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May 24, 2010 12:06 PM

Philly chowhound in DC this weekend

Hello fellow chowhounds! I am heading down to DC this weekend (Sunday into Monday) and I will be staying at the 4 Points Sheraton downtown (1201 K St NW) and needed info with restaurants/places of interest. We are planning on visiting the Smithsonians and doing a little walking around town.

I need help with restaurants who are good with food allergies (my wife has candida and is highly allergic -- sorta like celiac). Mexican restaurants are a plus and any restaurants within walking distance or a short drive (I dunno how parking is in DC)

Please let me know if you can help.

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  1. Jose Andres restaurants are normally very good with food allergies and are downtown. Oyamel is Mexican, so that might be a good choice. You might call in advance to give them a heads up.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      I'll definitely check them out. I saw their menu online, looks interesting. food/prices similar to the ones here in philly except their guacamole price. i hope its worth that much money.

      1. re: paychecktoday

        we have a dinner res for legal seafood already booked for sunday, but i'm trying to see if theres any better go to places for lunch/brunch and breakfast for the next day (depending if places are open on Memorial Day)


        1. re: paychecktoday

          Similar to Legal in terms of food choices, but much better in my opinion is Blacksalt. They do brunch too, and they will cook any fish in their market for you, as well.

          Sorry I am not very good with the food allergy thing... I can give you some general suggestions and you could see how they stack up allergy wise:
          Brasserie Beck is right near your hotel and very good, so is Corduroy. For brunch you could see if the latin dim sum brunch is going on at Cafe Atlantico, but that is Jose Andres and you might get sick of that. I like Bistro Bis, Poste and Blue Duck tavern for brunch, but they might not be very glutten-free. DC isn't a big breakfast type of place. There doesn't seem to be a heck of a lot open based on a quick opentable search...

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

          Bistro Bis
          15 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

          1. re: ktmoomau

            thanks for all the suggestions. i'll definitely look at the menus and see what best fits

          2. re: paychecktoday

            Can I humbly suggest that you can do much better than Legal Sea Foods for your one night in town? Hey, if you really like them, go for it, but it's a bit like...well, like going to Philly and dining at Buca di Beppo or Chart House.

            Legal Sea Foods - 7th Street
            704 7th Street, Washington, DC 20001

            1. re: kelly5612

              the only reason she picked it is because of the gluten free menu i think. i'm trying to find something better, so that we can cancel out that reso and pick something better

          3. re: paychecktoday

            Oyamel's guac is worth it. It might have been the best dish we had the last time we were there (with a gluten-allergic friend, who received his own menu and recommendations from a very knowledgeable waiter). Their ceviche is good, too.

            Set your bar low for breakfast. DC has nothing like Sabrina's, Honey's, Carman's or any of the other awesome Philly breakfast places. Maybe try a crepe place...go Belgian.

            1. re: kelly5612

              yeah all of those breakfast places you listed are amazing. dc needs a good breakfast place, im sure it would do well in the city

        2. I recommend the albondigas and the chile en nogado at Oyamel.

          1. Firefly in Dupont Circle has a special gluten free menu so something tells me they would be accommodating to someone with other food allergies.

            That said, I would recommend you call anyplace in advance to make sure they have something that your wife can eat.

            19 Replies
            1. re: Elyssa

              Once I figure out which menu appeals to the both of us, I will definitely call ahead to verify if they can accomodate her dietary needs. Thanks!

              Is there anything I would eat in DC that is above and beyond that I can't get anywhere else (like how Philly is with cheesesteaks)? Let me know, this will be our first time in the city for lesure.

              1. re: paychecktoday

                The closest DC comes to something like that is a half smoke, which you can get during the day at Eastern Market at one of the butcher shops. You'll want to get a hot half smoke (not mild). They cook them for you. Eastern Market is a historic food market, mostly butcher, cheese, and produce with only one dedicated 'diner' with limited seating. The line for the prepared food can get enormously long. If you go early, you can get bluebuck pancakes and their crabcakes are very good. Half smokes are sold at almost every hot dog cart in the city, so you could always just get one cheap and convenient on the street.

                The famous place for half smokes is Ben's Chili Bowl on U St. Many people make a pilgrimage there to soak in the history, and they are open very late. However, right down the block is a fantastic place for soul food, Oohhs and Aahhs, which is four stools in front of a tiny kitchen and three or so tables in a make-shift dining room upstairs. It is pricey for a dive, but worth every penny. My favorite items there are grilled shrimp, lemon pepper wings, and broiled crabcakes, but also very good meatloaf, turkey chops, and short ribs. Rice with gravy, greens, cabbage, and sweet potatoes for sides. I don't think it's a place that can take into account an allergy, however,and there is almost surely flour in their gravies.

                The other thing that DC is known for is Ethiopian food. However, the staple of all their meals is injera, a type of unleavened bread traditionally made with teff, but usually made with wheat. You can get pure teff injera, but that might not solve your allergy problem.

                If you will be in DC on Monday, I highly suggest you eat lunch at Breadline, about a block from the White House. Get the Italian Sausage Sandwich. It is killer. They also have soups and salads that are very popular. Get the flavored water to drink.

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

                1. re: Steve

                  thanks for the input, it is greatly appreciated. i LOOOOOVE hot sausages and look forward to these "half smokes" and that italian sand at breadline

                  1. re: paychecktoday

                    I doubt Breadline will be open on Memorial Day unfortunately, and they aren't open on weekends. But check their website to make sure. They are normally only open on business days.

                    Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hall have great handmade sausages, but both are in Clarendon in Virginia.

                    The Liberty Tavern
                    3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

                  2. re: Steve

                    yeah, i finally had this sandwich you've been heralding for so long and it really is amazing.

                    1. re: littlew1ng

                      Thanks, glad you liked it. The two best sandwiches right now in DC are the Friday bbq (ask for this on a ciabatta) at Breadline, and the Roast pork/ broccoli rabe at Taylor Gourmet.

                      For the OP, though, it looks like Breadline will be closed on Memorial Day...... might have to check out and see if Good Stuff Eatery is open for a toasted marshmallow milkshake. I guess a lot of things will be closed.

                      Taylor Gourmet
                      1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                      Good Stuff Eatery
                      303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                      1. re: Steve

                        that was my biggest worry, in that most establishments will be closed for memorial day. so far i have the restaurants down to firefly, blacksalt, and pier 7 restaurant. i don't know anything about pier 7, except it has a nice view. anyone know if it is any good?

                        1. re: paychecktoday

                          Never heard of it? Is it at National Harbor? If you want a nice view you might dry getting drinks at POV (point of view) lounge on top of the Hotel Washington which has a great view of the White House. J&G steakhouse inside the hotel is also supposed to be really good, but I haven't been yet. Apparently their seafood is as good as their steak fyi.

                          The Source also has a nice view.

                          Hotel Washington
                          515 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

                          1. re: paychecktoday

                            If Pier 7 is located on Maine Avenue, I strongly recommend you head back to the drawing board! The several restaurants located there are complete tourist traps -- literally catering to groups visiting DC on bus ours.

                            Have you used Open Table to find out what will be open on Memorial Day? I just plugged in Monday @ 7:00 p.m. for a party of two and found 108 options. I don't know enough about your dietary issues to recommend a restaurant that is likely to work on that basis. However, I can recommend Ris, Blue Duck Tavern, and Bistro Bis on general principle. Each serves fabulous food worth a phone call about the allergy situation.

                            1. re: Indy 67

                              Yes i have been on opentable and have been perusing all the restaurants available. Black Salt and Oyamel are the two we are gonna choose from. Firefly is booked and Pier 7 is on main street (@ the Channel Hotel?) so thats out.

                              Worst comes to worst, we could walk to the mccormick and schmicks down the street (K street).

                              Thanks so much for all the help chowhounds!! We still are trying to figure out what to do at night after dinner, as we cannot drink (wife's gluten allergy) so clubs/bars are out. All suggestions are appreciated. We won't have a car so anything metro-accessible. Does washington have an area for fun walking like how Philly has south street?

                              1. re: paychecktoday

                                The entire purpose of Chowhound is to help you avoid places like Pier 7. What a waste of money that would be.

                                The monuments are spectacular at night. Visit FDR,WWII, and Korean War memorials at night. Lit until at least midnight. Cab assist if you need to.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  I was actually talking about neighborhoods and things like that. I think we will be historically tired out. I read that Adams Morgan and Penn Quarter are fun places to walk around and get quick bites to eat (and obviously their bar/club scene). I also heard to stay away from G-Town, as it is not worth going to.

                                  Are these descriptions correct? I'm still looking forward to a half smoked, be it at the chili bowl or a street vendor.

                                  1. re: paychecktoday

                                    I would add U St. to that group of neighborhoods - Ben's Chili Bowl is on U St. as well. I like it more than AM or PQ - U St. has a very mixed crowd. I love Marvin, a bar with outside deck at 14th and U.

                                    AM is for young straight people getting s**t-faced. PQ is fine - lots of good restaurants around there - but has a lot of out-of-towners.

                                    Georgetown has a snooty turn-the-kids-loose-with-daddy's-credit-card kind of vibe.

                                    I would consider U St. and Penn Quarter to be the best choices for your purposes.

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

                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                      ok i think we have everything set now. blacksalt for dinner on saturday, and we'll head down to penn quarter after dinner for a nice stroll around that area. we'll most likely do u-street the next day and finish off the monuments before heading back to philly.

                                      thanks for all the suggestions/help all!!! if you have any further suggestions, please post. i'll be checking up the whole time.

                                      1. re: paychecktoday

                                        I'm going to repeat the suggestion that you drive past the monuments at night after dinner at Blacksalt. This wouldn't take the place of strolling in Penn Quarter. You don't have to get out of your car to enjoy the sights. The major buldings/monuments are beautifully lit. Many visitors consider a night-time driving tour to be one of their favorite experiences in DC. Since Blacksalt is in a residential section of DC, some distance from the government, museum, and monument core of DC, you'll alredy be in your car. Why not make the trip into a memorable event?

                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                          good point. i'll be in a taxi cab for the dinner trip so i'll tell the driver to drive past the monuments before heading to PQ.

                                          1. re: paychecktoday

                                            Yayy! You sound like you have an awesome trip planned! Welcome to DC, and have a great time!

                                            1. re: kelly5612

                                              thanks, i'm looking forward to seeing the nation's capital and soaking it all in.

                                              kelly i saw that you listed a bunch of breakfast places in philly (and the 2 chains buca and chart house). im assuming you've been to philly?

                          2. re: Steve

                            i was gonna comment on taylor gourmet's roast pork sands w/brocolli rabe and how it might not be in comparison to philly's version. then i realized they are basically philly based (import their bread from the best bakery in philly, sarcone's) and have named everything after streets and parks in philly.

                            looking forward to going there if its open.

                  3. thanks to all the suggestions!! blacksalt was an amazing dinner. everything was so fresh and delicious. no issues whatsoever with the food allergies my wife has.

                    we did the smithsonians and walked all over the monument areas and experienced your metro system (WAYYYYYYY better than the trash we have here in Philly).

                    the only mistake we did was getting off the stop at verizon center and walking into chinatown instead of the opposite way into Penn Quarter. that area is a pretty rough area late at night, haha.

                    we did a bus tour on the trolley and saw all the neighborhoods and the rest of the monuments that we couldnt get to when walking. very nice.

                    union square/center (i don't remember what the name exactly is) was amazing. very nice area with so much going on.

                    thanks for all the input, i can't wait to come back to your wonderful city again soon!!