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4 Days in DC

We're taking a family trip to DC in a couple weeks, staying in Dupont Circle area. My last visit to DC was a couple years ago, and included:

- minibar - you can read about it here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5202...
- Jaleo - enjoyed it, might well return
- Vidalia - nice but underwhelming
- West End Bistro - good, but don't know that I'd go back.

That was a solo trip, this time we'll have kids in tow (13 & 11) but they are pretty wide-ranging and well-behaved eaters, so that doesn't restrict us much other than that lengthy tasting menus are difficult (though I'd go back to minibar in a heartbeat if we could get in, and I bet they would love it).

I'm looking for recommendations on (1) new and exciting and opened since 2008, when I was last doing my homework; (2) high-end food in a not-too-stuffy environment; (3) good, authentic Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian; (4) any great restaurants walking distance in Dupont Circle area; (5) decent lunch suggestions around the typical touristy sites.

My not-so-short list so far:

- Bistrot du Coin
- Café Atlantico sunday dim sum brunch
- Central Michel Richard
- Etete
- Firefly
- Mandu
- Palena (cafe side - is it no reservations, is there usually a long wait?).

I've purposely omitted Komi (menu format won't work with the kids, probably can't get in anyway) and Rasika (kids don't love Indian food).

Comments on any of these, and additional suggestions, are all welcome.

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Etete
1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Palena
3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004

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

Vidalia
1990 M Street, Washington, DC 20036

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  1. hey, frod. this is tinymango from twitter.

    i would def do etete, central and palena. god, esp palena.

    regarding palena, i imagine if youre eating with kids, youll probably get there fairly early (rite?) and i havent ever had a problem, if it's early enough. one of the best in dc, hands down. central is just all around great, in my humble opinion.

    one of the v important questions regarding your ethnic food query is are you going to have a car and are you willing to go to the northern va burbs? or silver spring, md, theyre where the real, authentic ethnic food is. it's kinda watered down within the district and the metro area is fairly easily accessible by car.

    that being said, eden center in falls church, va is a humongous vietnamese shopping mall with tons of great food options thta you can find by searching it on this board. honey pig in annandale,va is a super fun and authentic 24 hour korean bbq. and wheaton/silver spring are home to both ruan and nava thai, both very good (though i give ruan the edge, gimme that crispy watercress/seafood thing..).. within the district the only thai place i can reccommend is the very ineresting thai xing but its incredibly small and fills up ridiculously fast. im talking microscopic, here.

    are you looking for another ethiopian rec besides etete? i think etete is v good. queen makeda maybe.

    what about southern food? do you guys get a lot of that in miami? there's oohh's + aahh's, eatonville is pretty rad, levi's port cafe, art and soul is kinda more nouveau but, still good as of recent reports.

    maybe also consider trying to find the lobster roll truck. <3

    the greek deli is also a great choice for lunch. really really awesome greek food.
    ill come back if i think of anything else.

    1. You've gotten lots of good suggestions from MPE...

      Central is wonderful; they are open for lunch M-F only.

      I would say don't bother with Mandu - unless you are hell bent on having Korean without leaving the District. If you really want good Korean, you have to drive to Annandale, VA, unfortunately. Honey Pig is fantastic.

      I love Etete; Queen Makeda is also very good. Lots of people on the board rave about Ethiopic on H St. NE (I haven't been).

      Palena Cafe - do get there early. (Combine with a trip to the zoo????)

      For Vietnamese, Eden Center is your best bet, but it is a very unpleasant walk from the Metro Station. It's better if you drive there. My favorite Vietnamese in DC is Pho Viet on 14th St. (Columbia Heights Metro, or take a bus up 14th St. which gets you much closer).

      Ruan Thai in Wheaton is fantastic and is only a couple of blocks from the Wheaton Metro. Nava Thai seems to have gone downhill. Thai Xing is good, but is TINY as MPE said. I don't think it's good enough to deal with the hassles - especially with kids in tow.

      The Greek Deli is open M-F only, as is The Breadline, a fantastic lunch place near the White House. Get there on Fri. for their pulled pork on ciabatta.

      Lobster truck is great, but costs $18 and the line is about an hour long. I wouldn't want to do this on a four day trip with kids.

      New since 2008 is Birch and Barley on 14th St. I haven't been yet, but it's gotten tons of accolades and great press -- and great comments on CH. Also new since 2008 is Againn, an Irish gastropub with great food and cocktails.

      I like Teaism, which is very near the National Gallery. Don't miss the salty oat cookies for dessert.

      Maybe for lunch on Sat. (not Sun.) check out Good Stuff Eatery (Capitol South Metro) for very good burgers and the best shakes in town. Spike Mendelsohn's other place, We The Pizza is next door. Their pizza is good, but their homemade sodas (e.g. sour cherry) are fantastic.

      It's common that a lot of places that are open for lunch during the week are closed for lunch on the weekend. Make sure to check on this before heading to a destination place for lunch on Sat. or Sun.

      Have fun!

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

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

      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

      Teaism
      2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

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

      Good Stuff Eatery
      303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

      Birch and Barley
      1337 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

      1. You've got a good list there, though I haven't been to Firefly in years and I wouldn't expect authentic Korean in DC, but I imagine you won't have a bad meal at Mandu. You may want to consider Thai X-ing, which is a unique experience. Only two tables in a basement apartment, must reserve, but very casual. If you are given a menu choice, then ask for the red curry salmon (a must) and the pad kana.

        1. Thanks for the responses. A bit of follow-up ->

          - Palena - when you say early, how early? Here in Miami, anything before 8pm is "early". They open 5:30pm - if you're there before 7pm, what are the chances of getting in without a wait? 6:30?

          - Mandu - got bonus points because it's very close to where we're staying. Mrs. F had Korean in Georgetown when she was in DC a few months ago and enjoyed it. Can't remember the name - any idea where it might have been?

          - Southern food is an interesting thought. As you may know, the south kind of ends at the northern border of Miami-Dade County, which is where Latin America begins, so there's not as much Southern food here as you might expect.

          - At risk of losing my Chowhound credentials, I'll confess it is unlikely we will make a pilgrimage to the suburbs just on a food expedition, unless I can convince the family that it's somewhat on the way to something we'd otherwise be visiting (any help in this department is certainly welcome). I spent a lot of time trying to plot an excuse for the 5-hour pilgrimage out to Chilhowie to Townhouse before Mrs. F caught on.

          - We were just in Maine last summer so I'll probably skip the lobster roll truck. Good idea, though.

          - I like Thai food but the only time I've really found it to be transcendent is at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. Is Thai X-Ing or Ruan Thai so good that you'd make it one of four dinners you'd eat in DC?

          - Breakfast suggestions for Dupont Circle area also welcome. There are already a few threads, I see Tabard Inn, Teaism, Luna Bar & Grill, Pain Quotidien. Any additions to the list or comments on any of those?

          - "tinymango," "monpetitescargot" - what's the obsession with little foods? ;)

          Thanks for the help.

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

          Palena
          3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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

          Teaism
          2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

          Tabard Inn
          1739 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036

          3 Replies
          1. re: Frodnesor

            Palena can be a little bit odd about when it fills up. Last month, I went around 7:30 p.m. on a Friday and we were immediately seated (although the restaurant was near full). The very next day, they had an hour-plus wait at 6:30 p.m.

            In general I'd shoot for 6-6:30 p.m. if you have a party of 4. Closer to 6 p.m. if it's a Friday or Saturday.

            1. re: Frodnesor

              For your four dinners, I'd do Etete, Central, Palena and Oohs and Aahs for southern food in a hole-in-the-wall type environment. All these places are conveniently located in DC and near Metro stations (O&A and Etete are very close to each other) - no trips to the burbs necessary.

              If you can't make it out to Annandale for Korean, I'd eliminate Korean from the mix.

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              Etete
              1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

              Palena
              3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

              1. re: Frodnesor

                Ruan Thai is exceptional - however it does not qualify as being on the way to anything. Thai X-ing is a unique *Only on Chowhound* experience, the red curry salmon is the stuff of legend, if they let you order it. It's worth a phone call.

              2. If you want to stay metro accessible and still try some great Vietnamese- try Minh's in Arlington (about 4 blocks up from the Courthouse metro on Wilson blvd). Great family-owned place with authentic dishes (I like the bunh with grilled shrimp paste on sugar cane, number 16, I think). Good atmosphere, and a decent wine list with some good rieslings. Very well-priced to boot. Man, I'm just reminding myself I need to get back there asap.

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                Minh's
                2500 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201