NYC Hounds Coming to DC for 4 Days
I've been looking through the boards and I've seen some yummy things but I wanted to get some more direct help. So my wife and I are major NYC foodies and we like all cuisines. We can travel anywhere via public transportation and money is not not a serious concern for 1 nice meal. For our nicer meal, I'd we'd like to eat somewhere that focuses on farm raised or at least somewhat seasonal/local ingredients. We'd also probably like to avoid cuisines that NYC does really well like Pizza and sushi although I'd love to hear about any gems you guys might like. Lastly, are there ethnic foods to be found in DC that might not be so popular here? Perhaps African cuisines? Also, any recs for bars focusing on 'mixology' that take their cocktails seriously? Thanks so much in advance for your help!
A few suggestions for your trip:
If you've searched these boards you probably came across Ethiopian as a cuisine DC does well. Etete and Dukem (both on U Street) are two places many people on this board favor. I think they would be worth a look if you want something different.
For your nicer dinner, there are many restaurants that focus on local/seasonal ingredients. The one that really stands out for me though is Restaurant Eve. It is in Old Town Alexandria which makes it a bit more difficult in terms of travel, but the cab fare over there will be worth it. Cathal Armstrong is an area star and his cuisine is worth checking out.
As far as bars that take their cocktails seriously, there are a few I would recommend. PS7 in Chinatown is an interesting choice. Its usually not too busy, but the mixologist, Gina, is fantastic. She is very hands on and has GREAT cocktails. I prefer it to trendier places like Gibson (a speakeasy type place on 14th and U st) because you can get more individual attention from the bartender. This usually results in cocktails more geared towards your individual tastes.
I would also suggest the Columbia Room at the Passenger, on 7th street. The Passenger is a bar recently opened by Derek Brown, one of the main owners of Gibson. Unlike Gibson, the Passenger is easily accessible and very laid back. The main room has a nice bar, but the real attraction is the Columbia Room. It is a small room and reservations are required. They can only take parties as large as four people. For a set price (I believe its $49), you sit with a mixologist who custom makes cocktails for you based on your tastes. It is supposedly very up close and personal. They pair the cocktails with some small plates from the kitchen. The food is definitely second fiddle here, so I'd recommend eating somewhere else and heading there after.
Hope it helps.
Great ideas from caphil07...another reason to check out Restaurant Eve is that they are said to do fabulous cocktails there as well. You can Metro to King Street (blue or yellow line), then walk from there if the weather is nice or cab from there if it isn't. It is about a 15 minute walk and very pleasant.
PS7 is great for cocktails - and for tuna sliders.
Don't miss Ethiopian - I love Etete. Dukem is my second choice and lots of people like Queen Makeda - all near the U St. Metro. There is also a great soul food hole-in-the-wall in that neighborhood called Oohs and Aahs. You'll find a lot written about it on this board.
There are several fantastic Korean places in suburban VA (Annandale) - but they are not easy accessible by public transportation.
I hope you enjoy DC!
Thank you all so much! We are staying at the Park Hyatt (24 and M I think) and we've been told by a couple of chef friends of ours that the Blue Duck restaurant in the hotel is decent. That was a surprise to me as hotel restaurants are not very good here in NY! We will also definitely be doing Ethiopian and also Oohs and Aahs. We just don't have anything like that. We're still figuring out our higher end meal and Restaurant Eve sounds and looks wonderful. Our only concern is that it seems quite formal. Is that right? We do that for special occasions but the 'jacket required' places are very rare for us. We certainly do it for great food and this may be one of those times though so we're figuring it out. Also, how is the Passnger if we are not in the Columbia Room. I think we won't be there for Thurs-Sat when they are open in back. Is the front room quiet? Packed? Lastly, could you tell me more about Thai? Our Thai is horrible here and it sounds like you guys have some great options. How do you think it compares to LA where Thai is very good and popular?
Thank you all for such generous recs thus far!
110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
You have to get out to the suburbs for good Thai except for maybe Thai X-ing which is located in a basement apartment and has only two tables. They take reservations! Their salmon red curry is exceptional. I also recommend the pad kana and the tofu soup. More like eating in somebody's home than going to a restaurant. Avoid the pad thai at all costs, though.
Thai Square in Arlington, VA if you are willing to go to 'burbs. make sure you get the appetizers of tile fish and catfish.
3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204
I love Ruan Thai and Nava Thai - both are in Wheaton, MD and both are an easy walk from the Wheaton Metro. There is lots of info about both on the board. I lived in Thailand and find both of these places to be pretty authentic - they are also very cheap.
Ruan Thai Restaurant
11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902
Nava Thai Restaurant
11315 Fern St, Silver Spring, MD 20902
Another vote for Restuarant Eve- they have a tasting room and a bistro- you want the tasting room. Their mixologist Todd Thrasher is the best DC has to offer. I like other cocktails in the city (like PS7 and Tabard Inn), but these really are at the next level. He also has a small speakeasy in Old Town called PX that you could make reservations at. I haven't been to the Gibson, yet, but a report from my foodie brother says not as good as PX, but good.
For the high end dinner you could also consider the back room at Palena.
The cuisines that we are strong on are Vietnamese (Minh's is the best via public transportation option), Ethiopian, Thai, Lebanese and Salvadorian.
You might check out Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide (google it).
What is your itinerary as we can then point you to places that are nearby.
I strongly agree with the recommendations for Restaurant Eve. My wife and I had the 9 course tasting menu recently and it was outstanding. Great, ambiance, service, and definitely great cocktails.
Ethiopian: Go to Queen Makeda on 9th St, between T and U. If you want really personal service, you can forget the menu and just go ahead and ask to speak to Momma in the kitchen. Just ask for a variety of things: Greens, red lentils, shiro, carrots (she can do this with tripe if you are up for it), gored gored (I prefer lightly cooked, but you can get this raw), yebeg alicha. Ask for it served in bowls. You can also ask if they can do the raw coffee for you, where they toast the beans on a hot platter for you. Tej (Ethiopian honey wine) to drink.
Also nearby, and right across the street from the metro is Oohhs and Aahhs for coastal carolina soul food. A true hole-in-the-wall. 4 stools in front of a tiny kitchen plus a room to eat upstairs. Grilled shrimp, broiled crabcake, lemon pepper wings. Greens and rice with gravy for sides.
Againn is an Irish gastropub. Extraordinary attention to detail on the plate. A new place in an office building, not exactly cheap.
El Rinconcito for Salvadoran food, but not everything is great. Go for the carne deshilada (order this with egg), tamales, and the papusas.
If you are serious and don't mind making the trip to Virginia, then Eden Center is a Vietnamese shopping center with at least 23 Vietnamese restaurants and other stores. My favorite right now is Nha Trang. Search on this board for my recs.
If you will be in DC for Friday lunch, then get the bbq sandwich at Breadline, near the White House. Order this on a ciabatta. Completely awesome. Other great sandwiches include Italian sausage, felafel, and egg salad. Basically, if it sounds messy, that's the thing to get.