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Ideas for DC food tour?

I went on a food tour in Chicago this weekend. The tour guide took us to six different restaurants (a hot dog restaurant, a hot chocolate place, a gourmet grocery store that served pasta and similar dishes, a pizza place, a falafel place, and an ice cream place). Some of the places were historic, some were interesting and innovative, and all of them were great but inexpensive. At each, we had a small amount of food (a single hot dog or slice of pizza, for example) before moving on.

Does DC have anything similar? I have some friends coming into town next month and would like to put something together for them if it doesn't already exist. What places would you guys recommend for something like that? We don't mind walking, but won't have access to a car, and won't want to leave the District. We'll have a whole weekend, so we can do two separate legs if that makes the most sense.

Thanks!

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  1. I don't know about the rest, but I'd start with breakfast and the blue bucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes) at Eastern Market

    1. Well you should leave the district for Ray's Hell Burger, but it's not far at all. Manhattan to Harlem - and less.

      The general: Go by Ben's Chili Bowl and take a pic in front of it, then go to Oohs and Aahs for a bit.

      Ethiopian is a highlight of DC, though personally I'm not overly knowledgable on it.

      Vietnamese or Central/South American, but that usually gets into out-of-District options.

      I'd hit Johnny's on the Half Shell for their wood-fired wings and some sort of seafood small plate.

      Jaleo.

      Tune Inn for drinks.

      The wharf for mediocre but decent enough fried clams or something.

      Something (but not the crabcake anymore) at CF Folks (lunch on weekdays only).

      Brickskeller just for a few beers.

      Peruvian Chicken (again might be a foray into Arlington or Wheaton).

      -----
      Jaleo
      480 7th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004

      Ben's Chili Bowl
      1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

      Tune Inn
      331 Penn SE, Washington, DC

      Brickskeller
      1523 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20037

      1. I'm pretty sure that Washington Walks -- a local walking tour company -- does a food tour like this (if not them, then it's a different company; I know they offer it for WalkingTownDC). I haven't been on it, but I've been on other of their tours that have been great. I suspect the tour guide is not a big chowhound, but it would be worth checking out, as they know how how to do good tours, at least. I know winter is downtime for the tour guide business, so you might need to schedule a personal tour, instead of joining one that's already scheduled. [I'm having trouble with their website (getting a malware warning, which doesn't make sense, but I don't want to send you there in case) so can't confirm, but you could give them a call.)

        1. I found this in a google search:

          http://www.dcmetrofoodtours.com/index...

          I can't personally vouch, but it looks like it could be good. I might even do it myself...

          1. There are tours of the Eastern Market food scene. I'm actually going on one this Sunday so I'll let you know how it goes. http://dcmetrofoodtours.com/

            The same company has a tour of Ethiopian food as well, which could be cool.

            I also recieved an email from the Smithsonian about various food tours coming up:
            Barracks Row: http://residentassociates.org/ticketi...

            Adams Morgan: http://residentassociates.org/ticketi...

            5 Replies
            1. re: Elyssa

              Hi, I just wanted to put my 2 cents in on this one. I know DC Metro Food Tours, and went on their eastern market food tour a few weeks ago with the b/f. We absolutely loved it, and are planning on taking the LIttle Ethiopia Food Tour soon as well. I think you will have a great time ;) can't wait to hear what you think.

              1. re: jillo378

                Oh I'm so happy to hear that! I'm going with a friend on Sunday and am really excited. I've never been on a food tour.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  I went on the Eastern Market food tour yesterday afternoon and had a blast. I learned so much about the history of the vendors and hidden treats (I didn't even think to get kimchee for the Korean vegetable vendor). Definitely make sure to eat a light lunch beforehand because you fill up on all the little samples. I highly recommend it and am now interested in some of the other tours they host--I believe a tour of Old Town and a tour of Little Ethiopia.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    So awesome to hear!!! We loved the kimchee too. Who would have thought that you could even get that at the Eastern Market? My personal fav. was the empanada and ofcourse the dessert at the end. I'm so glad there are things to do like this in DC. Let me know what you think of Little Ethiopia or Old Town unless I beat you to it. Oh and I believe there is the Capitol Hill one too!

                    1. re: jillo378

                      My favorite was that amazing homemade baklava! Yum!

            2. Thanks, everyone. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this thread, which I've been discussing with my friends. It looks like there's some resistance to leaving the general areas of Georgetown/Dupont/Adams Morgan and Penn Quarter/Chinatown, but that should be enough to work with.

              A few other specifics we've been considering: (1) either Coco Sala or ACKC (is either of them better for something like this?) for a quick chocolate injection; (2) either Baked and Wired or Tryst for coffee/pastries (again, is either one better?); and (3) possibly something like Ching Ching Cha.

              The food tours sound great; I'd love to hear any reviews from anyone who's been on one.

              Thanks again!

              -----
              Ching Ching Cha
              1063 Wisconsin Ave NW Ste B, Washington, DC 20007

              5 Replies
              1. re: Garlic Guy

                Baked and Wired is absolutely adorable and has a huge variety of baked good options. Tryst is a cool coffee shop but the food is average, especially the baked goods. If you want a good coffee shop with also good baked goods, check out the ultra-cool MidCity Cafe on 14th St (U Street area). They take coffee very seriously as well as have some exceptional cakes. Baked and Wired still has way more variety though.

                I am personally not a fan of Coco Sala. It is an ultra-trendy place that is oozing with attitude. My friend and I, both critical food lovers, shared one of the tasting menus (Childhood Favorites) and we both were unimpressed. Stuff looked really fancy but honestly did not taste particularly good. I would not assume other things like hot chocolate or individual chocolates would be bad, though. I am just afraid of spending a lot of money and walking away unsatisfied again.
                ACKC has excellent hot chocolate (especially the ultra-concentrated one, am blanking on the name, perhaps the "Audrey Hepburn"?) and okay baked goods (not super fresh), and the environment is, well, homey but hideous. The decor in there is terribly tacky, and not in a campy way. But if you can overlook that, it's pretty good. It's a whole lot cheaper than Coco Sala as well, but I would say overall the product (and the atmosphere) are WAY fancier at Coco Sala. Depends if you're into that kind of thing.

                1. re: hamster

                  I agree that the multi-course chocolate dessert I had at Coco Sala was no better than average for the DC area and expensive to boot. But I do think the tastings of chocolate are excellent.

                  Probably the real gold there is in the sliders and salads. i didn't have any of the mac n' cheese selections.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Good tip. There are many reports that the mac and cheese is awesome.

                    1. re: hamster

                      Mac n cheese at Central is incredibly rich. Should be called The Mac n' Cheese Experience.

                  2. re: hamster

                    Also to clarify for the OP: Coco Sala is a fancy sit-down restaurant, while ACKC is more like a cafe where you order and pay at the counter and then seat yourself. Perhaps if you are trying to fit in a lot of places on your food tour, the more casual ACKC would be more practical.

                2. Hi, everyone. I'm the original poster and just wanted to follow up on this. My friends were in town this weekend and we tried to do a food tour, but given the lousy weather, and the fact that one of my friends was fighting off a cold, it was pretty abbreviated.

                  My friends arrived Friday afternoon and we had dinner at Obelisk, which was, of course, excellent. I had gnocci with lamb followed by roasted hen breast (in between all the other little courses that they serve). It was terrific, and I'm looking forward to going back someday.

                  We started off Saturday morning going to Baked and Wired, which they loved. They ordered more than I expected and even bought some "bee stings" for the road. Now that they were full, I couldn't convince them to go into Ching Ching Cha. We ended up going into a furniture store or two before sitting down for lunch at Leopold's, which was good, though next time I'll know to ask them to leave the spicy mustard off my shnitzel.

                  We ended up taking a break in the afternoon to relax indoors, out of the cold and the snow, and to take care of some personal matters before regrouping at Potenza. Our original plan was to go there for happy hour only before moving on to dinner elsewhere, but again because of the weather and my friend's illness, we decided to stay for dinner. It was great, but we overdid it: we ordered the vegetable appetizer platter and a pizza as communal appetizers (the pizza was my fault--I've had Potenza's pizza before and made the mistake of telling them how good it is) before getting individual entrees. The pizza was enough to push us over the edge into "uncomfortably full" territory, and we ended up waddling back to my friends' hotel room in varying levels of distress. My sick friend fell asleep on her bed while her husband and I parked ourselves in front of the TV and vowed never to eat again.

                  This morning, we had a forgettable breakfast at Union Station before they headed out of town.

                  So, on the whole, we didn't go to a number of places I had planned, but overall ate a lot of interesting things and had a good time. Hopefully they'll come back soon so I can take them to some of the other places that have been discussed on this list.

                  Thank you all very much for your thoughts on this; they were very helpful, and are appreciated.