One night in DC with the in-laws
Ok, so my husband and I are going to be in DC next saturday night for one night, staying with the in-laws. I was hoping we could make a restaurant suggestion because they aren't too concerned with food and usually just default to chinese takeout. They live really close to the mall and Newseum, so there have to be some good places near there, right?
So I need suggestions for a place that wouldn't be too far away, too fancy, or too expensive. Just a casual, delicious place. Any thoughts?
re: chicken kabob
6pm on a weekday is terribly busy, but you're right, 6pm on a Saturday is often not bad yet. I stopped by there looking for a spot at the bar at about exactly 6pm last Saturday, and while the bar was full, there weren't loads of people standing around and there were obviously available tables. But I wouldn't lay down a guarantee like I would for 5pm on Saturday, the magical time that gets you in without hassle to pretty much anywhere in DC that doesn't take reservations - happy hour tapas at Jaleo, lounge at Proof, etc., etc.
I actually would have recommended happy hour tapas and drinks at Jaleo to the OP, except that there are tables in the lounge area that would comfortably accommodate 4. You could definitely squeeze though, so that might be worth a shot. There's a whole list of tapas at $5/each from 4-7 in the lounge area only, and they run the special on weekends in addition to weekdays.
Yeah, good cheap places are few and far between. Consider Taylor Gourmet for very good sandwiches (Mount Vernon Square or H Street), Nando's Peri Peri for roasted chicken (Chinatown), Good Stuff Eatery for gourmet hamburgers and yummy shakes and fries (other side of Capitol Hill, not a bad drive from there).
I wouldn't recommend Kanlaya anyways. I went there in desperation once with my own parents because the Vapiano around the corner was too loud (also a good suggestion for your needs, pizza/pasta/salad at around $10, but it gets very loud on weekend nights). It was mediocre.
1800 M St NW, Washington, DC
1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC
So I looked at these and they all look like great restaurants that I would want to try, but I'm afraid none of them fit the bill with the in-laws. I think it would be weird if I came to visit and said, "hey I made reservations at a restaurant!" I was hoping I could just say something along the lines of "hey I was reading about this place online and it looks good, have you guys tried it?" So places who require reservations might not be best, and like @Raids was saying, $30/person is probably going to be too high for them as well. Maybe we need to get out of the area to find something a little more casual/cheap? In terms of cuisine, the in-laws aren't too adventurous with food, and like i said, usually just default to chinese takeout. So thai, japanese, and to some extent, tapas, are all out.
Sorry about all the restrictions- I just dont want to suggest a place they'll hate!
What do you guys think?
Okay, if you can manage to make it to Matchbox around, say, 5pm - go there. It's traditional food - they'll like it there. Another thing people don't often realize is that you can order take out there, also. So you could call, order some pizzas (and the doughnuts with the side of Bailey's) and take them back?
And kabob is right - you can always, always, always get a table at Clyde's. If you decide to check out Capitol Hill for Good Stuff (or We the Pizza, which just opened), don't drive. You'll never find parking on Saturday. Metro or cab (or walk - it's about a mile from there, and it's a really pretty walk through the Capitol Grounds).
By the way, seeing as I live in the same area, can I ask where your in-laws order their chinese take-out from?
If you don't want to make reservations and they like Chinese, you can head up to Cleveland Park and try Spices - it's pan asian, not expensive, and easy to get a table at.
There's also Mei Wah on NH Ave (though the one in Friendship Heights is considerably better, it's still not bad).
If they like Italian, you try Dino, which has many options for fixed priced menus depending on the day of the week.
Also, cheap and casual are 2 Amys (Cleveland Park), Pizzaria Paradisio (Dupont and Georgetown), and Rosemary's Thyme (Dupont)
You'd have a tough time spending less than $30/person at Dino. I wouldn't recommend it.
Pizzeria Paradiso or 2 Amy's could work, but neither is at all in the neighborhood. And the wait could be horrible on a Saturday night at both those places.
3282 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Well in that case I would go to Taylor's Gourmet for amazing sandwiches and risotto balls. It's definitely casual (you order at the counter etc) but it's very good.
Another option would be to eat at the lounge at PS7. Best "bar" food in the city in my opinion. You don't need a reservation, although depending on when you go it could be crowded. But they have excellent mixed drinks (Gina, the bartender, will take good care of you) and you can get a bunch of small plates to share, keeping the price down. I like the flatbreads (if they are offering the one called The Ducky get it!), tuna tartar sliders, oxtail tater tots, and the hamburger.
777 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
What's been listed pretty much covers it. My thoughts on these places are that I like Royal Thai better than Kanlaya, I think your in-laws would find Poste to be too fancy (and that goes double for The Source), and I don't think they'd put up with the wait for Matchbox. I really like the food at TenPenh, but I haven't been thrilled with the overall experience. The space is just sort of strange for me.
So, get on OpenTable, see what still has reservations open for a time you like on Saturday night - because all these places can possibly be booked on Saturdays - and go with that (with the exception of the Thai places - you can always get a table there). I almost always take people to Jaleo because the atmosphere is very vibrant without being too loud - it's just a very fun restaurant. Figure at least three dishes per person, or order the excellent paella and less tapas to keep costs down.
Having said that, you're probably still going to spend $30/person on all the places listed, but that's solidly in the medium price range for the District. You could get out of Royal Thai or Matchbox for less than $20/person though, I'm sure.
When I end up in that area with people who have kids, we go to Elephant & Castle, but it's a chain - nothing special.
Right in the same building as the Newseum is The Source by Wolfgang Puck, but it is a higher end, pricier restaurant.
Is there any particular cuisine you'd like? Within walking distance is Co Co Sala (small plates with a focus on desserts), Zaytinya (Greek/Mediterranean Tapas), Jaleo (Spanish Tapas), Cafe Atlantico (Higher end Mexican), or Oyamel (Mexican street food, but in a nice atmosphere). Check their websites for more information. The last 4 of of these are Jose Andres restaurants, and all of the ones listed so far take reservations. Matchbox is more casual and might fit the bill but doesn't take reservations and can have a wait of 1 hour or more on a weekend, especially if there's something at the Verizon Center. If they like Asian I'd suggest Royal Thai or Kanlaya for Thai food, or Momiji for sushi and hibachi. For nicer Asian, Ten Penh is a few blocks down Pennsylvania Ave. And you can't go wrong with Central Michel Richard.
Hope this list helps give you a few options. We can help narrow down if you provide more guidance in terms of cuisine, atmosphere, and a bit more detail on price point and whether you will be drinking.
405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004
480 7th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004
713 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Kanlaya Thai Cuisine
740 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004
Co Co Sala
929 F street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
401 7th Street N.W., Washington, DC 20004
The Source By Wolfgang Puck
575 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Momiji Japanesse Restaurant
505 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20004