Lunch and Dinner Recommendations
Hi. I am hoping to get some direction for lunch for 2 days in DC. Either near Smithsonian or Ford Theater. No chains, preferably a cool dive with fantastic food and atmosphere. Also, any dinner recommendatios near Union Station, or Washington Monument? Thanks.
A dive is pretty hard to come by in Penn Quarter, a.k.a. restaurant row, where Ford's theater is. Alternatively, you have some great fine dining options, which are cheaper at lunch. And you can still get in. Central, Rasika, Zaytinya, Jaleo, and Oyamel are all close. Matchbox is another good option, and it's more casual. Known for their sliders and pizza.
Chinatown(block) is right over there, but, IMO, it's not worth it. It's food court Chinese, marketed as authentic for tourists.
With regard to the Smithsonian, if you walk over to SW Pennsylvania or take the metro a stop or two over to Capitol South, you can get what you're looking for, only the food will be less fantastic than in Penn Quarter, for the most part. I think you probably want Ted's Bulletin, but We the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery are two good choices for burgers/pizza. I haven't been, but people often say that the food at many of the Smithsonian museums is really very good also - just search around, or someone will probably tell you shortly. The bars over there really are dives - Pour House, Capitol Lounge, Tune Inn, and Hawk and Dove. I think I'd most willingly eat at Pour House, but mostly I just go out for drinks over there.
Dinner near Union Station - walk half a mile straight north and go to Ethiopic. DC is known for Ethiopian food and this is the newest place, also considered by many to be the best.
Dinner near the Washington Monument...well, nothing is really *near* the Washington monument. If you can splurge, make a reservation at J&G. That's probably the closest you're going to get. I know it's called a steakhouse, but it's just a name - the scallops, lamb, and salted caramel sundae are great. Many, many, many people in that area go to Old Ebbitt Grill. It's okay. You could make worse choices.
Raids has given you a lot of great suggestions already.
I just wanted to add that Toscana Cafe (near Union Station) offers great Italian food.
As far as lunch, the cafe in the American Indian Museum is the best bet for food near the Smithsonian, IMO.
601 2nd St NE, Washington, DC 20002