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NY Hound first trip to D.C.

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lnedrive14 Sep 27, 2010 01:18 PM

Hi All -

Making my first trip to D.C. since elementary school field trips to the Air & Space Museum, and was hoping I could get some restaurant help (been reading the D.C. board for a while and am feeling overwhelmed). Coming in for 3 nights and don't really have much in the way of plans, so we have a lot of time to explore the D.C. food scene. Feel like we obviously have some great food in NY, so would appreciate some places that are different from what we have up there (i.e. no steakhouses or classic french, etc).

To that end, we are looking for:

(1) One really great lunch at any price point, though I would hope there are some places in D.C. that have good lunch deals like NY. Multi-course lesuirely type place is what we'd prefer. For those familiar with NY, we are thinking like a Jean Georges or Eleven Madison Park type lunch.

(2) A couple dinner places that have a more local feel, entrees below $35.

(3) Any particular dinner place, whether local or not, that just has can't miss food. Any price point.

(4) Any smaller, cheaper lunch type spots. Whether it be a great chinatown type place, a sandwich shop....pretty much whatever.

(5) Any place with a good beer scene (went through the places on beeradvocate.com, but not very useful for finding good food as well).

Staying downtown, but location isn't really important (we have time).

Thanks for any advice!

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  1. m
    marcj RE: lnedrive14 Sep 27, 2010 03:47 PM

    This thread is a decent place to start for items 2, 3, and 5 on your list: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7359...

    As for (1), I'm really not sure, I've never been to EMP, and was last at JG about 10 years ago. If Cityzen does lunch (and I'm not sure whether they do), that might be comparable. And actually, if you can't get a reservation at Komi, I'd say Cityzen does pretty well as a back-up on the "can't miss" list.

    As for (4)--CF Folks is a pretty fun lunch spot. Their specials are usually very good. Breadline can be hit or miss, and the same goes for its cousin, G Street Foods. Tacqueria Nacionale is tasty, but you'll have to walk a couple of blocks to find a place to eat your tacos (head toward the Capitol, there are lots of benches nearby). If you go, get the Yucca fries. I also like Oyamel a lot, that might be fun for lunch. There probably are great Chinatown places, but I never eat lunch over there, so I can't help you.

    Have fun, let us know where you go.

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

    G Street Food
    1706 G St NW, Washington, DC 20006

    1 Reply
    1. re: marcj
      w
      will_5198 RE: marcj Sep 27, 2010 04:02 PM

      CityZen is only open for dinner.

      -----
      CityZen Restaurant
      1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

    2. woodleyparkhound RE: lnedrive14 Sep 27, 2010 04:50 PM

      1) I haven't been to EMP, but I've read a lot about it. I don't know of anyplace in DC that's comparable off the top of my head. One important question -- will this lunch be on a weekday or a weekend?

      2) I suggest heading off to 9th and U for Ethiopian: Etete, Dukem or Queen Makeda. Also for this you might want to check out a Jose Andres place. My favorites are Jaleo and Zaytinia. Rasika for truly unusual, inventive, very special Indian food.

      3) Komi if you can get a reservation, and I hope you can!

      4) Breadline for lunch on Fri. - get their pork BBQ special -- ask for it on ciabatta. (It's closed on weekends, like MANY lunch places in DC).

      5) Churchkey on 14th. Their beer list is great; their bar food is OK but not wonderful. I haven't been to Birch and Barley downstairs, but a lot of people like it. If you are going to Churchkey, arrive early before the line starts forming on the street.

      DC Trip report from kathryn from NYC:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7354...

      uhockey's report on Komi:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7113...
      uhockey wrote great reports on the many fine restaurants where he dined on his trip here - search the board to find others.

      Enjoy our fair city!

      -----
      Etete
      1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

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

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

      1. s
        Steve RE: lnedrive14 Sep 27, 2010 05:33 PM

        Not much local feel downtown - most of the good places are fairly antiseptic and you could be in Any City, USA.

        You should try to go to Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria. Thar's across the bridge in Virginia. Eve really does have an Old Town feel to it, and the main courses are usually excellent.

        Ethiopian food in DC - go for Etete on 9th St. Get the fastening food platter, add the fish, and get the derek tibs.

        For real local feel - go to Rays the Steaks East of the River. Not downtown, not easy to get to without a car. Although they specialize in steaks, go for the smoke then fried chicken or the ribs. Tremendous crab bisque.

        I can heartily second both Breadline and cf folks for midweek lunch - but these places are super casual and not open on the weekends. Sit at the counter at cf folks. Breadline is a sandwich shop.

        Chinatown - I like Full Kee for the oyster and ginger casserole and the duck stuffed with shrimp paste.

        Things that maybe you can't get in NYC (or not as good there):
        Againn, Irish Gastropub
        Zaytinya, Pan-hellenic tapas
        Nando's Peri Peri: Mozambiquan chicken. Order at the counter. Looks like a chain, but isn't.
        Coco Sala: Cacao-inspired menu. Small selection of sliders, salads, and variations of mac n' cheese. Hopping at night, loud, dj, nightclub atmosphere. Open for lunch when it's not loud.
        Oohhs and Aahhs: Tiny soul food joint. Coastal Carolina specialties. Broiled crabcakes, grilled shrimp, lemon pepper wings. Cabbage, greens, and rice with gravy for sides. 4 stools downstairs or take your food upstairs. Hole in the wall, great food.
        Thai X-ing: Must reserve in advance. Two or three tables only. Hole in the wall with unusual set-up. Like eating in someone's apartment. $40 set menu. Demand the salmon red curry when you reserve, if they allow you any choice at all.
        Komi: Must reserve far in advance. $120 (or so) set menu. Modern greek, casual.

        And if you have time, really, you should try to go to Eden Center in Virginia: a Vietnamese shopping center with about 23 Vietnamese restaurants plus cafes, bakeries, and other shops. Three interior courts lead to all sorts of goodies. Do a search on Chowhound for Dai Huong, Bay Lo, or, Nha Trang.

        www.edencenter.com

        -----
        Etete
        1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

        Restaurant Eve
        110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

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

        Full Kee Restaurant
        509 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

        Zaytinya
        701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

        4 Replies
        1. re: Steve
          woodleyparkhound RE: Steve Sep 27, 2010 06:45 PM

          Restaurant Eve would be a great choice for lunch M-F. They do a bistro lunch which I haven't done but I've had their Lickety Split lunch which is the best deal in town ($13 for two superb courses). I don't think it is comparable to EMP though -- especially not to the "new" EMP. Check their menu and see what you think.

          I've only been to Full Kee once and didn't order what Steve recommended there, but I wasn't impressed and haven't been back. I can't imagine that Full Kee could in any way surpass what you can get in NYC.

          I second his suggestions of Againn (potted meat is divine and good cocktails), Oohs and Aahs and Thai X-ing. The last two are very local and are a complete trip.

          I think I'd disagree about Nando's Peri Peri though. It's OK and is a perfectly good reasonably-priced meal near the Verizon Center, but I don't think it's worth going out of the way for. Steve, Nando's is a HUGE chain from South Africa. The manager told me there are 800+ Nando's all over the world. The DC store is the first one in the US. Many more are planned.

          Komi and Zaytinia would be great. Call Komi right now to see if you can book it!

          Eden Center would be a time-consuming process- at least half a day, but if you are a Vietnamese aficionado it's a must.

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

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

          Full Kee Restaurant
          509 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

          1. re: woodleyparkhound
            s
            Steve RE: woodleyparkhound Sep 27, 2010 08:37 PM

            I stand corrected abot Nando's Peri Peri. But it is the only one in the US. I'm sorry you didn't like it. What's not to like about rotisserie chicken smothered in hot sauce? That sauce is finger licking goooood.

            1. re: Steve
              woodleyparkhound RE: Steve Sep 28, 2010 06:51 AM

              It's OK - I don't dislike Nando's Peri Peri - and I think it's a good recommendation for someone specifically looking for a reasonably-priced meal near the Verizon Center. I had the chicken breast sandwich once which was dried out and godawful; I won't make that mistake again. I've had the quarter chicken with chunky Portugese salad a couple of times, which I think is good, but I leave hungry if that's all I eat (all their sides except the Portuguese salad sound unappetizing to me). I really like spicy food, but I think the spiciest sauce on their menu is really too spicy and overpowers the chicken. For me, I'm complimenting the place by saying that. I love it when a restaurant says something has some fire to it and that actually turns out to be true for once. Their sauces are their strong suit, you're right about that - hence the name of the restaurant!

              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                s
                Steve RE: woodleyparkhound Sep 28, 2010 09:35 AM

                Chicken breast makes for good fried chicken. In any other situation, the quarter dark chicken is the way to go. That's now my default - kabobs on the bone, stews with thighs, and rotisserie dark meat. No more dried out chicken.

        2. Bill on Capitol Hill RE: lnedrive14 Sep 27, 2010 11:37 PM

          Make Rasika your any-price dinner. Ethiopian, as in Dukem or Etete, would be a great low-priced choice with local flavor.

          -----
          Etete
          1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

          1. r
            Raids RE: lnedrive14 Sep 28, 2010 05:23 AM

            (1) I had lunch at J&G recently - it's not quite as lavish as what you seem to be asking for, although you can get a great salad, steak and dessert for about $25. Why not go to Rasika and just order a bunch of different courses? Rasika is definitely a don't miss place for you, IMO. I think you might also have a really great experience at Proof.
            (2) The places with the local feel are Ethiopean, El Salvadoran, etc. My personal feeling is that there is not Chinese worth making a special trip for in the District limits. Also, you might check out Againn - not sure if you really have a place trying to be an English gastropub with authentic food in NYC. And it's on 11th - probably close to where you're staying. It'd be worth traveling to if it wasn't, IMO. DC is also brimming with great Neopolitan pizza places - Pizza Paradiso is my personal favorite. If you go to the Georgetown location, you get the bierria downstairs, also, which would definitely, definitely meet your (5) requirement - they have a really excellent well-chosen selection, but Georgetown can be a pain to get to. Take a cab from M St. And you should really check out Georgetown and the waterfront over there on any visit to the city anyway.
            (3) Komi, Citronelle, or Cityzen. Those will be the three listed in this category no matter *where* you look. Citronelle - Michel Richard's place - is the classic, but the other two seem to get better reviews lately.
            (4) The only place in Chinatown I'd recommend like that is Taylor Gourmet at 4th and K St, although Thai Chili in the Verizon Center isn't bad. I love Juice Joint - another sandwich place. Also downtown.
            (5) Churchkey. You don't have anything like it in New York, trust me. It outclasses the Ginger Man in every way imaginable, and although it might look pretentious at first glance, it's not. But go early or you will wait in line. 5:30 at the latest, or show up on Sunday. Your other two choices are Brickskellar in Dupont and RFD. The atmosphere at Brickskellar is better - classic basement dingy. They'll be out of half of everything on the menu at both places. And unlike Churchkey, they don't have five (or any) cask ales on tap. If they have Bell's Two Hearted cask-style, don't miss it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Raids
              woodleyparkhound RE: Raids Sep 28, 2010 07:07 AM

              I could never recommend that a New Yorker eat pizza in DC. I like Pizza Paradiso too, but Keste it ain't! I've only eaten at Thai Chili once; I had the most horrible version of pad thai I've ever had anywhere and haven't been back. What do you like there? Same question for Juice Joint. I want to love JJ, I really do as I work near there - I've been a few times. I think their fresh mozzarella and roasted vegetable sandwich is pretty good. I disliked the Kickin' Chicken - it was bland and came to me on a super stale bun. For a casual M-F sandwich place, JJ can't compete with Breadline, IMHO.

              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                r
                Raids RE: woodleyparkhound Sep 28, 2010 12:43 PM

                Well, I haven't been to Keste, so I really couldn't say. Apologies if it my misguided impression that the Neopolitan style done most frequently in DC is totally different from that which NYC is known for. Is it really like recommending some place for bagels? Yikes. But the beer selection is great!!!

                At Thai Chili I get the soups and the chef's specials - you make a good point, I've never had a noodle dish there. Again, there are better places to get Thai outside of DC, but it's not bad. I think the last thing I ordered was some kind of lemongrass chicken dish.

                But, man, dissing the Juice Joint? Come on! I like the Mahi Jim's, the Jerked Chicken, the roasted portobello and red pepper, and, yes, the smoked turkey. I know, it's turkey, but their tofu mayo is awesome. At breakfast I like the turkey bacon potato wrap on wheat. But you know, I still haven't made it over to Breadline, so there you have it. And that bites that your bun was stale - nothing like that has ever happened to me there.

            2. c
              cb1 RE: lnedrive14 Sep 28, 2010 08:07 AM

              If time is not a problem and if you have access to a car, I would suggest take a 45 minute drive or so over the Bay Bridge and enjoy some crabs. Not DC per say, but definately a local food experience. Would be a nice road trip.

              1. l
                lnedrive14 RE: lnedrive14 Sep 28, 2010 08:27 AM

                Thanks all. This has been incredibly helpful and now I have quite a lot to go through here! Can't thank you all enough.

                4 Replies
                1. re: lnedrive14
                  woodleyparkhound RE: lnedrive14 Sep 28, 2010 09:11 AM

                  Do keep in mind that most high-end lunch places (e.g. Rasika, Restaurant Eve, Central) are closed for lunch on weekends.

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

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

                  1. re: woodleyparkhound
                    l
                    lnedrive14 RE: woodleyparkhound Sep 28, 2010 10:58 AM

                    Oh, thanks this is useful. We will plan our lunch for friday then.

                    1. re: lnedrive14
                      woodleyparkhound RE: lnedrive14 Sep 30, 2010 07:22 AM

                      Please let us know the places where you ended up and your thoughts about them.

                      1. re: woodleyparkhound
                        l
                        lnedrive14 RE: woodleyparkhound Sep 30, 2010 08:52 AM

                        Definitely will. It's the least I can do after y'all have provided.

                2. l
                  Littleman RE: lnedrive14 Oct 1, 2010 04:06 PM

                  I have been to EMP and Jean Georges both. I believe Bibiana is close to that level of quality. I love the food, room and atmosphere.

                  Bibiana Osteria Enoteca @ 1100 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 202 - 216 - 9550.
                  http://www.bibianadc.com/

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Littleman
                    hcbk0702 RE: Littleman Oct 1, 2010 07:02 PM

                    Not even close.

                    1. re: hcbk0702
                      l
                      Littleman RE: hcbk0702 Oct 1, 2010 07:32 PM

                      What is then? Is this your reply to the OP. Amazes me a poster will say negative things about another poster's suggestions but he won't post his own thoughts. Uuummm.. That must mean something.

                      Ahhh.........I see you are a Manhattan poster. That tells me about your reply.

                      1. re: Littleman
                        hcbk0702 RE: Littleman Oct 2, 2010 07:20 AM

                        Perhaps people will stop calling you out when you stop spreading misinformation.

                        Bibiana is nothing like Jean Georges or Eleven Madison Park. If someone on this board requested a place like Citronelle, suggesting Bibiana would be flat-out wrong. Do you also suggest Lupa when someone is looking for restuarants like Le Bernardin and Per Se?

                        I'll echo the suggestions for Komi, Rasika and Zaytinya. The $50 three-course menu at CityZen's bar isn't a bad value.

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

                        CityZen Restaurant
                        1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

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

                        Citronelle
                        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

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

                        Zaytinya
                        701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                        Bibiana
                        1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                        1. re: hcbk0702
                          l
                          Littleman RE: hcbk0702 Oct 2, 2010 10:35 AM

                          I did not say Bibiana was equal with EMP or Jean Georges. I said I believe it is close. There's a good bit of difference in my statement and your statement. I don't think DC has too many restaurants equal with EMP at least to my knowledge. I do think Bibiana is close IMO. Others may differ.

                          I guess you are calling me out for misinformation. Can you provide me a basis for your unkind statement. I don't recall spreading misinformation. I have made reasonable suggestions but I don't think I have spread misinformation.

                          Thanks for your kind response.

                          -----
                          Bibiana
                          1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                  2. l
                    lnedrive14 RE: lnedrive14 Nov 17, 2010 07:27 AM

                    So we got a reservation at Komi for thursday night and Rasika for friday night. very excited. and wow the Komi reservation was tough! took us about 35 minutes to get through, but thankfully we wanted a late time and we got it.

                    still trying to figure out third dinner, but am leaning towards birch & barley, againn, or brasserie beck, but potentially going to go to beck just for oysters/cheap beer at happy hour. also unclear on friday lunch - we are going to the spy museum that day so somewhere between foggy bottom and there would be great.

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

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

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lnedrive14
                      m
                      mjhals RE: lnedrive14 Nov 17, 2010 07:49 AM

                      Sounds like a great line-up so far. I'd recommend Jaleo (Jose Andres' tapas place) after the spy museum. I went for the first time a few weeks ago and was blown away about how close it was to what I'd had in Spain (especially the tortilla, patatas bravas and sangrias- the trifecta of a good tapas place for me). Alternatively, for a slightly more upscale ambiance, I'd recommend Central for lunch, but it's not as close to the Spy Museum. Amazing food though, simple but inventive and just generally very well done.

                      1. re: mjhals
                        m
                        marcj RE: mjhals Nov 17, 2010 08:17 AM

                        Those are both very good options. I probably prefer Central, but it's so different from Jaleo that it really depends on what the poster is looking for. I might also add Zaytinya (another Andres place) to the mix--it's a fantastics spot for lunch.

                        Likewise, all three of your third dinner options are very good but slightly different (Againn & Beck are a bit louder and more active, B&B is darker and somewhat quieter), and will compliment Komi and Rasika nicely. Enjoy!

                      2. re: lnedrive14
                        r
                        Raids RE: lnedrive14 Nov 17, 2010 01:23 PM

                        Zola is literally *right* next door to the spy museum and they just redid their whole concept. I like the atmosphere of the lounge area also, so you might check that out. Matchbox is pretty close too, and Againn isn't so terribly far either considering that you're probably getting off the metro at Metro Center. Poste is really very close as well. It would depend what you're in the mood for really - Boardwalk Empire decor: Zola. Pizza? Upscale sliders? Bustling atmosphere? Then Matchbox. Meat, meat, and more meat with maybe a little shellfish? Againn. House grown produce and careful preparations? Poste.

                        Edited just to add that Jaleo is still a good option also - I was just there last Sunday and loved the quail.

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