HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >

Discussion

LA CHer coming to DC, critique my list please

I am coming (from LA) to DC next week to visit my gf, and I've done alot of research on restaurants and was hoping for some feedback on my list. I've been to DC twice before, both short visits, and both when I was not a foodie. I remember going to Five Guys, and a couple pizza places that had HUGE slices, but not much other than that. Here in LA we have a ton of options from nearly all ethnic backgrounds, so I'm not necessarily looking for something that I can't find (though if you guys have something that you think is unique to DC, I'd love to hear it). My gf has been tempering me about how the food in DC is very mediocre and overpriced, so I'm hoping to find a couple gems and surprise her (she's been there about a year and a half). She is living in Chinatown, and doesn't have a car. Lastly, I prefer ethnic foods and dive-y places rather than fine dining. There's a chance I may be moving out there for a while, so I'd love to find some great places to eat. Without further ado:

Burgers and Sandwiches:

Rays Hell Burger
Breadline
Italian Store
Vace Italian Deli

Indian:

Rasika
Indique
Bombay Club (is this place open? gf said it was closed...)

Thai:

Thai X-Ing

Chinese:

Chinatown Express
Hong Kong Palace
Full Kee
Eat First

Vietnamese:

Eden Center (Hai Duong or Saigon Cafe)
Pho Viet

Burmese:

Burma Cafe

Pizza:

Pizza Paradiso
2 Amy's
Matchbox

Southern:

Levi's Port Cafe
Oohs and Aahs
Etete (Ethiopian)

Mexican/Latin:

TECC
Taqueria District Federal
Taqueria Nationale
Oyamel
Cafe Atlantico
La Union

American:

Jaleo (spanish tapas)
Good Stuff Eatery
Market Lunch @ Eastern Market

Mideastern/Mediterranean:

Zaytynyia
Lebanese Taverna
Greek Deli

Chicken:

Nando's Peri Peri
El Pollo Rico

That's it (and that's with me trimming off some that were too $$$ or too far).

TIA

PS - I forgot to add, I don't eat fish or seafood, and dislike restaurants with a strong fishy smell.

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

Etete
1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Hong Kong Palace
6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

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

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

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

Thai X-Ing
515 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

Bombay Club
815 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006

Italian Store
3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

Greek Deli
1120 19th St NW Frnt 1, Washington, DC 20036

Eat First Restaurant
609 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

Indique
3512 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008

Market Lunch
225 7th St SE Ste 12, Washington, DC 20003

La Union Restaurant
5517 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205

Pollo Rico
7643 New Hampshire Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

Vace
7601 Airpark Rd Ste A, Gaithersburg, MD 20879

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. If you are gonna check out Good Stuff Eatery, then also check out We the Pizza.

    -----
    Good Stuff Eatery
    303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

    1 Reply
    1. re: mgkang1017

      I also had We The Pizza on my list, but it was at the bottom of my pizza list. My list got pretty big since I did a bunch of research, and so I tried to rank them as best I could, and listed the "top" ones here.

    2. There's a lot more to add. First of all, a lot of the dive-y places and inexpensive places will NOT be near Chinatown. It's gotten to be a very commercially appealing neighborhood, a lot of stuff has been driven farther out. There are areas with very good Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Salvadoran/Guatemalan and Chinese in the suburbs around DC. Check out the DC food cart scene too. It's cheap and has tons of variety.

      There are tons of restaurants out there, with new ones opening and closing all the time. Check out urbanspoon and yelp in addition to Chow.

      A few spots I'd recommend:
      - Mandalay
      - Palena's cafe
      - Founding Farmers
      - Brunch at Firefly
      - Neyla

      If you want more/better recommendations, you'll have to be more specific about what you're looking for.

      -----
      Palena
      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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

      15 Replies
      1. re: mejesster

        I had Mandalay on my list (as well as Myanmar), but both seemed out of the DC area, so I didn't list them (though I do realize some of my choices were outside the area, I guess I assumed the metro would get me there). I'll probably have a better idea of which places I want to go to/can easily access once I get there.

        Is Palena's cafe different than Palena's (3529 Connecticut Ave NW)? I had that listed under Italian on my original (long) list, but removed it due to $$$$.

        -----
        Palena
        3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

        1. re: mdpilam

          Palena: same building, 2 different rooms, one is ala carte and the other prix fixe IIRC

          1. re: hill food

            Note the Palena Cafe doesn't take reservations. Best to get there early, especially on a weekend.

            -----
            Palena
            3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

            1. re: woodleyparkhound

              Did Palena get rid of the lemon slices in the fry plate????
              The menu posted online seems to have changed the fry plate which - to me- was one of the top attractions

              Someone please help! :)

              -----
              Palena
              3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

              1. re: Jeserf

                Wait - just looked again...still have lemons, but otherwise changed the fry plate! NNNOO!!!! They took away the biggest draw for me. Boo!

                1. re: Jeserf

                  That IS a travesty! The lemons in the fry plate were amazing!

                  1. re: woodleyparkhound

                    they have the lemons.....it is now Broccoli, onion, lemon, fishcakes, rockfish, cod, panisse.

                    A shame to not have the same plate they used to - with the different types of potatoes. So good. Now...meh - fish?

                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      You can still order them off the super secret menu.

                      1. re: Pool Boy

                        don't believe you! I'm ruined!!! :)

            2. re: mdpilam

              Mandalay is as easy as any of your non-DC offerings.

              As for the Chinese-Thai comments beow, I'd generally agree about Chinese, but think the Thai at Ruan or Nava (both easy Metro access), compares very well with SoCal in terms of chowish-ness. I think the high end Thai is certainly fancier and more innovative in LA, but for good, cheap and right-on real, the Wheaton places do very well.

              1. re: repete

                but think the Thai at Ruan or Nava (both easy Metro access), compares very well with SoCal in terms of chowish-ness. I think the high end Thai is certainly fancier and more innovative in LA, but for good, cheap and right-on real, the Wheaton places do very well.

                ______________________________

                Disagree re: Ruan and Nava. Although both good, I don't think either is on par with places like Jitlada, Ruen Pair, etc.

                And I don't think the facny places in DC can comapre with places like Anh Hong, Brodard, and esp. a place like S Vietnamese Cuisine. Granted, all those places are in OC, so yeah technically LA maybe lacking in that category.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Umm, I think we were in agreement here on this: "I think the high end Thai is certainly fancier and more innovative in LA."

                  I'll stand by the Wheaton places for chowishness. Perhaps I didn't order right, but Jitlada seemed overrated and not up to Ruan in Wheaton, Will try Ruen next month.

                  1. re: repete

                    At Jitlada, order from the Southern Thai menu, not the regular one.

                    And, yeah, I think we agree.

              2. re: mdpilam

                After going through the thread again, a few notes/clarifications/things to emphasize:
                - Mandalay is definitely walking distance from the Silver Spring metro station. Ruan and Nava Thai are both walking distance from Wheaton metro, and while I can't vouch for their authenticity, I can vouch for their deliciousness.
                - Rasika is the best of the three Indian restaurants you picked, though all are very good, but at the high end of your budget.
                - Don't go to Levante's. It's not bad, it's just not worth putting on any lists. Bethesda location is closed.
                - Do go to Ben's Chili Bowl. It's a DC institution, the home of one of the rare indigenous DC foodstuffs, the half-smoke. It's not the best, but it's one of those boxes you have to check off.
                - The Mexican food in DC is okay. Keep in mind, DC doesn't get a lot of Mexican immigrants. We get a lot more from farther south in Central America, so you'll generally do better at those restaurants.
                - Chinatown is not the place to go for Chinese food, Rockville is. I don't know why. It probably won't stack up to LA standards, but it's better than anywhere else in the area.
                - Food carts. Good value to be had in a "casual" setting. Check http://foodtruckfiesta.com/ for a pretty comprehensive look at the budding number of options.
                - Be willing to travel. As should be evident by now, the kind of things you're looking for are more available in the suburbs than the city proper.

                -----
                Ben's Chili Bowl
                1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

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

                Levante's
                1320 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036

                Nava Thai Restaurant
                11315 Fern St, Silver Spring, MD 20902

                1. re: mdpilam

                  Not sure if we're allowed to link to other sites like this, but here's a pretty intense discussion of the new expanded Palena Cafe, including detailed info on the fry plate (I haven't noticed a similar discussion yet on Chowhound, might have missed it, or maybe someone who's gone could start it....): http://donrockwell.com/index.php?show...

                  OP: the fancy tasting menu dining room and the cafe are at the same location in Cleveland Park, you have the address.

                  ETA: this is supposed to be in response to the Palena discussion up a ways....

                  -----
                  Palena
                  3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

              3. In regards to your list:

                Burgers/Sandwhiches: Four Seasons Lounge in Georgetown, Bourbon Steak, has the best burgers. Expensive but worth it. Palena Cafe is second. Italian Store is awesome.

                Pizza: Pete's Pizza is my new favorite, Two Amy's is a close second.

                Indian: My favorite restaurant in DC is Rasika, enough said. Same guy owns Bombay Club, if it's closed, it would be because of remodeling, he tends to do that often to his restaurants.

                As far as Chinese or Thai, I haven't found much here worthy.

                Vietnamese, best place is Present, not far from Eden Center, It's awesome.

                Mexican: Oyamel is excellent, more creative mexican tapas, than straight Mexican

                Chicken: Nandos is excellent and cheap, especially if you like spicy chicken

                Afghan Food: Try the Kabob House on P St. in Dupont, new place, cheap and tasty.

                Spanish: Estadio on 14th St, great spanish tapas

                Greek: Cava on Capitol Hill

                Italian: Posto on 14th St

                Though not LA, DC is getting better, you are correct, it is expensive. I'm headed to LA tomorrow, bring your snowshoes...

                -----
                Palena
                3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                Two Amys
                3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

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

                Bombay Club
                815 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006

                Italian Store
                3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                5 Replies
                1. re: martyd

                  I'm amazed by your statement on Chinese and Thai.

                  But to the OP's request, it seems he won't be here with a car, which largely makes the endeavor worthwhile (I live in the burbs with a car, so they're actually close to me). Joe's, HKP, A&J, the Dumpling place on Rockvillle Pike - doesn't satisfy Chinese?

                  Thai - Bangkok 54 is much touted and is okay. Thai Square, Ruan in Wheaton? The whole battlefield in the Reston/Herndon area?

                  But - getting back to OP; TECC is difficult w/o a car unless you want a half-mile walk for a counter. I love it. I think the record shows I found the place to CH (when it was a trailer), but I'd be advising you wrong. Likewise, most of everything I said above.

                  If your pickings aren't too far off an easy metro or bus line (use WMATA) then cross them off your list and make your life easier. For instance, Columbia Pike Thai places are actually fairly accessible by bus, and Ray's Burger is easy by walking. Eden Center is a good long walk or a tangle of bus rides.

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

                  Bangkok 54
                  2927 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA

                  Thai Square
                  3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

                  1. re: Dennis S

                    "I'm amazed by your statement on Chinese and Thai. "

                    Not for an Angeleno. Both Chinese and Thai (and Vietnamese as well) are much, much stronger in the LA metropolitan area.

                    1. re: hcbk0702

                      I understand this point as far as geographical centers. Yet to show Present as a show of VN food and not to show that we have Joe's, HKP, Hollywood, etc., for Chinese is to miss what we have here.

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        True enough. Present is an odd suggestion.

                  2. re: martyd

                    mdpilam,

                    I would stay with your choices for Vietnamese. Present is definitely made for a gringo palate. Hai Duong as you chose is fantastic as well as Saigon Cafe, both excellent choices.

                  3. The original comment has been removed
                    1. If you don't have a car for your visit, it might be a challenge to get to Italian Store, La Union, or Hong Kong Palace.

                      Eden Center is about a mile from the East Falls Church metro stop. Not a bad walk in good weather, but maybe not so accessible right now.

                      Joe's Noodle House is less than 1/2 mile from the Twinbrook metro stop.

                      -----
                      Hong Kong Palace
                      6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

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

                      Italian Store
                      3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                      La Union Restaurant
                      5517 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205

                      Joe's Noodle House
                      1488 Rockville Pike Ste C, Rockville, MD 20852

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Lori D

                        I was thinking this myself. I don't know if you were looking for only in DC, or maybe at least Metro accessible. But for sure Italian Store is not in DC and is not Metro accessible, unless you want a long hike from Clarendon down to Lee Hwy.

                        -----
                        Italian Store
                        3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                        1. re: lalajane

                          If I was going to walk anywhere for a sub from Clarendon, it would be five minutes west on Wilson Boulevard to Mario's for an awesome steak and cheese.

                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                            I don't know if I would classify Mario's steak & cheese as awesome. Voluminous, definitely. But awesome?

                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                But it isn't better than a different sandwich at Earl's, or a sub from the Italian store, or a sub from Liberty Tavern... imho. Wouldn't be on my list and I live nearby.

                                -----
                                The Liberty Tavern
                                3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                  I love the Italian Store, particularly their Capri sub. The question is, would I hoof it from the Clarendon metro down Kirkwood to Spout Run for a Capri, or a quarter mile to Mario's for one of Lefty's steak and cheese subs. Come to think of it, Mario's is right around the corner from Virginia Square, so I'd probably get off the train there. Anyway, Mario's has been at the top of my list for over 40 years.

                                  -----
                                  Italian Store
                                  3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                    And I've posed the question btwn Italian Store and The Deli in Herndon. After having a Napoli at Italian Store Monday, I'd take The Deli over it any day. Though I do need to try their muffaletta.

                                    -----
                                    Italian Store
                                    3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                                    1. re: Dennis S

                                      There's no way I'd walk to Herndon from the Clarendon metro. Maybe when they finish the line to Dulles.

                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                        Earl's is easy walking distance from Clarendon metro. Their cuban or roast earl are miles better than a steak and cheese. I will take freshly roasted meat anyday over what Mario's serves. Or the homemade sausages at Liberty which are directly across the street from the metro.

                                        But since I have a car I make no food choices based on walking, if I did I wouldn't eat near as well.

                                        1. re: ktmoomau

                                          That's true for me also. The walking part, that is.