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Visitor to DC looking for authentic affordable ethnic restaurants

  • z

I am planning a trip to DC from NYC with my wife. We are looking for a place to stay with easy travel to the Smithsonian museums and nearby sites.

Mostly we are looking for places to eat that are fabulous. authentic and affordably priced ethnic restaurants. Esp. Chinese, SE Asian, indian, Greek, Ethiopian, etc. . I know that DC used to be known for such gems and I ate in some when I used to visit in the 80's. Hint: we are mostly vegetarian.

Any great suggestions for places that are accessible without lots of arduous traveling?

Thanks all!!

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  1. Most really worthwhile spots you are looking for are in the burbs. Especially if you want to be near a hotel. Vegetarians should not miss Jaleo for Spanish tapas. It has the best selection of really great vegetarian dishes in DC. Etete has probably the best vegetarian platter of the Ethiopian restaurants in DC. If you eat fish, then add that for $2.

    1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

    2 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Thanks Steve. We might stay somewhere near Dupont Circle so question is are there any places reasonably accessible by mass transit or car? In NYC we are used to lost of commuting, I just do not want to spend all my tome doing it while on vacation.

      1. re: Zier

        Dupont Circle area:

        In the Dupont Circle area I recommend Locolat for savory Belgian waffles - the one with grilled vegetables is terrific. Also this place makes exceptional chocolates, especially the fruit buttercreams or the ones with sea salt. Super casual place, though prices are not as modest as the ambience.

        Just a little bit north on 18th from there, Casa Oaxaca makes some good mole, the enmoladas (tortillas soaked in a mole negro with cheese) are very good. A vegetarian could do pretty well in this place.

        Also Panas on P St is counter-service for mini-empanadas, with a selection of vegetarian ones. this is a fun meal, nothing great, but tasty.

        You will be disappointed in the Indian choices in the area, though none of the places are actually bad I suppose.

        You can take the Red Line Metro up to Cleveland Park and go to Nam Viet. Used to be one of the better places around but is only ok now. Maybe you don't have better in NYC?

        I have not been to Afghan Grill on Calvert. Dinner only, Right near the Woodley Park Metro.

        Nam Viet Restaurant
        3419 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., washington, dc, DC 20008

        Afghan Grill
        2309 Calvert St NW 3, Washington, DC 20008

        Locolat Cafe
        1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

        Casa Oaxaca
        2106 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009

    2. For Ethiopian I lI've Etete! Very affordable and delicious. I'm a meat eater and I prefer their veggie platter.

      For Indian my 2 favorite places in Dupont Circle are Heritage (they have a fun street food menu and good happy hour deals) and Dalchinni.

      1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

      1. authentic and affordable Chinese within the District proper? you can pretty much write that one off your list. sure you can find a little here and a little there but you won't have the time. the best Asian is out in the suburbs unless you want to drop a few for Indian at some place like Rasika (which is worth it) Greek/Med? there are some cool/casual places like Cava and Zaytinya but I wouldn't call any of these exactly authentic.

        after your museum foray the Yellow line (L'Enfant or Gallery Place Stations) will scoot you right up to the Motherlode of Ethiopian choices around U Street (a simple board search will overwhelm you with options and I don't want to get into that again, they are all great compared to other US attempts).

        2 Replies
        1. re: hill food

          Thanks hill food. We might stay somewhere near Dupont Circle so question is are there any authentic Chinese gems reasonably accessible by mass transit or car?

          1. re: Zier

            I like Eat First in Chinatown for chinese. They have a good house dumpling soup, clams in black bean sauce, chicken in clay pot with mushrooms and ginger, roasted duck and roasted pork, and very good lo mein. Also like Aberdeen shrimp and the whole fish. Other than low mien, stick to house specialties,the non ameriicanized dishes and items on the wall on paper.
            People will tell you there is only good Chinese in the burbs but Eat First is very good and I regularly go to grace Garden, Wong gee in Wheaton and szechuan pavilion in Rockville

            Eat First Restaurant
            609 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

        2. Other than Ethiopian, you will find the places you are looking for in the suburbs, as previously noted. I'm not sure if this would involve too much travel for you or not, but I would encourage you to spend 25 mins. on the red line to Wheaton, then walk a couple of blocks to Ruan Thai, a very authentic Thai place that I think is just what you are looking for.

          I love Rasika; if you stick to the vegetarian items and avoid alcohol, it's very reasonably priced for what you get.

          I would also cast a vote for Etete - great Ethiopian food and very close to the 10th St. exit of the U St. Metro.

          1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

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

          2 Replies
          1. re: woodleyparkhound

            Thanks woodleyparkhound. We might stay somewhere near Dupont Circle so question is are there any places reasonably accessible by mass transit or car? In NYC we are used to lost of commuting, I just do not want to spend all my tome doing it while on vacation.

            1. re: Zier

              Zier - EVERYTHING that is in the city itself would be reasonably accessible by car (parking however, may be an issue). Almost everywhere you would want to go in the city limits will be within 2-3 miles from Dupont. Almost all of the suggestions given are also easily accessible by Metro.

              Etete is off the yellow line, but from Dupont (which is on the red line), if you are not averse to walking (and depending on which side you are on) it is only a 25 minute walk.

              In Dupont, another solid place for more upscale Greek is Mouraryo. For vegetarians, they will put together a platter of items that is quite tasty. Not too far away is Mama Ayeesha for Lebanese. I find it to be a little more authentic than Lebanese Taverna, although I enjoy both.

              1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          2. I don't know how great any of these would be for vegetarians, but I am sure you can find their menus online, or on menupages dc.

            Zorba's in Dupont Circle is cheap Greek that I like.
            OOhs and Aahs has Soul food, that is super cheap.
            Regent Thai isn't the most authentic ever, but is good, affordable and near Dupont.
            Cava on Capital Hill is a little more trendy Greek, but they have fairly big portions.
            There is Shophouse now, the Asian Chipotle you could try too.
            Merzi is near all the Smithsonian stuff.
            Thai Xing

            Metroable: Lebanese food at Lebanese Taverna (mulitple locations) or Me Janna and there is a place in DC called Mama Asheya's but I have never been.
            Chinese is up in Rockville and I am not quite sure what is accessible by public transport.
            Nam Viet for Vietnamese in Clarendon and DC.
            Minh's in Courthouse for Vietnamese.

            2500 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

            4710 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224

            Nam Viet Restaurant
            3419 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., washington, dc, DC 20008

            14925 Shady Grove Rd Unit L, Rockville, MD 20850

            415 7th St NW, Washington, DC, DC 20004

            1 Reply
            1. re: ktmoomau

              What are people's thoughts on Merzi? When I went I was greatly disappointed. I had loved the idea of it (basically an Indian Chipolte), but thought it was executed quite poorly.

              415 7th St NW, Washington, DC, DC 20004

            2. Sichuan Pavilion on K Street is okay Chinese, and you can order the Szchuan stuff.

              I would recommend, all walkable from Dupont or very short metro/bus rides:
              Old City Cafe for Palestinian (felafel, etc.) in Adams Morgan on Columbia Road
              El Rinconcito II for Salvadoran near Mt. Vernon Square
              Etete or Madjet for Ethiopian near U Street metro
              Muzette for Korean in Adams Morgan on 18th Street
              Muncheez Mania for Lebanese/Druze manouche in Georgetown on Wisconsin Avenue - get the Nana's Original with zaatar and labne
              Masala Art for Indian at Tenleytown (take the red line from Dupont), more expensive but worth it
              Greek Deli for weekday lunch only near Dupont/K Street area (on 19th Street I believe)
              G Street Foods near the White House (on G Street, duh) for various ethnic deliciousness

              Have fun!

              1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

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

              Old City Cafe
              1773 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

              U Street Cafe
              1301 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

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

              Masala Art
              4441 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, MD 20016

              1 Reply
              1. re: hamster

                Oh, and check out some of the food truck options. There's all sorts of variety, and they may very well be where you're seeing the sites. The generally cluster downtown (Farregut Square, Franklin Square, Foggy Bottom, and then over by the Smithsonian at l'Enfant Plaza, as well as Union Station).