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Los Angeles Food Lover visiting DC This Weekend. Need Help Fine Tuning My Hit List!

Hi all,

I’m a Los Angeles resident who is going to D.C. with another guy friend (who also resides in LA) this coming weekend to visit a friend who is completing his masters at Georgetown. My friend at Georgetown has told me in the year he’s been there, the food scene in D.C. pales in comparison to Los Angeles. I think he might have gone to the wrong places since I’ve uncovered some interesting places in your neck of the woods thanks primarily to Steve, Joe H, and KtMoomau as references.

Los Angeles is known for its culinary diversity. Unfortunately for me though, because of this, it makes it difficult for me to be impressed. For instance, from my reading, Etete and Queen Makeda are highly recommended Ethiopian places, Rasika is supposedly a great spot for Indian food, and El Pollo Rico is supposedly a tremendous Peruvian place, but LA has these types of restaurants. It would be interesting to see if a DC ChowHounder has tried Mario’s in LA for Peruvian comparison purposes.

Also, although generally not considered “ethnic” these days, I’ve read that Makoto and Sushi Taro are highly esteemed when it comes to Japanese cuisine in the D.C. area but Los Angeles has Japanese restaurants that are Michelin star rated (RIP Michelin Los Angeles and Las Vegas 2010) like Urasawa, Sushi Zo, and Asanebo and other less publicized but superb restaurants like Hama Sushi, Nozawa, and Sushi Gen.

I already have a general idea of what restaurants I want to try. I’ll be eating three dinners and three lunches in your beloved area and I need help fine tuning my list to finalize one lunch and two dinners. I don’t necessarily need to try a tasting menu but if it’s truly worth it, I’m definitely game. The best tasting menu I’ve had so far was at Robuchon in Vegas, the second best at Providence in Los Angeles just to give readers an idea of what grade of food I’m expecting if I’m going to be spending tasting menu type of dollars.

I’m open to places unique to D.C. as well as places that are consistently on the money. I’m also going to have a ZIP car so transportation will not be an issue for me. In addition to the restaurant or experience you think I should try, if you guys could tell me what dish excels at the restaurant you’ve recommended like “Gnocchi at Palena”, I’d greatly appreciate it.

So far my hit list looks like this:

[Saturday]

Lunch 1 – Oohs and Aahs (Crab Cakes, Shrimp, Lemon Pepperwings and Greens)

Dinner 1 – ??? (I presently have reservations at Citronelle but at $190 a head for the tasting menu, I hope I’m not overlooking another better restaurants like CityZen, Marcels, Palena, 2941, Restaurant Eve, Inox. I don’t need to order the tasting menu but I heard Citronelle had a good tasting menu. Should I go a la carte instead at Citronelle or try another tasting menu at a different location? Any comments?)

[Sunday]

Lunch 2 – Café Atlantico Chef’s Dim Sum Tasting Menu

Dinner 2 – Central – (Fried Chicken / Corn Beef Sandwich/Lobster Burger)

[Monday]

Lunch 3 – ??? (Currently eyeing Restaurant Eve’s “Lickity Split” menu though)

Dinner 3 – ??? (I want this to be a steakhouse with amazing Ribeye. I’m hoping the ribeye will be better than at Maestros. I haven’t been to Del Frisco’s yet but I heard that is the only other Ribeye steak that can touch Maestros. (Yes, I know both are chains) Currently, I’m thinking of going with Ray’s the Steaks since it seems to be adored by local Chow Hounders. I understand the value for the food is a plus at Ray’s but my question is will it blow the other ribeyes at other steakhouses away such as at Capital Grille, Bourbon, and BLT? I’m a little hesitant about trying Charlie Palmer since Michael Voltaggio resigned as executive chef to join Volt but input would be appreciated. )

Snack 1 – Ray’s Hell Burger (if time permits)
Snack 2 – Pit Beef Sandwich at Pioneer (if time permits)

Options that I’ve eliminated -
1) Table 21 - They’re taking reservations for January 2011! Coincidentally, Bryan’s brother (Michael) is the executive chef at the Dining Room which has been on my go-to list as well in Los Angeles. Too bad I missed the boat on this one.
2) Komi – Missed the window of opportunity to obtain a rezzie.
3) Minibar – Missed the window of opportunity to obtain a rezzie. If you DC ChowHounders have a hard time getting a reservation, how can an “out-of-towner” coming in a few days have a real chance?
4) Prime – I don’t want to be required to wear a jacket for my meal.
5) The Source – I was very intrigued by the chatter but I’ve been to many Wolfgang’s restaurants and LA has plenty of asian fusion venues to go around.
6) Zaytinya – I’m already going to one of Ardes’ restaurant, Café Atlantico although I may consider this as an option for my Monday lunch. (Yes, I currently have two Michel Richard venues in my line-up.)
7) Other Ethnic Restaurants – Basically, besides Ooh and Aahs, I think LA has plenty of ethnic restaurants to occupy my curiosity.

===========================================

Sorry for my long post but I wanted to be as detailed as possible to get the best possible response. Thanks for all the past posts and comments regarding your area and thanks in advance for any comments to my specific post.

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Etete
1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

CityZen Restaurant
1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

Palena
3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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

Citronelle
3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

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

Zaytinya
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Queen Makeda
Washington DC, Washington, DC

Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036

Capital Grille
601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Las Vegas Restaurant
7091 Security Blvd Ste 102, Windsor Mill, MD 21244

Pollo Rico
7643 New Hampshire Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

Inox
1800 Tysons Blvd., McLean, VA 22102

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  1. You're packing a ton of eating into a few days. That's great. I don't eat much in DC proper and I don't eat at many "fancy" establishments, but here are a few comments I hope are helpful....

    - I've not been to Mario's in LA, but from what I gathered in a quick online search it is a full scale Peruvian restaurant. El Pollo Rico is a one-dish specialist: the only thing they serve is spit-roasted Peruvian chicken with french fries and (bad) coleslaw. That's it. The chicken won't blow your mind but it's tasty and cheap and is the sort of meal that satisfies me way more than a five-times-as-expensive 3 course lunch. So if you haven't had Peruvian chicken on a spit done by a specialist then, yes, I would go there.

    - I'm sure LA has some great produce, but if you're into Farmers Markets I would hit one up on Saturday and get some fresh strawberries for a light breakfast---they are just starting to get good.

    - Ray's Hell Burger, in spite of its insane popularity, still seems to put out a great product. It's the best burger I've had and the first place I take out-of-towners to. I would upgrade that from snack to lunch status and go there for sure.

    -A trip to the Arlington area for Monday could be fun, as it would afford you the opportunity to get a solid lunch at a place like The Liberty Tavern or the aforementioned Ray's Hell Burger and also put you within striking distance for some sweet snacks at Bakeshop DC (cupcakes) and Arlington Confections (chocolates), which are right next door to each other in Clarendon. But a similar trip could be planned around Restaurant Eve and some Old Town spots too, I suppose. I would definitely get out of DC to check out some of the suburbs on Monday though.

    --You say you don't want any ethnic food, but does LA have Bolivian food? Saltenas are a fun local food around here that you might want to try if you haven't. And what's the Pakistani kabob situation in LA? Ravi Kabob in Arlington is quite good, and much loved on the board.

    1. Citronelle: It is not possible to order a la carte in the formal dining room. But you do not have to go for the tasting menu either. there is a 3-course menu. You can order a la carte in the Lounge, no reservations necessary plus it is not formal. All menus are posted on their website.
      You should do Citronelle in some form. I always tell people to get whatever soup they have, nobody puts more effort into soup than Michel Richard. And if they have the Strawberry Cocktail for dessert, get that.

      Pioneer Pit Beef is in Baltimore.

      The Lickety Split lunch at Eve is a great idea. And not just because it's a bargain.

      Central: Many people, including myself, seem to be disappointed in the lobster burger. Of Chowhound threads that disparage Central, it is usually mentioned as the culprit. I like the tuna burger much more. I don't think the corned beef is available for dinner. The macaroni and cheese is sinful, outrageous, and you shouldn't order it. But go ahead and order it.

      Oohs and Ahhs: don't forget the rice with gravy. Get the crabcake broiled. Cabbage is also a very good side. Sweet potatoes are the usual, so a good option if you are two or more.

      Basically, you have chosen very, very well. it looks like you have already scoured CHowhound for most other good options.

      Another option is Pimento Grill for Jamaican in Anacostia. Oxtail brown stew, chicken curry. Excellent homemade exotic juices. Another hole-in-the-wall / carry out with some seating. Quality is sky high. This is a real temple of gastronomy, very well disguised. Or if you want insanely good Jerk Chicken there is a shack in Lanham, Maryland called Just Jerk. Smoke pouring out of this place like crazy. Order dark meat spicy. Maybe you could hit this on the way to Baltimore for the ultimate one-two combo of great roadside shacks. Ok, now I've made myself hungry.

      -----
      Just Jerk
      9005 Lanham Severn Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

      Citronelle
      3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

      Pimento Grill Restaurant
      4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

      7 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        CoconutMilk and Steve, thanks for your quick responses.

        CoconutMilk – Based upon your description, I know exactly what El Pollo Rico is now. I agree Peruvian chicken can be more satiating than more expensive meals especially when a craving hits. LA has a place that specializes in spit-roasted Peruvian Chicken in our Koreatown area called Pollo A La Brasa. If that doesn’t exemplify LA’s diversity, Pollo A La Brasa has another store in a community filled with Japanese and Mexicans!

        I’m into farmers markets and yes, we have too many to count in the LA area. I’m not sure about the geography of the farmers market you’re referring to but I’d definitely stop by if it’s close to me since I’ll be doing all the touristy sightseeing during the weekend. I’ll also make sure I give the Hellburger a try.

        LA does have kabobs so I don’t think I’m going to want to try any on my trip. As for Bolivian food, I only know of one spot in LA for Bolivian food so if you know a place with good juicy saltenas, please let me know. Are there any good Sopa De Mani’s too? I’ve read that Luzmilla’s, La Caraquena, and Cecilia’s rank high when it comes to saltenas. I won't be able to do Tutto Bene as it’s supposedly only open during the weekends and I heard it changes into an Italian restaurant during the weekdays. Craziness.

        Steve – Citronelle’s website confused me. (http://www.citronelledc.com/cuisine/m...)

        I looked at Citronelle’s Dinner A La Carte menu and automatically assumed patrons could order dishes “a la carte” but then I saw the small print on the lower left hand side of the website that states “Menu 105” which I’m guessing refers to what you mentioned, namely 3 courses for $105. Do you know if people can sit in the Lounge area and order from the A La Carte menu or the Promenade Gourmande menu? And if I end up eating at the Lounge, what dishes would you recommend?

        As for Central for Sunday night, now I’m not so sure about my pick. I thought the lobster burger was unique, hence the impetus to my selection, but if it’s not legitimate, $29 is a little pricey for something mediocre. I like tuna burgers but we have a ton of those in LA. I might have to switch up Sunday’s dinner now since I’ll most likely be dining at Citronelle on Saturday night.

        I did see that Pioneer Pit Beef is in Baltimore. My friend mentioned possibly going to B-More since HBO’s “The Wire” was filmed there. =) If we end up going there, I’m going to try to stop by Pioneer and Just Jerk. Pimento Grill is a possible third snack option. Good lord, I better pack sweats for this trip.

        Lastly, any comments on my steakhouse selection for ribeyes (Ray’s)?

        Let me organize my new questions since they seem a little cluttered above.

        1) Is there a close farmer’s market near Georgetown?
        2) Which place has the juiciest and most addicting saltenas?
        3) Do any of those Bolivian places also serve a good Sopa De Mani?
        4) Can I order items from ALL menus if I choose to sit at the Lounge area at Citronelle?
        5) What items in the Lounge area of Citronelle are exceptional?
        6) Since the lobster burger at Central is looking to be more of a flop choice than a top choice, I’m thinking of eating at a different restaurant since I’m going to be eating at Richard’s Citronelle the night before. Any a la carte recs?
        7) In regards to good ribeye steaks, is Ray’s the ideal place or does another steakhouse win in the ribeye department?

        Thanks again for your input. I am getting more and more excited about my trip.

        -----
        Just Jerk
        9005 Lanham Severn Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

        Citronelle
        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

        Pimento Grill Restaurant
        4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

        Pollo Rico
        7643 New Hampshire Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

        1. re: yakigyoza

          1. Dupont Circle's Farmer's market is not far.

          6.if you stick with Central for Sunday I love the "faux gras" and duck rillette app there. the fried chicken is also really good. as is the steak tartare. and they do serve some of the best bread in town (Ris' has pretty good bread too BTW)

          1. re: hill food

            Dupont Circle is by far the area's top Farmer's Market. Though our access to a variety of produce is not at the level of California.

            It looks like they no longer offer the duck rillettes on Central's online menu. They were great, as is the 'faux' gras. Central's bread service is ri-DIC-ulous.

            Coconut Milk's suggestion of a saltena makes for a great snack. Cecilia's and Luzmilla's make the juciest. Check both for hours.

            In the lounge at Citronelle, I'd go for the soup, the tuna napoleon, and the strawberry cocktail for dessert. The mushroom cigars and the escargot are also winners. Sauterne by the glass.

            -----
            Citronelle
            3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

          2. re: yakigyoza

            Saltenas may be a bit to out of the way to justify trying, and while I personally love them, they aren't everyone's cup of tea....

            I've only had the sopa de mani at La Caraquena and I thought it was flavorless. Luzmila's and Pike Pizza supposedly have good versions, though. If you really want to try saltenas you must do so between 11am-1pm, as they are typically made early and then sit around all day. Only La Caraquena cooks its saltenas to order, so it doesnt matter if you go there.

            Anyways, if you're hell bent on trying saltenas these are two options that would allow you to try more than one place:

            1) Go to Pike Pizza in Arlington for saltenas and a soup and then head two doors down to the Pan American bakery to get even more saltenas and a Bolivian pastry if you so choose.

            2) Go to La Caraquena in Falls Church for a light lunch of saltenas and arepas and go down the street (literally one minute) to Luzmila's for more saltenas and other stuff, or vice versa.

            1. re: Ethnicchowhead

              While saltenas are a stuffed bread, true, that's where the similarity ends....

              They are football shaped.
              The pastry is always baked, has a harder exterior but softer, breadier inside, is usually thicker.
              The filling is soupy. Will have chunks of meat (never ground), vegetables, olive, and hard-boiled egg. A proper saltena is dangerous to eat with the probability of burning liquid gushing down your chest.

              The version at La Caraquena probably has the best pastry I've had in this area. But the inside is not juicy, so it does not live up to my expectations.

            2. re: Steve

              Steve:

              FYI: Pimento Grill isn't in Anacostia. It's East of the River, but not in Anacostia. Definitely agree with you on the quality of Jamaican food though...I'm a huge fan of their jerk shrimp and their oxtails.

              -----
              Pimento Grill Restaurant
              4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

              1. re: thefabfoodie

                Thanks for the correction...Pimento Grill is in an area called Fort Dupont, a very green, leafy neighborhood across from Fort Dupont Park where they have a lot of nice summer concerts.

            3. Go to Palena's back room. It is wonderful. Rasika is superb modern Indian and you would not be disappointed there either.

              -----
              Palena
              3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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

              1. For your big dinner, having been to all the restaurants, except CityZen, I really think Palena is the way to go (the back room). This is why: Marcel's is amazingly prepared rich French-Belgian food. It may be my favorite restaurant in DC after Minibar. BUT I think there are a lot of nice high end French restaurants in a lot of areas. Although they might not be as traditional. The reason I like it is that it has traditional favorites and is not nouveau or modernizing the cuisine. And after oohs and ahhs you might want something not as rich and more balanced. Restaurant Eve- go for Lickety Split- very good and you will get a taste of what it is all about without the price tag. If you have room you can add a course and definitely get a cocktail as Todd Thrasher has a great reputation for a reason. 2941- not really very wow for me and you can find that food all over the place, plus it is a hike. Inox- I haven't been in ages now, but again I think you can find that caliber and preparation style elsewhere. Palena- as I recently said in another thread, is the closest thing DC has to a French Laundry. The chef chooses the freshest ingredients and perfects each dish before it goes out. The dishes have great balance and you know that someone has put a lot of care in perfecting each course. But definitely go for the back room, the cafe just isn't the same. Citronelle, I love, I really do and they have a lounge where you can order a la carte, but Central for me is a casual rendition that satisfies me about as much. The fun of Citronelle is experiencing the play of food something that looks like something, but really is something else, and the beautiful execution. And while that is a lot of fun, I think based just on food, I love Palena. But Citronelle is an experience...

                Ray's is wonderful. I think someone from LA would appreciate the vibe and the food. The crab bisque is really good too. I haven't been to BLT or Bourbon steak, so I cannot comment, but I really like the vibe and wine list at Ray's and the food isn't bad either. I think JoeH wrote a big review of Bourbon steak somewhere.

                I think you have a great list...

                -----
                Restaurant Eve
                110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                CityZen Restaurant
                1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                Palena
                3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                Citronelle
                3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                Inox
                1800 Tysons Blvd., McLean, VA 22102

                8 Replies
                1. re: ktmoomau

                  Your comments about Marcel's are clearly a case of your mileage may vary. Since Marcel's lets diners order anything on the menu to create individualized tasting menus, you've chosen to order rich dishes. Marcel's choices permit anyone who wants to to eat delicious lighter fare do so. If you take a look at the online menu, you'll see what I'm saying.

                  The first course lists Asparagus soup/venison sausage or Hamachi crudo or Lamb Tortellini. Two options are rich; one isn't. In the second course, the options include Iberico ham over poached egg with polenta or Prawns with cannellini bean ragout or diver scallops over baby spinach or skate with salsify and potato. In this course, one option is rich, but two aren't. The third course consists of fish choices exclusively. Not a one of those seems to be a rich preparation. The fourth and fifth courses consist of meat options exclusively, but there's no mandate a person has to order something from the fourth or fifth course. Even people who are going for the full seven-course tasting menu aren't obligated to choose something from the fourth or fifth courses. I routinely order multiple fish preparations from course three and no one gives me any static about my menu choices.

                  Bottom line: Marcel's food is as rich as each person chooses to make it. Any way, the cuisine is delicious and the service is some of the most professional in the city.

                  1. re: Indy 67

                    I don't really want to get in an argument about this because as I said above I really like Marcel's, it is one of my favorites. Perhaps it is just me, but I wouldn't order crudo from Marcel's that is a waste of what it does well- order crudo from a great fish restaurant or Japanese restaurant. And I don't consider soup with sausage light. Or fish with rich sauces like buerre blans or rich accompaniments, so maybe we have different definitions.

                    If you go to Marcel's you want to order what it does best things like the Boudin Blanc, and certainly the meat course for a total experience of what they do best. Do I love the place? Yes. But with all the other places the OP is eating I based my decision on the overall balance of his meals in total. It is my opinion. It is also my opinion that is difficult to eat light at Marcel's and get the total experience. But perhaps it is just me.

                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      First and foremost, thanks to all for the great comments and tips.

                      Secondly, I love the passion each person has towards their favorites spots but it’s really my fault for only having three days and nights to spend in the D.C. area. If I had more time, I wouldn’t be so flummoxed as to which options to choose and I’d be able to try all the commonly recommended places I’ve seen on this board. With that said, if the trip pans out well, I’m sure I’ll return to try more top CH picks.

                      Indy 67 – Thanks for your input about Marcels. That place was one of the contenders and I will definitely try it on a return trip.

                      hill food – Thanks for your dish recommendations. Although I prefer “foie” over “faux” (sorry animal rights activists) that might be because I’ve never tried a truly outstanding “faux” yet. It appears you and many others think very highly of the “faux gras” at Central but I’m not sure if it’s enough for me to keep Central on my hit list. Fried chicken at Central was definitely something I wanted to try as stated in my original post but I was thinking if I end up eating at Citronelle Lounge, I can order the fried chicken for $15 as a starter. Although it wouldn’t be the same as Central’s fried chicken entrée that comes with mashed potatoes, I’d at least be able to get an understanding of Richard's fried chicken preparation.

                      Steve – When you are referring to the bread service at Central, do you mean the complimentary sourdough bread or the cheese puffs? Also, although I haven’t had enough saltenas to make me even a pseudo-authority on them, from what my friends have told me and from what I’ve had in LA, the one critical requirement is that saltenas must be juicy. I’ve never done this but my friends have told me the correct way to eat saltenas is to bite off the top end and then tilt the “juicy version of an empanada” to sip the running juices. With that said, maybe a stewy saltenas can be quite good albeit not as authentic.

                      CoconutMilk – As strange as this sounds, I actually would drive far to have good saltenas. This is coming from a guy who drives 1.5 hours one way when I have a craving for Cajun pan roast in my area. Thank you for the tip about what time to try the saltenas with the exception of La Caraquena. If my friends are up to trying multiple saltenas venues, I’ll try La Caraquena with Luzmila’s. If I only have one choice, I’ll most likely go with either Luzmila or Cecilia’s depending upon logistical convenience.

                      Pool Boy and ktmoomau – Thanks for the Palena recommendations. You guys definitely share the same sentiments towards Palena’s backroom as the majority of other ChowHounders. The reason why I didn’t choose this restaurant originally was because:
                      1) Their new website is nonfunctional so I was unable to peruse their menu;
                      2) I tried contacting them via phone to request a faxed menu but was told their fax machine was inoperable;
                      3) An outdated menu I managed to find online showed that they served “Snake River Farms” beef. I’m a fan of Snake River Farms but I can find it in many restaurants throughout Los Angeles. For instance, Michael Mina is a huge user of Snake River Farms beef in his various venues along the West Coast.

                      However, since I am more convinced of sticking with Citronelle now (there is also speculative rumors about the future of Citronelle due to a potentially new Richard location in Virginia [ http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/bl... ] ) I’m strongly considering substituting Central for the backroom of Palena now since I’ll have tried some of Richard’s creations at Citronelle.

                      Oh and I called Citronelle to clarify my earlier question. I verified you cannot order items from the “A la carte” menu or the “Gourmande” menu if you are eating in the lounge area. AND, unlike what Yelp says, jackets are NOT required. Recommended but not required.

                      I called Palena today and asked about the prices of the backroom. For ChowHounders that don’t know already, 3 courses run $58, 4 courses run $67, and 5 courses goes for $76. Each diner can order a different set menu so you do not need menu uniformity. Additionally, the hostess told me that Chef Ruta actually doesn’t use Snake River Farms anymore. He now gets his grass fed only beef locally from a farm in Middleburg, VA which is an incentive plus in my book.

                      So here is my new revised itinerary which I had to edit since Citronelle is closed Sundays and Mondays:

                      [Saturday
                      ]Lunch 1 – Oohs and Aahs: Crab Cakes [broiled], Shrimp, Lemon Pepperwings, Rice w/ Gravy, and Greens
                      Dinner 1 – Citronelle Lounge: Fried Chicken, Parmesan-Bacon Soup, Tuna Napoleon “Nicoise”, Mushroom Cigars, MacCube [not recommended on CH but I want to try personally], Strawberry cocktail

                      [Sunday]
                      Lunch 2 – Café Atlantico: Chef’s Dim Sum Tasting Menu
                      Dinner 2 – Ray’s the Steak in Arlington [East River store is closed on Sundays: Ribeye

                      [Monday]
                      Lunch 3 – Restarant Eve: “Lickity Split” Menu
                      Dinner 3 – Palena’s Backroom: Tasting Menu

                      Snack 1 – Ray’s Hell Burger: Hellburger
                      Snack 2 – Pioneer Beef Pit: Pit Beef Sandwich at Pioneer (if going to B-More)
                      Snack 3 – Just Jerk: Jerk Chicken (if going to B-More)
                      Snack 4 – Luzmila: Saltenas / Sopa de Mani OR Cecilias: Saltenas (depending on logistics)
                      Snack 5 –Ben’s Chili Bowl: Chili (Not my choice but my friend at Georgetown really wants to try this place. I told him about what a lot of you said but he still wants to go for a “tasting.” I have a feeling it’s going to be just like Pink’s or Tito’s Tacos over in LA in regards to being an institutional but not anything more than that.)

                      I have two last questions:
                      1) In the lounge section of Citronelle, I have good recommended starters. Has anyone had any of the entrees? I’m interested in the Skate, Chateaubriand beef, or Richard’s signature Short Ribs.
                      2) Ktmoomau has responded by saying I’ll like Ray’s Steaks but are they known specifically for their ribeye steak?

                      Again, thank you to all those who have contributed. I hope my thread is helpful to other out-of-towners looking to try good D.C venues in a very limited amount of time.

                      -----
                      Just Jerk
                      9005 Lanham Severn Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

                      Palena
                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                      Citronelle
                      3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                      1. re: yakigyoza

                        Snack 5: although Pink's is actually better, the results of the chili dog from Ben's won't be "scaring the children" the next day....

                        and yeah, I have eaten foie with no apology - hey once every 5 years does not an industry support.

                        1. re: yakigyoza

                          If you want to research their ribeye is called the "cowboy cut" just fyi. I have never had it just because that is too much steak for me. But you can probably find a review of it either on here or on Don Rockwell.

                          1. re: yakigyoza

                            The fried chicken at the Lounge at Citronelle may not be the same preparation as at Central. When I had it once, it was more like an order of fancy Chicken McNuggets... and not much better than the original. I would not order it unless you ask the waiter what it's like. At the Lounge, you don't have to get a main course, you can stick with a variety of starters..... just a thought.

                            Biting off the tip is the thing to do with Saltenas. then you suck the soup out. But you have to keep going further, so you eat around the hole you created in a circle, constantly turning the saltena. You create an ever-widening hole all the time slurping out more and more soup. On my last saltena run, I shared a table with a Bolivian gentleman who said as a teenager he would get a round of saltenas with his friends and whoever first spilled soup ponied up for the next round.

                            -----
                            Citronelle
                            3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                            1. re: yakigyoza

                              A note on snack 1 - while I would not want to dissuade anyone from going to RHB, you should be aware that a Hellburger (10 oz of beef) is not most people's definitions of a snack - especially if you get cheese or a side.

                              I usually have to work at finishing my burger when I go there for a meal, and many can't finish it at one sitting.

                              1. re: yakigyoza

                                I saw your mention of Palena's website being lousy...it is and will be for a while more. But I am very glad to see that has not dissuaded you. Chef Ruta's food is stunningly good, and disarming as well -- there is no pretentiousness whatsoever.

                                I have menus from them going back years...it changes EVERY DAY. I kid you not. If there is anything on the menu that says 'made in house' 'house-made' or 'our own...' -- order it. If there is a consomme on the menu, order it. You will not be unsatisfied. My wife and I purposely order no menu item that is the same between us when we go -- EXCEPT for the consomme. Every variation I have had is hauntingly good.

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                                Palena
                                3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                        2. I would compare an LA Chowhound going to Ben's Chili Bowl with a DC Chowhound going to Philippe's........ let that be your guide.

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

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Steve

                            Ah, touche Steve, touche. That's funny you mention Philippe's since the same friend who wants to try Ben's loves Philippe's!

                            I'll call Citronelle tomorrow and inquire about the fried chicken because I saw Central's version of it and it truly does look like gourmet fried chicken, which is a like an oxymoron in itself. There are three guys attending dinner at Citronelle so I'm thinking we might need to order a couple of entrees too or maybe we'll go for a Hellburger afterwards.

                            ktmoomau - I've tried researching the ribeye aka "cowboy cut" on CH but didn't find much information. The few comments I found said the bone-in ribeye was slightly over 30 ounces (I typically like my non-filet steaks to be on the larger size although after finishing a 65 ouncer at a now closed Orange Country steakhouse that served New Zealand steak, I decided 30-40 ouncers work best for me) and people generally liked it. It appears there is more chatter about the 3 course special for $24 and Ray's Hanger steak. I'll try looking on Don Rockwells since I've never heard of that site before you mentioned it.

                            1. re: yakigyoza

                              Just want to say how impressed I am by your research and attention to detail, I hope you have an amazing trip.

                              Here's my 2 cents- please, please try the crab bisque at Ray's. It's probably my #1 favorite restaurant dish of all time. You can order a cup, which appears small, but it's very rich. FWIW- my husband has had the cowboy cut and loved it, sorry I can't articulate much more than that. It looked huge though.

                              Also, I loved the french fries at Citronell's lounge, if you have wiggle room in the menu.

                              Have fun!

                            2. re: Steve

                              Odd comparison to me. Totally different experiences. I would compare Ben's to it's rightful L.A. cousin, Pink's (from someone who ate at Pink's 30+ times).

                              1. re: biscuit

                                Actually I was comparing one historic crap food place to another. It was directed to the OP who I pretty much figured would 'get it.'

                                Although I do go to Ben's from time to time - it was even a Father's Day dinner for me one year - recently I've been purchasing my own hot half smokes from Canale's at Eastern Market. They are ten times better than what Ben's offers - plus I do a better job cooking them.

                                1. re: biscuit

                                  Pink's 30+ times and lived? hopefully this was spread over a good 60 years. (in 10 years I only went to Ben's about twice and I'm no snob) sorry I'm going OT, but I miss the early 90's nights in LA when all the non-designated drivers got sorta smashed across the street from Pink's at the Plaza and then snarfed hot dogs with random B-list celebrities and unless you're a political junkie, Ben's just doesn't live up.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    When I lived in L.A., for a number of years I was a production assistant (gopher!), driving all over the city, so it was an easy choice. I started eating there as a teenager and made a habit out of it. This was also before the long lines and overbearing menu selection, mind you.

                                    Span was more like 30 years, not 60. That then equates to about 1 a year over the long haul, so not bad. :)

                                    Now a bit later in life, I might go to a place like that a couple of times a year. In my 5 years in DC, I've been to Ben's maybe twice.