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Restaurants Everyone Loves Except You

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  • zenim Jul 9, 2010 12:50 PM
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Well Washington/ Baltimore lets join Philly, Boston and MSP in copying the Manhattan topic for our restaurant scene. Mine I must sadly say is The Helmand which has deteriorated after many years of enjoying the wonderful Afghan food. But do not despair it has been replaced by Ayubi in Glen Burnie which for a much lower price delivers true to Afghan taste, flavorful dishes.

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  1. busboys and poets. i just do not get why anyone wants to go there, except for atmosphere. the two times i've been for brunch i've gotten super oily eggs and an overcooked omelette. have i just had bad luck?

    6 Replies
    1. re: poochiechow

      I don't think it's a case of bad luck - I've been to all three locations and the food has never wow'd me. Mine would be Grace's Mandarian at the National Harbor. Everyone raved about the food before I visited - SUPREMELY disappointed. The ambiance was nice, but the food did not live up to everyone's reviews.

      1. re: poochiechow

        I have had good luck at Busboys and Poets with entree salads. Nothing super creative, but nice when you want that sort of thing. But I have never had anything else.

        Mine would be 2941, the food is good, but really hasn't wowed me, especially for the price. I just don't love the new chef. But other people seem to think its just amazing.

        1. re: ktmoomau

          I thought the same thing about 2941. It's a beautiful restaurant but I wasn't impressed, even with the bread which they're so well known for. I thought it was okay, but not worth the money, and expected so much more.

          1. re: chowser

            As a note I am talking about the current chef, I didn't eat there under Krinn, and loved loved Scott Bryan. I think the bread was noted mostly under the Krinn era.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              I heard the recipes and techniques were passed on and reviews I've read have said they were just as good. I haven't eaten there under the old chef, only under the new.

              1. re: chowser

                Yeah, I didn't think the bread was incredible, I just assumed they weren't getting the same bread. I wish Scott Bryan (the temp chef in between) would have stayed there, he was great. Why oh why did he have to go back to New York.

      2. I was at Aybui Kabob about two weeks ago, noted how similar the menu was to the Helmand, mentioned that it seemed similar to nice guy behind counter, and was told that they have one of their old cooks. I meant to write a review: I though the kabobs were sort of meh, but Afghan dishes were solid. Must check it out again.

        There are several places on my list, however my most recent disappointment, despite the raves, is Mi Viejo Pueblito.

        6 Replies
        1. re: baltoellen

          Ooh, Mi Viejo Pueblito is on my short list to visit. What was off about it?

          1. re: Dennis S

            blue duck tavern

            1. re: Dennis S

              By all means: Go! I don't remember what was off since I honestly do not remember my meal. I just remember a general meh feeling, and thinking that it was a lot of food for a good price. MVP and baltoellen may just not be a match. These things happen.

            2. re: baltoellen

              Please be specific. I have found the antojitos to be uniformly excellent, which of MVP's antojitos mexicanos disappointed you, in what ways, and which local Mexican restaurants offer better antojitos. My experience is that the antojitos mexicanos are better than any restaurant in metro Balt-Wash, and I will reiterate that I find them superior to those at Dona Raquel in south Florida as they offer a much wider antojito variety. The salsa at MVP are the best I have tasted locally, DR's in spFla may get the nod on their avocado verde but MVP's red chipotle is very similar to DR. I have had chicken quarters both con mole poblano as well as salsa verde, and both are the best. I don't recall that DR even offers pollo con mole poblano. My sole disappointment there has been that they didn't sauce the chile relleno, so they aren't perfect ion my book and I would that they sauce their chiles rellenos.

              1. re: elgringoviejo

                I asked for their other salsas, was given a slightly confused look and was never given anything else. I would have asked again, but didn't see the waitress for the next 20 minutes.
                The sopes were good, but served along with the enormous entrees, so the onslaught of food (albeit a good one) was a little too much to handle.
                The staff is extremely friendly and welcoming, but not very good at all aside from that. Anyone else have a bad service experience? If not, have you been speaking Spanish?

                1. re: gregb

                  Tal vez sea una ventaja a hablar Espanol y no cabe duda que yo lo hablo alla.

                  The proprietors have done a done job IMO recreating a typical Poblana-style fonda along the lines of Puebla's Fonda de Santa Clara. The senora of the restaurant bends over backwards to assist English-speaking patrons but as MVP has gotten busier she has had to spend more time in the kitchen. The servers are doing their level best to serve English-speaking patrons, and I would urge patrons to bear with them. The best way to enjoy MVP's salsa is to order different antojitos. My experience in the Republic is that salsas are usually paired with dishes, and MVP is accustomed to operating in this fashion. One Antojito that I almost always order there isa memela bandera, a maize-based antojito served with red and green salsas as well as sour cream, hence the term bandera (flag) which represents the Republic's national colors. , and which costs a mere two dollars and fifty cents or so. MVP serves a wide and delicious array of food, with antojitos mexicanos the equal of any I have been served in the USA, and a waitstaff that striving hard to meet its customers' needs.

            3. Interesting topic! Mine would be Rays the Classics and Inn at Little Washington.

              35 Replies
              1. re: Transplanted Texan

                Have you had the hanger steak at Rays? I think it's the best in town.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Hanger steak, in my opinion, is overrated. For whatever reason these days, people seem to be on the hangar steak bandwagon, but it's just a tough piece of meat with very little fat. Yes, it has a more "beefy" taste than other cuts, but I feel like this obsession with hangar steak in general is overdone.

                  (and yes ive had it at Ray's)

                  my $0.02

                  1. re: MarcDC

                    Amen.
                    "Hanger steak" my eye. It's another way of getting the food snobs to eat cheap tough meat.
                    I do like Rays other food though, and also the Inn, though completely different approaches.

                    1. re: a1234

                      I love hangar steak. I just don't care for what the food snobs are doing to it. I've been in two places that served hangar steak kabobs, as well as hangar steak "sliders."

                      1. re: a1234

                        That's been happening for centuries though. Look at offal....it's the odds and ends of an animal. When cooked right those "cheap cuts of meat" are sometimes the best around---it's actually an art form. I don't think it has anything to do with food snobs. In fact turning your nose up to a tougher, cheaper cut of meats is kind of the definition of snobbish.

                        1. re: Elyssa

                          yeah! My mom can turn the best cut of beef into shoe leather. if someone can take an unloved piece and treat it with care - I'm all over that.

                      2. re: MarcDC

                        I don't know if it's a bandwagon, as much of a personal taste. Some people want a filet because they don't want to give their jaw too much of a work out and want a soft piece of meat. Other's like a tougher, more meaty steak...therefore the hanger steak is perfect.

                        I personally prefer both---I just love a good piece of steak.

                        I like the hanger because as you said it tends to have a beefier taste. But also when cooked right (like at Ray's) it's a thing of pure beauty---juicy, meaty, tender in certain spots. Delicious! Mix that with the creamed spinach and mashed potatoes it's the world's perfect meal.

                        1. re: MarcDC

                          If it's overcooked then it's tough, but done right (rare to med-rare) it's actually very tender and flavorful.

                        2. re: Transplanted Texan

                          Exactly. You can have a flavorful tender cut or a flavorful tough cut. If you only wanted flavor, you could chew on a bone. Save tough meat for the dog, who will appreciate it more.

                          1. re: a1234

                            I never thought of it that way, in my experience you could have lots of flavor with a slightly tougher, slightly fattier cut, or you could have tender cuts of slightly less flavorful lean beef, but you can't have both. That is why some people like ribeye and hangar steaks for the flavor and others like filet mignon for the tenderness. My grandfather was a cattleman and he said this is why filets generally are dressed up with flavorful sauces or wrapped in bacon to prepare. The filets/tenderloins are short on fatty flavor and need a little extra help to excel.
                            I have never spent a lot of time thinking about it, or researching it, tho, so I will welcome others thoughts on this.

                            1. re: a1234

                              Speaking of chewing on a bone, ever had roasted bone marrow? Mmmmm. Beef butter.

                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                monkey: if you're ever in SF there's a place that usu. has Os a Moelle on the appetizer menu - nice grilled chunks served on large croutons. wow.

                          2. re: Transplanted Texan

                            I feel like I am taking my life in my hands saying this - as I have pointed it out before and received some spirited commentary - Rays the Steaks is mediocre

                            1. re: Fracis

                              Interesting. I would say that Rays serves a rather good steak at a very good price in an expensive neighborhood. And the sides are pretty good too. And occasionally Rays will serve a steak that is very good. I like it better than Ruths or Mortons and when you look at the whole transaction, Rays looks pretty darned good. It is easy to sneer at Rays but the reason Rays is so popular is that they do a steak better than most places do, and at a better price.

                              1. re: Fracis

                                Doing a steak well isn't rocket science- get a fresh, good cut of meat from a decent butcher (or have someone in house who knows how to carve a cow); a hot oven that you can control the heat and a few common spices and a chef that knows when a steak is done and that is it. That takes me to my issue with Ray's, and that is that Landrum has a different definition of doneness than the rest of the world. Yea, I know like getting your hair cut it it is easier to keep it longer (rarer steaks) than to cut it too short (overcook) but come on- medium rare is medium rare (pink in the middle but done all the way through) not a bloody, tough mess of a rare steak.

                                1. re: ClevelandDave

                                  Ray's menu goes to great lengths to explain EXACTLY how they cook steaks. If you're not happy with the doneness, order according to the terms clearly outlined by Ray's.
                                  I just don't get this arguement.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    Because it is confusing. The world has one standard, Rays has another. So if you always order something medium, and you get rare, you are upset. If you order according to the chart you might feel you won't be getting what you want.

                                    I just don't get why Ray's doesn't just do what their customers want within reason (and this seems reasonable).

                                    1. re: ClevelandDave

                                      But it's totally within your power to order to your liking. The last time I went, my DH and I took his parents. His dad is very predictable with steak-he likes filet mignon, medium. NOT med rare-medium.
                                      We looked at the menu and spoke with our server to communicate his desires, and he was extremely pleased.
                                      I understand your wish to have standardized language, but unless you're from out of town, or never read about Ray's, you know how they roll.

                                      1. re: monavano

                                        Well, no you really wouldn't unless you were a regular, IMHO. It just seems uncharictaristically arrogant to go out of your way not to meet your customer's expectations, whatever they are.

                                        1. re: ClevelandDave

                                          Have you discussed or attempted to discuss with with the owner, Michael Landrum? Or, have you discussed this with a manager to give your input?
                                          Where you aware of the way steaks are cooked at Ray's before you went?
                                          Arrogant? Never a word I'd associate with any Ray's establishment.
                                          Thanks.

                                          1. re: ClevelandDave

                                            ClevelandDave, I feel your pain, but you are wrong. Medium Rare has never been pink, it has always been red in the middle. If you want Rays to make you a steak that is pink in the middle, order it "pink in the middle" or Medium, but don't say Medium Rare because that means Red, but warm, in the middle.
                                            To quote you, "but come on- medium rare is medium rare (pink in the middle but done all the way through", again, medium rare is not pink, and it is most definitely not done all the way through.
                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperat...

                                            1. re: Ziv

                                              With all due respect, while there are many more experienced people on this board, in virtually all my experience in going to steakhouses and preparing them myself for others, Ray's is out of the norm, and medium rare is pink with a slight hint of red in the middle. See: http://bbq.about.com/od/steaks/ss/aa1....

                                              Even if you don't accept that, Ray's is being stubborn (maybe arrogant isn't the right word), creates an unnecessary confusing situation, does not meet the expectations of clients and is doing something quite different than others. I rarely complain and it is very unusual for me to send a steak back. I've had to do that twice at Ray's, both for the same reason.

                                              Doing something different than others is good when you are exceeding the expectations of your customers, but not when you aren't giving them what they expect.

                                              By the way, I did mention it to the waiter and they said that is what our standard is. I'll have to remember that next time. My point is that I shouldn't have to.

                                              1. re: ClevelandDave

                                                Well, I'll argue that the text on that page is incorrect, since we quoted other pages that had a different description.

                                                The PICTURE on that page, however, is correct. Notice it shows red all the way through.

                                              2. re: Ziv

                                                I'd also note this posting by a regular chowser (Ellen 4441). I happen to think that the burgers are a lot more closely done to what customers expectations are than the steaks, particularly the thicker cuts:

                                                I visited DC from AC, and my burger was way undercooked, and I prefer a softer type roll......

                                                For what it's worth ......

                                      2. re: ClevelandDave

                                        Um, except what you just described is medium, not medium rare.

                                        Rare = cool, red center
                                        Medium-rare = warm, red center
                                        Medium = pink center

                                        Anything beyond that is dead and not worth describing. :-)

                                        1. re: DanielK

                                          Daniel, I think you nailed it, so I went to the default source for confirmation and even Wiki thinks medium-rare is warm, red center. But I have to admit that most experts don't use the old doneness description anymore, they use the temp instead.

                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperat...
                                          http://www.goodcooking.com/steak/done...

                                          1. re: DanielK

                                            Ya these are much more the universal standards for steak that I use.

                                            1. re: Elyssa

                                              My universal standard is the question "What does medium mean here?" Then if it's not right, I can blame the waiter, not the kitchen. ;)

                                              1. re: MikeR

                                                Unless they say something like, not really rare, and not well done. But then you know you're at Outback or the like.

                                                1. re: MikeR

                                                  Seconded. Perhaps Dave has stumbled on a few places that all happen to consistently cook steaks to his definition, but in my experience definitions of doneness vary hugely from restaurant to restaurant and even chef to chef, so if you're not asking "what does X mean to whoever is cooking today?" then you're just gambling.

                                                  (FWIW, my definitions of doneness are closer to Ray's than to Dave's.)

                                                  1. re: sweth

                                                    Nope. I've really never had a problem asking for a medium well steak being delivered medium well... except at Ray's. Perhaps Ray's is right and everyplace else is just overcooking their steaks.

                                                    1. re: ClevelandDave

                                                      Medium-Well? Now this is all beginning to make sense.

                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        My wife orders her burgers and steaks medium-well all the time. I don't think she's ever had it done the way she likes it. Mind you, she's the type that's always looking for something to complain about. :-)

                                                      2. re: ClevelandDave

                                                        But you were talking earlier about medium-rare not being to your liking, i.e. red not pink in the middle, and now you fess up to ordering good beef cooked til its grey? And it is Ray's fault? Argghhh! And I actually gave a damn, thinking that the use of thermometers, and an increased USDA presence, might have changed what medium-rare was expected to be...
                                                        Medium-well? There is so little of the great aspects of the steak left after medium that it begs the question, why order steak if you are going to cook it so much that it is tougher and nearly flavorless?

                                                        1. re: Ziv

                                                          Meant medum rare. At Rays medium well is medium rare.

                                        2. (1) The Tasting Room at Restaurant Eve. And no, it's not because I'm not 'sophisticated' enough. I love Komi and CityZen and many other fine dining experiences in DC and elsewhere around the globe.

                                          (2) 2Amys. Apparently my mistake here has been to focus on the pizza and not the other dishes. That said, the pizza has not wowed me and the ambiance is that of Romper Room. I expect Barney to show up any minute. (Yes, I know, I'm mixing children's shows and eras.)

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: foodtrip

                                            Thank you. Restaurant Eve is good but their prices are ridiculous ($17 for green beans) and the hostess' disdain for the walk-in customer is more than I can stand.

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

                                            1. re: foodtrip

                                              I think you'd enjoy 2 Amys more if you thought of it as a place to go broke eating pizza soup in an authentic nursery atmosphere.

                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                LOL! Monkey, I always enjoy your humor. You have perfectly summarized the 2 Amys experience.

                                            2. Cakelove. I am so sorry but the cupcakes are just boring as hell and overpriced. I have tried them at different temperatures and such. ick.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: rHairing

                                                i do not think anyone likes cakelove after reading several comments on this board.

                                                1. re: rHairing

                                                  I don't love any place that specializes in cupcakes. I just don't get that food trend no matter how they dress it up or dress it down. Too big, too small, too gooey, too dry, too moist, too messy, too sweet, too expensive. Give me a $6 slice of a nice dense chocolate cake any time and I can make three desserts out of it. ;)

                                                  1. re: MikeR

                                                    Spot on.

                                                  2. re: rHairing

                                                    I think the dislike for Cakelove is pretty universal. I think it coasted along because it was the only game in town. But now that there are places like Baked and Wired and Georgetown Cupcake etc there is no reason to go there.

                                                    -----
                                                    Georgetown Cupcake
                                                    1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

                                                    1. re: Elyssa

                                                      Georgetown Cupcakes rule! They're the best around, IMO. I send them to my husband's office for his birthday, and everyone swoons.

                                                      -----
                                                      Georgetown Cupcake
                                                      1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

                                                      1. re: Elyssa

                                                        Georgetown Cupcake is overrated, small and overpriced cupcakes that frankly are nowhear the level of the cupcakes at Baked and Wired and Furins.

                                                        -----
                                                        Georgetown Cupcake
                                                        1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

                                                      2. re: rHairing

                                                        Amen to this, I thought I was the only one. I almost feel like there might be something wrong with me because EVERYONE else couldn't stop talking about how much they loved it. But Cakeloves cakes are dry, bland and their frosting would best be served as a mortar for tile bricking.

                                                        If I want decent cupcakes I would go to Red Velvet (good) or Georgetown Cupcakes (better)

                                                        -----
                                                        Georgetown Cupcake
                                                        1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

                                                        1. re: tifferbe_2000

                                                          that's just a bit harsh. Mortar? I don't think so. Spackle for the drywall sure, But mortar?

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            besides everyone knows tile uses grout after the mudcoat, silly.

                                                        2. re: rHairing

                                                          I ate a piece of cake at Cakelove just a week ago. I even let it reach room temperature before eating (why do they serve cold cakes???) but it was less than mediocre. Not worth $7....I wish I had spent it on a bowl of pho:)

                                                        3. Rasika. Maybe I ordered wrong but every single item other than the black cod was totally forgettable. Everybody else falls over themselves to praise this place, so it's probably worth a return trip but my meal there was just not up to par.

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

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: reiflame

                                                            Reiflame, your post made me smile. For me, the black cod was the only thing I've had at Rasika that I thought was boring and thus, wouldn't re-order. Everything else was fabulous, IMHO. To each, his own!

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

                                                            1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                              And your comment made ME smile! Many years ago, long before places like Victoria's Gastropub, we recommended Tersiguel's in Ellicott City to a co-worker. That co-worker and her spouse were SO unhappy with their meal that they came home and made sandwiches for dinner. Apparently they felt the food was inedible. As you say Woodleyparkhound, to each his own.

                                                              -----
                                                              Tersiguel's
                                                              8293 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD 21043

                                                              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                I'm inclined to agree here. The first time I went, we had the black cod and the fish curry. The cod was unremarkable and the fish in the curry was as dry as the sahara. However, after finally getting around to giving it a second chance, we really enjoyed the green chicken and lamb gosht. I do think it's over-priced, and perhaps over-rated, but there are some excellent dishes to be found there, as well as some to be avoided.

                                                              2. re: reiflame

                                                                agree, reiflame. The "black cod" was nice sablefish, but nothing special. Everything else was forgettable. Except the silly Pier One decor and the odd height chairs and banquettes. It felt like it was done on the cheap.
                                                                I've been a couple of times because others wanted to go. Friends who had lived in India described it as a place for those who want to eat Indian food because it trendy but are really afraid of Indian food.

                                                              3. Komi.

                                                                Very good meal, but not anywhere near being worth $125pp.

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

                                                                1. Brasserie Beck didn't live up to its hype for me. Food is okay but overpriced. Beers were good, but again overpriced.

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

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: dpan

                                                                    Second that. Moules Frites were downright delicious, but everything else, just ok.

                                                                    1. re: biscuit

                                                                      Third that.

                                                                  2. Citronelle

                                                                    I was underwhelmed. Perhaps all the hype or the snooty service or the OK food or the "cleverness" of it all killed it, but it was seriously lacking. Central, on the other hand, did the trick.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: biscuit

                                                                      2Amys - pizza was soggy, undercooked dough, 45 min wait, loud/noisy

                                                                      Jaleo - tiny portions (yes, even for tapas), chicken was overcooked, other items were cold, overpriced & left hungry

                                                                    2. I am going to get SLAMMED for this, but here goes: L'Auberge Chez Francois.

                                                                      I hosted someone's b'day party there about 14 years ago, when I was vegetarian. I ordered some dish with mushrooms in it and it was soooo very salty, it might as well have been pickled. I have never been there since and will not ever go again.

                                                                      OK, let it fly.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: VirginiaCook

                                                                        I agree with you. I went there once and thought the atmosphere rather kitschy. Food was okay, and I've had better in mom and pop places in France and Belgium, certainly not up to my expectations.

                                                                        1. re: VirginiaCook

                                                                          I think there are quite a few people who agree with you. I do, even as a meat eater. It wasn't bad but I don't think it compares to L'Auberge Provencal.

                                                                          1. re: VirginiaCook

                                                                            L'Auberge Chez Francois was the first place that came to mind when I saw this topic.

                                                                            Eve's Tasting Room and Zaytinya would also be on my list.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Zaytinya
                                                                            701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                            Tasting Room
                                                                            101 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701

                                                                            1. re: VirginiaCook

                                                                              I agree. I seem to go every year or so (at friends' behest), and find the sameness dull rather than comforting. I like imagination in a restaurant and this place doesn't have any.

                                                                              1. re: VirginiaCook

                                                                                It was very, very good back in the day, but that was a long time ago.

                                                                                1. re: VirginiaCook

                                                                                  Hear, hear!

                                                                                2. equinox-- had an utterly forgettable meal with poor service albeit during restaurant week a few years ago and I gave feedback to the management. They offered to send me a gift cert to return and enjoy a better meal. I never received the cert and when I contacted the restaurant I was accused of trying to scam them for a free meal-- Was told that the cert was sent and that was that. Never returned.

                                                                                  1. Zaytinya. I seriously cannot wrap my head around why people would pay so much money for such a small amount of mediocre food. People keep telling me it's great for happy hour or cocktails with friends/co-workers, but then I start trying to wrap my head around paying so much for drinks on top of paying so much for mediocre food, and I just give up. I know, I know, YMMV.

                                                                                    Ping Pong Dim Sum. Just makes me depressed thinking about it.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Zaytinya
                                                                                    701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                    Ping Pong Dim Sum
                                                                                    900 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: yfunk3

                                                                                      I'm inclined to partially agree with you, but only out of hatred for small plates places. That said, by the standards of small plates places, Zaytina actually gives you a fairly large serving of most things, and the prices are quite good for the neighborhood, though one needs to take into consideration that everything in Chinatown is generally over-priced and over-rated, with the exception of the American Art museum.

                                                                                    2. Central. Maybe I have not ordered the right things, but they seem to be going through the motions. Veal Cheeks was latest disappointment, with an overly sweet sauce, and it just seemed like a lifeless dish.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: KevinS

                                                                                        I'm with you Kevin in this minority - the brussels sprouts were mush - reminiscent of frozen. Loved the atmosphere, not the food.

                                                                                      2. 2 Amys
                                                                                        Zatinya
                                                                                        Busboys
                                                                                        Marvin
                                                                                        Logan Tavern
                                                                                        Melting Pot
                                                                                        The Diner

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Logan Tavern
                                                                                        1423 P St NW, Washington, DC 20005

                                                                                        Melting Pot Restaurant
                                                                                        1110 N. Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                                        1. 2 Amys
                                                                                          Brasserie Beck
                                                                                          Jaleo

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

                                                                                          1. Restaurant Eve Tasting Room.
                                                                                            Jaleo.

                                                                                            1. The new Acqua Al 2 on the Hill. Totally hyped, totally full of bold face politicos, totally mediocre.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: scotcheroo

                                                                                                Did not show me anything worth going back for. Low value for quite ordinary food.

                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                  I'm so glad I read this! I had Acqua Al 2 on my "Gotta get there list". May have to move it to my "maybe I'll try it one of these days" list.

                                                                                                  1. re: thefabfoodie

                                                                                                    I totally agree. I had a very sub-par meal here a few months ago. Overpriced, small portions, mediocre food.

                                                                                                    1. re: Energy09

                                                                                                      A little off topic, but if you want excellent Tuscan style italian on the Hill, just head few blocks north to Toscana Cafe by union station. It's small and can be crowded, but the food that i've had there is fantastic. Try the grilled, baby octopus in tomato sauce, any of their pastas, and the porterhouse for two.

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Toscana Cafe
                                                                                                      601 2nd St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                                                                                              2. For me it's Zaytinya. I just don't get what all the hype is about. It's my least favorite Jose Andreas restaurants. I find the food decent but not great. I've had good dishes before but nothing that blew me out of the water.

                                                                                                I think the place is waaaay too loud. In that area of town there are about 10 other restaurants I would choose besides Zaytinya...but people seem to loooove it.

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Zaytinya
                                                                                                701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                  My brother and I had a great RW meal at Zaytinya. I was expecting to leave hungry but that was not the case. Of course, the fact that we got a third RW lunch to share might have helped. 8<D Still, we liked the food a lot (love the yogurt and apricot dessert) and the pita was outstanding.

                                                                                                  More recently we had another good lunch at Jaleo, which I think has held up very well over the years. Back in the day several other tapas spots opened up soon after Jaleo and none were as good (and we tried a bunch of them).

                                                                                                  I'll throw out BLT Steak, which most people seem to like. I got treated to dinner there for my birthday recently, and while the food was good, the prices were so ridiculous that I cannot ever see eating there on my own dime. The swordfish was very nice, but for $36 with no sides? As Warner Wolf used to say (Ok, I'm old), "Come on!!!" And people say DC Coast is overpriced.

                                                                                                  What's funny about this thread is that the whole premise is inherently flawed, since the responses prove there's really no place that "everyone loves." There's always a seething undercurrent of negativity, but as discussed on another thread, when the posts about a place are uniformly positive, naysayers often don't bother jumping in. So this thread is a nice way to bring out the contrarians.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Zaytinya
                                                                                                  701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                                  DC Coast Restaurant
                                                                                                  1401 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                                                                                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                    Hear hear.

                                                                                                    I like Zaytinya, but I feel like you pay for excellent tapas, and you get tapas that are just good.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Zaytinya
                                                                                                    701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                                    1. re: DCJamie

                                                                                                      Zatinya fills a much-needed niche downtown, i.e., providing a place for people to wait in line while going deaf. We can't all make it out to 2 Amys or Lauriol Plaza.

                                                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                        Most restaurants in DC are overly loud. If you don't want to wait in line, be sensible and make a reservation, which is something you have to do at most popular restaurants in DC if you don't want to wait in line...assuming they even take reservations.

                                                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                          This was originally posted in 2010 when I'm fairly certain Zaytinya wasn't accepting reservations. There was a time when you couldn't make one in the earlier days of the restaurant.

                                                                                                  2. Open City -- Absolutely tasteless and bland.
                                                                                                    Poste -- Overpriced for what you get. They served me the fattiest and yet somehow blandest cut of lamb that I've ever had. I went home and had a second dinner after eating there.
                                                                                                    CityZen -- Service good, atmosphere very nice, but the food was underwhelming.
                                                                                                    Caucus Room -- Forgettable.
                                                                                                    Bistrot du Coin -- Lively atmosphere, but underwhelmed with the food.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Caucus Room
                                                                                                    Market Square North, 401 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                                                                                    CityZen Restaurant
                                                                                                    1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                                                                                                    Open City
                                                                                                    2331 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: nedh

                                                                                                      This made me also think of another: Kaz Sushi Bistro very overpriced for what we got, we had horrendous service and left a couple hours later starving. But people love this place and say it is great. It was so bad, I can't try again. I will try a lot of places again, but I just can't do it with this one. But other people apparently have had great meals there.

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Kaz Sushi Bistro
                                                                                                      1915 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006

                                                                                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                                                        Lauriol Plaza and 2 Amys for casual eats.
                                                                                                        I was underwhelmed by Komi--no direction in the meal I had. Everything was good, nothing made me think it was the best meal I've had in DC in the past year. For the $, I like to be taken on a bit more of a focused experience. Perhaps I am too picky, though...

                                                                                                        1. re: stulaloyd

                                                                                                          I thought everybody hated Lauriol Plaza?

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Lauriol Plaza
                                                                                                          1835 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                                                                                          1. re: reiflame

                                                                                                            Not according to Washingtonian Magazine. It's been in their Best in DC issue for decades.

                                                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                              Crazy; I have never heard anything good about it, on this board or elsewhere.

                                                                                                              1. re: reiflame

                                                                                                                Their Cuban-style items are actually pretty decent. Having said that, their margaritas suck and they refuse make a mojito. The roof top is the only place to sit, because the noise level inside is intolerable. Cuban food, on the roof, sangria-you'll be okay.

                                                                                                              2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                It makes the READER"S CHOICE best-of lists in the Washingtonian. However, to the best of my knowledge it has NEVER made the editor's choice section for best restaurants. Context is everything.

                                                                                                      2. For me, it's 2 Amys. I think their pizza is good, but not as good and rave-worthy as most other people seem to think it is. Plus, the romper room aspect of the place works my last nerve.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                                                          If you get a small table by the bar, it's a LITTLE better, romper room wise. Pizza is definitely overrated, though, now. When they first opened, it seemed a lot more consistent.

                                                                                                        2. Pasta Plus in Laurel. It is simply nothing special for me, and service has been mediocre at best.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Pasta Plus Restaurant
                                                                                                          209 Gorman Ave, Laurel, MD 20707

                                                                                                          1. Pasta Mia. No reservations, no credit cards, long lines, long waits, all for large amounts of oil-soaked, strip mall-style Italian pasta dishes? I'd rather eat at Olive Garden!

                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                            Pasta Mia
                                                                                                            1790 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                                                                                            1. In the Baltimore area, I would definitely say Cinghiale. Tried it twice in case my first experience was an anomoly, but both times experienced below average service and just mediocre food.

                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                              Cinghiale
                                                                                                              822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: stephanieg

                                                                                                                Exactly!! I couldn't have said it better myself. I've tried Cinghiale two or three times and have been less than impressed. I keep wondering what I'm missing. The food is poorly seasoned, heavy with olive oil, and on a good day...mediocre.

                                                                                                                1. re: stephanieg

                                                                                                                  I was there on a weekday in May and everything was wonderful. I went back on a Friday in June and the quality of everything took a nosedive. Less effort with bigger crowds? I thought the Wolf restaurants were above that?

                                                                                                                2. zaytinya. and vidalia. but for the rest of the city, and this board in particular, i've not been let down all too much.

                                                                                                                  1. Also, BGR.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Doh

                                                                                                                      Ditto BGR. I ate it before I knew it was so loved and was disappointed so there weren't high expectations.

                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                        I agree about the BGR sucking. maybe I should have had the greek burger or whatever it is called but, the burger at Rays, Central, Palena and Good Stuff Eatery blows BGR out of the water.

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

                                                                                                                        Good Stuff Eatery
                                                                                                                        303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jeremy303

                                                                                                                          The lamb burger is pretty tasty. However, I do think they generally over-char their burgers, which makes them taste far more like burnt char, and the fries are nothing special.

                                                                                                                    2. I was really disappointed by Oyamel. With the exception of 1 item (the scallop ceviche), everything I had there was awful. The restaurant was way too loud, overpriced and the service was horrible...I felt rushed or was ignored through my entire dinner.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Snd485

                                                                                                                        Agreed about Oyamel. I really wanted to like the place, but nothing about it was likeable. The food was not nearly as good as I had expected and the tables are way too tightly packed -- designed to maximize the number of diners, while totally ignorning diners' comfort. I was constantly being jostled by the wait staff as they attempted to maneuver through the way too narrow spaces.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Snd485

                                                                                                                          Agree. I only went once and it was terrible in terms of service and mediocre in terms of food. I feel the same way about the Chinatown Jaleo. Way too rushed, and sloppy sloppy sloppy.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Snd485

                                                                                                                            I love the food at Oyamel, but the noise and clueless/shabby service are serious, serious drawbacks. In this economy? Feh.

                                                                                                                          2. For me, that would be the much-lauded Charleston. I only ate there once, but that was enough for my money. The sauces were unpleasantly sticky, and an app billed as "wilted" spinach salad was nothing more than a pile of unseasoned, cooked (not wilted) spinach. And Chef Wolfe was right there at the passe, waving things on.

                                                                                                                            The service was a bit oppressive as well. I hate the feeling of being watched as much as I hate the feeling of being ignored.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: theminx

                                                                                                                              I have to agree. We went there for the first time for our anniversary last year and I found the place really stuffy and the service snobby. The food was good but not outstanding and certainly not enough to counter the ambiance. Based on the reputation, I was looking for something really special and was very disappointed.

                                                                                                                              1. re: yummyseeker

                                                                                                                                Definitely overhyped

                                                                                                                            2. Have to sadly agree about the Helmand.The last two times I was there it was kind of dissapointing. Sad because it used to be one of my faves. There wasn't the usual subtle dinstinction of flavors in the entrees. They just kind of seemed thrown together. Plus the beef on one their regular specials was just way to tough and stringy. Combine that with the price hike and it makes me not really miss the place.

                                                                                                                              1. Tabard Inn. I remember staying there a dozen years ago and thought it was a funky, cheap place. Now people rave about the brunch, the food, what a great place for a special event. To me, it still is a cheap, funky place with mediocre food and rooms.

                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                Tabard Inn
                                                                                                                                1739 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036

                                                                                                                                1. 1. Restaurant Nora
                                                                                                                                  2. Blue Duck Tavern
                                                                                                                                  3. Cinghaile (Had a great meal once and two not great ones after)
                                                                                                                                  4. Mari Luna Latin Grille (the new place)
                                                                                                                                  5. Black Olive (Blah food, kitschy service & super expensive.)

                                                                                                                                  My absolute least favorite is G & M Restaurant. The crabcakes are huge, but competely tasteless and full of imported meat & filler.

                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                  Restaurant Nora
                                                                                                                                  2132 Florida Ave., N.W, Washington, DC 20008

                                                                                                                                  Black Olive
                                                                                                                                  814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

                                                                                                                                  Blue Duck Tavern
                                                                                                                                  1201 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20037

                                                                                                                                  Mari Luna Latin Grille
                                                                                                                                  1010 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville, MD 21208

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: LittleNorthwest

                                                                                                                                    What don't you like about Nora? It's on my list of ones to try soon.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                      Nora was nice, but not nice enough. Some of the food was cold, some not well seasoned all of it was expensive.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: LittleNorthwest

                                                                                                                                      SO with you on G&M.

                                                                                                                                    3. My nominations are Cafe Atlantico (Latin dim sum) and Addies. I had the Latin brunch tasting menu. Half the dishes consisted of pureed malanga. Blah. Also, why call it dim sum? The place is owned by a Spaniard--just call it tapas.

                                                                                                                                      At Addies, the food was okay but the wait was bad and the service worse. Would not go back.

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

                                                                                                                                      1. Paper Moon Diner and Blue Moon Diner in Baltimore. It's been a while since I last ate at Paper Moon, but each time the service was awful, food overpriced and so-so. The kitschy atmosphere isn't enough to keep you coming back. Blue Moon was such a disappointment. People rave about the food, but it was just..breakfast? Nothing about it justified the one hour wait for a table- not the 'experience,' food and certainly not the apathetic service. Diff'rent Strokes I guess. :)

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        Blue Moon Cafe
                                                                                                                                        1621 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: exploravore

                                                                                                                                          Gotta agree with you on Paper Moon. I've never been completely wowed by the food there. I've always gone on a "late-night leaving the club" kinda deal so never really paid too much attention to the service. But the food is never to die for good.

                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                          Paper Moon
                                                                                                                                          1069 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                                                                                          1. re: exploravore

                                                                                                                                            Right on both counts. These "diners" exist for the sole purpose of making real diners look all that much more good.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                              Hey monkey, how about some examples of "real diners" in B'more that you think serve "good food"?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                                                                Bel Loc Diner at Loch Raven Blvd. Forest Diner on Rt 40. Frank's Diner in Jessup. Sip & Bite. Not a fan of the Double T Diner.

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                Frank's Diner
                                                                                                                                                7395 Cedar Ave, Jessup, MD 20794

                                                                                                                                                Forest Diner
                                                                                                                                                10031 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042

                                                                                                                                                Sip & Bite Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                2200 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                                                                                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                  Love the Sip & Bite. Forest Diner was kinda rough on me last time. The Double-T in Ellicott City is way below the Frederick Double-T, which has always held up pretty well.

                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                  Forest Diner
                                                                                                                                                  10031 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042

                                                                                                                                                  Sip & Bite Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                  2200 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                    I was right there with you until you mentioned the Slurp & Burp!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: saturated fat

                                                                                                                                                      Say what you will, but their short ribs are awesome. I guess you have to expect some variance at that end of the spectrum.

                                                                                                                                            2. Here's another one (watch out for the flying plates from all those that like the place): Bucks Fishing and Camping. The smokefish tasted like it was right out of a vaccum pack and the meat was mediocre; the atmosphere, while it has the potential to be charming, was blah; the place did not seem clean; the service was uncomfortable. Instead of warm and fuzzy I felt uncomfortable and uneasy.

                                                                                                                                              1. I cannot stand a restaurant where they've crammed so much on a small two-top table that I have to fear every second one of us is going to knock over the water glass, pepper shaker, candle, multiple plates, or whatever. And when this gets magnified with multiple large menus, it drives me insane. This is the case at Heritage India in Dupont and also, to my dismay, Dino.
                                                                                                                                                Simplify, people!

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                Heritage India
                                                                                                                                                2400 Wisconsin Ave NW Ste A, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                                                                                                1. 1. Four Sisters (Falls Church) - always in Washingtonian Magazine's Top 100 and Top Cheap Eats, but not sure why. There's much better Vietnamese in the area.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Zaytinya - love the chick pea dish, but everything else I got was only okay.

                                                                                                                                                  3. Ray's Hell Burger - they're not that great for the price (though Rays the Steaks I think is a great deal).

                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                  Ray's Hell Burger
                                                                                                                                                  1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

                                                                                                                                                  Zaytinya
                                                                                                                                                  701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                                                                                  Four Sisters Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                  8190 Strawberry Ln Ste 1, Falls Church, VA 22042

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChloeW

                                                                                                                                                    Taste is subjective, but not sure where you can get a 10oz prime burger for less than $7, so I don't understand the price complaint about RHB.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChloeW

                                                                                                                                                      What do you prefer in the area to Four Sisters?

                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                      Four Sisters Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                      Strawberry Ln Falls Church VA, Strawberry Ln Falls Church, VA

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                        Present, in Falls Church, for starters.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                          Huong Viet (for southern Viet food) and Saigon Cafe (for central Viet food). Minh's in Rosslyn/Clarendon also has some regional dishes you don't find a lot of places such as shrimp/sweet potato fritters and broiled catfish with tumeric.

                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                          Minh's
                                                                                                                                                          2500 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                                                                                                          Huong Viet Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                          6785 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ChloeW

                                                                                                                                                          Even the detractors of Ray's Hell Burger (who will tell you that Central's burger tastes better, for instance) agree that it's a good burger for the money, assuming you actually want a large burger.

                                                                                                                                                          Four Sisters is a great family friendly Vietnamese restaurant. If you have (or are) a picky eater there's little to be afraid of there, and that's its strength. Certainly there is more "authentic" Vietnamese cooking elsewhere, but the food is tasty, you can usually get questions answered in reasonably understandable English, and the environment won't scare anyone away.

                                                                                                                                                          While it's certainly valid not to "love" either of those places, I wouldn't put either in the category of "everyone loves it but you."

                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                          Ray's Hell Burger
                                                                                                                                                          1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

                                                                                                                                                          Four Sisters Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                          Strawberry Ln Falls Church VA, Strawberry Ln Falls Church, VA

                                                                                                                                                        3. Mia's Pizzas in Bethesda. Did not live up to the hype for me. I should have gone to Faryab across the street for some solid, always delicious Afghan food.

                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                          Faryab
                                                                                                                                                          4917 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: siamesechin

                                                                                                                                                            Annabel Lee's. My friends LOVE it, it gets great reviews, and the menu looks so creative and exciting-- it's just that everything I've eaten there (except some nachos once) has tasted bad. Also Vaccaro's-- the stuff looks pretty, it just doesn't taste good.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Tio Pepe

                                                                                                                                                            1. Okay, my first post got deleted for being "unfair," so I'll try again. I do not like the food at Ben's Chili Bowl at all. Perhaps I should have tried the regular chili, but thought the stuff that went on the half-smokes tasted metallic, like it had come out of a can. The fries were also greasy, soggy, nothing special. At least it was cheap...

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

                                                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kathleen440

                                                                                                                                                                Ben's is one of those local landmarks that's been around so long they don't even have to try to be good. Every town has them; they've all seen better days, yet people continue to go to them just so they can say they went. And yes, the chili comes out of a can. I have to disagree on it being cheap, though. I'd hardly call $8 (plus tip) cheap for a hotdog.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                  I put Ben's in the Vienna Inn school of landmark dive, tho Ben's street is cooler now, they both use canned chili and their dogs aren't that great.
                                                                                                                                                                  Vienna Inn does serve a nice cold brew, so I have to give the nod to Vienna Inn...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ziv

                                                                                                                                                                    Ben's is famous for staying open all thru the DC riots in the '60s where blocks and blocks around it burned. Served everyone from street people to police officers and all in between and became sort of a nerve center for the community which gradually rebuilt around it. It's a great *place* with so-so food.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ziv

                                                                                                                                                                      Vienna Inn always had the worst hot dogs anywhere. Beer was always the whole point of the place. They've tried to make it more family-friendly in recent years, but it was always a beer joint first with food being an afterthought.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                        Seems the last time I was there they were extending the menu slightly.

                                                                                                                                                                        IIRC, the chef/owner is a CIA grad, but possibly related to the previous owners (transfer took place about 10 years ago?). Even with a culinary background he wanted to run THAT place and not mess with something that had a good following.

                                                                                                                                                                        Unless I was sold a massive bill of goods.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Dennis S

                                                                                                                                                                          I dunno. I was in there a year ago and the chilidog was every bit as nasty as I remember from 30 years ago. More like a Vienna sausage in flavor and texture than a hotdog. It was the first time I ever saw kids in there, though.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                            I've always thought of it as a local family place.

                                                                                                                                                                            And no, I didn't say they were making the food better. Even though the guy is a CIA grad, he specifically didn't want to change anything. If it ain't broke...

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Dennis S

                                                                                                                                                                              OK, as if it matters...

                                                                                                                                                                              The original owner's son is a CIA grad, and the son came back to work at Vienna Inn, presumably to pay off his "college loan" given by his parents. That was at least 8-10 years ago, probably more. The father passed away, and the CIA grad ran the business for a short time thereafter.

                                                                                                                                                                              During the time that the son was there, there were a few menu changes that put other things on the map besides chili dogs. The changes were generally met with Dennis S's sentiment, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". So while there are remnants of menu items that are better than chili dogs (I particularly like their turkey club, which is quite good in the "diner" sense, if not upscale or gourmet sense), those efforts were not embraced by the clientele. The son eventually sold the business to a local (people call him Marty) business man, and the food generally remains true to its longstanding form, including the chili dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                              On the plus side, Marty's brother, Brian, has seen fit to put up a couple of decent (Starr Hill) beers on tap, so it is now a little more that a "pitcher of Bud Light" kind of place for beer.

                                                                                                                                                                              The CIA grad/son of owner is now, I have heard, the owner and proprietor of a Bed and Breakfast in New England.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SoxFan1

                                                                                                                                                                                back story is always interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SoxFan1

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the detailed info. I was sure of the story about 8-10 years ago, but with time and other things I was slightly wondering if I'd made some of it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I did notice the better beers last time I was there - about a month ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                                                                                                                                                                    Nothing wrong with a pitcher of Bud kind of place. They're a dying breed around here. I admire them for hanging tough, historically-nasty chili dogs and all. I always liked their bean soup and hot brisket sandwiches. I'm guessing there aren't as many brawls in the parking lot, but there are probably more entertainment options in Vienna these days

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Belga Cafe is a head-scratcher -- why is it so popular? Four Sisters pales in comparison to truly authentic Huong Viet. Song Que has amazing selection of banh mi, but Nhu Lan is superior in taste. Good Stuff Eatery and Elevation Burger are charming, but I still prefer Ray's and Five Guys (though Ray's is far and away the best). Good Stuff is messy and fries leave much to be desired. Love that Elevation features grass-fed, organic meat - but it's a puny, flavorless burger. Oyamel and Jaleo are disappointing - though just the right scene and price for swanky happy hour. Firefly is disappointing for brunch; you'll want to eat another meal just to off-set it. And cupcakes in general.

                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                    Four Sisters Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                    Strawberry Ln Falls Church VA, Strawberry Ln Falls Church, VA

                                                                                                                                                                    Good Stuff Eatery
                                                                                                                                                                    303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                                                                                                                                                                    Huong Viet Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                    6785 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: henmonster

                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed on Good Stuff Eatery -- I wanted to like it more than I did. The mayo bar, milkshakes, varied toppings and sriracha at every table are all great, but they don't overcome a not-so-big burger, throwaway bun and soggy fries that are cut smaller than most school cafeterias.

                                                                                                                                                                      I also approve of Jaleo for happy hour but would not spend the money on a full meal.

                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                      Good Stuff Eatery
                                                                                                                                                                      303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Kinkeads. Expensive and really bland, mediocre food.
                                                                                                                                                                      There. I said it.

                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                      Kinkead's Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                      2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DC in DC

                                                                                                                                                                        couldn't disagree more. one of the few restaurants that have been around for decades and still delivers.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: henmonster

                                                                                                                                                                          I used to work next door to Kinkeads for eight years, so I've been there plenty. It has moments when it really is the best in show, then other times when you really have to shake your head and wonder. Unfortunately, the prices are not gentle, so I understand the disappointment.

                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                          Kinkead's Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                          2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Citronelle.. Central..

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                                                                                                                                                                        Citronelle
                                                                                                                                                                        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Myanmar. For years I'd read so many positive reviews of this restaurant, beginning with Tyler Cowan's. We finally went there, about a year ago, and every thing we ordered was just ok (and I made sure to order that ginger salad that so many folks raved about - meh!). Even my iced tea had a peculiar taste (as tho' it had been made using stagnant pond water). I can't remember now what we ordered other than that ginger salad but we were underwhelmed. But, to each his own :)

                                                                                                                                                                          I was sorry to see so many poor reviews of 2Amy's - but then I haven't been there in several years. However, back then, we'd go as soon as it opened and by the time we were through with our meal (and the pizzas were good then), the place was filled up, the kids were wound up, and the line went way down the block.

                                                                                                                                                                          Re: the Vienna Inn...whenever I go to my library, across the street, I can smell the grease which is why I've never been tempted to go there.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Johnny's Half Shell
                                                                                                                                                                            Citronelle
                                                                                                                                                                            The Prime Rib
                                                                                                                                                                            Charleston's
                                                                                                                                                                            Kinkead's
                                                                                                                                                                            Breadline
                                                                                                                                                                            Oohs & Aahs

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                                                                                                                                                                            Johnny's Half Shell
                                                                                                                                                                            400 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                                                                                                            Kinkead's Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                            2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Rasika (total yuck!)

                                                                                                                                                                              Restaurant Eve (horrible vegetarian selection). They actually told me that they didn't buy enough vegetables so they couldn't give me more!

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: idealist

                                                                                                                                                                                That is a really odd reason, isn't it? I know they grow a lot of their own, but... odd.
                                                                                                                                                                                I find the portions to be on the small side for many dishes and I rather not have to order $$ sides to fill me up.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Volt - food
                                                                                                                                                                                Green Pig Bistro - food and service
                                                                                                                                                                                Lyon Hall - food
                                                                                                                                                                                Oya - food and service
                                                                                                                                                                                Vermillion - food
                                                                                                                                                                                Hank's Oyster Bar - food

                                                                                                                                                                                Not sure if everyone loves them except me, but a lot of people do and I just don't get it.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Travinia Italian Kitchen in Leesburg, VA.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Ordered carry-out twice and both times, felt like I was an afterthought to them. Hostess made me pay and pickup at the bar. One time, the bar was packed and took me 10 minutes to get out of there, despite my pizza sitting right there by the register (The pizza was just okay, and kinda small).

                                                                                                                                                                                  The other time, I got the impression I was bugging them, because it was before dinner hour and most everyone was prepping for dinner. The chicken parm sandwich was nothing to write home about.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I didn't get a friendly vibe at all both times getting carryout. So, I am really hesitant to try and dine-in there. They need to let the hostess handle the carryout orders or they should just not offer carryout at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                  My co-workers seem to like the place, but I think I will take a pass. Conversely, Firebirds Grill, which is two doors down, always makes me feel welcome and the food is really good. I do have to go to the bar to pick up, but the bartenders there treat you like the paying customer that you are, and are nice and never keep me waiting.