Dupont Circle and beyond
My wife and I are New Yorkers who are in town for a conference this week. We're staying at the Dupont Hotel and are interested in nice places (maybe steak for me, maybe French for her) to eat.
I'm opened to just about anywhere in the immediate metro area and would value the opinions here more than the guide books.
For both french and steak I would head over to Bistro du Coin. It's a loud, boisterous, real deal french bistro. I like their hanger steak out of the various steak options.
Other places you might be interested in in the Dupont area are Pizzeria Paradisio (great beer list and pizza), Hank's Oyster Bar (New England style seafood in a neighborhood environment), Cashion's Eat Place (great, moderatly priced neighborhood find in Adams Morgan), Komi or Obelisk for your splurge meal (if you can get a reservation this late in the game), Etete (on U St. but it's worth exploring other neighborhoods especially for Ethiopian), and Creme (for a little taste of the South).
I know how conferences make you stick to a neighborhood sometimes but if you are interested in specific cuisines or other parts of town, let us know and I'm sure we can give you some good recs.
I was going to say...hit two birds with one stone! Ditto for the Bistro. BDC does tasty steak & frites at a moderate price. Get a reservation in advance if you can, otherwise be prepared to wait at least 30 mins. (Be forewarned that if you have a reservation, you still might wait a bit, anyway.)
Don't go to Pizza Paradisso unless you only want good beer and don't care if your pizza tastes like a sock. You're New Yorkers, you know good pizza, and this just aint it.
I'd recommend Dukem over Etete for Ethiopian, because there's a better vibe at Dukem (and I don't think there's a difference in food quality). They have fun music & Ethiopian dancers on the weekends.
You might try to get a reservation at Central they have good steak frites and it is somewhat French (more French/American bistro, but really good my go-to place in DC).
You have a lot of other good recommendations above. I also second Ray's the Steaks- you don't really need a car though it is right by the Courthouse Metro stop on the Orange line or would be a rather quick cab ride.
If you have a car, you can't miss Ray's the Steak in Arlington. It's by far the best place for steak lovers, and if you'll believe it, the steaks are mostly between $20-30.
Your wife will love Bistrot du Coin - a bustling French bistro with great food and reasonable prices.
These two are among my top favorites in the DC area!
Close to Dupont, drinks and dinner at the cozy Tabard Inn is a great way to spend a chilly fall evening. Also nearby you would be Firefly - a good, solid charmer. Venturing out of Dupont Circle, definitely considering Brasserie Beck, Central and Rasika for Belgian and beer, creative French, and amazing upscale Indian, respetively. They're all great places and perhaps unique enough that you won't find something like them back home.
my favorite in dupont circle is mourayo. if you're looking for top-dollar, prix-fixe multi-course tasting komi is one of our top-rated restaurants and is in that neighborhood...i have never been there myself but don't doubt it's world-class. for great wine and excellent food i would look into proof in chinatown. for french for her you should look into citronelle, michel richard's georgetown restaurant; for steak for you, there's a new steak place in the W hotel called J&G that's getting very favorable reviews, and there's also a rooftop lounge in the hotel with gorgeous city views. more casual/affordable but still great steak at ray's the steaks in arlington. you'll probably want a quick lunch at some point, so, for that, maybe try greek deli, which is in the dupont area -- nothing beats their avgolemno soup on a cold, rainy day.