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Visiting from NYC

I'll be in DC from Dec. 12 to 14 and have started to think about dining reservations. I've done some research and was wondering which three restaurants on this list would you choose?

Central Michel Richard
City Zen
Corduroy
Filomena
Komi
Marcel's
Obelisk
Palena
Tosca
Teatro Goldoni

I'd also love any suggestions for good bakeries or cafes in the Capitol Hill area. Many thanks.

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Palena
3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004

Komi
1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

Teatro Goldoni
1909 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006

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  1. Komi would be #1 by far. Chef Monis is spectacular.
    Palena would be #2. Get there when it opens at 5pm and sit in the cafe.
    Central would be #3. Get the casoulet if it's available.

    Good luck.

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    Palena
    3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

    Komi
    1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

    1 Reply
    1. re: UStifosi

      Yeah, the menu at Komi certainly looks interesting. Thanks for your recommendations.

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      Komi
      1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

    2. The Restaurants you named are considered the creme de le creme with the exception of Filomena. From this list I have only eaten at Filomena, Central, Marcels and Palena. Filomena does not compare to Central, Marcels, Palena and the other restaurants on your list they are all exceptional restaurants. I am going to Komi on Friday and I am sure I will love it. What type of food are you interested in?

      Many people on this board will recommend you add Minibar, Citronelle and Volt to your list. FYI you have to reserve Komi and Minibar 1 month in advance.

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      Palena
      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

      Komi
      1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jeremy303

        I'm mainly interested in French, Italian, Mediterranean, and new American, since my favorites in NYC include Jean Georges, Babbo, Molyvos and Gramercy Tavern.

        I'll take off Filomena, reserve at Komi, and definitely look into Minibar, Citronelle and Volt. Thanks for the tip!

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        Citronelle
        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

        Komi
        1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

        1. re: fm1963

          I'll start with the bad news. I don't think any Italian restaurant in DC is the equal of Babbo. I think Tosca is the best we can offer for Italian, but the experience there will be elegant and refined whereas I think of Babbo as having more of a trattoria/whole beast point of view. Tosca reminds me of Antico Arco in Rome, an appealing combination of refined classics and inventive re-interpretations of the classics.

          I keep trying to love Obelisk, but I've never been succeeded. The meal there starts well with a deluge of beautifully sourced and appealing antipasti arriving on the table, but the meal never follows through at the same level.

          I'll be going to Teatro Goldoni, chef's table, for the first time in a couple of weeks. We nearly had a disaster when my husband failed to specify Chef's Table when he first made our reservation. "The word" is that the regular restaurant offerings are nothing special.

          Incidentally, I've had pasta dishes at 2941 that are the equal to the best I've had at any Italian restuarnt in Italy or anywhere in the US. Now, that's fine if you want to single Italian dish among what is basically new American cuisine, but not so good if you want to eat Italian exclusively.

          DC does new American cuisine at a very high level in DC: CityZen, 2941, The Oval Room, Corduroy. You will have a great experience at any of these restaurants. That said...

          The Oval Room is staffed with four ex-Jean Georges alumni -- chef, pastry chef, and two sous chefs -- and you'll definitely see the lineage. However, there's a relatively new place in town that is part of the actual Jean-George empire: J & G Steakhouse. I haven't been, but the reviews have been excellent. Check out the WASHINGTON POST restaurant review for specifics.

          I adore Marcel's. Great hybrid of classic, professional service fused with expertly prepared French/Belgian classics and innovative cuisine. I love the structure of a meal there; basically you decide how many courses you want and what dishes you want to eat. In spite of the appearance of the menu which suggests that you choose one from a group per course, the reality is that you will decide what dishes you want to eat and the kitchen will order the sequence for a successful meal.

          Komi is great, especially if you get the tasting menu. Of course, you have to love raw fish because the New Greek food there features lots of raw and inventive fish dishes.

          Since you've got to narrow your choice to three restaurants, my vote goes to Komi, Marcel's, and any one of the New American restaurants.

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          CityZen Restaurant
          1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

          Teatro Goldoni
          1909 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006

          1. re: Indy 67

            Wow, thanks for your thorough insider's response. I'll look into the Oval Room as well!

      2. "I'd also love any suggestions for good bakeries or cafes in the Capitol Hill area."

        I think Peregrine Espresso fits the bill; it's one of the very best coffee shops in the city. http://peregrineespresso.com/

        Also, I cast yet another vote for Komi!

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        Komi
        1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

        2 Replies
        1. re: woodleyparkhound

          Thanks for the rec. Peregrine looks awesome!

          1. re: fm1963

            You're welcome! I would add that it's a bit hard to find when you've never been. Even though the postal address is on Pennsylvania Avenue, it's actually located just around the corner on 7th St. After you've had your caffeine, continue strolling down 7th St. to check out the Eastern Market and some interesting shops.

        2. First I would suggest you make reservations ASAP. Then I would go with Komi, Palena, and Central with Corduroy in a close second.

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          Palena
          3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

          Komi
          1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

          1. Komi is my #1 choice. I'm especially fond of the katsikaki that rounded out our degustazione.

            If you can stomach another 15+ course meal (especially if you failed to get reservation at Komi), and you have no problem paying $125 per person, then I'd go for Teatro Goldoni's Chef's Table.

            If for some reason you can't get into either Komi or TG, then Citronelle offers a much more expensive tasting menu while the Minibar offers a even tougher reservation.

            I'm not entirely certain when the food's really good, that you can definitely say one restaurant is better than another thus I tend to go to the restaurant with the most appealing menu. In that category I'd throw in CityZen, Corduroy, and Palena.

            1. Alas Komi is closed Sunday and Monday. I'm going out with a large group Saturday evening, so Komi won't be an option since they can't take parties larger that four.

              Sigh. But on my next visit, I'm determined....

              So far, I have a dinner res at Central on Sunday, and a lunch res at Oval Room on Monday. I'm leaving Monday afternoon) so I'm still looking for a Sunday brunch/lunch option. Palena appears to be closed on Sundays, but I'm investigating the other suggestions on this thread.

              Thanks to all.

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              Palena
              3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

              Komi
              1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

              7 Replies
              1. re: fm1963

                How big is your Sat group? I believe Teatro Goldoni's chef's table seats 8.

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                Teatro Goldoni
                1909 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006

                1. re: Ericandblueboy

                  So far, six people for Saturday eve, but I'm not in charge of the reservations since my friends are taking me out.

                  I could drop big hints about Teatro Goldoni's chef's table, but how does it work? Is it a prix fixe chef's selection of dishes a la Chez Panisse? I could not find any info on the website.

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                  Teatro Goldoni
                  1909 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006

                  1. re: fm1963

                    It's $125 prix fixe, the reservation needs to be made by e-mail or calling the restaurant directly (rather than thru Open Table) specifying that you want the Chef's Table. There are at least 15 courses, probably up to 18 or 20, depending on when you cry uncle. You can tell the chef what you don't want to eat and they'll work with your preference but otherwise it's the chef's choice.

                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                      I must say that $125 sounds very reasonable for 15 to 20 courses! I can't think of a restaurant in NYC that serves so many dishes as part of a tasting menu.

                      I'll definitely suggest this to my friends. Thanks for the info.

                      1. re: fm1963

                        You're right. I was just in NYC and my cousin who lives there says he can't think of any restaurant that does more than 10 (we had 10 or so courses at Momofuku Ko).

                2. re: fm1963

                  If you are serious about having a great brunch, then you really should go to Cafe Atlantico for the Latina Dim Sum Brunch. Limited hours if you want the 14-course set menu, but you can order a la carte as well. I do not think there is an equivalent meal elsewhere.

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                  Cafe Atlantico
                  405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                  1. re: Steve

                    Done. I have a reservation at Cafe Atlantico for the Sunday Latina dim sum brunch. Can't wait!!

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                    Cafe Atlantico
                    405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                3. Bumping for anything new and noteworthy. I've been to and enjoyed Cafe Atlantico, Central, Jaleo, and Oval Room. I'm staying at the Omni near the Woodley Park station. Budget is pretty open though I will be in jeans and a nice shirt most of the time. As for location, pretty much anything within walking distance to a Metro station (I won't have a car).

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                  Cafe Atlantico
                  405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: fm1963

                    You should check out Rasika - highly inventive Indian, unlike any Indian restaurant you've been to. It's very special.

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                    Rasika Restaurant
                    633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      The menu at Rasika looks great. I'll check it out. Thanks!

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                      Rasika Restaurant
                      633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                        I had dinner at Rasika and it was excellent, particularly the crispy spinach. Thanks!

                        1. re: fm1963

                          I'm so glad you tried that; it's a "must-order" there!

                      2. re: fm1963

                        Rasika is a great choice. I would also check out some of the 14th Street restaurants, which are fairly new---I personally like Estadio and Bar Pilar. For Italian you might also enjoy Bibianna.

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                        Rasika Restaurant
                        633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                        Bar Pilar
                        1833 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                        1. re: Elyssa

                          Estadio was great! I had lunch there today and enjoyed the ham croquettes, roasted mushrooms, scallops with cauliflower, and the octopus with potato and smoked paprika sauce. Thanks again.

                        2. re: fm1963

                          If you didn't get a chance to go to Palena Cafe on your last visit, I'd definitely recommend checking it out this time. They expanded the space last year, and are now open for lunch on the weekends and on Sunday night (though the menu is limited).

                          There's also Ripple, which is near the same Metro stop as Palena. Small, but very good seasonal menu that changes every day, and a great beverage program. Coincidentally, the new chef at Ripple used to work at Palena.

                          I haven't been yet, but right in Woodley Park is New Heights. They very recently hired a new chef who has worked in some of the best restaurants in DC, including Palena (see a pattern here?).

                          1. re: Guy Incognito

                            What is the dress code at Palena? Can I go in jeans, nice shoes, and a polo shirt?

                            1. re: fm1963

                              The cafe at Palena is less formal than the main dining room. I think you'd be fine in nice jeans and a polo. Note that the cafe is walk-in only.

                              I forgot to mention Little Serow, which is actually "new and noteworthy." It's an Isaan Thai place from the owners of Komi. $45 prix fixe for 7 courses. Casual, so jeans and polo are fine, and no reservations, so go early. Though maybe it's not worth it, since you have Zabb Elee in NYC, which is much cheaper.

                              1. re: Guy Incognito

                                We decided to splurge and had the tasting menu in the Palena dining room. While we were decidedly underdressed in jeans/polo shirt, the hostess and the staff didn't seem to mind and were in fact very gracious about it.

                                The food was delicious - what can I say, with items like scallops in sea urchin sauce and gnocchi with black truffles. I'll definitely try the cafe on my next trip to DC.

                                I'll also keep Little Serow in mind. While Zabb Elee is very popular my own experience there has been hit or miss. I'd be curious to try another interpretation of Isaan.

                                Thanks again for all of your suggestions!

                                1. re: fm1963

                                  Glad you enjoyed. I think the food at Palena is delicious even without the extravagant ingredients, as the simpler cafe menu would show. The roast chicken and the burger are probably the most popular items. Though I'd recommend trying a soup and a pasta.

                        3. Paul Bakery on Pennsylvania and 8th is great. We visited this bakery in Paris and were thrilled to see one open in DC. Great almond croissant, palmiers, pain au chocolat.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: plantainsandkimchi

                            Paul was wonderful. I had a quiche and a sausage roll with cheese and mustard and a chocolate macaron. All delicious. The coffee was very good too. Thanks for the rec!

                          2. I love moules, frites and Belgian beer at Brasserie Beck. They are also good at Granville Moore's, on H St. NE and with a very different, more casual, neighborhood feel. BB is downtown and easier to get to (if you are taking public transportation).

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                            Brasserie Beck
                            1101 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: woodleyparkhound

                              I've always been a big BB fan, but on my last visit (about two weeks ago), I was disappointed to see that the skinny, crunchy frites had been replaced by thicker, limp fries.

                              1. re: Bob W

                                That is disappointing - I loved their frites!