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Dinner over Thanksgiving weekend for a couple of out of towners

My brother and I are meeting in Wash. DC for the weekend and I was hoping to do dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. I really have two goals:

Goal Number One: Eat Something Interesting....I am from the Detroit area and my brother is from Mid-Missouri so I was hoping that we could eat somewhere that would give us a unique experience that we wouldn't find at home. Ethiopian sounds like something we might be interested in. Do these places usually serve wine or beer?

Goal Number Two: Eat Something Great....So I am an amateur foody and my brother will eat anything you put in front of him. I was hoping we could get a reservation at Minibar, but when I called for a reservation or to be even added to the wait list they laughed at me. Anybody have a better suggestion for a molecular gastronomy place or even a really well done menu with a set price. I am willing to spend a reasonable amount of money for a great food experience. Is Atlantico worth a visit?

Thanks in advance...

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  1. If you go to an Ethiopian restaurant get the tej, an Ethiopian honey wine. At Queen Makeda, I once even got some homemade stuff..... but they will certainly have beer as well. Go with gored gored, tibs wat, red lentils, greens, salad, carrots, just ask for a wide variety. They will serve you in bowls if you ask.

    Cafe Atlantico , where Minbar is located, has a Latina Dim Sum Brunch on Sundays. 14 courses for about $35. Many of the items will be similar to Minibar, or are directly from older Minibar menus. You should reserve. It's a tremendous bargain. You can also do this without reservations a la carte and save a few bucks, but it's not as good a deal.

    Other interesting possibilities:

    Sichuan Chinese, The Great Wall. Very limited Sichuan menu, but get the ma po tofu, the wontons in red hot sauce, and ask for some baby bok choy off-menu. Most of the menu is uninteresting Chinese-American food, so stick with the Sichuanese items.

    Lyon Hall, Alsatian. Go for the prune and potato dumplings, the beet-cured char, the pate, and the very impressive sausage skillet which is an outrageous meal for two filled with choucroute, noodles, potatoes, and four kinds of sausage. This is near the Clarendon metro stop in Arlington, VA.

    Jaleo, Spanish tapas, very rustic European cooking. Spinach with pine nuts, baby wrinkled potatoes, grilled aspargus with romesco sauce, beet salad with citrus, cucumbers stuffed with tomato and cheese are some of the highlights.

    For a fancier meal: I'd go to the Lounge at Citronelle, where I'd go for a bunch of smaller dishes. Order the mushroom cigars, escargot tart, tuna napoleon, whatever soup they have, and definitely dessert. They have sauternes by the glass. This is highly creative food. You will be impressed.

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    Cafe Atlantico
    405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

    Queen Makeda
    1917 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

    1. Get thee to Zatinya, Jose Andres' Lebanese/Turkish/Greek small plates restaurant. Delicious, different food, beautiful space, great service. Lots and lots of interesting dishes to try.

      1. So I tried to make a Saturday reservation for the Lounge at Citronelle and nothing was available until 9:30....Central was suggested by the online reservation bot....anybody like Central....is it a suitable replacement for an interesting dinning experience?

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        Citronelle
        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

        4 Replies
        1. re: fburks

          The Lounge at Citronelle doesn't take reservations (you don't need them)... is this something new? I think they only take reservations for the dining room. Anyway, they are closed on Sundays, so I don't think anyone is answering the phones.

          Central is excellent, though not as creative.

          1. re: Steve

            Your right. I was trying to make a reservation in the dinning room. We will definitely try the Lounge at Citronelle. Is it reasonable to expect to find a table around 8pm on Saturday night and enjoy a meal there? Should we come earlier? The menu looks great!

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            Citronelle
            3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

            1. re: fburks

              I've never seen it very crowded though if you could get there a bit earlier, it wouldn't hurt.

          2. re: fburks

            his Central is very well-regarded, it's a lot less formal than the dining room at Citronelle and I like the place for a sort of boisterous chic but casual food and scene.

          3. Yes, Ethiopian restaurants server beer, and honey wine (meade) so if that is what your are looking for, it shouldn't be a problem.

            Cafe Atlantico is worth a visit. I'd also suggest you look into Corduroy, Palena, the Source, or the new Galileo III for your splurge meal.

            If you are into sushi, sit at the bar at Kaz's Sushi Bistro and just ask the chef to spoil you, but be prepared to spend some money. (The monkfish liver sushi is to die for.)

            I'd also suggest you try one of Jose Andres' places, Jaleo or Zyatinya.

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            Cafe Atlantico
            405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

            Palena
            3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

            1. Etete, my favorite Ethiopian, has a full bar.

              For fixed price, I'd send you to the tasting menu at Rasika. One of you order the meat one, one order the vegetarian, and you'll end up trying a LOT of different dishes. They often overlap on a few appetizers, but I've always asked waiters if we can subsitute to try different things, and they have always said yes.

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              Etete
              1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: katecm

                I love Rasika, but the meat sampler is actually a sampler with meat and veg and that is where the overlap occurs, ask the server and explain your purpose for splitting the 2 they might very well make a compromise. otherwise I'd say the veg sampler and an entree or 2. but it's all still astounding. and frankly the 2 samplers are more than enough for 2+ almost 3 people.