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Lone Lady Diner (gasp) Staying in Dupont Circle

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Hey fellow chowhounds,
I am flying into town from Chicago for work and have a night on my own @ the Palomar before my colleagues join me. I'd like to take advantage and get out to enjoy some DC dining. I would love help with finding a locaiotn.

Here are the parameters with which I'm working:
1. No car, but I'm smitten with the DC metro system. Anywhere within easy/safe walking distance of the hotel or a red line Metro stop is good with me.
2. I have a reasonable per diem, but I'm extending my trip at the end on my own dime, so I'd like to stay under 100 dollars for this dinner.
3. I'm not terribly fond of steak houses, Italian (I know, and I'm sorry), or curry. Anything else is fair game. I am easily sucked into interesting and quirky menus -- particularly when they tout local ingredients and/or specialties.
4. I love fish. Especially raw fish. I think ceviche is the most magical thing in the world, followed closely by sushi.
5. I'd probably feel most comfortable sitting at a bar somewhere, but I'm willing to eat anywhere I won't feel completely awkward for being there alone.

Also: I have made opentable reservations at the following places for those days when I have people with me -- If I should cancel any of the following, please let me know!
Breakfast/Brunches: Founding Farmers, Firefly
Dinners: Central Michael Richard, AGAINN, LIMA, Panache

I appreciate any and all direction you can give me. Thanks, knowledgable restaurant goers!

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

AGAINN
1099 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

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  1. the restaurant at the hotel is actually really good if you're up for it - they have very friendly bartenders and it's not a "creepy bar" if you want to sit at the bar (which you obviously don't have to!). I had my wedding there and was very impressed with the food and service (we ate a number of meals at Urbana out of ease with a group).

    I can't speak to fish/seafood but I know Hanks on 17th St gets recommendations all the time. You could also try Cafe Atlantico or Oyamel in Penn Quarter - both should help you with your ceviche fix, have interesting cocktails and all that stuff. I personally think Cafe Atlantico is better, but both are good.

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

    1. The ceviches at Oyamel (Mexican) are unique and excellent. Especially the one with passionfruit.

      Also from the menu, I highly recommend the albondigas and the chile en nogado (this is on the menu seasonally -now- and is a real treat). Many of the other dishes are only ok and sometimes salty.

      http://www.oyamel.com

      2 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        I have been to Againn for both lunch and dinner and enjoyed lunch much more-- the dinner menu didn't really have much for me and the service was poor; really enjoyed the house made pastrami at lunch.

        if you can get into Rasika, do it! Right off Penn Quarter metro stop- no curries worries

        what about Noras? http://www.noras.com/

        Don't know about seafood.

        2 places on my list to go are Bourbon Steak (more than steak, check out the lounge menu!) and Blue Duck Tavern@ Park Hyatt. Also Medium Rare (steak frites) is new and supposed to be good, at Cleveland Park metro. If you go to that area, must stop by Cacao and get fresh macarons!

        I don't think you'd feel out of place dining alone in any of those places, in the main dining area

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

        Blue Duck Tavern
        1201 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20037

        1. re: MoCoMe

          I agree that lunch at Againn is excellent!

      2. Avoid Founding Farmers. Gone way down hill since first opened, in my opinion. It's convenient to my workplace and am often invited there for lunch, but I've been disappointed too many times. You will enjoy Sushi Taro on 17th and P Streets, close to hotel, much more.

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

        Sushi Taro
        1503 17th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036

        1. No need to gasp at being a female diner eating alone. That describes me all the time. :)

          First things first---I would cancel my reservation for breakfast/brunch at Founding Farmers. This place gets a lot of press converge and I think it's mostly because their PR person is crazy good. I've eaten there a few times and while it's fine, it's not great. They've also made a few unforgiving mistakes in my book (egg shells in the deviled eggs!). I would try to get a reservation at Tabard Inn, Bistro Bis, or Cashion's Eat Place for brunch instead. Also I don't think LIMA is stellar either...maybe go to Cafe Atlantico or Ceiba instead. I've never been to Panache so I don't know how to judge that one.

          On to the meal alone:

          My first choice was actually going to be Central because it's one of my favorite go to spots for a solo dinner, but since you are going there for dinner, don't worry about it. One of my favorite solo dining spots (at the bar) is PS7 (amazing food and best cocktails in town). Gina at the bar is super friendly and will take excellent care of you. You can take the Red Line to Gallery Place/Chinatown.

          You might also like Jaleo. Spanish tapas from one of DC's top chef's Jose Andreas. The sangria is tasty as are pretty much everything I've ever eaten. I've never dined at the bar but have eaten there by myself dozens of times. They might even have a ceviche on the menu!

          In Dupont proper I really like Hank's Oyster Bar for solo dining. The bar isn't really large enough to eat at but they'll give you a table outside and you'll be fine. Lobster rolls, oysters, fried clam rolls...it's delicious New England seafood.

          Also Ris is a great bar to dine alone---excellent food (although not of the raw fish variety). Get a cocktail, the gnudi and the chicken pot pie. Amazing!

          Finally, right in your own hotel is an excellent restaurant, and perfect for solo dining. Urbana is quickly becoming one of my personal favs. They have a new chef by-way of Boston and Miami who is committed to sustainable seafood. Really great food and a nice wine list. If you only get one thing get the seafood stew appetizer, some crusty bread, and a cocktail and you'll be thrilled.

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

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

          Bistro Bis
          15 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

          Tabard Inn
          1739 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036

          Cashion's Eat Place
          1819 Columbia Road NW, Washington, DC 20009

          Hank's Oyster Bar
          1026 King St Ste 1, Alexandria, VA 22314

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

          1. You've got some good recommendations, but I want to throw out there that I'd love to see you remove Lima and Panache from your list and replace them with some of those better options.