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best italian in downtown DC and best french bistro in downtown DC

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in town for two nights and looking for recs on what you would consider the best italian and best french bistro in Downtown DC. Looking for something that has excellent food, a good atmosphere and not outrageously expensive. thanks in advance.

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  1. For Italian, Bibiana.

    A note, however: Italian in DC tends not to be Italian-American cuisine. There will be more seafood and reasonable portion sizes. Also, food in downtown DC just isn't cheap, but I think, for instance, $19 for "Braised Veal Filled Ravioli, Pancetta, Brown Butter, Parmigiano, Sage" is pretty reasonable. I'm sure there are other great desserts on the menu, but their tiramisu was freaking fantastic.

    If you start searching, you'll come across Potenza, so I'll just mention that I'd skip it. It's fine, just nothing out of the ordinary.

    I'm sure someone who knows something about the french bistros in the area will be along to help shortly.

    ETA: Forgot to mention, Roberto Donna is opening Galileo back up (this time, it's Galileo III). I missed the previous incarnations, but apparently the place was legendary - James Beard-award winning, etc. He had some business problems, I think, and had to shut down. Anyway, it reopens this month, so you might consider that as well.

    1. For Italian, try Tosca or Obelisk.

      For French, try Bistrot du Coin.

      1. Bibiana is sleek, modern, yet roomy and casual. I highly recommend the agnolotti with lemon and ricotta and the fried artichokes. Both are divine.

        Siroc is a small, quiet place about the same price as Bibiana but the pasta portions are a full meal, so could be less expensive depending on how you order. In general, Siroc's food is heartier than Bibiana. Both are very, very good.

        Bistro du Coin is a loud, boisterous place with sloppy, delicious food, just like a bistro should be. The tartiflette is heavenly, and the smoked mackerel salad is appropriately spiced and vinegary. If they don't have the tartiflete, go with the croziflette.

        Also mentioned above are Tosca (plush, more expensive) and Obelisk (38 seats, prix fixe, limited menu, I've never been).





        Siroc Restaurant
        915 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

        1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

        4 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          If you are willing to stray a 10-minute Metro ride from downtown, consider including Dino in Cleveland Park on your Italian list. Very good food, VERY gently priced, and by far the best Italian wine list in the area.

          3435 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, DC 20008

          1. re: DanielK

            I went here for the first time last Saturday at about 8pm. The wine list is very good. The bruschetta was very, very, very good. The cheese course was good. The proscuitto was really good. In short, whoever does procurement there is really good. The whole vibe of the place is great in a neighborhood sort of way.

            My entree - the canneloni - was meh. My husband's entree - the lasagna - had huge slabs on bacon on it (not a bad idea in itself) that were well past their prime. The waiter was very, very hurried yet mostly absent.

            In short, although I liked the place overall, I would have preferred an entree from Carrabas. Possibly the Olive Garden.

            But the wine was really, really good, and the wine list was done in a great and accessible way.

          2. re: Steve

            You thought Siroc was quiet? I love Siroc, but I certainly wouldn't describe it as quiet---at least not on a weekend night at the height of dinner service. We went for my birthday, sat in the middle of the room and it was pretty boisterous...which was fine because we were having a birthday party not a meeting with clients.

            If you go to Siroc get the gnocchi!

            Siroc Restaurant
            915 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

            1. re: Elyssa

              Siroc is a small downtown space without a bar scene, so I guess it could be noisy if people are noisy (like your birthday party), but it can be quiet in there as well. I was there for lunch during Restaurant Week, it was packed, and I thought conversation was easy. In the suburbs I can think of quieter places, but not really downtown unless you spend a lot more money.

              Siroc Restaurant
              915 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

          3. For Italian I would definitly go to Bibiana. Amazing food, service....everything. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants in DC. The appetizers are especially strong (the meatball, burrata, and risotto ball) as are the homemade pastas (pretty much everything on the menu). Also for dessert don't miss the fried Nutella...it's as rich as it sounds, so make sure to share :)

            For French I really like Bistro D'Oc, especially if it's bistro cuisine you are looking for. Cafe du Parc is also good.

            Bistro D'Oc
            518 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

            1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

            1. For French I would recommend Bistro Bis, if it fits your price range, really well executed with good ingredients. If they have the red wine braised escargot definitely get it if you like escargot.

              For Italian I would skip Siroc, I had a very poor family dinner there recently, where none of the food from start to dessert had very good flavor profiles and many ingredients were not very good. I second Dino and Tosca, highly. I haven't been to Bibiana yet, so can't weigh in on that.

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

              Siroc Restaurant
              915 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

              1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005