Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Jan 20, 2012 05:23 AM

angelino inbound

Red eye tonight. I know that I am spoiled living down the street from Fathers Office and Chego, and all those norcal wine adventures probably fall under the same category. But I love exploring, and I love finding local treats off the beaten path! I read in a few other threads that being stuck in DC proper is not exactly the best for dining, but given that constraint, what are my top stops?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You've already resigned yourself to believing "DC proper" (whatever that means, seeing as how we have a decent public transportation system that could take you most places). Seems like a good plan.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jeserf

      A bit harsh, no? I think he was just saying that he was staying in DC proper without a car (in LA, with no car, you are resigned to a 2 mile radius).

      The Metro can get you pretty much all over (outside DC proper too), so depending on where you are staying look for the closest Metro line. As a former LA hound, I can tell you that you shouldn't be expecting the same type of food scene. One cuisine that DC does well (supposedly, because I am not a big fan of it) is Ethiopian. Etete and Ethiopic seem to be the best places. One of my favorites for consistently good food and beer/wine is Matchbox. They make a good pizza and their sliders are great too (order medium rare and with gorgonzola). DC also does pretty good higher end dining. I tend to prefer more ethnic, divey places, so I can't necessarily personally recommend many other than Graffiato and Jaleo. However, I have a list that I am meaning to eventually get to all of them and it includes: Palena, Vidalia, Elisir, Fiola, Komi, Rogue 24, Citronelle, 1789, Proof, Central, Obelisk and Dino. Oohs and Aahs and Levi's Southern Port Cafe are supposed to be good for southern.

      You didn't by chance bring me an Umami burger or Father's Office burger did you?

      1. re: mdpilam

        Another vote for Matchbox and Central, never disappointed in either, though I'm not sure I'd call either of them off the beaten path.

    2. I would go for the Coastal Carolina Soul Food at Oohhs and Aahhs. A dive with 4 stools in front of a tiny kitchen. There is also a small dining room upstairs. Highlights are the shrimp and grits - ask for the grilled vegetables with this, the lemon pepper wings, and the broiled (not fried) crabcake. The collard greens are righteous. Located right across the street form the U St/Cardozo Metro Stop on the green line.

      I also recommend the savory Belgian waffles at Locolat. Truly great toppings include the flammande, queens delight, escargot, or grilled vegetables on either a garlic waffle or pesto. Any of the chocolates with tropical buttercreams or sea salt are world class.

      Neither of the above are cheap.

      There are serious communities in the suburbs for Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Bolivian, Peruvian, and many other cuisines.

      1. "Local treats off the beaten path" in DC proper: 1) Cleveland Park - cool neighborhood on the metro, near the zoo, nice for walking around. Lots of places to stop and eat (Lavandou, Ardeo/Bardeo) but my favorite is Ripple. Fresh and creative cooking, unusual charcuterie with plenty of house-made treats, very friendly staff, really nice specials on wine by the glass. 2) If you are in the Convention Center area or downtown, grab a sandwich at Taylor Gourmet. Lots to choose from. In my travels on the West Coast, I have not encountered sandwiches like these. Faves include chicken cutlet with provolone and broccoli rabe, and the Landfill (ham, turkey, salami, provolone, etc). 3) Or - if you really want to go off the beaten path - head to Fast Gourmet on 14th Street and treat yourself to the Chivito. It is a monster sandwich with beef tenderloin, ham, bacon, melted mozzarella, olive spread, and hard boiled egg. They've got other great sandwiches too, including the single best tuna salad that I ever ate. BTW, it's in a gas station.

        11 Replies
        1. re: msr3017

          I second the chivito - which is the king of Uruguayan sandwiches. Gas station at 14th and W, NW. Seating inside, surprisingly nice, very late hours.

          1. re: Steve

            The chevito is delicious, but I think I prefer their cubano - the best one I've ever had, including Miami and Cuba.

          2. re: msr3017

            Fast Gourmet hands down the best sandwiches in the city 14th and W St . Also second the early recommendation on Etete or Ethiopic. Since your from LA you should just skip all the Pan Asian and Pho since you have availability in your home market.. Also you can hit Ben Chili Bowl - U St. been in the same location for 50 plus years a DC Landmark.

            1. re: agarnett100

              Also highly recommend SunDeVich for fantastic sandwiches, near the convention center, and right around the corner from partner-business Seasonal Pantry. That place rules to buy cool housemade stuff to cook with when you go home.

              I'm also a sucker for Mangialardos, maybe cause I've been going there since I was a kid. Old-school Italian subs, nothing fancy, only open M-F until around 3PM.

              1. re: mt7187

                Magialardo's does nothing special for their subs that you can't get at dozens of other Italian delis. This is history and nostalgia talking. Not a place to go out of your way for.

              2. re: agarnett100

                I do not recommend Ben's for this person - think of it as the equivalent of Philippe's. Been there forever even though everyone makes better food.

                1. re: Steve

                  Think what ever you may about Ben's but its a DC family owned institution and landmark which has given back to the U St community for over 50 years. For its price point its a decent meal

                  1. re: Steve

                    And unless the half smoke has made it to Pink's the OP might want to check out something that is pretty damn near unique to DC. I'm pretty sure LA has good Latino, Asian, and soul food options . . . But I bet it is hard to find a chili - half smoke like they serve at Ben's.

                    1. re: drewpbalzac

                      If the OP wants to try a DC half smoke, a much better version than Ben's can be found at the Eastern Market from the meat vendor in the middle of the market. Get the hot half smoke in natural casing. You apply your own condiments and there is no seating, but it's the best $2.00 meal in town!

                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                        I dig "dogs" the at Union Meat Company in the Eastern Market, and the market is as much of a DC institution as Ben's. If you looking to kill some time during the afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday the whole EM scene is definitely worth checking out. Lots of grazing options.

                        If you want to hit the U st. Nightlife scene and get a before bed snack Ben's slings chili half smokes until 4:00 am on weekends.

                        1. re: drewpbalzac

                          Union Meat Company and Eastern Market are also good choice for half smoked thanks woodley and drewpbalzac

              3. I don't know much about LA food, but I entertain a ton of NYCers down here (I'm from there) and I often find myself taking them to Etete (Ethiopian - 9th and U). Even in NYC, good Ethiopian restaurants are few and far between and I imagine the same is true in LA.

                1. Places I didn't see mentioned above:
                  Pearl Dive
                  Hank's Oyster Bar
                  Brasserie Beck
                  Toki Underground
                  BGR Joint
                  Red Rocks
                  Little Serow

                  When you include the metro area and not DC proper your choices open up even more. There is a lot of good stuff, you just have to be open to finding it. I am sure I left out tons of stuff. There really is a lot, but it takes some time to research, read and find places.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    The posting asked for places "local treats off the beaten path"

                    1. re: agarnett100

                      They are also new to the area, so I figured it was worth posting, especially with all the negative posts above. I always think more information is more helpful than less.