didn't 'get it' either. Not everything is great. But the Italian Sausage, felafel, and egg salad are served every day and are exceptional. The Philly Cheesesteak, the BBQ, and the Cubano (daily specials) are great too. The Mediterranean pizza ( the best excuse there is to eat lots of zucchini) is very, very good. In season, they feature a plethora of tomato sandwiches and soft shell crabs. Follow these recs and it is a great place to eat.
The problem with coming from NYC - one of the epicenters of the slow/artisnal/local/chef driven restaurant world right now to DC - which is playing catch up with this trend because it's cool and expecting to get that foodie world will only lead to dissapointment. Sure DC has a handful of really awesome chefs doing interesting things right now, but for the most part I wouldn't say this place is a fantastic place to eat given jsmiity's parameters...especially compared to NYC. Further, if jsmitty is trying to keep it in Georgetown, options are limited due to the fact that a majority of Georgetown restaurants are terrible, overpriced tourist traps.
Greek Deli's egg salad wipes the floor with Breadlines, especially when it's served gyro style. I will conceed that much of Kosta's stuff is oily, but it's tasty and good value and quality for the money.
I used to work across the street from Breadline and while there are some things that are good, I found myself often dissapointed. I quit going out of my way for it earlier this year.
I do love Mourayou but it's outside of the Georgetown parameters, if we're going to go that way we might as well reccommend Central or Brasserie Beck as chef driven contemporary American / Belgian.
As I posted before, Mendocino fits the bill perfectly. Your generic 'NYC is better than DC' paragraph is off-topic. I also agree with Dennis S. that Black Salt (Seafood restaurant and fish market) is an excellent suggestion and is just a short cab ride away in neighboring Palisades. Getting there at dinnertime would be a snap. Both are very much chef AND market driven.
I've not had the egg salad at the Greek Deli, but "good value" food is not the OP's stated preference. I stand by my assertion that Breadline and G Street Food are chef-driven. The ingredients are very carefully selected... although it appears not everyone agrees with the results. If the OP can go on a Friday, the bbq on a ciabatta is sensational. If not, the Italian Sausage Sandwich is impressive by any standards.
Both Central and Brasserie Beck are good suggestions, but I wouldn't say they are so easy to get to from Georgetown, especially midweek dinnertime.
If the OP needs to stay in Georgetown, then the Lounge at Citronelle is a better choice than either.
You'll probably want to have dinner at Mendocino Grille in Georgetown.
Midweek lunch only: Breadline. Italian Sausage Sandwich any day of the week or bbq on Fridays only. I order the bbq on a ciabatta. Near the White House.
Also near the White House, G Street Food. Get the socca. Midweek lunch only. Something you can't get easily in NY I imagine.
Breadline's ciabatta is one of best sandwich breads in the world. Both places are very much chef-driven, although the same owner-operator sold Breadline and recently opened G Street Food, which is dedicated to street foods of the world, with the chef's very individual take. The bbq at Breadline is sensational. Probably nothing quite like it in NYC. Have you had it? Or the Italian Sausage Sandwich. Honestly, these suggestions fit the OPs' request to a tee. Mark Furstenberg has been recognized as one of the best bread bakers in the US. Before he sold Breadline, he provided bread for a few of DC's best restaurants. I'm not sure if the OP is interested in lunch, but these are unique places. Where else do you prefer for lunch?
Where is socca available in NYC? Have you had it at G St. Food?
Have you eaten at Agraria? I'm not sure what "you might want to check out" means... What do you recommend there?