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Need help re: District restaurant: Cheap, cheap parking

Okay, so I've got a bit of a headache on my hands (not the worst, but not ideal).

Two friends and I want to meet up for a post-work dinner/happy hour snacks/whatever next Thursday.

One is coming from Laurel, MD. The other is coming from southern MD. I am in the middle in south Arlington, but can go anywhere metro takes me.

The one from Laurel doesn't want to drive to south Arlington in rush hour (totally understandable), so I am thinking someplace in the actual DISTRICT would be good. The problem is that it has to be cheap (think entrees around $10-$12...less if possible!) and have cheap parking.

I can't think of anywhere. I know this is stupid, but I just can't think of anywhere that has good, cheap parking.

Quality of restaurant is completely flexible. Chains, independents, mom-and-pops, whatever. It's really all about where we can sit and catch up while not spending too much and not worrying about parking meters and such. Also, one of them will likely bring her baby, so baby-friendly is another necessity.

I'm blanking... some help would be greatly appreciate. Just throw out a few names and I'll Google them! :o)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. This is definitely tough, but the CityVista building has a parking garage. I think Taylor Gourmet and Busboys & Poets each validate for an hour and a half, and the garage is quite inexpensive after that. If they don't validate, buy a soda at the Safeway for the drive home and validate there. Taylor and Busboys all have reasonably prices.

    p.s. Chow is trying to linke to the Busboys at 14th and V and the Taylor in NE. I'm talking about the two locations in the CityVista building at 5th and New York, NW.

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    Taylor Gourmet
    1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

    Busboys & Poets
    1390 V St NW, Washington, DC 20009

    1 Reply
    1. re: katecm

      Actually H St. or Capitol Hill might be a good thought, because except on weekends normally you can find a good bit of free street parking (on H St. try close to 4th and I or H). And at 6:00 a lot of street parking opens as streets stop the rush hour parking restrictions.

      Also these areas will be pretty close for the person coming from Southern MD who will probably come in on 301 or 50 and for Laurel that will probably come down BW parkway or get on 50 too.

      Taylor Gourmet is a good idea, Matchbox should fit the price range for most of their items and has hh specials. Sidamo is a nice cafe to get coffee, tea and snacks.

      The Clydes chains often have free valet in some locations and great happy hour deals you could check their website for details.

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      Taylor Gourmet
      1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

    2. how about Matchbox in Chinatown. you can park on the street and pay meters. if there isnt anything at the Verizon Center you should be able to drive around and find parking.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dining with doc

        Except beware the parking is only two hours even if the meter stops (I have gotten tickets), Verizon Center is not as easy to find close street parking and that Matchbox location tends to have a wait.

        1. re: ktmoomau

          True, and most meters in the district are now eight minutes for a quarter!

      2. Lots of the downtown (Golden Triangle) garages have discounted parking in the evenings.

        1. Timing is the problem. Happy hour probably means you want to get your first drink before 6 PM, and most of the street parking downtown is either metered until 6:30 (8:30 around Chinatown) or cleared (no parking) between 4 and 6:30. Perhaps your far flung friends can find cheap or free parking near where they can catch Metro, though with the recent fare increases, it might be about the same as parking downtown.

          Union Station is a possibility. There are a couple of restaurants that are within your price range, have decent drinks (though no happy hour specials that I can think of) and mediocre food, but validate parking in the station garage. There's metered (until 6:30) street parking around Union Station so you could get there at 5:30, buy an hour's parking at a meter, and enjoy one of the many decent restaurants in the area. Capitol City Brewing isn't too bad.

          This is one of the reasons why I rarely eat in downtown DC.

          1. Although it isn't technically allowed, I've parked in the grocery store parking lot behind 2 Amys before (usually I go in and buy something in the store first though, and bring it back to the car.) Two Amy's for a pizza and a beer might work - though it's kind of a long haul from southern Maryland.

            The bigger problem is finding a place with good entree's in your price range though.

            Another suggestion would be bar menu at Rays the Classics in Silver Spring st the corner of Colesville Rd. and Georgia Ave. Lots if relatively inexpensive street, garage and lot parking around there, and I think the lot behind it is still free after 6pm. Walkable from Metro too.

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            Two Amys
            3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

            1. You can sit on the patio at Wonderland in Columbia Heights - it's a neighborhood place, there's street parking all over, and I saw several people on the patio with babies before when I was there - it's just that kind of neighborhood pub. And it is the perfect kind of low key place to catch up with friends - cheap, good beer and cheap food.

              ETA: I live at H & 4th. I would not plan on parking there and going to Matchbox. Bad idea. The garage under CityVista for Busboys is not at all a bad idea, however, but I think it's $7 after an hour and a half.

              1. There's free garage parking in Clarendon and Crystal City. Arlington was supposed to be in DC with the Potomac running through the middle like the Seine in Paris... until GW took it back.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Steve

                  Good suggestion, but . . .

                  The free or cheap parking in Clarendon starts at 6 o'clock. The Health & Human Services garage on Highland St. is free, and I think the pay lots are $2, or maybe it's $4 for the evening. But if you come in at 5:00, you need a permit for the HHS garage and you pay standard day rates in the pay garages.

                  Unless something's changed at Crystal City, it's the same arrangement - free after 6, pay through the nose before 6.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Yeah, Crystal City was the part of South Arlington I suggested the first time around, so I don't think the Laurel person is willing to go outside the District. ::grumble:: I did actually initially think of the Cheesecake Factory (since that's the only "chain" restaurant I could think of off the top of my head outside of Crystal City and Pentagon City), and I figured the parking situation would be abysmal.

                    I'll try the places around Union Station, maybe Capitol Hill...

                    It doesn't necessarily have to be happy hour or drinks-oriented. It can just be a regular dinner or tapas or any kind of cheap food that would fill us.

                  2. Honestly, find a place that has valet. Because street parking in DC is up to $2.00 per hour, valet at most popular places - Againn, Rasika, Brassarie Beck, Belga Cafe ect. ends up costing about the same as feeding the meter.

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

                    1. Lauriol Plaza has free parking with validation (but tip the valet a buck or two). On a week night, the parking lot either never fills up or does later in the evening (we walk our dog by it all the time). It's cheap and kid-friendly too (I think. they have kids there all the time)

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

                      1. Your friend from Laurel could drive to Greenbelt or College Park and take Metro in.