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LA CHer coming to DC, critique my list please

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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

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  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. 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: sweth

                            Is there a better one anywhere?

                            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.

                    2. I think you've done lots of great research, and most of your choices are spot on in my view. I'll make some comments below:

                      Burgers and Sandwiches:

                      Rays Hell Burger YES! Don't miss it! Walk downhill from Court House Metro to get there - continue walking downhill to Rosslyn when you leave.

                      Breadline - go for lunch on Fri. and order pulled pork on ciabatta - the best sandwich I've had in DC

                      Italian Store - I haven't been due to Metro hassle, but I hear the subs there are excellent

                      Vace Italian Deli - great pizza by the slice and pasta to cook at home. Take out only. You might combine this with a trip to the zoo.

                      Indian:

                      Rasika DO NOT MISS! Order the palak chaat - one per person. You won't want to share!

                      Indique - This place is good, but I'd consider it 2nd (or 3rd) tier. I would consider replacing this with Masala Art, near the Tenleytown Metro. For your Indian fix, I'd stick with Rasika and Masala Art, and drop Indique and Bombay Club.

                      Bombay Club (is this place open? gf said it was closed...) I haven't heard that it is closed. I haven't been.

                      Thai:

                      Thai X-Ing -- good (especially the salmon) and has a very interesting vibe, but for quality Thai food, I would go to Ruan Thai, which is a short walk from the Wheaton Metro. Especially since you are on the red line at Gallery Place, Ruan Thai is very do-able with regard to Metro and really worth it. It's truly excellent. and has the hole in the wall feeling you like. (I've lived in Thailand and I'm very picky about Thai food.) There are good places in VA too, according to various chowhounds, but I find Ruan Thai easier with respect to public transportation.

                      Chinese:

                      Chinatown Express -- I love their noodle soup and dumplings, augmented with the condiments that are on every table. I also like their greens cooked with garlic, which are off the menu -- but I wouldn't order anything else there. The noodle soup makes a cheap and wonderful lunch, especially on a cold winter's day.

                      Hong Kong Palace - said to be great. I have yet to try it, due to Metro hassle.

                      Full Kee - I haven't gotten around to it, but it's on my list.

                      Eat First - I haven't heard much about this. I think I'd put it last on your list of Chinese.

                      Vietnamese:

                      Eden Center (Hai Duong or Saigon Cafe) I've been once - haven't gone back as I found it to be an unpleasant walk from the Metro. I would love to eat my way through the place if it were easier to get to.

                      Pho Viet - LOVE this place! It's my favorite Vietnamese in DC - though I will concede that better Vietnamese can be found in the suburbs. You can walk the 8 blocks or so from Columbia Heights Metro, or take the bus up 14th St., instead of the Metro, which will drop you off much closer. They do a very nice pho, good bun, and I love their drinks (hot and cold Vietnamese coffee, Thai tea and a wonderul Tamarind drink. I hear their avocado smoothies are great too. Very nice family that runs the place. Feels a bit like eating in someone's home.

                      Burmese:

                      Burma Cafe -- so-so. I think you could eliminate this.

                      Pizza:

                      Pizza Paradiso - I like the Dupont location better. The Atomica is the one I always get.

                      2 Amy's - many would disagree, but for me this isn't good enough to be worth the transportation hassle.

                      Matchbox - I don't get why people love this place. I think their pizza and sliders are just OK, no better. However, it is certainly convenient for where you will be. Long waits and deafening noise.

                      For pizza, I would add:

                      Pete's Apizza - right on top of the Columbia Heights Metro. New Haven style - by the slice or whole pie.

                      Mia's Pizza - about 10 minutes walk from the Bethesda Metro station. Excellent.

                      Southern:

                      Levi's Port Cafe - this place is on my list too!

                      Oohs and Aahs - good call!

                      Etete (Ethiopian)-- another good call!

                      Mexican/Latin:

                      TECC - I haven't been due to transportation hassle.

                      Taqueria District Federal - like a mini-vacation to Mexico. Very much a hole in the wall.

                      Taqueria Nationale - lunch only. I've only been once and was disappointed.

                      Oyamel - I've been disappointed here. Maybe I ordered wrong. Stick with CHers recommendations about what to order if you go here. Not outrageous, but not cheap by any means.

                      Cafe Atlantico - I think its skippable for dinner. I haven't tried the dim sum brunch though.

                      La Union - I've never heard of this place.

                      American:

                      Jaleo (spanish tapas) - love it!

                      Good Stuff Eatery - very good burgers, GREAT shakes! Get the black and white or the toasted marshmallow. I recommend getting the burger minus the sauce they put on, and replacing it with one of their homemade mayos at the mayo bar- the sriacha is my favorite.

                      Market Lunch @ Eastern Market -- arrive EARLY if you go on Sat. I like "The Brick" breakfast sandwich. Also at Eastern Market, I would definitely add to your list the hot half smoke in natural casing at the meat shop near Market Lunch. It's a $2 piece of heaven (you have to eat it standing though - nowhere to sit.). If you like coffee, don't miss Peregrine Espresso on 7th St. It's the best in town.

                      Mideastern/Mediterranean:

                      Zaytynyia - highly recommended

                      Lebanese Taverna - good, but I'd put it below Zaytinia.

                      Greek Deli - lunch only, M-F. I've only been once, for their avgolemono soup, which disappointed me somewhat. They serve it with a big hunk of bread though, so it makes a cheap lunch.

                      Chicken:

                      Nando's Peri Peri - It's a good, reasonably priced option in your neighborhood. Portions are small for the price, I find.

                      El Pollo Rico - good, but my mind wasn't blown, as I expected it to be. I went once when I was with a friend who had a car, but I don't think it's worth the transportation hassle to go back.

                      Potato Valley / Hot Potato - in your neighborhood. Lunch M-F. It's on my list, but I haven't been able to go as I'm not in this neighborhood at lunchtime.

                      Near Wheaton Metro - Max's Falafel - highly touted, I have yet to try. People say it's better than Amsterdam Falafel, which I love. Also I love Irene's Pupusas in this neighborhood.

                      Food carts often involve LONG waits in line.

                      Palena Cafe is good and on the inexpensive side. Near there to is Dino, my favorite neighborhood Italian.

                      That's enough for now; I'm tired of typing! Enjoy your stay!

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

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

                      Ruan Thai Restaurant
                      11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

                      Palena
                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                      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

                      Italian Store
                      3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

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

                      Good Stuff Eatery
                      303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

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

                      Amsterdam Falafelshop
                      2425 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                      Potato Valley Cafe
                      614 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004

                      Pete's Apizza
                      , Washington, DC 20001

                      Masala Art
                      4441 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, MD 20016

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                        Nice post. Love that you walk downhill to Ray's and then (obviously) walk downhill FROM Ray's. That last part is so true.

                        Max's is a short walk from Metro, as is Ruan Thai, and Wheaton itself is like our Brooklyn in terms of hole-in-the-wall great food joints.

                        I might add CF Folks for a weekday lunch. Key here is to order from the specials menu and if possible sit at the counter.

                        -----
                        Ruan Thai Restaurant
                        11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

                        1. re: woodleyparkhound

                          A week out, it's pretty hard to get a reservation for Rasika. I would recommend just going in the afternoon, sitting at the bar, and ordering a few things. Even a month out, it can be hard to get a reservation.

                          Also for tapas, La Tasca has unlimited tapas for $20 at gallery place. I would pick that over Jaleo if I wanted tapas and not to break the bank.

                          -----
                          La Tasca
                          722 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

                          1. re: Jeserf

                            Rasika and Bombay Club are great but can add to $$$ very quiclky and are more a fine dining (particualrly BC) than ethnic feel - BC is definitely not closed

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

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

                            1. re: Jeserf

                              Jaleo tends to be a lot better quality-wise, but $20 for AYCE would make La Tasca much more appealing. Just as an FYI for the OP, though, it appears from their website that the AYCE deal is a lunch special only:

                              http://www.latascausa.com/site/unlimi...

                              -----
                              La Tasca
                              722 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                              1. re: sweth

                                I think Jaleo used to be far better than it is today. Still it is not bad, just not up to what it used to be.

                            2. re: woodleyparkhound

                              disagree on eat first. it has been our go to place in chinatown since the verizon center was first built and it was on F-street where Legal Seafood now is. Food is great and lots of authentic cantonese things on menu. love the roasted duck and bbq roasted pork. best lo mein. great clay pot chicken with ginger and mushrooms. I didnt include my seafood choices since you wrote that you dont eat seafood

                              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                Both El Pollo Rico locations (one in Arlington, one in Wheaton) are walking distance from a Metro stop.

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

                                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                  oh WPH, at Greek deli, just get a gyro or the daily special, it's a leap of faith. a trust fall. Spiros will catch you.

                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                    Thanks for the great detailed response! I had Ruan Thai listed #1 on my original (long) list, but listed Thai-Xing because it was in DC, and I didn't know how easily accessible Wheaton was. Kind of same thing for Burma Cafe; it was last on my list - behind Myanmar and Mandalay, but both of these were outside DC.

                                    -----
                                    Ruan Thai Restaurant
                                    11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

                                    1. re: mdpilam

                                      I think Ruan Thai is actually easier to get to than Thai X-ing, which is in a slightly sketchy neighborhood (though the actual time spent on the Metro to Wheaton is longer.) I wrote a long-winded account of my experience at Thai X-ing here:

                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/690025

                                      -----
                                      Ruan Thai Restaurant
                                      11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

                                  2. As a fellow LA Chowhound who travels to DC quite a bit, I can tell you that the first thing you should do is cross out Chinatown Express, Full Kee and Eat First you have listed under "Chinese". Even the best places in DC Chinatown cannot compare with the worst of the places on the Westside.

                                    Only place worth visiting in DC Chinataown is probably China Boy for their handmade noodles. Decent by DC standards, merely passable by SGV standards.

                                    28 Replies
                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Any of the Saw Woo or hole in the wall places in LA would put any of the Chinatown Chinese places to shame. The only Chinese place in the DC metro area that may impress an LA hound who regularly frequent SGV Chinese would be Grace Garden in Odenton, due to the extraordinary care the owner/chef puts into his food and the obvious pride he conveys via his food.

                                      -----
                                      Grace Garden
                                      1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Yeah, I've never met anyone from LA who has been impressed w/ the Chinese options in DC proper; these best Chinese in the DC area these days is in the burbs, and while folks from towns w/ large Chinese populations are usually satisfied w/ the quality of the suburban Chinese options here, they inevitably gripe that the good stuff here is still overpriced as compared to home.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          My sentiments exactly. If you need to eat in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter area go with Zaytinya, Jaleo, PS7, Acadiana, etc. And absolutely forget China Boy, it is not a "find." A good (and not very good, just good) meal once, a horrid one next. I might pick up rice noodles for a meal at home here, but not worth a meal on travel in DC, for sure, with all the other options available. You might want to consider adding an Ethiopean place or two to your list. Quite honestly, some of the places you list will not be near you and you will not go, so cross them off now.

                                          1. re: justaddwater

                                            No, of course China Boy is not a "find" or a "hidden gem" (hidden maybe, but not a gem), but in an area littered with one blackhole after another of Chinese food restaurants, it does sort of stand out as a beacon of slight hope.

                                            -----
                                            China Boy
                                            817 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              I know where you're coming from. GB, by the way, relocated from their long time basement location to a street level space in the same building. I don't think they really care about their food service, but I did have a very good noodle soup there one time. Followed by the proverbial dish rag soup on a repeat visit. Their main business is supplying rice noodles to the local restaurants.

                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                            FWIW, I'd never bring a visitor from LA or SF to a Chinese restaurant in this area, unless that's all they ate.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              I know we've had this discussion before, but it sort of baffles the mind why the District has such piss-ass poor Chinese. I mean, seriously, the best restaurant in the Chinatown district is probably a pizza joint!

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                that was maybe my biggest disappointment when I moved to DC from SF. Franchisetown was sad then and has only become sadder and it feels like we search for places that sort of fill a need, rather than truly satisfy. now that the District proper has been bounding back, why has no excellent entrepreneur seen the call for good Chinese (you pick the province and I'll go the next time I'm back)

                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  Rent. With all the attention HKP, Joe's and GG get here, I hardly every see a substantial crowd in any of them (I need to get to the one at Fair Oaks area that shares a space - apparently it's crowded).

                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                    You will need a steady clientele of Chinese American customers to support a good Chinese restaurant. There aren't many Chinese American families willing to trek into the heart of DC when they have places like that in the suburbs. Chinese American families almost all live out in the burbs because the DC public schools suck.

                                                    1. re: dpan

                                                      If DC area is lucky, perhaps Rockwille in 10 years will be the Maryland version of a the San Gabriel Valley in California.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I just don't see that happening in DC area. To replicate SGV, you'd need a huge mass of immigrants willing to toil for long hours and low pay in restaurants, and to support all the businesses. DC area immigrants are highly educated and overwhelmingly white collared professionals. There just isn't the number of people willing to work in the restaurant business here. On the east coast, they gravitate to the huge NYC Chinatowns.

                                                        1. re: dpan

                                                          On the east coast, they gravitate to the huge NYC Chinatowns.

                                                          _______________________

                                                          Not necessarily, esp. with Flushing, right?

                                                          But you're right about SGV and the east coast. The diaspora from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong tends to gravitate towards SoCal and points northwards in Vancouver BC.

                                                          Still, I do think that Rockville has the potential to be a "new" Chinatown for the DC area.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Flushing is one of the NYC Chinatowns, the other one outside of Manhattan is in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

                                                            1. re: dpan

                                                              You're absolutely right. I took you to initially mean Manhattan. My bad.

                                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                                              The Chinese, like everyone else around here, have automobiles. They pretty much live wherever they please.

                                                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                yes, true, but there are more than a few fairly affluent types in DC who choose not to own a car. and the pickings are not easy.

                                                                ain't just the Chinese looking for great Chinese food.

                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                  My point is that DC isn't LA. The possibility of Rockville becoming "the new Chinatown", or any "_____town", is fairly remote.

                                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                    well true and point taken, the greater DC area is too much of an octopus to ever really have any distinct center(s)

                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                      I don't know. Annandale for Korean. Downtown U street for Ethiopian. Arlington or Wheaton for Salvadoran.

                                                                      1. re: Dennis S

                                                                        A handful of ethnic businesses don't really make a "town". Even Eden Center is basically just one property. "Chinatown" in DC is only about a block and a half. There is just not the concentration of any one ethnicity in the DC metro area the way there is in cities like LA, San Francisco, Detroit, even Minneapolis. The largest ethnically-dominated section I can recall was the "Little Saigon" section of Wilson Boulevard, which extended roughly from Washington Boulevard down to about where Club Iota is now. That only lasted for about 10-12 years until a Vietnamese consortium purchased the defunct Zayre's Plaza and created Eden Center. Mostly, the DC metro area is a jumble of folks from all over and it's likely to stay that way.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Eden Center
                                                                        6763 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

                                                                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                          DC's Chinatown used to be much more extensive, but as the area gentrified most of the vendors closed/moved. And much of the signage in Annandale is in Korean first, English second (if at all); even the Baptist churches there are Korean...

                                                                          1. re: sweth

                                                                            Yes, I remember. My favorite Cantonese restaurant was the Nanking at 9th and Mass., which is now a piece of the Convention Center. There are plenty of non-Korean businesses and churches in Annandale as well, so I wouldn't strike the colors just yet.

                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                      What's the pizza joint?

                                                      1. re: Raids

                                                        Matchbox.

                                                        http://www.matchboxchinatown.com/

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Wow, that's a damning response ipsedixit (love your posts on the LA board btw). I won't even eat Chinese on the Westside (where I live). My gf had told me that 2 of my 4 places (Chinatown Express and Full Kee) were not good, so I was going to revise those. I guess I can probably cross all Chinese off.

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

                                                    1. re: mdpilam

                                                      ah, but Full Kee is dumpy-divy and I swear the dumpling soup is addictive.

                                                      ipse is right though.

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

                                                      1. re: mdpilam

                                                        mdpilam,

                                                        If you are visiting DC, save your time and money for everything else on your list.

                                                        If you are actually MOVING to DC, eat up my friend. Eat up. Suggest you get a hotel in Monterey Park and start stuffing your face for about a week until you overdose on dumplings, noodles, dim sum, fresh seafood, etc.

                                                        Hope you enjoy your stay.

                                                    2. I would add Levante (Dupont - Middel Eastern - great bread) and to my taste edges out the DC or Pentagon City branch of Lebanese Taverna and Masala Art (Tenley Metro) for Indian

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

                                                      Masala Art
                                                      4441 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, MD 20016

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: nytdct

                                                        Levante's in Dupont has been closed for some time

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

                                                        1. re: Jeserf

                                                          Nope - had lunch there today - Levante's is open for business (19th St just belwo Dupont)

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

                                                          1. re: nytdct

                                                            weird - did they renovate recently? I've been to the one in Bethesda (I generally don't eat out for that type of food), and thought they closed...I'm obviously wrong:)

                                                      2. Fast Gourmet - great sandwiches from a gas station. I haven't been yet, but I found this thread VERY intriguing!

                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760019

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                          Chivito. This is the national sandwich of Uruguay. It is awesome. My favorite meal of 2011 so far (I'd go over Palena again).

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

                                                          1. re: sekelmaan

                                                            Thanks! I had this on my list, but didn't see too much about it except for that post above, so it lingered near the bottom of my original (long) list of sandwich places. I'll bump it up.

                                                        2. Thanks alot for all the great responses so far! I am busy at work, but will respond to specific posts later tonight.

                                                          1. Places I would cross off immediate, since you're from LA:

                                                            -All Chinese and Thai places, though Full Kee and Chinatown Express are great if you want adequate and filling food for under or around $10/person.
                                                            -Zaytinya (not worth the money at all, imo)
                                                            -Cafe Atlantico
                                                            -Tacqueria Nacionale and other taco places

                                                            If you can't get to Rasika and want to try the Bombay Club, they have a pretty nice $20/person Sunday brunch buffet. It's standard Indian fare, but they also have a fried spinach chaat (not called the same as it is at Rasika, though?) on the menu that you can probably order separately.

                                                            The Penn Quarter Teaism is the best branch location, and great for breakfast, salted oat cookies (regular or chocolate), or other cheap lunches/dinners. Pan-Asian theme, great selection of teas and some wines/liquors.

                                                            One thing DC does do well is "New/Modern American" cuisine. Since you're already in the Penn Quarter area, I'd try out Cedar. They have a pre-theatre dinner menu for around $35/person (3 courses). Good food. No, I don't work for them, but I do want them to stick around for a long time, so I suggest the place to others as often as I can because it seems to fall under the radar for some reason...

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

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

                                                            Teaism
                                                            2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

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

                                                            1. Rays Hell Burger -- Best burger in the DC Metro area. Other places (Palena, Central, etc.) have great burgers, but for me, it's a completely different class considering they're charging $15 or more. And as mentioned, don't get off at Rosslyn -- it's an annoying uphill walk and very cold right now.

                                                              Rasika -- Almost universally loved. Palak chaat is a must; I personally love the black cod but practically everything here is a winner.

                                                              Pizza Paradiso -- Lots of great beer; pizza is nothing to get excited about.

                                                              Matchbox -- It's a solid place -- pizza, burgers and beers -- but not somewhere an out-of-towner would *have* to go. You'll probably have to come before 5:30 to beat the weekend crowds,

                                                              Cafe Atlantico -- Coming from L.A., I don't see a point in exploring the Mexican / Latin cuisine here. Cafe Atlantico's brunch can be fun, but I wouldn't recommend dinner or regular lunch.

                                                              Jaleo -- Much rather go here than La Tasca. Last time I went (late summer) they offered a bunch of signature items for cheap during happy hour at the bar, but I don't see the menu listed on their web site. Call to make sure.

                                                              Good Stuff Eatery -- Not a fan. Burgers are no match for Ray's and the fries are terrible. If you must stop in, just get a shake.

                                                              Zaytinya -- Pretty enjoyable and it's widely loved. Like Jaleo, go early and enjoy discounted items in the bar area.

                                                              -----
                                                              La Tasca
                                                              722 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

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

                                                              Zaytinya
                                                              701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                              Good Stuff Eatery
                                                              303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: will_5198

                                                                I agree regarding Good Stuff. Their milkshakes are pretty good though.

                                                              2. Out of curiosity, what makes Etete Southern and Jaleo American?

                                                                Also, check out Sullivan's for a good cheap crab cake.

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

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: sweth

                                                                  that struck me odd as well, while Ethiopians are largely categorized as 'Black'/African American, Southern is really not an appropriate designation. esp as the African influence on American food is largely from West Africa.

                                                                  but do go, the Ethiopian in DC (esp. around U and 13) is the best in the US. period. hands down. game. match. (am I blathering?)

                                                                  1. re: sweth

                                                                    Sorry, I know Ethiopian is not Southern and Jaleo is not American (that's why I put their cuisine in parentheses), but I was getting too many categories on my list, and I was trying to keep things easy.

                                                                    1. re: mdpilam

                                                                      I sorta figured you were making shortcuts

                                                                  2. It's hard to be a tourist DC, no-car, cheap eats loving Chowhound. A visitor to LA without wheels might run into some problems as well.

                                                                    I recommend the following:

                                                                    Chivito at Fast Gourmet. Uruguayan sandwich inside a gas station (table seating) at 14th and W. Huge sandwich to share

                                                                    Pattison Ave sandwich at Taylor Gourmet. Roast pork, brocolli rabe abd provolone.

                                                                    Breadline, Friday lunch if possible, bbq (order this on a ciabatta) and get the Italian sausage sandwich. Open for midweek lunch only.

                                                                    Nando's peri-peri. This is close to you, and cheap. Get the quarter dark spicy.

                                                                    El Rinconcito (near 11th and M) Salvadoran. Get the carne deshilada (with egg), and the papusas. Tamales are good.

                                                                    A rather quick trip via metro into Arlington, will produce good meals at Chez Manelle (Tunisian), Me Jana (Lebanese), Lyon Hall (Alsatian, a bit of a nightspot, but prices are low). The sausage skillet at Lyon Hall is like out of a rustic dream. Mezze platter at Me Jana is excellent, though not cheap. The brikha, sigara, and the omek houria at Chez Manelle are great choices. All of these are right near a metro stop.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      Speaking of a Metro trip to Arlington, Ravi Kabob (great Pakistani food) is very close to Ballston metro, very cheap, and very good.

                                                                    2. Also in Wheaton: H Mart (Metro plus the Y bus), a Korean supermarket with dirt cheap prices and a great variety of ingredients for cooking Asian dishes at home. Bring one or two "granny carts"!

                                                                      One of my ultimate favorite Bethesda places, Ren's Ramen, is due to re-open soon in Wheaton. I have been bereft since its closing in Sept. Watch this spot for news!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                        Thanks! This will be good info if (when!) I move out there.

                                                                        1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                          I may not buy anything, but I LOVE browsing places like H.

                                                                        2. Chinatown/Penn Quarter is full of amazing fine dining options. I would make a reservation at Rasika right this second if I were you, but I'm going to guess that you are too late. They do have a lounge - you might consider that, or going to Bombay Club, which is open and is by the same owner.

                                                                          I love Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, but they are not cheap. I usually walk out for around $50/person, so plan for that. FYI, at Jaleo's happy hour you can sit in the bar area and get away for much, much less. They run it on weekends - you can pretty much guarantee you'll get one of the three tables at 4:30pm on a Sunday.

                                                                          Anyway, your GF is right - you're pretty much screwed for your dining preferences in this neighborhood. I'd stick with the recommendations people have given you for other neighborhoods for those places, except that I'll second El Rinconcito for El Salvadoran and (somebody must have mentioned it?) Taylor Gourmet for sandwiches. I don't mind the neighborhood Busboys and Poets either and eat brunch there often, but I wouldn't make a special trip or anything.

                                                                          If you really have to stay in the neighborhood, I like Thai Chili in the Verizon Center. It is not the best Thai I have ever had or anything, but it is definitely really good.

                                                                          I do like Matchbox, but the downstairs bar at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown is my favorite place to get pizza. Excellent beer selection. However, the metro does not go there - you'd have to bus or cab.

                                                                          I would also recommend Againn on 11th, maybe for lunch if you're sticking to the budget. You can definitely walk there from Chinatown. They do awesome things with meat and there aren't that many British gastropubs in the U.S. They make great cocktails at the bar also. Really you should probably order something pork, but their burger is just awesome.

                                                                          Just one other thing - I really like Kushi, and it's in the neighborhood, but do not go there if you have a problem with restaurants that smell fishy. Many people think it's the best new restaurant of the year, but it is not for you, trust me.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Raids

                                                                            You also might want to try Marvin's 14 on U St NW and Utophia for bunch.

                                                                            http://www.marvindc.com/menu

                                                                            http://www.utopiaindc.com/

                                                                            1. re: Raids

                                                                              1) Highlight and put an asterisk next to Taylor Gourmet. It's right in the neighborhood and has some of the best sandwiches in town. Pattison Avenue (roast pork, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone) is a Board fave. I like the chicken cutlet subs and the Italian cold cut subs just as much.

                                                                              2) I haven't seen mention of Ripple in Cleveland Park. Because they are fanatical about their sourcing, their repertoire varies from week to week or even day to day, but it centers around fresh, local, and interesting dishes.

                                                                              3) Having moved to the DC area after living in California, I agree that our Chinese restaurants simply cannot compete with and do not compare to what is available there. For a Californian who loves Chinese food, anyplace in DC's Chinatown is bound to be a disappointment.

                                                                              4) One more - Tabard Inn in Dupont Circle is a nice place to go for a cozy and romantic brunch, esp. on a cold weekend day.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Tabard Inn
                                                                              1739 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036

                                                                              Taylor Gourmet
                                                                              1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                                                                              1. re: msr3017

                                                                                Matchbox: Do not skip the mini burgers w/ crispy onions!!!

                                                                            2. After living in California, DC food scene is a shock. I've been here for a number of years now and with some diligent searching (and great chowhound suggestions), I've found that there are some really great gems in the DC area. I agree with others that have mentioned that it is more difficult to find such places that are metro accessible, BUT, it is doable.

                                                                              If you're looking to introduce your GF to new gems, great food, and places she probably hasn't been -- I suggest you follow the recommendations to check out the MD suburbs (i.e. Wheaton). It took me almost 3 1/2 years of living in the DC area before I decided to check out these areas - and I am so sad that I waited that long. I'd be surprised if your GF has come up there on her own, and I think you'll find the best food for the best value.

                                                                              I think the one thing that DC has a lot of that I didn't experience as much in CA are kabob houses. I believe you've been directed to Ravi Kabob, which is fantastic. Pretty inexpensive, enough for a few meals, and super quality ingredients. Others love Kabob Palace (A few blocks from the Crystal City metro station in VA) - and that would be a good option too. Please listen to all the people here and stay away from Chinese in Chinatown - I can't even begin to describe the disappointment you'll experience when coming from CA.

                                                                              I think a number of places on your list your GF has likely tried given that she lives in Chinatown (I'd be surprised if she hasn't been to Oyamel or Zaytinya). For the list you put up, the ones that I'd suggest going to that a) your GF hasn't tried on her own and b) I think are worth the trip are:

                                                                              1) Market Lunch @ Eastern Market
                                                                              2) Greek Deli -- this place is PHENOMENAL. As I'm sure you read though, lunch only and take-out only. Given that it is winter, you need somewhere that you can go back and eat. Unless you wanted to go to your GF's office, this may not be the best winter choice. Seriously delicious food though.
                                                                              3) Nando's Peri Peri: Yum.

                                                                              Just my opinion -- and I know many others will disagree -- but I'd stay away (at least on this trip) from some of the DC "Farm to Table" style of restaurants. Granted, my husband is a chef and was a chef in SF, so maybe our expectations are too high, but we've yet to find anything that comes to the levels of what you get in California. A lot of it is just not being close to the amazing food that is produced only in California. I think these restaurants in DC (like Founding Farmers) are good, but I think when you're coming directly from CA you'll find that they don't meet your expectations.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Kabob Palace
                                                                              2315 S Eads St, Arlington, VA 22202

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

                                                                              Zaytinya
                                                                              701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

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

                                                                              1. What you'll learn from Chowhound: Nothing in DC is NEARLY as good as anything you will ever consume in NYC or California. Ever.

                                                                                20 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                  Not true.

                                                                                  I think high-end Indian (even perhaps lower end as well) is definitely better in DC than in LA, with Rasika being exhibit 1. And there's nothing quite like Komi in LA. And seafood restaurants are also probably better in DC than LA.

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

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

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    What low-end Indian places would you recommend? I honestly can't think of more than a handful of them at all in the DC area, and none of them stand out to me as great (although perhaps LA just has some very mediocre Indian food so they shine in comparison).

                                                                                    1. re: sweth

                                                                                      Well, I'm no Indian expert, but I think Indique, Heritage Indian, Indian Ocean and Karma are pretty good. Again, not an Indian food expert, but every Indian meal I've had in or around the District have been pretty good. Or maybe Rasika is so damn good I'm forever biased.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        Ah, I guess we just have a difference in the definition of low-end, then. To me, places like Heritage India and Indique are on the pricey side for Indian food; by low-end, I was thinking of places w/ entrees in the $10 range.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Heritage India
                                                                                        2400 Wisconsin Ave NW Ste A, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                                        Indique
                                                                                        3512 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                                                                        1. re: sweth

                                                                                          I enjoy Delhi Club right by the Clarendon metro. Their daily lunch buffet is such a great value. Much less crowded on the weekend, so I like to go then. The offerings change slightly daily, but there's always some standards like butter chicken and tandoori chicken. Also always a lamb dish, at least three veggie options, and one dessert. Never had anything à la carte because I am so stuck on the value and quality of the buffet!

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Delhi Club
                                                                                          1135 N Highland St, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                                      2. re: sweth

                                                                                        low-end? there's a Pakistani (I know not Indian but close) place on the 600 block of Penn SE that's fairly good, the owners sadly have it over-lit and chose a REALLY unfortunate shade of pink for the walls. but good lamb and naan.

                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                          Is that Aatish? I've never gotten around to trying it, but I'll have to check it out now.

                                                                                          1. re: sweth

                                                                                            yes - I can never remember the name, but don't make an effort, if you find yourself in that 'hood and craving something from that part of the world and aren't shy about wearing sunglasses indoors at night, then sure. otherwise, not worth the bother of a cross-town trip.

                                                                                            Rasika is my standard against all Indian is judged, but that's a very high and unreasonable bar. in the 'hood Aatish is preferable over the Tandoori Grill over on 8. but only by just so much.

                                                                                        2. re: sweth

                                                                                          Woodlands.

                                                                                      3. re: Jeserf

                                                                                        Yeah, it's hard to think of things that this is not true about...oysters, maybe. Rasika, for sure. Ethiopian food? Half smokes? Also, isn't Jaleo one of the very first tapas restaurants in the country?

                                                                                        I would agree that produce out here really cannot measure up to what you get in California. Places I have been that had very well-sourced produce here include Poste, Blue Duck Tavern, and Birch and Barley. I have desire to go to Founding Farmers.

                                                                                        1. re: Raids

                                                                                          I was actually joking, since every tourist who posts here either implies or is told how bad everything in DC is.

                                                                                          After weekly trips to the markets, area orchards, and even Wegmans, I'm fairy certain that the produce I buy on a weekly basis is just as good if not better than when I loved in a more agricultural part of the country. Food a la Santa Barbara and Napa of course cannot compare to a tiny area of the country like DC and a 100 mile radius - this is not a farming area. But the food I had in San Diego without much exception was dull, you have to drive everywhere or you're out of luck, and GOOD food in DC is much more accessible than many other urban areas in the country.

                                                                                          Manhattan has 8 million people. DC has 600,000.

                                                                                          Explore DC and its burbs including towards Baltimore (and Baltimore, which I think has excellent food) and I think we're doing great and getting better all the time.

                                                                                          1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                            Jesrf: but do allow that only DC proper is about 600K. otherwise I have no strong rebuttal other than San Diego is it's own beast and really can't be fairly compared to other parts of CA.

                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                              The District is the District. Not the suburbs. DC has 600,000 people. Which is one of the reasons why many of the choices you all posted are not in the District.

                                                                                              San Diego can't fairly be compared to other parts of CA? I don't know, CA has plenty of - sorry to say it - crappy places. A lot more than many of these boards that basically say outside of CA and NY you can't get anything worthwhile forget what much of Cali looks like. I'll remember "San Diego can't be fairly compared" when I visit my fiance at 29 Palms - I'm sure that's LOVELY. Not everywhere can be San Francisco.

                                                                                              1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                                The District is the District, Maryland is Maryland and Virginia is Virginia, but together they comprise the Washington Metropolitan Area. There are probably more federal jobs in Alexandria, Arlington, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties than in DC proper. That's why the Metro runs to Vienna, New Carrollton, Shady Grove and Alexandria. So, in a common sense, we're all Washingtonians.

                                                                                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                  I wasn't aware that federal jobs were what made DC, or being a federal employee made you a "Washingtonian". I will happily still consider myself a Philadelphia, then, if we're going to start defining people.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                                    Federal jobs are what made DC from its earliest days. Otherwise, you'd be living in Georgetown, Maryland instead of the District of Columbia. Living in the Washington Metropolitan Area makes you a Washingtonian.

                                                                                                2. re: Jeserf

                                                                                                  that's sort of what I'm saying re: CA it's sort of an apples to oranges comparison. SD is SD, Bakersfield is Bakersfield and SF is SF, each has its own quality that doesn't translate to the other.

                                                                                                  re DC: I was attempting to point out (in an unfortunate shorthand) that while DC itself is about 600K the overall metro area is much much larger and more diverse than defining it by just DC allows.

                                                                                                  .

                                                                                          2. re: Jeserf

                                                                                            I don't get that feeling at all, but there are specialties that certain areas of the country do well and it's hard to find that done as well in other areas. If you're looking for Chinese food here that compares to an area like LA, it'll be hard because we don't have the same population as they do. But, there are foods that DC does well and you'd find the same if you tried to find crab cakes in, say NYC. If someone is visiting, it makes sense to direct them to foods that DC does well, not to direct them to second rate bagels if they're from NY.

                                                                                            1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                              “What you'll learn from Chowhound: Nothing in DC is NEARLY as good as anything you will ever consume in NYC or California. Ever.”
                                                                                              OK, silly me. At first I thought you were serious. Yes, the idea that everything in NY or CA is superior is crazy. I’ve been both places and have no recollection that the food was in any way better overall. Often, our memories involve the total experience, not just, in this case, the food itself.

                                                                                              I’ve been trying for some time to recapture the taste of Mexican Coke made with real sugar but, for the life of me, can’t come up with it. Tho, I’ve found several colas, including Coke, made with real sugar here in DC, nothing, simply, is ever going to compare with that ice-cold Coke in the glass bottle bought at a dusty roadside stand after you’ve been climbing pyramids all day in the Mexican sun.

                                                                                              One other thing I notice on here is how many people remark on how expensive it is to eat out – yes, SURPRISE, it is. So is buying food at the grocery store. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it, or do it less often. Maybe eating out should be something we do more for a special occasion – or, you can eat at some of the many inexpensive places around town. Look for happy hour specials, or you can share a meal, or eat from the appetizer list. Cutting drinks and dessert (I know, what’s the fun in that) can save you a lot as well.

                                                                                              Anyway, I feel your pain. I just don’t see what point it serves on this site to say it’s expensive – it’s expensive for all of us. Bon appétit!

                                                                                              1. re: UncleFun

                                                                                                The expensive comment was because this was for someone from out of town coming to visit, so price comparison/expectation is a useful piece of information. And coming from 2 already relatively expensive places (SF and LA), for DC to be considered expensive is saying something.

                                                                                            2. Two quick thoughts: One, I think Ethiopian food is really the way to go, for inexpensive and "ethnic" and to get a feel for DC beyond the trendy/touristy etc. Two, since I don't think she's posted here (and you really did inspire a long thread!), I suggest you do a search for "hamster" -- I suspect she has similar taste and budget to you, seems to explore a lot, and posts really thoughtful and useful recs (and I don't think has a car, either, and lives in DC). Of course others do too, but I think she might lead you in some good directions that haven't come up already.

                                                                                              1. Thanks a ton to everyone who's posted. You guys have been a great help. I will try and post back after the trip.

                                                                                                1. Seems like a few people are giving opinions on your list, so I'll jump in

                                                                                                  BURGERS/SANDWICHES:
                                                                                                  Rays Hell Burger - Good call, but be prepared to not eat anything for the rest of the day
                                                                                                  Breadline - Yes
                                                                                                  Italian Store - Haven't been yet
                                                                                                  Vace Italian Deli - Haven't been yet

                                                                                                  INDIAN:
                                                                                                  Rasika - Delicious, well worth it
                                                                                                  Indique - I liked Indique, but it wasn't as awesome as Rasika. I'd save myself the trip and just go nuts at Rasika
                                                                                                  Bombay Club (is this place open? gf said it was closed...) - Haven't been

                                                                                                  THAI:
                                                                                                  Thai X-Ing - This is a fun place to go for the atmosphere of eating in someone's basement apt. I'd say this is the best Thai in DC, but that's not really saying much. Still, tasty and a novel atmosphere.

                                                                                                  CHINESE: - I've only been to Chinatown Express, and it's pretty okay. Won't compare to California though. All the good Chinese places are in the Rockville area
                                                                                                  Chinatown Express
                                                                                                  Hong Kong Palace
                                                                                                  Full Kee
                                                                                                  Eat First

                                                                                                  VIETNAMESE: - I defer to the wisdom of other DC CH opinions on this.
                                                                                                  Eden Center (Hai Duong or Saigon Cafe)
                                                                                                  Pho Viet

                                                                                                  BURMESE:
                                                                                                  Burma Cafe - Haven't been there yet

                                                                                                  PIZZA:
                                                                                                  Pizza Paradiso - Good for lunch, not mind-blowing
                                                                                                  2 Amy's - Haven't been there yet
                                                                                                  Matchbox - Haven't been there yet

                                                                                                  SOUTHERN:
                                                                                                  Levi's Port Cafe - Haven't been there yet
                                                                                                  Oohs and Aahs - Really tasty. Awesome mac and cheese
                                                                                                  Etete (Ethiopian) - This is one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants. Good call.

                                                                                                  MEXICAN/LATIN:
                                                                                                  TECC - Haven't been there yet
                                                                                                  Taqueria District Federal - Love the tacos here, but be advised: sometimes you get an errant bone shard or hard gristle. I just try to chew carefully.
                                                                                                  Taqueria Nationale - Never been
                                                                                                  Oyamel - I think this is a good call
                                                                                                  Cafe Atlantico - Never been
                                                                                                  La Union - Never been

                                                                                                  extra rec: I happen to quite like Ceiba

                                                                                                  AMERICAN:
                                                                                                  Jaleo (spanish tapas) - Pretty tasty
                                                                                                  Good Stuff Eatery - Never been
                                                                                                  Market Lunch @ Eastern Market - So angry I haven't done this yet, I hear great things

                                                                                                  MIDEASTERN/MEDITERRANEAN:
                                                                                                  Zaytynyia - According to my Lebanese friends, not quite as authentic as Me Jana in Courthouse (right across from metro) or Neyla in Georgetown. I have never been to Zaytynyia, but I fully endorse both Me Jana and Neyla.
                                                                                                  Lebanese Taverna - See Zaytynyia.
                                                                                                  Greek Deli - Only open for lunch, but do visit!! This is one of my favorite spots of cheap, hearty, delicious lunch.

                                                                                                  CHICKEN:
                                                                                                  Nando's Peri Peri - I don't actually like Nando's Peri Peri. Nothing I've had there has made me happy.
                                                                                                  El Pollo Rico - I haven't been to an El Pollo Rico, but in general Peruvian chicken places are awesome. The one near my house is Pollo Sabroso, and it rules too.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                  Me Jana
                                                                                                  2300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 140, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                  Chinatown Express
                                                                                                  126 Carroll Island Rd, Baltimore, MD 21220

                                                                                                  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. I have a few minutes, so I figured I'd give a quick update.

                                                                                                    We went to Matchbox last night, and was pleased. I liked their beer/wine list (I had little expectations on this, but they had some solid selections). And we split the sliders and the Matchbox Meat pizza. The sliders were meh - nothing special; basically every other slider I've had at a bar (except for a couple places that had great ones). And what's with all those onion strings?! The pizza however, I thought was very good. I was a little skeptical when I saw the thicker (and smaller) cut pepperoni, but it was delicious - as were all the toppings. And best of all, the crust was good, which is a pizza killer alot of times.

                                                                                                    I made a quick stop to Taylor's Gourmet for a sandwich; I originally planned to go to the Fast Gourmet place inside the gas station (can someone confirm that this is at 14th St & W St NW - I looked for it on Google maps, but couldn't find any gas station there or any Fast Gourmet). But, I was in a hurry and needed to go to Safeway, and this was right on the way. I looked through their extensive list, and usually at places like these I default to an Italian hoagie, but I figured I'd try and save that for one of the Italian delis. I settled on Cherry Street, which sounded promising with angus beef, brie and a cherry (?) garlic spread. I was pretty underwhelmed, however. There was more arugula than meat, and not enough cheese or spread. The beef was ok, but not up to par with some of my go to sandwich places in LA (Clementines, Mendocino Farms, Bay Cities). I am feeling like maybe I ordered wrong though...

                                                                                                    Anyways, thanks again to all for your help, I will try and keep you posted with my thoughts.

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                                      Look up Fast Gourmet at "1400 W Street NW" on Google Maps. Use street view and you can see the gas station pretty clearly -- it's right across from the CVS.

                                                                                                      1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                                        The Pattison Ave. (roast pork, broccoli rabe, provolone) is the thing to get at Taylor Gourmet.

                                                                                                        Most threads on Chowhound mention this. Good luck next time.

                                                                                                        Get the Chivito at Fast Gourmet in the gas station.

                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                          Yeah, I made the mistake of running out without checking CH for specific recs at Taylor. Oh well.

                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            also liked the chicken cutlet with broccoli rabe

                                                                                                            1. re: dining with doc

                                                                                                              and the cutlet with proscuitto

                                                                                                        2. Another quick update:

                                                                                                          Went to Fast Gourmet and had the Chivito (sans the egg since I was splitting it with my gf and she doesn't eat eggs), and I thought it was pretty delicious, but I would stop short of calling it great; and at $13, I felt it was overpriced. And, luckily for me (and not my gf), it had mayo, so I got to eat the whole thing because she doesn't eat mayo, because the whole thing was definitely needed to satisfy my hunger.

                                                                                                          We also went to Oyamel, which I thought was real good (considering it wasn't CA), but VERY expensive for what you get.

                                                                                                          Last night we went to Ruan Thai in Wheaton and was pretty impressed. We ordered Thai spicy, but it wasn't very spicy :( The food was very good though. We had the grilled beef slices with chilli and lime, eggplant, and penang chicken curry. And finally, a place that I didn't feel like I was vastly overpaying!

                                                                                                          I went to The Greek Deli today for lunch, and ordered the Seven Slice Gryo over Orzo and feta, and I thought it was pretty good for quick, Greek food. I wouldn't consider it a destination spot though.

                                                                                                          And Saturday night, we were able to get into the lounge at Rasika and eat dinner. The food was very good (paneer makhani, reshmi kabab, and lamb do pyaza). We requested the lamb do pyaza spicy - very spicy, but it came out not very spicy at all. She ended up bringing out a bowl of masala with chilli powder that was rather pointless. The drinks were also good. This was probably one of the better meals we've had here so far, but like every other place it was pretty expensive. I did however have higher expectations for this place (both what I heard on the board and through friends); I thought the flavors/spice could have had more depth.

                                                                                                          Lastly, we made a late night stop at Full Kee on the way home, and I was pretty disappointed. I didn't think this place was very good at all, and on top of that the service was rude/poor.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Ruan Thai Restaurant
                                                                                                          11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

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

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

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

                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                                            It can be so difficult to get Thai places to take you seriously with the heat, and Ruan Thai is a prime example. Still I agree that the food is delicious no matter what level they give you. It's a favorite of mine.

                                                                                                            The Greek Deli serves huge portions of mostly bland, oily food.

                                                                                                            Rasika has some great stuff, but it's pretty tame compared to a real Indian restaurant, which it isn't.

                                                                                                            Full Kee has some great stuff, specifically the oyster and ginger casserole, duck stuffed with shrimp paste, and the soft shell crabs. But like a lot of Chinese restaurants around here, you can eat poorly too.

                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                            Ruan Thai Restaurant
                                                                                                            11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

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

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

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

                                                                                                            1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                                              Thanks for the report back, even though it didn't sound stellar.

                                                                                                              1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                                                Bummer. I'm sorry to hear that. Are you still in town? Food here is really expensive and it is so disappointing to feel like you've over-payed for something that didn't blow you away.
                                                                                                                I'm trying to think of some places that are cheap and delicious and copious, in my book:

                                                                                                                Etete for Ethiopian

                                                                                                                Ray's HellBurger

                                                                                                                G Street Foods or Breadline (weekday lunch only. I like anything on ciabatta, though avoid anything with cumin. They tend to over-use it.)

                                                                                                                Nana's special at Muncheez Mania in Georgetown (flat bread with labneh, have them put the labneh on after they bake it; it's $3-4). Get two sandwiches, still cheap.

                                                                                                                Eve's Lickety Split in Old Town Alexandria (weekday lunch only)

                                                                                                                Saigon Cafe in Falls Church (long metro ride and a schlep. Worth it.)

                                                                                                                Sichuan Pavilion in Rockville (10 minute walk from metro station)

                                                                                                                Bob's Noodle 66 in Rockville (10 minute walk from metro station)

                                                                                                                Oohs and Aahs is good and copious, but a bit expensive perhaps for your taste (you have to pay $15-20 per person, though if you share you can get that down a bit)

                                                                                                                Kabob Palace (Afghan kabobs in Crystal City. It's a pain to walk from the metro station, just confusing, but totally doable.)

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

                                                                                                                Kabob Palace
                                                                                                                2315 S Eads St, Arlington, VA 22202

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

                                                                                                                1. re: hamster

                                                                                                                  hamster -- what about Akosambo (that's not the correct name, you know what I mean, right?) I keep thinking mdpilam and gf should explore some of the African (not just Ethiopian) food in this area -- but I don't know it well, myself, so hesitate to make suggestions. (Have you been to Ghana Cafe since it reopened on 14th st, btw? Seems like I've heard good things, somewhere.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: mselectra

                                                                                                                    Yeah, Akosombo is a find. I think it's lunch-only. I was charged $12 IIRC for a large plate of food. Very unusual and delicious flavors. For that sort of step into a new cuisine, I thought $12 was a good deal.

                                                                                                                    I haven't been to Ghana Cafe. I have been meaning to try Sumah's for a couple months now, and of course Chez Auntie Libe, but have not managed to get to either yet.

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    Akosombo Restaurant
                                                                                                                    613 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                                                    1. re: hamster

                                                                                                                      Tried out Ghana Cafe and Sumah's recently.
                                                                                                                      Ghana Cafe was definitely the least good of the three. Flavors were a lot less interesting, various rice dishes were particularly uninspired (mushy, bland), however it was a lot less oily. I will probably not return, though the chicken stew was the one dish that would bring me back there.

                                                                                                                      Tried Sumah's about a month ago and I would say it was the best of the three. We got to sample all of the different stews, and my favorites were tomato, peanut, and um, potato leaf IIRC. The quality of the meat and fish used was definitely higher than at Akosombo, and the stews had lovely and complex flavors. Quite oily, which is a downside. And they were somewhat reluctant to make the fufu we requested, but they eventually complied. This is definitely a place I will be returning. That tomato stew was tremendous.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Akosombo Restaurant
                                                                                                                      613 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                                                      1. re: hamster

                                                                                                                        Chez Aunty Libe up on Georgia Ave. is my favorite. The yassa chicken, manioc, maffe, and the whole fish are all worth getting. She also makes a killer dessert, thiackry, which is worth the trouble of calling in advance for.

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        Chez Aunty Libe
                                                                                                                        6115 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011

                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                          Yes, that is next on my list!

                                                                                                              2. As mentioned, Oyamel and Rasika are fine dining restaurants. They are indeed expensive. I think I told you something like $50/person. Everything is made from scratch and there are serious chefs back in the kitchen with serious culinary experience and expertise.

                                                                                                                I'm sorry Rasika did not live up to expectations. I'm not sure to chalk that up to your particular expectations (IMO, Rasika is not the kind of place where you tell the chef how you want something seasoned and it's not aiming to be an authentic Indian place) or to just conclude that I shouldn't eat in the lounge there.

                                                                                                                Also, it looks like you did not get the palaak chat. Are you crazy?

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Raids

                                                                                                                  Just to clarify, I did really like Rasika, but I think I had a bit overinflated expectations (also, there is some really good Indian in the Bay Area and LA, so I'm also comparing it to some good places). I hadn't researched specific menu items beforehand, because it was actually an audible that night because we were supposed to go to Ruan Thai, but the Metro stop in Wheaton was closed. We'll definitely be back (I'll be back in a month), and will make sure to explore the menu (though it seems they are fairly fish/seafood heavy for an Indian restaurant, and I don't eat fish/seafood).

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Ruan Thai Restaurant
                                                                                                                  11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

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

                                                                                                                  1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                                                    Nah, the Post's food critic has said a couple of times that it might be the best Indian restaurant in the country, in his opinion, so I think inflated expectations are wholly justified. :-) But, again, it's not where Indian diplomats go out when they're in town and my Indian officemate kind of disparages the place as "inauthentic" also. Anyway, the mixed grill my Dad got when we were there is a total winner, and everyone always gets the palaak chat. I ordered a couple of glasses of wine also, and they were really excellent and well-chosen also. I think I'd err toward ordering things that you might not see on a typical Indian restaurant menu. Next time, make your reservation about two months in advance, set aside some $$, and enjoy.

                                                                                                                    Regarding Oyamel, I love the margarita with salt air and the ceviches are good, but I did not think it compared to Hugo's - the fine dining Mexican/South American restaurant in Houston - or anything either.

                                                                                                                    It's too bad you don't like seafood - oysters, mussels, crab, etc. are things we do really well here. Alas.

                                                                                                                    And I still think you should check out Againn for lunch!

                                                                                                                2. In town til tomorrow, another quick update:

                                                                                                                  Went to Pizzeria Paradiso last night (just made it in by closing), and ordered the crostino formaggi di capra and the Atomica. Loved the crostino - absolutely loved it. Was a bit let down by the atomica pizza though - mainly not a fan of the crust (or I guess type of pizza). Cheese was very good though. I prefer Matchbox (so far in my two pizzas in DC).

                                                                                                                  Went to Breadline for lunch today and got the Italian Sausage sandwich, and really liked this too. Easy ordering and paying system, and good ingredients, especially the bread - it was great. Do they make their own?

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Pizzeria Paradiso
                                                                                                                  3282 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                                                                  1. Well, back from the trip, and just wanted to thank all of you for your great suggestions and recommendations. You guys were an enormous help.

                                                                                                                    My last meal (well, two I guess since I split the sandwich and ate the other half on the plane) was Taylor Gourmet's Pattison Ave (the roast pork, broccoli rabe and provolone). I thought this was much better than the Cherry Street, but I think I still preferred Breadline's Italian Sausage (plus, Breadline's bread was great). We ended up making a repeat visit to Matchbox (which I think ended up being one of my two best meals there) the last night. Originally, we were going to go to Bombay Club (to get some spicy Indian food, because they can apparently bring the heat), but the third person in our party was not as adventurous. Matchbox was great again; we got the white prosciutto and the serrano ham pizzas along with a mix of sliders. The white prosciutto was really good, and the serrano was good, but not as good as the matchbox meat or white. The sliders were better this time too, as we got them med. rare as opposed to medium - also, the gorgonzola sliders were easily the best.

                                                                                                                    Overall, I had a really good dining experience in DC (especially since I was prepped to be disappointed). I will say that I still find the general price of things to be expensive, but I guess rent is really expensive too (moreso than the Bay or LA). And best of all, I will get alot more opportunities to eat my way through DC's food scene since I will be moving out there for the rest of the year in March!

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

                                                                                                                    Taylor Gourmet
                                                                                                                    Washington, DC, Washington, DC

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                                                      Ordering sliders above medium rare is a mistake.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                        Heh, I agree. It was at the request of my gf the first time.

                                                                                                                    2. Mdpilam -- I'd recommend you check out Eola! It was VERY similar to California cuisine.

                                                                                                                      1. since this has been revived, if others are reviewing the OP's requests and comments, the DC region does generally dumb down the spice/heat level (esp for SE Asian food) sometimes you have to be adamant. this is changing, but you shoulda tried it 12 years ago....

                                                                                                                        1. Wondering if you came, and what restaurants you went to and what you thought. Your list was certainly varied. You covered the gamut, that's for sure - from your preference of divey all the way thru to fine dining. Also, think several of your choices were in the $$$ range.

                                                                                                                          I find it odd that your gf has been here a year and a half and all she can say is "food in DC is very mediocre and overpriced”. I’m no particular fan of DC (lived here way too long), so have no particular reason for cheerleading, but I have to wonder where she has gone to eat. In China Town, alone, where you say she lives, up and down 7th Street there are several dozen restaurants of all types and prices – some of them owned and run by our very own superstar chefs. We’ve been getting so many great new restaurants so quickly that I don’t even try to keep up any more.

                                                                                                                          Regardless, I hope you found some great spots and showed the gf what DC has to offer. If you come back, or for anyone else visiting, I think a different approach than categorizing by food type, would be to try one place in each of DC’s neighborhoods. A lot is happening on 14th and U Streets NW and the new Atlas District. Give ‘em a try, and – happy eating!

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: UncleFun

                                                                                                                            The OP posted his findings upthread.

                                                                                                                            1. re: UncleFun

                                                                                                                              Like Steve mentioned below I did revisit this thread and update after my visit. I actually moved out here in March, and so my food experiences have broadened out here, but looking back at my list (and at my ever-growing "to-eat" list) I've got a lot of places still to try.

                                                                                                                              I still stand by my general comment that food is better in LA (and SF), especially ethnic. I had lived in the Bay Area for 7 yrs and LA for 5+, and granted I've only been here 6 months, it was much easier to find good food in CA. Especially what I consider my specialty, cheap ethnic food. I'm not trying to come across as a CA elitist food snob, but I think you can get some of the best Korean, Thai and Mexican outside of those countries within LA (and Chinese if you go out to the SGV).

                                                                                                                              Some places that I do really like: La Mexicana (taqueria rivaling CA's taquerias) and La Fondita, The Standard, Matchbox, Ruan Thai, Bombay Club (though very disappointed they took our favorite dish - spicy green chilli chicken - off the menu), Rasika and Amsterdam Falafel.

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              Ruan Thai Restaurant
                                                                                                                              11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

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

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

                                                                                                                              Amsterdam Falafelshop
                                                                                                                              2425 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                                                                                                              La Mexicana
                                                                                                                              13016 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown, MD 20874

                                                                                                                            2. Oops! Sorry – didn’t notice your reviews up above in the other posts. So, it sounds like you did find some good food in DC. Glad you got to Rasika – it’s one of my faves – hard to get a rez, tho, so I often will sit at the low tables in the bar just to get that great food. Welcome to DC – you’ve got a lot of eatin’ to do!

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