Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Nov 28, 2010 09:54 AM

Branching Out under 21

I'm a student restaurant reviewer looking to branch out and experience some DC staples during the next few weeks. Wondering which restaurants are comfortable for someone underage, gourmet in terms of food quality and somewhat (this can be stretched) affordable on a student budget.

Possibly dining solo, though I may bring a buddy along as well.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The student budget might be a problem, but (even though I'm over 21 - and on a retiree budget) I rarely order cocktails or wine in a restaurant because I'm a cheapskate, and even a glass or two of wine and a cocktail can double the cost of a pretty expensive dinner. They'll still serve you if you don't drink.

    It seems to be pretty common around here for people dining solo to either prefer to sit at the bar or expect that's the only way they'll get to eat at a restaurant. I hate sitting at bars unless I'm there with a friend and we're there to drink (possibly before dinner, but not necessarily). Just ask for a table if that's your preference. You might get the one by the kitchen door or service station that's a little too small for two, but it holds the plates off the floor. You might want to go early or late if it's a busy night for dinner, or just do lunch.

    1. Ugh, I hate your use of the word gourmet. Would a Sichuan restaurant count? Senegalese? You'd have to know a lot about Senegalese cuisine to determine if a restaurant is "gourmet in terms of food quality." Whatever that means. Or are you just looking for upscale? Hopefully nobody is going to direct you to a place they think is lousy.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        "Gourmet in terms of food quality" seems to be, if inelegantly written, a comment on sourcing food as much as anything else. And it is hard to find good Sichaun that also used top quality ingredients {heritage breed non chemically raised meats, local organic produce etc}. The places that do offer these high quality ingredients typically do not do "authentic" cooking so there is a dilemma.

        I wouldn't need to know anything about any cuisine to determine if the ingredients were commercially grown or sourced from top quality producers. I would need to have context to determine of a restaurant is good. So if I want Sichuan, I generally suck it up and accept the fact that my food will typically not be sustainable and head to Joe's or Sichuan Pavillion or any of a number of joints n NYC or SF.

        1. re: fudizgud

          So now the equation is gourmet = organic / local / sustainable / top quality producers? That's new to me.

          Anyway, I don't want to get off topic here, I just want the OP to clarify what kind of suggestions they are looking for in the DC area.

          1. re: Steve

            My apologies regarding the wording, let me clarify:

            I'm looking for high quality ingredients (organic/sustainable/local not important, unless it affects the flavor of the food in a noticeable way).

            I'm interested in chefs with a high level of culinary skill.

            I'm definitely interested in upscale, but only if the food is worth its stones. I'm not looking to pay a premium for average food.

            Prix fixe menus would be preferable, but I'm open to most suggestions.

            Also, does anyone know if the pre-theater deals require a valid theater ticket or do they exist for any diner that eats during that time slot?