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Sep 1, 2010 09:00 AM

Toronto Hound visiting DC - Ideas?

Hey all,

I live in Toronto for most of the year and travel fairly extensively the rest of the year. I'm coming to DC between Sept 30th and Oct 10th to see some friends. It has been a long time since I was last in the city and on previous visits didn't really have time to eat out so I am looking for interesting and unique things to the DC area.

The specifics are as follows:

a) I'll be taking 3 folks out for dinner someplace. Price isn't really an issue and I'd like it to be something of high quality (but I detest stuffiness), however, I have no interest in playing phone antics with minibar and Komi. I've looked at a lot of menu's and restaurant websites of what I've gathered to be the top restaurants in DC and the surrounding area like Citronelle, Cityzen, Palena, Corduroy, Eve, Black Salt, Equinox, Vidalia, Volt etc., and haven't really been too interested with anything I've seen. If I've missed a restaurant I'd really appreciate someone pointing it out.

I've read that Obelisk is supposed to be very good and that they don't have a website but I've found it difficult to find blog reviews or sample menus images online. Does anyone know when Galileo III is supposed to open? Their site says Sept '10.

I've taken a bit more to menus of places like Bibiana, Proof and Againn - what are your thoughts on these places?

My main gripe with most of these places is the use of similar ingredients in similar preparations without too much variety. I've eaten this type of food for years and while I'm very confident that these places will put out excellent renditions I'm just not motivated to spend money on it anymore.

One of my favourite restaurants in Toronto if anyone has been up there recently is Black Hoof and their associated Hoof Cafe. Here is a link from a blog - and
There are images of the menu board at the bottom for some further reference. They make almost all of their cured meats and charcuterie in house and cook everything in a tiny kitchen thats open for everyone. If there is somewhere similar to this around the DC area? Or something else that is a bit more unusual or unique?

I tend to gravitate more towards ethnic eats whether they're cheap or fine dining (though most of the time 'ethnic fine dining' proves to be a disaster, imho). I've looked at Rasika but haven't been impressed with their menu and generally tend to avoid eating Indian outside of someones home. Are there any other recommendations? Ethiopian seems to be a strong suit of DC but we have some pretty good Ethiopian in Toronto as well - can anyone comment on comparing the two? Is Etete the best Ethiopian in the city and would any Ethiopian restaurant fit the bill of a nice dinner out where I'm treating?

Are there any Chinese restaurants that do banquet style dining of good quality in and around the DC area?

I hope I've managed to explain what I'm looking for this dinner out - does anyone have any suggestions? I'd greatly appreciate it.

b) Aside from this one dinner out I'd like to get out there and sample what's great.
I've read that you guys have some pretty good Thai and Vietnamese - what are some good recommendations?
My friend wants to take me to Thai X-ing which I've heard is great and I've heard good things about Ruan. Are there any other recommendations?
What about for Vietnamese?
Is Myanmar still open and is it good?

What are some good recommendations for bars/pubs with great beer selections (food aside)? I've read good things about Churckey and Birch and Barley - any other suggestions or comments?

I've also seen some things written that I must try some salteƱas - where is recommended? Luzmila?

Where do I go for top notch local seafood - oysters specifically? Hank's?

I plan on hitting up Ray's Hellburger, Ooh's and Aah's and Pimento Grill as well. Are there any other recommendations for off the beaten path, small, or ethnic eats?

Your help is greatly appreciated, thank you in advance! :


1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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

3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

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

1990 M Street, Washington, DC 20036

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

1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

Birch and Barley
1337 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

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  1. Not sure what DC chowhounds currently think of DC Coast. I was impressed with my meal on my last visit a few years ago. Upscale, contemporary American-style seafood- something we don't get in Toronto.

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

    1. I really liked Againn. Thought it was great, simple but well prepared. Proof I liked too, I like the atmosphere but I haven't eaten a lot there, never seem to time it right. I have never been to Bibiana.

      On the high end scale some other places to check out might be: New Heights which is often overlooked but I have had some great meals there. Bistro Bis is good, so is Marcel's both are French cuisine. Central is a lot of fun, sort of a low key nicer restaurant. I also like Blue Duck Tavern. Never been to Bourbon Steak, Ris or J&G but they get good marks. Also Eola was recently written up by food critics as a foodie sort of place, although I have never been.

      For Vietnamese most is outside the easy to get to zone, except Minh's in Arlington and Nam Viet.

      Hank's and Blacksalt are your best bet for the best seafood and oysters, although Old Ebbit's raw bar is good and they have happy hour deals (although nothing else except the raw bar is worth it there). The nice thing about the other two is there is other stuff on the menu that is good too.

      Most of the good chinese places are far out.

      The best Saltenas I have had are at La Carenquena, but that is in Falls Church.

      Hope some others chime in with some advice on places I haven't been.

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

      New Heights Restaurant
      2317 Calvert St. NW, Washington, DC 20008

      2500 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

      Nam Viet Restaurant
      3419 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., washington, dc, DC 20008

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

      1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

      5 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        Thanks for the suggestions ktmoomau! I'll be checking out the higher end places you mentioned later on today.

        Getting around the surrounding area isn't a problem for me as I'll have a car and plenty of time to explore. What are these Chinese places that are far out?
        Have you been to Luzmila and like La Carenquena more?

        Thanks phoenikia for the rec! Nice to see someone from the Ontario board chime in :)

        1. re: radiopolitic

          Since you have a car and time to explore -

          Eden Center (Falls Church, Virginia) for Vietnamese. My favorite thing/place there is the bun cha Hanoi at Tay Do. Many places there with great food.

          Joe's Noodle House (Rockville, Maryland) for Sichuan.

          A & J (Rockville, Maryland and Annandale, Virginia) for Northern Chinese/Taiwanese.

          I have had good banquets at Seven Seas (Rockville, Maryland) some time ago, but haven't been there recently.

          If you like Korean, there are many places in Annandale.

          Eden Center
          Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

          A & J Restaurant
          1319 Rockville Pike C, Rockville, MD

          Seven Seas
          1776 E Jefferson St Ste 112, Rockville, MD 20852

          Joe's Noodle House
          1488 Rockville Pike Ste C, Rockville, MD 20852

          1. re: Lori D

            Is there anywhere you'd recommend for really good pho?

            We have a plethora of Vietnamese places in Toronto but finding a really good bowl of pho is a bit elusive.

            Any recommendations on a specific Korean place?

            Thanks for the recommendations!

            1. re: radiopolitic

              I like Pho 75 in Rosslyn which keeps pretty good hours. But if you search there are whole threads on Pho.

              For Korean my favorite is HanGang because they have more banchan with their grilled items and better quality beef than some other places. Honeypig is the most popular recommendation and it is good for Korean BBQ and more of a casual, frantic people all over low busy tables vibe, the pork and octopus combo is good, but I definitely prefer HanGang because I like the banchan.

              1. re: radiopolitic

                There is a Vietnamese mall in VA called Eden Center. There are over a dozen, easily, restaurants in there if you want to explore. For pho the best in the Eden Center is a tiny place a few doors to the left of the grocery store if you are facing it. It is cash only, pho only and no english, but an excellent bowl of soup.

                A couple blocks away is a place called Mr. Pho. It is one of the best in the area I think. He spends over 12 hours on his stock. It is excellent. They take credit cards and speak English.

                Eden Center
                Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

        2. Foe upscale, I highly encourage you to try Againn, Lyon Hall (Alsatian in Arlington, VA), and any of the Jose Andres tapas restaurants, especially Jaleo, but also Oyamel (Mexican), and Zaytinya (pan-Hellenic).

          Etete is a very nice place with high quality food.. I have no basis for comparison with Toronto Ethiopian.

          As you move further from the city, you get to some very exciting exotic cuisine like Myanmar, Ruan Thai, Nha Trang, Passage to India, Sichuan pavillion or Joe's Noodle House (both Sichuna in Rockville.) If you want a rather spectacular banquet, it will be for food only as Grace Garden is a dive with great food halfway between Baltimore and DC. Many great dishes need to be ordered in advance.

          Luzmilla's is a very good place to try saltenas. It is only open until 5pm. Nearby is La Caraquena, which is open for both lunch and dinner. It doesn't look like much form the ouside, but it's very nice on the inside. My favorite right now is at Cecilia's in S. Arlington. Though it gets to be a nightclub in the evenings.

          1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          Ruan Thai Restaurant
          11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

          Grace Garden
          1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

          701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          Nha Trang
          6757 Wilson Blvd Ste 7, Falls Church, VA 22044

          Passage to India
          4931 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

          Joe's Noodle House
          1488 Rockville Pike Ste C, Rockville, MD 20852

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Thanks Steve,

            Lyon Hall looks more like my kind of place - probably somewhere I'll check out. Zaytinya doesn't interest me at all. Coming from a mixture of eastern Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/Caucasus backgrounds I've eaten that type of food for years.

            Are there any dishes you could recommend from Grace Garden that you find to be particularly good?

            Thanks for the other recommendations and the thread link.

            I'll probably try an Ethiopian restaurant in DC at some point to get a sense of comparison to what we have in Toronto - is Etete the place to go? Any other contenders/highly recommended joints?

            1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

            Grace Garden
            1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

            701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

            1. re: radiopolitic

              Grace Garden is primarily Cantonese and Sichuan. A must is fish noodles. Look at the pork belly, sichaun fish filets, basil chicken, pocket tofu, triple pleasures, and any veggies grown in their home garden. Most everything is delicious, even the "americanized" fare. There are many more recs on the link that Steve provided.

              This is the resturant site
              Traditional Chinese Menu

              Grace Garden
              1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

          2. I honestly would encourage you to try Rasika. It is different than any Indian food you've ever had before.

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

            1. Oh and if you have the benefit of travel another high end place to consider is Trummer's on Main in Clifton, VA. A bit of a hike out 66 from the city, but some very creative well executed food and a pretty thoughtful wine list.