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Moving to DC - please help!

s
SouthToTheLeft Mar 18, 2011 08:58 PM

Hello Chowhounders,

I am going to be going to school in DC starting later in the year, and I am trying to psych myself up for this change by trying to find restaurants that I must try. I spent some time in DC a few years ago, and was in general disappointed with the food I could find in the District. I found lots of amazing places in the Northern Virginia suburbs, but found a lot of the food in DC to be really expensive and not flavorful.

I am sure that there must be places that I have missed, so please help me find them! I tend to enjoy underground places with creative food. I'm really into street food, too. I'm going to be a student, so my budget won't be huge for nightly dining. Also, are there any good supermarkets with local produce, or farmers' markets worth checking out?

Please help guide me! I'd be grateful!

  1. s
    SouthToTheLeft Mar 30, 2011 09:54 PM

    So, where's the best Ethiopian? I've heard that's another thing DC does amazingly well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: SouthToTheLeft
      woodleyparkhound Mar 30, 2011 10:08 PM

      There are several recent threads on this topic. I like Etete (U St. Metro). i've been reading a lot of recent recommendations for Ethiopic; on H St. I haven't been. Dukem is good as well.

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

      1. re: woodleyparkhound
        hill food Mar 31, 2011 12:57 AM

        yeah if you're gonna live in DC that may be something you have to wade through on your own - you're not doing a quickie weekend after all. but yes it is excellent. (sorry, feeling cranky and wanting) but yes, the area around U Street Metro and east is a great place to start that quest.

      2. re: SouthToTheLeft
        agarnett100 Mar 31, 2011 06:30 AM

        Here is a list of most of DC Ethiopian Restaurants
        http://www.ethiopianrestaurant.com/dc...

        I have only been to Zeds and that was years ago.

      3. s
        srocco9483 Mar 28, 2011 07:54 AM

        DC has some great eats. You'll love living there. I would suggest trying Mie N Yu. It's like traveling through Asia; It has such a unique atmosphere!

        If you ever make it out to Bethesda, try Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Cafe. It may be a chain, but the food is delicious. Go out with a few friends and order the Plato Gordo. You won't regret it.

        -----
        Mie N Yu
        3125 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

        Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Cafe
        4870 Bethesda Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

        2 Replies
        1. re: srocco9483
          m
          mjhals Mar 28, 2011 08:40 AM

          I'm sorry, I have to add my two cents about Mie N Yu, but I HATED it. It was one of the worst dining experiences I've had in DC. The food was way overpriced for both the amount and quality. I ordered the bulgogi and received the probably the driest, least flavorful cut of meat of my life. I'm not sure how you can make bulgogi tasteless and bland, but they managed.

          I will concede that the interior is interesting and it would probably be fun for a big, group event if your group doesn't care at all about the actual food (ie fun for a drunk bachelorette party).

          Sorry, but I don't think this rec is going to help the OP eat better in DC. As an alternative in Georgetown, I've had very good experiences a Bodega for tapas (the short rib stuffed piquillo peppers are great), and Neyla (a good alternative for big groups).

          -----
          Mie N Yu
          3125 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

          1. re: mjhals
            r
            Raids Mar 29, 2011 04:39 AM

            Seconded. It's not the worst dining experience I've had in D.C., but I feel the most comfortable accusing them of really skimping on their food costs over any other place I've eaten at here. My experience with the meat was the same, and our orders included a $50 grass-fed steak that is no longer on the menu and a braise, two things which should have been easy to get right.

        2. f
          Fracis Mar 27, 2011 07:34 PM

          Youre going to hear alot about Ray's the Steaks. If you like mediocre food, go for it. If you like something delicious with decent service, there are better choices.

          Given what you wrote, you might like Taqueria Nacional down on Capitol Hill. Yum. Try the agua frescas in particular....

          -----
          Taqueria Nacional
          400 N Capitol St NW, Washington, DC

          1. hill food Mar 25, 2011 02:12 AM

            an aside note to STTL, DC is great but sorta opinionated, so take all of these (mostly very good suggestions) with a grain of salt - I like to paraphrase the line from that movie with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunawaye "fergit about it Jake: it's Lawyertown" folks will argue over what shade of blue the sky is today *dammit that's not turquoise -, its teal, like our lovely roasted duck was once"

            1. ktmoomau Mar 23, 2011 05:18 PM

              My sincere suggestion is to follow the Chowhound board for leads, but to join DonRockwell.com. There is an invaluable resource in the dining guide and knowledge of the members. You can't get a lot more leads for small ethnic joints on here, but many are on there too, but I find it much more conducive to discussions. And they have lots of fun meet-ups and things. I also like the washingtonian.com food chat by Todd Kilman. And the Cheap Eats and Dirt Cheap Eats on there and the dining guides there and at the post.

              And definitely a worthwhile perusal is Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide. And if you aren't planning on having a car make it your first priority to make friends or roommates with someone who does :) DC is a lot of fun, especially to go to school. I just graduated from law school a few years ago and think that it was a great city to go to school in with just immensely talented and well educated people. I wouldn't worry too much about the food scene, except in picking places to live, which will also be highly dependent on how much you want to pay for the amount of space you get. You will find plenty of interesting things if you just take the time to try new things, and use all the resources above.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ktmoomau
                hill food Mar 23, 2011 08:46 PM

                Don and Tyler are reliable (I, so far, have agreed with 'most everything Tyler has posted - tried and THEN seen his comments)

                1. re: ktmoomau
                  a
                  av8r Mar 24, 2011 08:47 PM

                  re the advice if you don't have a car, also consider zipcar, although I don't use my membership all that often. You pay for the duration you have the car reserved (and pay through the nose for keeping it longer than reserved!), and must return it to where it lives. Makes using zipcar for transportation to a nice restaurant seem wasteful, it sits unused costing money while you enjoy yourself with a leisurely meal. Also my affinity group rate for rental cars makes them more attractive for anything over two hours. I don't get to try a lot of suburban restaurants because of the lack of a car - but there's more than enough in town, plus I cook at home a lot.

                  1. re: av8r
                    hill food Mar 24, 2011 09:56 PM

                    I'd vote for a plain rental and make a day of stocking up on whatever at HMart or big box-er (IKEA?) and treat yourself to a nice meal and head home rather than Zip, Zip is cool if you just want it for an hour to hit the hardware store (Fragers!) or buy a barrel of toilet paper and a crate of beans, longer and yeah it gets expensive fast.

                2. s
                  SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 02:47 PM

                  Well, rather than this California versus DC versus NYC versus London flame that this seems to have dissolved into, perhaps we could discuss what DC does really well?

                  I am sure there must be a lot of seafood that comes from the Chesapeake, and lots of resulting local deliciousness. Is there good Southern food or Carolina style BBQ? What about crab cakes?

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                    agarnett100 Mar 23, 2011 04:28 PM

                    Local Seafood - Rockfish, Bluecrab, Flounder, Croaker, White and Yellow Perch

                    Not sure which restaurants do justice to the local seafood since I usually catch and cook most of them myself

                    1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                      hill food Mar 23, 2011 04:33 PM

                      numerous threads and opinions on crabcakes on this board (and Balto is a cheap weekday MARC fare away) sadly a lot of the oysters don't come from the nearby Chesapeake (over harvested and pollution have cut down on the haul for a number of years while it recovers), but very fresh and relatively cheap ones are found from the Chincoteague area down near the mouth of the bay.

                      1. re: hill food
                        agarnett100 Mar 23, 2011 04:40 PM

                        I forgot that the Old Ebbitt Grill has 50% its raw bar from M-Thur 3pm to 6pm and 11pm -1am and they serve Barcat Oysters from Little Wicomico River, VA

                        -----
                        Old Ebbitt Grill
                        675 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                      2. re: SouthToTheLeft
                        r
                        Raids Mar 24, 2011 10:38 AM

                        DC is known for the half smoke. I'm being tardy about reviewing the places that they are served, but I have a thread going on it. I have officially joined the "don't go to Ben's Chili Bowl" crowd. DC-3 was great. Checking out The Passenger tonight.

                        Also, get yourself over to Eastern Market when you get here. It's a cool neighborhood and the market itself is nice. Apparently the *best* half smoke is there. I'm saving it for the end of my taste test.

                        1. re: Raids
                          k
                          katecm Mar 24, 2011 10:54 AM

                          Kimchi Dog, Raids! Kimchi Dog at The Passenger! Also, their vegan corn dogs are actually surprisingly good. I never buy meatless fake meats in stores, but theirs was half decent.

                          1. re: katecm
                            r
                            Raids Mar 24, 2011 11:05 AM

                            I can't, I am committed to trying the chili half-smoke! Or are you trying to tell me they only have a kimchi hot dog? I thought I remembered that too until I saw the recommendation and I see that it is on the menu. Is it no longer there?

                            After that, I'm having the duck carnitas again, and maybe the time after that I'll think about getting the kimchi dog.

                            In the spirit of the thread, both dogs are $7. The duck carnitas aren't listed on the web, I think they were $14.

                            1. re: Raids
                              k
                              katecm Mar 24, 2011 11:51 AM

                              That's true. They also have other delicious nibbles, not just the kimchi dog. They've been adding new items here and there. A friend of German descent fell in love with their Brat a few weeks ago.

                              They also have their very respectable and reasonably priced beer list.

                              Not as good as in San Francisco, though! Bell's tastes much better there!

                              1. re: katecm
                                r
                                Raids Mar 27, 2011 06:49 AM

                                Wait a minute, now. You're talking Bell's the brewery? Give that back to Michigan where we've been enjoying Oberon in the summer since I was old enough to legally order it! ;-)

                                1. re: Raids
                                  k
                                  katecm Mar 28, 2011 07:49 AM

                                  You may think you had it in Michigan, but trust me, in San Francisco, IT IS WAY BETTER. How was your chili dog? I bet there's a better one in San Francisco!

                                  1. re: katecm
                                    r
                                    Raids Mar 28, 2011 07:56 AM

                                    LOL, no doubt. Alice Waters probably personally roasts them all over a wood-burning fire.

                        2. re: SouthToTheLeft
                          s
                          Steve Mar 28, 2011 11:34 AM

                          Oohhs and Aahhs is my favorite place in DC. Coastal Carolina soul food. Go for the grilled shrimp, the broiled crabcake or the lemon pepper wings. Get the rice with gravy and the greens on the side.

                        3. w
                          windycity Mar 23, 2011 02:36 PM

                          I guess my complaint is not just that there's an overall scarcity of really delicious cheap food (minus pho and Ray's), but also that it's really not very accessible the way it is in NYC or SF to be able to get to routinely the way you can hop off the 6 and get a bunch of delicious food - ramen/fries/ice cream on St. Marks. Or Chinatown. And there doesn't seem to be the same kind of concentration of great cheap food that I would want, though the 8th St Corridor is looking up.

                          I don't want to depress SouthtotheLeft because I do think there are certain bright rays of sunshine such as A & J (which is really not Metro-accessible) and Juice Joint (which is) and the growing food truck movement, though most of the trucks I've eaten at have been mediocre at best including Takorean and Sauca. With the exception of the lobster truck, which is a NYC import. And I would say "expensive for what you get" is pretty accurate. Having lived here earlier in my life, and now coming back, the food scene is somewhat better than it used to be. OTOH, my standards are now that much higher. Places that used to wow me like 1789 are just not as exciting anymore.

                          Rosslyn/Courthouse is a good option if you're going to GWU. It's got a number of better restaurants and it's still close to school. In addition to the Metro hours, don't forget to factor in the cost of taking the metro versus walking to class since Metro fares keep rising, and peak fare is quite expensive. It might even out the cost of living in DC for you.

                          -----
                          Juice Joint Cafe
                          1025 Vermont Ave NW Frnt 3, Washington, DC 20005

                          A & J Restaurant
                          1319 Rockville Pike C, Rockville, MD

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: windycity
                            s
                            SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 02:45 PM

                            That's a very good point, there is that annoying surcharge for crossing into Virginia by just a few stations. Definitely something to keep in mind.

                          2. l
                            lesan Mar 23, 2011 08:02 AM

                            haha! i just saw there's another thread that shares many of my observations, "Jaded California food snob seeks like-minded fusspots to recommend good DC restaurants"

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: lesan
                              DanielK Mar 23, 2011 08:51 AM

                              That person also relied on Yelp and non-foodie friends. So maybe there's in fact a trend here, but it's not the one you think it is.

                              1. re: lesan
                                s
                                SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 09:38 AM

                                Haha! While you may be jaded (just a bit, just a bit!) I am trying to come at this with open eyes. I mean, I'm going to be in DC for a while, I might as well learn to love it.

                                1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                  a
                                  av8r Mar 24, 2011 08:38 PM

                                  healthy attitude, with that approach you'll find some good places I'm sure.

                                  also remember that there's more to it than the flavor, one of my favorite sushi feasts was on the playa at Burning Man, it may not have been the best compared to SF or even DC but under the circumstances it was delicious!

                                  So please don't let negative expectations prejudice your taste buds!

                                  1. re: av8r
                                    s
                                    SouthToTheLeft Mar 24, 2011 10:51 PM

                                    Actually, sushi in SF sucks. Pretty much anything would be better (and cheaper)!

                              2. Jay F Mar 22, 2011 01:58 PM

                                >I found lots of amazing places in the Northern Virginia suburbs, but found a lot of the food in DC to be really expensive and not flavorful.

                                Why not live in Arlington, then, or wherever you found restaurants you liked. It's so convenient to GW via the Blue and Orange lines on the Metro.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Jay F
                                  s
                                  SouthToTheLeft Mar 22, 2011 09:01 PM

                                  Because I don't like the idea of being trapped at midnight, to be honest. And it's still an option.

                                  1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                    hill food Mar 22, 2011 09:18 PM

                                    SttL: Metro stays open a lot later than it used to, but if you're relying on a connector bus, yeah you can be screwed.

                                    1. re: hill food
                                      w
                                      will_5198 Mar 22, 2011 09:36 PM

                                      It's still kind of a joke how early Metro closes -- especially on weeknights. And with all the budget / maintenance issues, the long weekend hours are hardly guaranteed to last into the future.

                                      1. re: will_5198
                                        hill food Mar 22, 2011 10:46 PM

                                        and god forbids there's snow, or a flash flood or ....

                                        1. re: hill food
                                          woodleyparkhound Mar 22, 2011 10:52 PM

                                          ... or the dreaded "single tracking".

                                        2. re: will_5198
                                          s
                                          SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 09:38 AM

                                          Also, I am kind of terrified of missing the last train and getting stuck. That sounds like hell.

                                          1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                            Jay F Mar 23, 2011 11:42 AM

                                            It happened to me once, years ago, before cell phones. Two friends and I got booted out of the Tenleytown Metro after a late movie, and ended up walking home to Dupont Circle.

                                      2. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                        r
                                        RichardinDC Mar 23, 2011 01:50 PM

                                        Bad Answers on this thread. There are plenty more good spots in DC. Here's a few of my favorites:
                                        Cafe TuOTu - In Georgetown, small eclectic - good salads
                                        Nan & Beyond - Get the chicken Tika and homeade chips
                                        Greek Deli - Get the slouvaki pita
                                        FIGS - Anything on their bread rocks
                                        Cafe Divan - the Doner Kebab sandwich (they deliver to GW too)
                                        Breadline - touched on here
                                        In Chinatown, most sucks but I do like the place with the noodle guy in the window - kind of a dump though. Most Asian options in DC are not worth the time though.
                                        Taylor Gourmet - go with the chicken cutlet sandwiches
                                        Pizzeria Paridisio
                                        2 Amys
                                        There's a Latin American "fair" with all kinds of good stuff from different countries every weekend in Adams Morgan. not too many "gringos" eating there.

                                        -----
                                        Cafe Divan
                                        1834 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

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

                                        Taylor Gourmet
                                        Washington, DC, Washington, DC

                                    2. l
                                      LAKane Mar 22, 2011 12:18 PM

                                      Spend time in Adams Morgan. Great spots to dine with reasonable prices at some. Lots of diversity.

                                      1. l
                                        lesan Mar 22, 2011 10:09 AM

                                        You were correct in your first assessment that the food in DC is really expensive and not flavorful. Even in the suburbs, I'm not that impressed. I moved to Arlington from SF a few years ago (after living in SF for almost 10 years, and I'm a southern CA native), so you have my condolences as you realize that DC is, at best, a 3rd tier food city. There are some bright spots, but bright is relative. It won't be as good as in SF and it won't be as inexpensive. So expect to pay more for less.

                                        Korean food in Annandale (VA) is better here than there. I like Honey Pig and Lighthouse Tofu. Going there would definitely require a car.

                                        My absolute favorite thing in DC that is pretty good, even by SF standards, is Amsterdam Falafel (Adams Morgan) and Moaz Falafel (sort of near GW). It's delicious falafel sandwiches (about $5) and fries.

                                        But I am convinced that if I wanted to become a millionaire here, I would open a good taqueria or a good Cantonese place. Prepare yourself for the worst Chinese and Mexican food you've ever had.

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

                                        39 Replies
                                        1. re: lesan
                                          r
                                          Raids Mar 22, 2011 10:57 AM

                                          I'm sorry. I cannot pass up a chance to dish a little of this back. Amsterdam Falafel is somewhat acceptable to a person from eastern Michigan. Applying "SF standards" doesn't really mean anything - it's not like northern California is known for Arab, Turkish, or Greek cuisine. Zaytinya is sublime, but expensive. I can also deal with Urfa in Chinatown.

                                          Also, you're overstating your case in calling DC a "third-tier food city." For instance, sure, I miss the BBQ and other cheaper food options in Houston, but fine dining there was laughable. DC is a great city for fine dining. Harder to work out good cheap options, but you can find some good tips here.

                                          You won't hear any argument from me about the awesomeness of the food in California. It is also fair to say, IMHO, that the Bay Area and New York City on are their own plane. But that says more good things about those two areas than it says anything bad about D.C., IMHO.

                                          1. re: Raids
                                            agarnett100 Mar 22, 2011 11:17 AM

                                            Raids I have to agree with you. Also Amsterdam Falafel applying my "Cali" standards is just okay not a must have(unless its 2am at the end of a bar crawl). DC has its own favor just like every city you don't travel to Naples and expect to find the best Caribbean food, or go to Cabo San Lucas and find the best New England Clam Chowder.

                                            1. re: agarnett100
                                              l
                                              lesan Mar 22, 2011 11:33 AM

                                              It is totally possible to find restaurants in SF that are not only high quality, but inexpensive. To find that in the DC area is difficult, if not impossible. No, northern CA isn't known for Arab, Turkish or Greek cuisine, but what it is known for is fresh, quality food that you don't have to be rich to be able to experience. If you want to blow your money on expensive dinners at expensive restaurants, that's just as easy to do in SF as it is in DC. However, DC seems to be nothing but an "expense account" restaurant town and when you've got bills being paid by someone other than the diner, you're spending a lot of money for crap food. Who eats at Gary Danko or French Laundry every other week? No one because it's expensive. The issue isn't fine dining. I'm talking about the dearth of quality, inexpensive restaurants that you go to on a Wednesday night because you don't feel like cooking. DC has no discernible food identity. It's identity is that it's searching for an identity. My point is, in SF, you don't have to spend a lot to get good food. In DC, that's not the general case. Most of the restaurants are just bad and if you don't know any better, than you don't know any better.

                                              1. re: lesan
                                                k
                                                katecm Mar 22, 2011 12:10 PM

                                                A little history lesson for you about DC and its lack of "food identity."

                                                DC is not a port. It does not have factories. It didn't have various cultural explosions between the 1890s and the 1950s. It was stagnant, with a population that rotated in and out every four or eight years.

                                                In the late 1960s, half of the city was on fire. This isn't an exaggeration. Many, many parts of the city are still recovering from the various riots.

                                                So when does a city finally find its cultural footing? In my argument, it's now. Now, when residents, like me, decide after 9 years to buy a house and make it my home. Now, when investors are finally seeing the city as worthy of a commitment.

                                                The "expense account" mentality is gone when world-class chefs like Michel Richard go out of their way to open a bistro. When Roberto Donna used to stand out by Galileo with a grill and sausages, collecting fivers for a sandwich.

                                                So no, it's not the same thing as other cities. That's because it's not other cities. But it's come a long way and it's going to continue to do so. Hell, a year ago, there were five food trucks on the streets. Look at us now.

                                                I don't want to dismiss any interests the original poster has in wanting to find fun new destinations. That's why this entire board exists. But I don't that one should dismiss this city quite that easily.

                                                At least, before you do, meet me at Sumah's for cassava. Don't want to go there because you don't like the neighborhood? Then don't trash DC anymore or enjoy trashing J Paul's in Georgetown over drinks at Morton's.

                                                1. re: lesan
                                                  r
                                                  Raids Mar 22, 2011 12:41 PM

                                                  Wow, I think you missed my last paragraph? It's the wrong regional board but I could devote a lot of space to my love of the cuisine of northern California. I honeymooned there for a reason! A great example of what I love is Restaurant Pearl - simple, elegant use of wonderful produce at a decent price.

                                                  I think D.C. does lack in inexpensive options, but that doesn't make it a third tier food city. I think I said that pretty clearly in my last post upthread. I also don't think "most of the restaurants are bad" though. Over the last few weeks, for instance, I've had (1) a great half-smoke at DC-3, (2) an awesome burger in the lounge at PS-7, (3) pulled-pork topped arepas from the Sabor'a Street food truck, (4) the New Luther at Churchkey, (5) the lamb/beef platter from Urfa Tomato Kabob, and (6) a great rice, cheese, and bean burrito from Juice Joint.

                                                  I thought all of these things were pretty great, and they were all less than $15.

                                                  And there are great mid-priced options! Tonight I'm going to Jaleo and tomorrow I'm going to Cashion's. And there are other unique experiences - this weekend I'm hitting The Columbia Room.

                                                  So, I don't know, if you want to hate the food here, be my guest, but it seems like a sad way to go about your existence in a city with so many great dining options. The hunt is half the fun! I never would have heard of DC-3 where it not for this board, much less found an off-peak time to hit up PS-7's lounge menu. I only just discovered the $5 happy hour lounge menu at Art and Soul - I'll be checking that out shortly, especially since they also serve $4 beer.

                                                  Also, I don't have an expense account, but I make judicious use of Groupon, Living Social, Opentable Spotlight, Opentable 1,000 point reservations, happy hour specials, and lounge menus. Plus, have you been to the bar here? Forgo one Saturday night and you've bought yourself a nice dinner.

                                                  1. re: Raids
                                                    l
                                                    lesan Mar 22, 2011 01:36 PM

                                                    your glass is half full, mine is half empty. i just know that when i first moved here from sf, i was excited to try new places and find good food. my experiences taught me that people here don't know what they're talking about on yelp, and i was spending a lot more money for food that was less in quantity and quality than what i found back home. when i talked to my ca friends who had lived in dc, they confirmed for me what i had been thinking but wasn't totally sure i could conclude -- that the restaurants in dc suck. i am not impressed. dc dining may impress others, but not me and i'm not exactly alone in that thinking amongst my circle of californians. i just wish someone had told me to lower my expectations (waaaaay lower) before i moved here, so that i could have avoided the extreme disappointment and depression from the bad food. so from a californian to another californian, i just want to help manage SouthToTheLeft's expectations. i am fully aware that every city is unique but comparison is inevitable when you've lived in cities a, b and c. how are they the same? how are they different? when you live and eat in the bay area, you are spoiled. so i'm sorry if i come off as a food snob or dc hater, because i am. bad food makes me sad and i am very sad here. if the bay area is your only point of reference, your expectations/standards are probably high and they definitely won't be met by dc. especially on a student's budget.

                                                    i will say that living here for the last 3 years has made me a much better cook.

                                                    1. re: lesan
                                                      r
                                                      Raids Mar 22, 2011 01:50 PM

                                                      Okay, I see the disconnect. IMHO, anyone moving from NYC or the Bay Area to some other city in the United States should know in advance that the food in their new city is not going to be as good as the city that they are moving from. Period. I don't think anyone is arguing that.

                                                      Maybe one more? People on Yelp do not know what they are talking about.

                                                      Another note: your friends probably have outdated information. Things have changed a lot around here even in the three years that I have lived here.

                                                      I will shamefully admit to skipping out on the DC food scene for basically an entire year after a misguided effort to rely on Yelp before a kind person referred me to Chowhound. Now go try out some of the places listed in this thread!

                                                      1. re: lesan
                                                        m
                                                        mjhals Mar 22, 2011 01:54 PM

                                                        Northern Californian born and bred here (with a 4 yr stint in SD for college, plus a year abroad in Barcelona), and I've had the opposite experience as lesan. I love it here and am only rarely nostalgic for CA food (it's the Mexican food I miss, but that's such a regional thing, why waste your time wishing one cuisine would magically transport itself somewhere it doesn't fit? My experience with El Salvadorean food has more than made up for it.)

                                                        I'm not going to go into a run down of "this is better than that", let me just say that in my half-mile "commute" (a walk from Rosslyn to Courthouse), I have the following options available: an amazing burger at Rays (possibly the best in the country), Kazakhstani food at Cafe Assorti, great Vietnamese food- upscale at Minh's and great pho at Pho 75, amazing crab bisque and well-priced excellent quality steak at Rays, and Tunisian food at Chez Manelle.

                                                        Throw in another half-mile walk up to Clarendon and there's amazing Alsation food at Lyon Hall, inventive, fresh American food at Liberty Tavern, a great Southern breakfast at Restaurant 3.

                                                        Sorry Lesan, but you're just not trying hard enough.

                                                        -----
                                                        Minh's
                                                        2500 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                        Restaurant 3
                                                        2950 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                        The Liberty Tavern
                                                        3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                        Cafe Assorti
                                                        1800 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                        1. re: mjhals
                                                          l
                                                          lesan Mar 22, 2011 01:59 PM

                                                          i have given up because 1) i have spent way too much money to be disappointed time and time again, 2) i have small kids now so dining out is not enjoyable or easy.

                                                          i'm not saying that absolutely everything here sucks. there are some bright spots. but that's it -- they're only spots.

                                                        2. re: lesan
                                                          Jay F Mar 22, 2011 02:07 PM

                                                          I would never be so crass as to suggest you go back to NoCal if you're so so utterly miserable in DC, but it is simply not true that all the restaurants in DC suck. And what you write tells us infinitely more about you than about eating in DC.

                                                          1. re: Jay F
                                                            l
                                                            lesan Mar 23, 2011 07:50 AM

                                                            as i wrote before, i don't think that every place sucks. i do eat out and there are some places that i like to go to, but i don't really try new places as much as i used to. you can always find bad food and good food in any city, but i'm talking about a general trend. pick a random place in sf and pick a random place in dc. i think you're more likely to have a better meal at the random place in sf than you are in dc. i think more places suck in dc than don't. one of my best friends took me to the famous peking gourmet inn and she was raving about how good it is. was it good? no. i didn't even have the heart to tell her that i thought it sucked. but she loves it. i have no doubt that there are many people out there just like her who love certain places that i think are awful. i'm glad that you're happy with the eating scene here, but that doesn't mean that everyone is or should be.

                                                            1. re: lesan
                                                              s
                                                              SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 09:33 AM

                                                              I think another issue in SF is A) start up cost is so incredibly high, so it tends to eliminate a lot of half-baked ideas and B) the competition is so fierce that if you don't turn out good product, you get sunk pretty fast.

                                                              I have no method for comparing whether this is true or not in DC, but it certainly is true in SF.

                                                              1. re: lesan
                                                                r
                                                                Raids Mar 24, 2011 10:30 AM

                                                                So you've been to the places I like and you think they are awful?

                                                                And I do, in fact, think that everyone should be reasonably happy with the food scene here. That's precisely what I am trying to say. That I think you are, by any objective standard, totally wrong about the DC food scene, and that your mistaken conclusion is the direct result from an insufficient amount of information from unreliable sources. I think that's a fair opinion, and I think I've backed it up. Having said that, if you want to hate the food here in the face of evidence that you don't have to, I can't force you to try out better places.

                                                                SthL - I guarantee you that DC is one of the few places in the coutry where start up costs are as high, at least within the district proper. You've seen what rent is here within the district limits, right? :-)
                                                                It's like if I said you can think that the food is better in San Francisco but that's just your opinion and people are justified in having different opinions. They are not. The food is better in San Francisco.

                                                            2. re: lesan
                                                              hcbk0702 Mar 22, 2011 02:38 PM

                                                              Yelp is generally a joke, but it's certainly more reliable in CA. FWIW, NYC Yelpers aren't much better than the DC ones.

                                                              Don Rockwell is a much better resource for DC dining, you'll find helpful suggestions there. Though to be honest, the only DC restaurants that have really stood out for me are Komi and Rasika (the latter only when ordering correctly). Besides that, I'd say 2 Amys, Ethiopic, and Zaytinya's happy hour are worth a mention. Looking forward to trying The Columbia Room.

                                                              I found CityZen, Restaurant Eve, Palena, and Central a bit underwhelming, at least by NYC standards.

                                                              -----
                                                              Restaurant Eve
                                                              110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                                                              CityZen Restaurant
                                                              1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                                                              Palena
                                                              3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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

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

                                                              Zaytinya
                                                              701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                              1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                r
                                                                Raids Mar 22, 2011 03:07 PM

                                                                And yet Palena was chosen as the best restaurant in the city in a survey of D.C.'s chefs! Surely that's an objective opinion that's worth something?

                                                                Regarding CityZen though, I've heard that from several people.

                                                                Watching lesan slowly hedge his opinion further and further is funny. Yes, we all know that there are places that serve bad food in D.C. And there are places that serve good food. And in the middle there are places that vary, or aren't really about the food, or are always mediocre.

                                                                But what I'm really trying to say is that D.C. is absolutely NOT a third-class city for food. That's pretty much it, really. The fact that someone doesn't want to go out and try to be proven wrong because they don't want to spend the money and have toddlers doesn't change that, or make that opinion seem more valid. If nothing else, I need a list of places that allegedly sucked that is at least in proportion to the number of places that we've listed that are good.

                                                                1. re: Raids
                                                                  l
                                                                  lesan Mar 23, 2011 07:38 AM

                                                                  raids- would you say that dc is a top tier food city, on par with sf and ny? where do you see it being placed?

                                                                  and you know the expression, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me"? that pretty much sums up my experiences on dining out here. time and time again, i've eaten at these "oh, you gotta eat here! it's so good!" places and eaten mediocre food while spending considerably more money than i would have spent while dining out in sf. mediocre food is worse than bad food because it's edible but totally forgettable. at a certain point, it's reasonable to draw some conclusions from your experiences if they're consistent. when i eat out, i look for value. rich people can always find expensive restaurants to blow their money on. but if i want to eat good food, should i really have to pay through the nose? i don't know, maybe everyone else is ok with paying more than what i'm comfortable with, but i'm used to good food for cheap. i used to live in hayes valley and down the street was this great german restaurant, suppenküche, that had good food without being pretentious. but i didn't eat there that often because their entrees were $17-20 and that was more than i wanted to spend on a wednesday night for dinner because i was too tired to cook. i would rather have gone to ali baba's cave and gotten a big ass falafel wrap for under $7. that's how i roll because i was unemployed for many months before i was a full time student, and i was raised in an asian family where we just didn't pay a lot to eat out because we didn't have to. so maybe y'all have way bigger budgets and tastes than me. yes, the gyro at greek deli is good, but that's $9 for a gyro and $9 is a lot to spend on lunch.

                                                                  off the top of my head, here are some places that i went to and i wasn't crazy about:

                                                                  Oriental East Restaurant - mediocre to bad
                                                                  Mark's Duck House - bad
                                                                  Fortune - bad
                                                                  China Garden - mediocre to bad
                                                                  Peking Gourmet Inn - people are on crack if they think this is good and their prices are insultingly high considering the bland food
                                                                  Liberty Tavern - mediocre
                                                                  El Charrito Caminante - mediocre
                                                                  Well Dressed Burrito - bad
                                                                  Pho 75 - mediocre
                                                                  Joe's Noodle House - mediocre
                                                                  Hong Kong Palace - mediocre
                                                                  Sushi-Ko - mediocre
                                                                  Co Co. Sala - mediocre

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

                                                                  Mark's Duck House
                                                                  6184 Arlington Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

                                                                  Oriental East
                                                                  1312 E West Hwy, Silver Spring, MD 20910

                                                                  El Charrito Caminante
                                                                  2710 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                  The Liberty Tavern
                                                                  3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                  Sushi-Ko
                                                                  2309 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007

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

                                                                  Peking Gourmet Inn
                                                                  6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041

                                                                  1. re: lesan
                                                                    hcbk0702 Mar 23, 2011 08:16 AM

                                                                    Well, it's all a matter of perspective. San Francisco is clearly second-tier compared to Tokyo, Paris, Kyoto, San Sebastián, and London. NYC might be in that company as well, if you consider diversity and breadth.

                                                                    While I think DC's pretty decent for a city of its size (probably stronger than Boston, for example), it's generally weak for delicious, inexpensive food. But that list you posted is (mostly) a bunch of mediocre to poor restaurants, so I'm not surprised you didn't like them.

                                                                    Walking into random places seems to be a haphazard way of choosing restaurants. There are plenty of awful restaurants in Manhattan too, and you'll get burned if you try that approach. Take a look at Don Rockwell and find reliable DC posters on CH.

                                                                    1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                      s
                                                                      SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 09:35 AM

                                                                      Huh? SF second-tier? It's not the point of this post, but I will point out that SF has more three Michelin star restaurants than all of the UK .... and we have 800,000 people.

                                                                      1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                                                        hcbk0702 Mar 23, 2011 10:14 AM

                                                                        "I will point out that SF has more three Michelin star restaurants than all of the UK"

                                                                        Not true. If you're using Michelin stars as a metric...

                                                                        Currently, there are two Michelin 3* restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area: The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood (just promoted), and both of them are in wine country, not SF proper. Out of the three 2* restaurants, only one (Coi, which I consider the weakest) is actually in SF; Cyrus is in Healdsburg, Manresa in Los Gatos.

                                                                        In the UK, there are four Michelin 3* restaurants (two in London and two in Bray). London also has many more 2* and 1* restaurants than SF. If you're going to use the population argument, then San Sebastián leaves everything in the dust: three 3* restaurants in a city of just 180,000.

                                                                        Of course, just looking at Michelin stars doesn't represent SF well. But you can say the exact same thing about all these major food cities.

                                                                    2. re: lesan
                                                                      DanielK Mar 23, 2011 08:49 AM

                                                                      I will just point out that of the 13 places you list, 10 are Asian, and we have conceded that due to SF's proximity to the Far East, Asian there is generally better than here. And since you mention being Asian, you probably have a different standard. But cheaper? Asian in the burbs here is pretty cheap.

                                                                      Also, of the places you list, only 4 are generally rated highly on local food boards - Pho 75, Joe's Noodle, Sushi-Ko, and Hong Kong Palace. The others are, as you mention, mediocre.

                                                                      Pho 75 I will put up against some of the better Pho joints in LA/SF. If you don't agree, that's your opinion.

                                                                      Joe's Noodle has great Sichuan food. Are there better Sichuan places in SF? Probably.

                                                                      Sushi-Ko - did you sit at the bar with Koji? That's the appeal here.

                                                                      Hong Kong Palace - there are plenty of pitfalls on that menu - you have to order off the (non-translated) specials on the wall.

                                                                      1. re: DanielK
                                                                        b
                                                                        brooklyndude Mar 31, 2011 07:00 AM

                                                                        Sushi Ko, even with Koji, lags far far behind the sushi available in NYC. I don't think that's debatable.

                                                                      2. re: lesan
                                                                        h
                                                                        hamster Mar 23, 2011 10:06 AM

                                                                        Try some of my recommendations above. They're actually cheap, thus less likely to lead to disappointment.
                                                                        Try Bob's Noodle 66 or Sichuan Pavilion in Rockville.

                                                                        1. re: lesan
                                                                          s
                                                                          Steve Mar 23, 2011 01:44 PM

                                                                          I've had the pleasure of eating many a great meal at HK Palace. If it is convenient enough for you to go back, I highly recommend two dishes from the specials on the wall:

                                                                          100 flavor chicken
                                                                          crispy chicken with stuffed peppers ("Mouth, mouth, crispy, good-smelling")

                                                                          And from the regular menu:

                                                                          chengdu cold noodles

                                                                          The above are my favorites. Both the cold noodles and the 1o0 flavor chicken are the best of those type of dishes I've had anywhere.

                                                                          Also two vegetable items form the regular menu:

                                                                          tiger skin peppers
                                                                          corn and egg

                                                                          I've also had a really good 5-spice rabbit and the preserved bacon dish from the specials on the wall, and a nice beef with shredded bamboo shoots from thre regular menu.

                                                                          1. re: lesan
                                                                            r
                                                                            Raids Mar 24, 2011 10:34 AM

                                                                            I have never been to any of those places, although I have a groupon for Sushi-Ko. I expect that it will be okay. Try El Rinconcito for Latin food - it's El Salvadoran and delicious.

                                                                            I think NYC and SF are on a plane of their own, and that DC is with many other cities, on the top tier below them. So, second tier, I guess?

                                                                      3. re: lesan
                                                                        s
                                                                        SouthToTheLeft Mar 22, 2011 08:58 PM

                                                                        Well, that is a little depressing but kind of confirms what I was already expecting. I will brace myself and continue my cooking adventures. And maybe some day start an underground restaurant of my own.

                                                                        1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                                                          l
                                                                          lesan Mar 23, 2011 07:53 AM

                                                                          fyi, dc farmer's markets lost all credibility for me when i saw that one vendor was selling driscoll strawberries (from watsonville, of course). wtf?!

                                                                          1. re: lesan
                                                                            s
                                                                            SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 09:36 AM

                                                                            Watsonville ... as in down by Santa Cruz?!

                                                                            1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                                                              l
                                                                              lesan Mar 23, 2011 11:36 AM

                                                                              yup.

                                                                            2. re: lesan
                                                                              k
                                                                              katecm Mar 23, 2011 11:15 AM

                                                                              You love generalizations, don't you.

                                                                              Many farmer's markets in DC are grower-only.

                                                                              Also, your complaint earlier about our lack of inexpensive dining in DC has been pretty well nullified by your argument about Michelin stars.

                                                                              1. re: katecm
                                                                                hcbk0702 Mar 23, 2011 11:25 AM

                                                                                That was actually a different poster that brought up Michelin.

                                                                2. re: lesan
                                                                  hill food Mar 22, 2011 12:59 PM

                                                                  "I would open a good taqueria" - lesan

                                                                  folks have tried up and down the East Coast to serve "CA-Style" or "Mission-style" and so far every one I've had, while not inedible, just.wasn't.right. given the self-appointed name association, it can be asserted, yes they do suck. I've wondered about this as well, as the ingredients are easy to find, roasting the meats is time consuming but not rocket science. there's plenty of CA transplants to, if not form a core base, at least create a buzz of authenticity (whatever that means). I don't buy the theory of the relative lack of Mexicans in the kitchens, we have other groupss cooking a multitude of cuisines in the kitchens of most any restaurant.

                                                                  Raids, it's not so much that falafel is so great in SF, it's just that it's so much easier to find around that one can compare and contrast ("oh nobody goes there, ya gotta go to X or even Y") DC is getting better in this regard. I always thought falafel would be a great candidate for one of the new food trucks.

                                                                  1. re: hill food
                                                                    l
                                                                    lesan Mar 22, 2011 01:13 PM

                                                                    i agree that the "ca/mission style" taquerias here are not right. and when they're not right, they're just an embarrassment. i don't know why no one can make a good burrito but one can dream.

                                                                  2. re: lesan
                                                                    s
                                                                    SouthToTheLeft Mar 22, 2011 01:01 PM

                                                                    When you say Korean food is better in DC than there, do you mean Southern California or SF? Because while the Korean in SF is generally pretty sad, I've never had Korean food as good as LA's, and that includes in Korea!

                                                                    1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                                                      l
                                                                      lesan Mar 22, 2011 01:08 PM

                                                                      sf. korean food in sf is pretty sad. i ate at a korean tofu place on geary a couple times and it was bland. bland korean food is just wrong. but i did eat some pretty good korean bbq in sunnyvale. i agree, nothing tops korean food in la, not even in korea. generally, i've found vietnamese and korean food to be better in southern than in northern ca. i never cared for the vn food in sf. it was better in san jose, but even better in oc.

                                                                      1. re: lesan
                                                                        hill food Mar 22, 2011 01:14 PM

                                                                        the only VN in SF I REALLY liked (short of venturing into the Tenderloin) was Chevalier over in Oakland, but even Miss Saigon in G'town is on par with that. DC proper has nothing to compare to Slanted Door, but that's sort of it's own thing IMHO. never been to the SGV, but I understand Eden Center can rival it (on a smaller scale) on occasion.

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

                                                                        Miss Saigon Restaurant
                                                                        3057 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                        1. re: hill food
                                                                          l
                                                                          lesan Mar 23, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                          do you mean le cheval in oakland? i've never heard of chevalier and when i google it, it comes up in as serving french food in lafayette.

                                                                          i've heard from other people that eden center is the largest vn shopping center on the east coast or something like that. um... that's... kinda sad. i'm glad that it's there but i spent a lot of time in orange county while i was growing up where you have entire city blocks filled with a gazillion eden centers. so coming from a place where little saigon is the standard, eden center is... puny. but i'm still glad that it's there so i can buy vn food at prices twice as much as what i would pay in ca.

                                                                          1. re: lesan
                                                                            agarnett100 Mar 23, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                                            Everyone is entitled to an opinion but give it a rest already having lived in SoCal for over a decade and traveling between SF and LA frequently your overstating your position. SF has excellent Chinese food and Cali has excellent CA Mexican food( because they don't serve most of that stuff in Mexico only to tourist). OC the land of urban sprawl and strip malls give me a break. CA has its plus and minus and so does DC especially in the food scene.

                                                                        2. re: lesan
                                                                          hcbk0702 Mar 23, 2011 08:20 AM

                                                                          Disagree. The Korean food in Seoul is stronger and much more diverse than what you can find in LA.

                                                                          1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                            s
                                                                            SouthToTheLeft Mar 23, 2011 09:39 AM

                                                                            That could well be. I got miserable food poisoning during a blackout and heat wave ... it was a rather unpleasant experience that has colored my food memories.

                                                                    2. m
                                                                      MikeR Mar 20, 2011 04:01 AM

                                                                      Aren't you being a little premature here? Find a place to live that's convenient to school, which, presumably, is your priority. Then start investigating restaurants in your area, and look for recommendations for side trips based on your preferences and your research.

                                                                      You will discover "must try" restaurants while you're here, some of which you'll enjoy, some of which you'll wonder why anyone would go there. If you're a typical student, your food budget won't allow you to try every place that's recommended, and probably neither will your time budget.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: MikeR
                                                                        s
                                                                        SouthToTheLeft Mar 20, 2011 05:01 PM

                                                                        Premature to start worrying about good food? Absolutely not. It's never too soon to think about food.

                                                                        1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                                                          d
                                                                          dining with doc Mar 20, 2011 05:38 PM

                                                                          when you move here post again with where you moved and you will get a huge start on where to start your eating. If you want one special out of the way crummy but fantastic place it is Grace Garden Chinese Restaurant in Odenton, MD near Fort Meade. search the DC page for it and check out the 250+ hits on the ongoing blog on this place. Also check out pics and the 2 menus at gracegardenchinese.com . and the food is as good as the endless superlative reviews. byob is a bonus. another great place is Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington. Fantastic burgers. I prefer the burger with peppercorns, melted brie and faux gras.

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

                                                                          1. re: dining with doc
                                                                            Dennis S Mar 22, 2011 07:04 AM

                                                                            While I love GG, I put it second or third to both Joe's and Hong Kong Palace, both much closer in.

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

                                                                            1. re: Dennis S
                                                                              d
                                                                              dining with doc Mar 27, 2011 05:18 PM

                                                                              food at grace garden is the best even if the environment and the atmosphere are lacking and that is being nice. its all about the food and if you read the blogs and order the right things the meal there is a memorable experience!

                                                                              1. re: dining with doc
                                                                                Dennis S Mar 28, 2011 04:16 AM

                                                                                Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Those three restaurants are probably the top three that I frequent most often as a true Hound (disregarding local options for lunch). I don't mean to slight GG in the least, and just love the place, including the duo staff.

                                                                                In my very honest opinion, I think HKP wins out. I even think HKP beats Uncle Liu's. Joe's vs. GG is a tougher go. I think it's a little easier, or perhaps more fun, perusing Joe's menu.

                                                                                Another factor is that when I eat at GG it's usually me solo, or me w/o Hounds. I can more easily pull more Hounds in to HKP with me, and my wife has become more of a hound around Joe's.

                                                                                Believe you me that atmosphere isn't the deciding factor. Follow my posts and that's an easy tell.

                                                                      2. s
                                                                        Steve Mar 19, 2011 08:47 PM

                                                                        Your very first stop should be Breadline near campus. On Friday lunch only, go for the bbq sandwich and order it on a ciabatta. Very awesome. Any other day of the week, go for the Italian Sausage sandwich.

                                                                        Also near campus, go for the happy hour at Taberna del Alabardero. Normally an expensive place, but half price tapas and sangria at the bar. Go for the patatas bravas and the anchovies.

                                                                        That should get you started.

                                                                        1. h
                                                                          hamster Mar 19, 2011 02:34 PM

                                                                          As a long-time student here, I can assure you that things have improved dramatically in the last couple of years, so get ready for some changes. I love the occasional trips out to the burbs, but without a car I have been pretty limited to DC.

                                                                          First of all, there's been a huge food truck revolution in the last year. Check here for links to all the food trucks. There is even a bao truck coming at some point. Some of these trucks go to GW regularly, so you are lucky. Mostly they stay in the downtown area.
                                                                          http://foodtruckfiesta.com/

                                                                          Near GW, check out Breadline, G Street Foods, Roti.

                                                                          Secondly, a number of places have opened up on H Street NE that might be called "underground" and "creative." Granville Moore's is a highlight, as is Dangerously Delicious Pies. Also Taylor Gourmet - Philly-style sandwiches - with another location in Mt. Vernon Square as well. Supposedly some place called Toki Underground is coming with dumplings and ramen.

                                                                          Other new things that are very delicious and cheap:
                                                                          -cuban sandwich at gas station at 14th and V St, NW (U Street area
                                                                          )-Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza (Capitol Hill)
                                                                          -Pico Tacos (14th and Florida NW)
                                                                          -Pho 14 (Columbia Heights)
                                                                          -Pete's Apizza - New Haven style pizza (Columbia Heights)
                                                                          -Shanghai Tea House - Chinese delights and bubble tea (Glover Park)
                                                                          -Surfside - fish tacos (Glover Park)
                                                                          -Muncheez Mania - Lebanese flat bread sandwiches (Georgetown)
                                                                          -Vace - not new, but pretty awesome; pizza by the slice (Cleveland Park)
                                                                          -Baked and Wired - also not new, awesome baked goods and coffee (Georgetown)

                                                                          Food shopping: You mentioned Shaw, so there's a farmers market in Bloomingdale on Sundays (summer only), and one on Saturdays at 14th and U (summers only). The only yearlong one in DC is in Dupont Circle on Sunday mornings.
                                                                          There's a Trader Joe's in Foggy Bottom.
                                                                          They are about to start renovating this old market building on O Street in Shaw. It will be a few years before we can benefit, but I think it will be great eventually.
                                                                          http://www.borderstan.com/09/finally-o-street-market-project-begins/

                                                                          Here is a potentially useful thread:
                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/768259#6333025
                                                                          and another:
                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7621...

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Dangerously Delicious Pies
                                                                          1036 Light St, Baltimore, MD

                                                                          Taylor Gourmet
                                                                          1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

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

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: hamster
                                                                            r
                                                                            Raids Mar 21, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                                            Food trucks were my first thought reading the OP also. You can follow many of them on Twitter.

                                                                          2. d
                                                                            dining with doc Mar 19, 2011 11:52 AM

                                                                            washington DC, Northern VA, Maryland suburbs including Wheaton, Rockville and Bethesda and even Baltimore and Annapolis offer a huge variety of cuisines and types of restaurants. The list is huge. Even in DC there are diverse and numerous "hubs" of restaurants including the following areas, U-Street, Chinatown/Penns Quarter, Dupont Circle, Capital Hill, Foggy Bottom and Georgetown. So if you want recs you need to be more specific- either by cuisine or by location

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: dining with doc
                                                                              woodleyparkhound Mar 19, 2011 01:08 PM

                                                                              I agree with D with D: more specificity would be helpful, but I'll toss a couple of things out there anyway.

                                                                              I think the GW Deli on G St. does a mighty fine breakfast sandwich if you like those. They don't have it on signs anywhere, you just have to know that they make them. No seating.

                                                                              There are lots of farmer's markets around town. They tend to be very expensive. There will probably be one relatively near where you live.

                                                                              I'm a big fan of Wheaton (on the red line). Ruan Thai, a couple of blocks from the Metro station has wonderful Thai food at reasonable prices. Irene's Pupusas, also near there, has the best pupusas I've had around here. Salvadorian cuisine is a strong point of this area. Lots of people love Max's for falafel, but I haven't been yet. I like Amsterdam Falafel on 18th St. in Adams Morgan, but I hear Max's is way better. (AF can't touch Truly Mediterranean in SF though). Also in Wheaton is an H Mart -- great for cheap produce and Asian ingredients of all sorts.

                                                                              El Rinconcito has good Salvadorean. Steve on this board always recommends the carne deshilada. I agree with him that it is very good. And it makes two meals.

                                                                              Fast Gourmet at 14th and W for a great cubano or chevito: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760019

                                                                              Cowgirl Creamery (Penn Qtr.) for delicious sandwiches to go.

                                                                              I'm kind of sorry to hear you are from SF. I used to live there and I do think it's a better food town than DC. It is much easier to find interesting, delicious food there that doesn't cost an arm and a leg -- there are some good finds here, but one doesn't tend to stumble across them. They require doing homework.

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

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

                                                                              Rinconcito Cafe
                                                                              1129 11th St NW Ste Lowr, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                s
                                                                                SouthToTheLeft Mar 19, 2011 01:41 PM

                                                                                Yes, I know I am fairly spoilt living here in SF — you can pretty much throw a stone around here and hit five great restaurants. But one must persevere, eh?

                                                                                I wish I could be more specific, but as yet, I don't know exactly where in town I'll be living. I imagine it'll be in some up-and-coming area like Shaw, though.

                                                                                As for what I am looking for, I suppose I love eclectic hole-in-the-wall places. I remember every meal I ate in DC back in 2008 being incredibly expensive for what you got, but that could also be because I didn't check Chowhound often for suggestions as to where to go.

                                                                                I don't mind travelling long distances for a great meal, so geography is less of a limiting factor than cost. I love great sandwiches, modern American food, spicy Asian food (Thai and Sichuan in particular). One thing I am excited about moving to the East Coast is Caribbean food ... is there any in DC?

                                                                                Thanks again for the help.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                East Coast Cafe
                                                                                44 Calvert St, Annapolis, MD 21401

                                                                                1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                                                                  woodleyparkhound Mar 19, 2011 02:32 PM

                                                                                  If you end up in Shaw, you'll want to check out Thai X-ing. Two or three tables in a basement apt. Great salmon. It's a hassle to go there, unless you live nearby and can do take-out. Do a search of the board for comments. I think Ruan Thai has better food.

                                                                                  You will want to hit the suburbs as often as possible. That's where most of the great food at low prices resides. Hopefully, you will have a car.

                                                                                  Sandwiches: in addition to the aforementioned Fast Gourmet, check out the Fri. lunch special at Breadline - pulled pork (ask for it on ciabatta). Great sandwich -- near the White House.

                                                                                  Sichuan: Joe's Noodle House in Rockville. I've only been once and had noodles, which I learned later, are not their specialty, oddly enough. Search the board for comments.

                                                                                  Jamaican: Negril in Silver Spring. It's good, not great. Combine it with another errand in SS.

                                                                                  Modern American: most are very expensive. Some have good happy hour deals though, e.g. PS7. "Expensive for what you get" is a very common refrain here.

                                                                                  Hole in the wall: Oohs and Aahs for soul food on U St. One meat and two sides makes two meals. I like the broiled whiting there.

                                                                                  That's it for now. Welcome to the area!

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  PS7 Restaurant
                                                                                  777 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

                                                                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                    k
                                                                                    katecm Mar 21, 2011 11:33 AM

                                                                                    I like your list a lot. I'd also add Sumah's on 7th in Shaw for African (I believe he's from Sierra Leone) and Domku for Scandinavian food in Petworth.

                                                                                    And if you want a nice Sunday morning without the Dupont farmer's market hassle, stop by the Bloomingdale farmer's market, make sure to buy a baguette at the bakery that sells there, and get one of Big Bear's wonderful lattes. Then walk a few blocks to Timor Bodega, which has interesting, inexpensive wines, microbrews, local dairy, meats and ice cream, organic produce, and hard-to-find Asian imports. And since Kim also does doggy daycare, there's a good chance you can pet a friendly pup, too.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Domku Bar & Cafe
                                                                                    821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

                                                                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                      l
                                                                                      Lori D Mar 22, 2011 06:52 AM

                                                                                      It's actually not that odd that noodles aren't Joe's Noodle House's specialty (or, at least, there is a reason for this). Apparently the English sign was never changed from the previous owner. It is one of my favorites, and my favorite dish on their menu are the hot and sour wontons.

                                                                                      There is a farmer's market at Foggy Bottom on Wednesdays (at the GW metro stop) for part of the year: http://www.freshfarmmarket.org/market...

                                                                                      Eden Center, in Falls Church, is the local Vietnamese shopping center. Probably not comparable to what you have in San Francisco, but it is the biggest Vietnamese shopping center on the East Coast.

                                                                                      Ethiopian food is something that is probably more available here than on the West Coast. My favorite place is Etete, but there are many choices.

                                                                                      As for shopping, I have the best luck with the Asian (mostly Korean) grocery stores. They are all in the suburbs, though. I usually combine going to the Korean grocery store trip with some other trip, so it may be difficult to make this worth your while. There are a couple inside the Beltway, but the best ones are all outside (meaning a long drive).

                                                                                      And no one has mentioned Korean food yet. We have many places in the area. Annandale is sort of the center for this, but there are lots of other choices. Almost none in DC, though.

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

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

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

                                                                                      East Coast Cafe
                                                                                      44 Calvert St, Annapolis, MD 21401

                                                                              2. a
                                                                                ahack Mar 19, 2011 03:16 AM

                                                                                Where are you from?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: ahack
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  SouthToTheLeft Mar 19, 2011 10:34 AM

                                                                                  I'm from San Francisco.

                                                                                2. woodleyparkhound Mar 19, 2011 12:38 AM

                                                                                  Where will you going to school? What neighborhood(s) will you be spending most of your time in?

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    SouthToTheLeft Mar 19, 2011 10:34 AM

                                                                                    I'll be going to school at GW, but I don't mind travelling quite far for a good meal! I don't know where I'll be living yet.

                                                                                    1. re: SouthToTheLeft
                                                                                      a
                                                                                      av8r Mar 24, 2011 08:16 PM

                                                                                      Will you have a car? I don't and find traveling is convenient on the Metro, traveling to places that aren't close to the Metro is inconvenient. But I'm fortunate to live within walking distance of Eastern Market and Barracks Row so I've got all I need convenient to home. You should check them both out btw, Sat & Sun Eastern Market has a bit of the farmers market to it, not like I was used to at Boston's Haymarket but better than supermarkets.

                                                                                      1. re: av8r
                                                                                        k
                                                                                        katecm Mar 25, 2011 06:43 AM

                                                                                        Plus the food stands around there are really quite good! The gumbo folks? And the pickle dude?

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