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4 days/3 nights in DC w/ preteens - need suggestions

We'll be visiting DC with two preteen boys and would like suggestions for four lunches (3 weekdays, 1 weekend, as I understand many DC restos close wknds), and three dinners (Th, F, Sat).

Lunches should be near logical tourist spots (Mall, Newseum, Monuments, etc.) but would love a step up from fast-food while still getting in and out in quickly and for not too much money.

Dinners a little more leisurely but definitely casual. Kids are brave eaters so ethnic food suggestions especially welcome. We're staying in Foggy Bottom. Prefer walking distance or easy access by Metro but we will have a car so a truly worthwhile must-eat experience that requires driving is not out of the question.

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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  1. Weekday lunch:

    Breadline, a sandwich shop a block away from the White House. Midweek lunch only. Get the Italian Sausage Sandwich any day of the week. On Thursdays, go for a Cubano, and get the BBQ on Fridays - but I order it on a ciabatta. Also, good are the felafel and the egg salad. Friday is the best day to go.

    Not far from the Newseum, go for Jaleo at 7th and E Sts. Spanish tapas. Go for the patatas bravas, spinach with raisins and apple, and the grilled asparagus. Almost all the vegetables and egg dishes are very good.

    Capitol Hill: Good Stuff Eatery. Mushroom burger and a toasted marshmallow milkshake. Counter service, small menu of burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

    DInners:

    Etete, Ethiopian food. Get the fastening food platter and add the fish. Also get for an order of the derek tibs.

    Oohhs and Aahhs: Coastal Carolina soul food. A hole in the wall. I go for the grilled shrimp, the broiled crabcake, and the lemon pepper wings. Greens, cabbage, yams, and rice with gravy on the side.

    Singapore Bistro, you can walk from Foggy Bottom if you like if the weather is agreeable. Very simple dishes of noodles and bean sprouts (mee goreng) are a good choice.

    Take the metro into Arlington, VA and hit Chez Manelle at the Courthouse Metro stop, a tiny but very nice Tunisian spot. Omek Houria (pureed carrot salad), brika (crepe with egg, potato, tuna), sigara. Unique and delicious menu. They have a great dessert which is basically baklava drowned in pudding. Maybe reserve in advance since it's so small.

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    Etete
    1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

    Good Stuff Eatery
    303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

    Singapore Bistro
    1134 19th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

    3 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Singapore Bistro has closed.

      Personally I think Jaleo is overrated. Plus, with growing preteen boys, you'll probably have to order a lot of tapas and that adds up.

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      Singapore Bistro
      1134 19th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

      1. re: spinachandchocolate

        My DS 15 and DD 12 enjoy tapas and they don't cost more than most restaurants downtown.

        1. re: spinachandchocolate

          Singapore Bistro has closed?? I have a $60 coupon for it with no expiration date (I bought it about 4 months ago) that I haven't been able to use yet. (www.restaurants.com) How annoying!

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          Singapore Bistro
          1134 19th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

      2. The locations of the Newseum and the Capital/Supreme Court puts them within easy reach of the restaurants Steve already has recommended.

        Unless you schedule a tour of the White House to end around the lunch hour -- a possibility on Thursday and Friday of your trip -- Breadline is a greater distance from Mall-based tourist sites than I'd invest if I were in your situation. (This visit can't be a spontaneous decision; you must make arrangements for a timed tour and that includes providing documentation of identity.)

        Here's where I'd eat on the Mall to maximize my touring time:
        -- the cafeteria of the Museum of the American Indian
        -- the Garden Pavillion of the National Gallery (located near the Sculpture Garden)
        -- the Garden Cafe (located in the West Building of the National Gallery) currently serving a French menu to coordinate with the special exhibit

        The food at any of these locations is at least pleasant and is often really good.

        We the Pizza, the sibling to Good Stuff Eatery located next door to one another, gets positive comments on this board.

        I also recommend Oyamel, the Mexican sibling to Spanish Jaleo. Mexican not Tex-Mex although some familar items do appear on the menu. The tacos are delicious but the portions are tiny so the appeal of their super low cost disappears when you end up having to select two orders per person. The gaucamole seems outrageously expensive, but it is quite delicious and makes a large enough amount to offer a nice portion for everyone. The soups are delicious and very filling. One order can easily be shared if you want to sample other dishes. The roast chicken mole is one of my all-time favorite Mexican dishes. When we go to events at Verizon Center, we're always torn between Jaleo and Oyamel.

        1. By Foggy Bottom: Founding Farmers, Taberna del Alabadero for tapas, Kaz for sushi.
          For lunch, pay attention to twitter for the Takorean food truck
          By Newseum, Zaytinya is also an option.

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          Zaytinya
          701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          Founding Farmers
          1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006

          3 Replies
          1. re: wendelz

            While I like Taberna and Kaz, I don't know that they're great for preteen boys. Taberna in particular has a pretty old-school feel, and unless the OP's boys are preternaturally mature/dowdy, they probably won't enjoy themselves too much (and may not feel welcome). If I were taking preteens out for tapas, based solely on atmosphere I'd do Jaleo instead.

            Zaytinya's a great suggestion as well. And, to stick with the Andres theme, they might really like Oyamel, including the grasshopper tacos.

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            Zaytinya
            701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

            1. re: marcj

              grasshopper tacos??? hmmm.... the younger one would be up for the challenge, the older one, not so much. but it sounds fascinating. we'll add oyamel to the list of ideas. many thanks!

              1. re: hungrykids

                Oyamel is a very good choice, but stay away from snack food like tacos, which are better street food or from a taqueria. Restaurants are bad places to eat tacos. Go for the albondijas for sure, and maybe they have chile en nogada which is a seasonal dish, usually served in the Fall.

                The grasshopper tacos at Oyamel are dry, crunchy, and very salty. But I suppose it's fun to say you've tried them.

          2. You've gotten great recs so far. I strongly second all of Steve's. (I haven't been to Chez Manelle, but it sounds intriguing!) Indy 67 makes some great points about maximizing touring times -- and is right about Breadline, which hurts me to say because the BBQ pork on ciabatta served only on Fridays gets my vote for #1 best lunch in DC. Zaytinia is a great suggestion, and it's open for lunch on Saturday. I love the Takorean food truck, but the chances of it (or any food truck) being right where it's convenient for you right on the day you need it are slim to none. Also, "getting in and out quickly" at a popular food truck like Red Hook Lobster or Takorean isn't likely. Waiting in line for 30-60 minutes is the norm.

            In addition, if you plan to visit the National Gallery of Art, Teaism is just north of it at 8th and D. I like their offbeat Asian-inspired dishes. Even if you have lunch elsewhere dropping by there to get a salty oat cookie (original and chocolate are both wonderful) for dessert is never a bad idea!

            If you plan to spend time in Georgetown, I recommend Morso Express for a delicious, interesting and inexpensive meal (this is a combination that is tough to find in Georgetown!) It's a small Turkish place, casual, you order at the counter. I loved the lamb pide with egg I had there recently.

            Enjoy your trip!

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            Teaism
            2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

            1 Reply
            1. re: woodleyparkhound

              Just going to see the White House from the outside (not a tour), is a very nice thing to do for someone visiting DC. In addition, Breadline is a half block from the Renwick (Smithsonian museum focusing on decorative arts) - there is a surprisingly great exhibit now on Japanese-American craft from WWII internment camps.

            2. near newseum is the area known as Penns qtr/chinatown/galleryplace/Verizon center
              lots of choices
              love jaleo (tapas), zaytaynia (meeze), chinatown express or eat first (authentic cantonese duck/noodle houses), Matchbox (upscaled pub, good pizza), 5 guys (higher quality fast food burger), and tons of other choices.

              capital hill: We the Pizza (spike mendelsons place), Old Ebbitts grill: burgers, salads, crab cake, oysters etc

              arlington; just over the bridge in arlington is Ray's Hellsburger_ great burgers, where obama took the russian president

              dupont circle: pizza paradiso - wood burning stove pizza

              near American U and the national cathedral- 2-Amys- outstanding wood burning stove pizza