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New to D.C.!!! Where do I start? D.C. Staples

Hi all. I just moved into N.W. D.C. about two months ago and am trying to get a handle on places to go because there is so much it's overwhelming. I don't go out for to eat very often because of a limited budget, so when I do eat out I want it to be worthwhile. I am hoping to get a list of some of the D.C. hallmarks if you will. What I've tried so far:

Ben's Chili Bowl, Florida Avenue Grill, Oceanaire Seafood Room (someone else picked up the tab) and Amersterdam Falafel Shop along with a few others

I'm going to Hank's Oyster Bar tomorrow night, but was hoping for some more recommendations on places to try that fit into this price range (minus Oceanaire, which was incredible by the way). Other places I want to try are Horace and Dickies and some Salvadorean restaurant I saw on Drivers, Drive-Ins and Dives near Union Station I believe. Would love to know what people think are the most go-tos in D.C., I'm open to all kinds of food, ethnic, veggie, etc...and anything on U st, Adams Morgan or Columbia Heights is even better because they're within walking distance. Thanks all!

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Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Oceanaire Seafood Room
1201 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Florida Avenue Grill
1100 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

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

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  1. I think the blueberry pancakes or blueberry buckwheat pancakes at Market Lunch at the Eastern Market are worth a try, or if you aren't there for breakfast a crabcake.
    A Litteri's is worth checking out.
    Cava has good greek tapas and I think is very reasonable.

    Oohs and Aahs has good cheap soul food. Not any ambiance to speak of, but good food.
    Pete's New Haven for a slice of pizza they also have good salads.
    Rice for Thai food, or Thai X-ing.

    There are some great cheap eats in the burbs if you are willing to travel?

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    A Litteri
    517 Morse St NE, Washington, DC

    Market Lunch
    225 7th St SE Ste 12, Washington, DC 20003

    1. I think the Salvadorean place you mentioned is across from Eastern Market on 7th St. SE.

      Speaking of Eastern Market, I think one of the best cheap eats in the city is the hot half smoke in natural casing that you can get at the meat market inside the Eastern Market. It is the best $2.00 snack in town. You put on your own condiments and eat it standing up. It is beyond delicious.

      In Adams Morgan, I like So's Your Mom sandwich shop. I really like their breakfast sandwiches especially. Again, no seating (except the bench out front, which works in nice weather.)

      In Columbia Heights, check out Pho Viet, a great little family run Vietnamese place on 14th St., a few blocks north of the Target. Good pho and bun - and really nice people who run it. Also in Columbia Heights is Pete's Apizza, which ktmoomau mentioned. Very good pizza by the slice (or whole).

      Another great pizza-by-the-slice place is Vace in Cleveland Park (near the zoo). It is a great little neighborhood Italian deli that sells pizza, homemade pastas to cook at home, etc. Again, nowhere to sit.

      Oohs and Aahs is very good for soul food, but it was more expensive than I expected. However, the portions are huge. You can easily make two meals out of it. If you do that, I'd consider it cheap.

      Welcome to DC!

      1 Reply
      1. re: woodleyparkhound

        Ooh, i have to second the Vace recommendation. While it's a deli/grocery store and not an eatery per se, their pizza was surprisingly delicious. Grabbed a random slice of pepperoni while shopping for cold cuts and condiments recently, and it smacked me in the face with true nYC flavor. Pete's a'Pizza is also great in a totally different way.

      2. I have been here for almost 9 months, and my go to places are La Mexicana Bakery and Taqueria (other than La Fondita, only place for good mexican), Matchbox, and Amsterdam Falafel (still haven't been to Maoz). Ray's Hell Burger has probably been the best burger I've found in DC, Breadline and Sundevich for sandwiches, Bombay Club for Indian and I stay away from Chinese.

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        Bombay Club
        815 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006

        Ray's Hell Burger
        1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

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

        La Mexicana
        13016 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown, MD 20874

        3 Replies
        1. re: mdpilam

          Second on La Mexicana, Matchbox and Ray's.

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          La Mexicana
          13016 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown, MD 20874

          1. re: mdpilam

            Chiming in to second La Mexicana, and also take this opportunity to thank mdpilam for writing about it an bringing it to my attention - amazing carnitas, and an incredible torta ahogada

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            La Mexicana Bakery and Tacqueria
            2907 Arlington Dr, Alexandria, VA 22306

          2. And I love Nam Viet in Clarendon, haven't been to the Cleaveland Park location.
            Dino has some good deals and is good.
            Palena Cafe has some great food, and can be very reasonable depending on what you order.

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

            1. Thanks all for some great options...I look forward to trying them out. ktmoomau I am willing to travel; I drive to Manassas for work 5 days a week via 66, so anything along there is easier. I have ventured up to Maryland at times. Went to Parkway Deli and Restaurant in Silver Spring. Had the Ruben sandwich there with eggplant fries, both of which were awesome, but over priced for a smaller sized sandwich.

              Probably no need for a review, but Hank's Oyster Bar was awesome. Had the crab cake as an appetizer, overpriced, but delicious ($12 for one medium sized crab cake and cole slaw). Then the fried oyster dinner, which was incredible and very reasonably priced. Came with 7-8 oysters, good cole slaw, and a mound of delicious fries ($18). Had a Rouge Dead Guy Ale which is a personal favorite as well. My gf had the lobster roll, which was also good, but I think if you go to Hank's you should get oysters. My friend got the lobster bisque which he said was mediocre. He has got the fried oyster dinner and loved it.

              Interested in any other mexican/hispanic reviews from places in adam's morgan/columbia heights. There are a million places in the area. I'll look in to the places mdpilan posted about and can't wait to check out So's Your Mom woodleyparkhound. Thanks again guys.

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

              So's Your Mom
              1831 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

              Parkway Deli & Restaurant
              8317 Grubb Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910

              14 Replies
              1. re: hotdogdigest

                And just saw the Mexican in D.C. thread right below this one, so I'll weed my way through that.

                1. re: hotdogdigest

                  Super Tacos and Bakery on Columbia Rd. I just found them a few weeks ago via yelp and loved the tacos (try the gringo chicken, or the cochinita pibil). Authentic, fast, plentiful servings and very reasonable prices. It's a hole in the wall for sure, with about ten bar stools for dining in, but get their food to go and you'll have a lovely Mexican dinner at home.

                2. re: hotdogdigest

                  So happy about the traveling.

                  Off Spout Run is a great deli, Italian Store called wait for it... The Italian Store. Awesome subs and prepared foods. Really a great place on you way home to stop for some take out. I will be visiting them tomorrow to pick up dinner for Mom and I for our bus ride up to NYC, a Napoli sub and a Milano, mmmmmm, although a meatball sub sounds awesome, too messy for bus eating. I live about a mile away and the wait in the car is excruciating once you know how good it is. In that same shopping center is a BGR Joint which has good burgers too. There is also the Lebanese Tavern Market which also has great prepared food, and a few tables inside you can eat at.

                  In Falls Church La Carenquena is really good. (Rt 7 Exit towards Falls Church)

                  In Ballston/Clarendon (Glebe Rd exit on 66) Pupatella has awesome cheap neapolitan pizza, Thai Square has good thai food so does Bangkok 54, search the threads for recommendations, from the regular menu I really like the pork knuckle stew, crispy squid (or duck) and country style curry at Thai Square. Liberty Tavern is great for great neighborhood food, I just love it, comforting, but well executed. Screwtop Wine Bar may be one of the coziest places on a cold winter night, their sandwiches and lasagna are excellent, as are simple things, like salad dressing. Lyon Hall has some good stuff too. Ray's to Third is worth checking out too. I also really love Bayou Bakery in Courthouse.

                  District Taco and Taqueria El Charrito Camiante (TECC) have great tacos. Although there is probably just as good out in Manassas area, I just don't know where.

                  Passage to India in Bethesda has really good Indian, they also own Spice Xing in Rockville. Freddy's Lobster and Clams in Bethesda is good too. MoCo is really the place to go for Chinese food. Although there is an A&J in Annandale. And Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church.

                  Korean in Annandale is awesome, there are so many different choices depending on what you want search the board for Korean.

                  And search the board for Peruvian Chicken there are big debates on who is best. You might also check out Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide and the DonRockwell dining guide for the areas you are in most often.

                  The Eden center is a must-go place for Vietnamese.

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                  Thai Square
                  3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

                  Italian Store
                  3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                  Spice Xing
                  100-B Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD 20850

                  Passage to India
                  4931 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

                  The Liberty Tavern
                  3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

                  Bangkok 54 Restaurant and Bar
                  2919 S Columbus St, Arlington, VA 22206

                  El Charrito
                  2710 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

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

                  Screwtop Wine Bar
                  1025 N Fillmore St, Clarendon - Courthouse, VA 22201

                  Pupatella
                  5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    I agree with pretty much 100% of kt's recs. One that I would add, that I believe rivals or exceeds Italian Store is a place called "The Deli". Do not confuse this with "A Deli" in Worldgate. But there is one in Herndon, one in Fairfax and I believe they opened a third location. I can't seem to find the info online.

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                    Italian Store
                    3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

                    1. re: Dennis S

                      What do people think about Taylor's Gourmet on 5th and K for sandwiches? Friend reccommended it too me and being from Philly I feel like I have to take a look. The sandwich that I judge an Italian deli on is a personal creation: baked eggplant, hot sopresatta, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, lettuce, oil and vinegar. Looking forward to trying one at Taylor's Gourmet.

                      Thanks so much for all the recs kt and dennis. I'll be sure to post reviews as I check these places out. Happy turkey day to all!

                      1. re: hotdogdigest

                        Taylor is very good - absolutely check it out!

                        1. re: hotdogdigest

                          Honestly I don't get the hype over Taylor Gourmet -but to each his own

                          1. re: agarnett100

                            I agree. I think Taylor is, at best, half a step above Subway. Granted, I actually like Subway, but I also don't go out of my way to convince people to eat there.

                            1. re: Garlic Guy

                              WOW!!! That is the most ridiculous comment I have read on Chowhound to date. Comparing Subway and TG is not any where near fair, even if you are conceding TG is a little better.

                              At Taylor’s, how many grilled or fried chicken breasts, sliced meats, and condiments do you think come directly out of a plastic bag cryovac sealed at some mysterious location and time?

                              My guess is that you're pissed at them for not serving mustard or mayo?

                              1. re: gregb

                                Nope; I don't use mustard or mayo, and I'm not pissed at them at all. I think their sandwiches are fine and have no ill-will against them whatsoever. I just don't get why some people think the place is so special. Again, it's fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

                                1. re: Garlic Guy

                                  You could put just butter or any one condiment on the bread from Taylor G. and it pummels any complete sandwich from Subway on their best day. To say they are close to comprable is asinine. Disliking the amount of hype they get is one thing...

                                  1. re: James6

                                    Comparing TG to subway is like comparing rays hells burgers to a big Mac at Mcdonalds. Apples and oranges. No comparison

                        2. re: Dennis S

                          mmmm...have to disagree. If you are talking The Deli on Jermantown Road in the kmart shopping center...while I like it, I think Italian Store is better.

                      2. re: hotdogdigest

                        "I drive to Manassas for work 5 days a week via 66, so anything along there is easier."

                        Ah, why didn't you say so before....

                        A whole world opens up in this area of No Va. If you are looking to spend only 'hot dog' money, that means you will have to limit yourself considerably, but just $10 worth of food can bring you some terrific meals.

                        Eden Center is a mile off 66. I would check out Nha Trang and their bowl of noodles "with shrimp paste in the shape of worms," is how it's listed on the menu. Also the cold Chengdu noodles at Hong Kong Palace, the Nam Khao (rice ball salad) at Bangkok Golden, the Daing Na Bangus (marinated milkfish) at Fairfax Inn - but they serve only until 6pm. In Merrifield, go for the ginger salad at Myanmar, with a bowl of rice it's a simple yet great meal for about $5. If you are willing to do takeout, then the veggie enchilada at La Union market on Lee Hwy in Arlington is great.

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

                        Nha Trang
                        6757 Wilson Blvd Ste 7, Falls Church, VA 22044

                        Fairfax Inn Restaurant
                        2946 Sleepy Hollow Rd, Falls Church, VA 22044