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Need a few more DC recommendations

We are going to be in DC for 3 nights (7 meals) and have 4 spots picked out. We need more!

Here's what we have so far:
Old Ebbit Grill
America Eats Tavern
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Ben's Chili Bowl

So, that's what we like. Any additional suggestions or comments on these would be much appreciated!

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  1. Tabard Inn on N street. We were their last night and it was crazy good. One of those menu's where you want everything on the list. We were really surprised, went thinking it would be good but found it to be Great.
    If you like fish try Black Salt, pricy but worth it.


    1. I would opt for Jaleo over America Eats for Jose Andres' places - if you are going for better food (if you want the novelty of the America Eats that's fine).

      A local favorite of mine that is consistently good is Matchbox.

      Rasika is also a good choice for Indian (dishes) that you won't find very many other places in the States. I tend to prefer Bombay Club (a sister restaurant) myself though. Little Serow is supposed to be very good Thai (they cook you what they feel like). Also Etete or Ethiopic are CH faves for Ethiopian - which the District does well. If you want some high end stuff, Komi and Rogue 24 are supposed to be very good.

      4 Replies
      1. re: mdpilam

        I would also pass on the Ebbit Grill aside from the raw bar, happy hour and the history ofthe restaurant the food is not that inspiring. I would follow mdpilam recommendation on Rasika, Etete, Ethiopic and Little Serow instead

        1. re: agarnett100

          Thank you! Good to know. Looking at mdpilam's list now!

        2. re: mdpilam

          We are kind of going for the novelty, we are doing an Americana thing this year.
          But... I think we'll still check out Jaleo & your other recs. Thanks especially for tips on Ethiopian & the hard to find Indian dishes. I had no idea & am very intrigued by both.

          1. re: Ruby16

            If Americana is your theme you may want to add Old Ebbott Grill back. I actually love this place; it always feels very old downtown DC and I've never had a bad meal here. The real appeal is the oysters, but it's also one of my favorite burgers in town.

            I hear fabulous things about Pearl Dive and mean to check it out soon, but every person I've talked to who has been there starts their review, "well, we had to wait an hour for a table..." You've been warned.

        3. and unless you happen to be on U street (and preferably a bit tipsy) I'd leave Ben's off the list. cool place, I love it, but with limited time it's really not a destination sort of place. landmark? yes. must go? not really.

          1. Breakfast at Old Ebbit is your best bet. It isn't packed with the tour guide crowd and you will actually get a chance to see what the mythological DC "power breakfast" looked like. Plus it is a pretty good breakfast.

            I'd call Kinkead's to see if they if they have belly clams and grab some at the bar with a couple of cocktails.

            I'm not sure that it fits your Americana theme, unless you want New Jersey Italian American - Americana, but Grafiato is a good time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: drewpbalzac

              Thanks for the info. I can always rationalize eating Italian of any kind!

            2. The only one of your four that I'd recommend keeping on your list is Pearl Dive. I love the place, but they don't take reservations and it gets packed. I'd go early if at all possible.


              Black Salt is great for seafood, but you need a car or taxi to get there. It's high-end, and excellent.

              I agree with what hillfood said about Ben's. It's cheap though, I give it that. For a much better half smoke, check out the hot half smoke in natural casing at the meat market in the middle of Eastern Market - which is a cool place to go on a Sat. anyway. It's $2.00 and you add your own condiments - no seating though.

              I would recommend Ethiopian at Etete. I haven't been to Ethiopic yet, but lots of people like it. That is probably something you can't get where you live. Where do you live?

              To give additional recommendations, more information would be helpful. What price range do you want? What part(s) of town? Will you have a car? What kinds of food interest you?

              5 Replies
              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                Thanks! I am very excited about checking out the market. We mgiht go to Ben's, etc. because we have decided to completely embrace out inner tourist! but we have decided to only go to America Eats for Happy Hour, so might do a similar "drive by" at the others.

                1. re: Ruby16

                  Embrace your inner tourist and go to Bens! Sitting at the lunch counter at Bens and ordering myself a half-smoke with everything and a soda is one of my treats to myself when I've had a terrible day. It's one of the few places around here that feels indigenous, and where you can get a real feel for DCs idea of itself. I prefer to go by myself, watch the action behind the counter and get lost in my own thoughts.

                  1. re: emcentar

                    Ben's IS cool, don't get me wrong. but if it's out your way, well...

                2. re: woodleyparkhound

                  As for what interests us, we like to eat local/regional food when we travel. We general like classic roadfood/ diner/tavern type places with a couple new places thrown in.. we will be going to jaleo one night. We will have a car, but plan to take public trasport & walk.

                  1. re: Ruby16

                    You may really like Againn based on the type of food you like. If you want classic DC you could get a burger at the Tune Inn, not quite as much character as pre-fire, but a DC institution on Capitol Hill.

                    You might also check out Ripple. And you might also kind of like the playful take on cuisine at Central. It is like dinner food fancy- fried chicken, burgers, etc.

                3. I personally liked America Eats Tavern but I know some people had issues with the menu. It's certainly not cheap.

                  I haven't been to Pearl Dive yet but if you can get it, I hear it's great. Also for seafood I like Hank's Oyster Bar.

                  I would skip Old Ebbit Grill and Ben's Chilli Bowl. They are tourist traps with only so-so food.

                  Is there something in particular you would like to try or an area you will be or a price range you want to stick to? How about Ethiopian? I like Etete.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Elyssa

                    Thank you! I think we are just going to stop by America Eats for cocktail hour, but the hommade catsup is very intriguing! Do you know if they have any eats at the bar, besides oysters? Like maybe fries with a sampler of catsup! : )

                    1. re: Ruby16

                      I haven't had it but a friend of mine raves about the Lobster Roll he had at America Eats. He is a regular visitor to Maine so he has a baseline to compare it too - unfortunately I haven't had it so I can only offer second hand info.

                      If price is no option and you are looking for Americana - Vidalia is a worthwhile and the Sunday brunch at Georgia Browns.

                  2. Do you want one high-end recommendation? Obelisk is my fave in DC/ it's 70-75 PP depending on date, fixed price northern italian and the best dining experience (IMHO) in DC...and i've been to them all except Komi.... but you need to reserve 3-4 weeks ahead unless it's a week night. It's a real experience...

                    1. I don't like your list. Especially OEG and BCB. Why do you need Chowhound if you are looking for guidebook suggestions? Let me know what your parameters are and I can make suggestions.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Steve

                        We are looking for mix of kitschy/touristy places & upscale/foodie spots. We like pretty much everything, as long as it's good. No price guidelines. We don't plan to drive. Not much info I know... Do you have a top 5?

                        1. re: Ruby16

                          Cant' help you with the kitschy/touristy thing, I am definitely more about the food, but here are some places with an experience to go along with the food:

                          You may want to consider the highly idiosyncratic Thai X-ing. More like eating in someone's apartment than at a restaurant. It's hard to conceive it if you've never been there. You have to call and leave a message. No menu, just a prix fixe set of courses. Not really foodie though, more Chowhound. Don't dress up, you will feel way out of place. (if they offer the option of the red curry salmon, go for it.)

                          Oohhs and Aahhs, soul food, a true hole-in-the-wall, but pricey nonetheless. Coastal Carolina cookin', go for the shrimp and grits, the broiled crabcake, and the lemon pepper wings.


                          The Lounge at Citronelle. Easy to walk into, one of DC's great chefs.
                          Vidalia. Upscale southern. Great attention to detail.

                          1. re: Steve

                            you're sounding in a much better mood! (I had a slew of my snark cut this weekend)

                            1. re: Steve

                              Lemon Pepper Wings?? That sounds like my new favorite thing! And Thai X-ing just went on my list. The Lounge at Citronelle & Vidalia look fantastic as well.

                              Thanks so much for your patience & great recommendations. Now we have to make some decisions.

                              1. re: Ruby16

                                Love the lounge at Citronelle. Was very underwhelmed at Vidalia despite all the great reviews. Another option would be Michelle Richards Central for dinner with a toned down cheaper version of his whimsical cooking

                                1. re: dining with doc

                                  If you haven't been to Vidalia in a while, you may want to consider that it has greatly refined its food. I was surprised by a recent, intensely creative lunch.

                        2. Lunches should include Ray's Hellsburger in Arlington, The Maine Avenue floating seafood markets, Eastern Market and Ben's Chili Bowl.
                          dinners should include Jaleo and/or Zaytinya, Two Amy's , Brasserie Beck, Bardeo/Ardeo, Dino, Komi

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: dining with doc

                            Thank you dining with doc! This sounds like a great list. Fun stuff during the day & great food at night. I didn't realize it but that's exactly the experience we are looking for. Thanks for reading my mind : )

                            1. re: Ruby16

                              Your welcome. Please post a report of your experience. Also might want to include Taylor Gourmet for subs for lunch (chicken cutlet with provolone, roasted peppers and broccoli rabe is a killer) and coco Sala for dessert.

                            2. Try the Hamilton - centrally located, pretty good food (it's new), and open 24/7 so if you are need of breakfast, lunch, or dinner...you can find it there. Centrally located and a beautiful space.

                              If price isn't an option, maybe head to the roof of the W for a cocktail and a great view (you could also do the Willard's bar, Round Robin).

                              I wouldn't do OEG and America Eats....pick one - try something different - I'd rather eat at Birch and Barley or Dino for outstanding food, service, and atmosphere. Or even Estadio for tapas if you do not hit Jaleo.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Jeserf

                                Thank you for the recs. We decided to just have apertivos at America Eats & probably breakfast at OEG. We are realizing that there are too many good food places to go too not try some different things!

                                1. re: Ruby16

                                  I get that the Chow hounders hate Ben's but it is hilarious that it is dismissed as a tourist trap. For those of us who grew up here - Ben's is Ben's. I've been going there for over 30 years and it is pretty much the same as it ever was. The crowd has changed a bit, but the Ali family still churns out the same food as they ever did. It may no longer just belong to those of us who haunted the streets 30 years ago - but just because the the food/travel world has ratted out our late night grub refuge doesn't make it less than of an institution.

                                  Enjoy your visit.

                                  1. re: drewpbalzac

                                    Agreed Ben's and the Maine Ave Wharf were there long before all of the fancy schmancy restaurants

                                    1. re: drewpbalzac

                                      I can criticize Ben's because I have been there, plenty over the years. I do like it in certain very limited situations. It was even my Fathers' Day dinner one year.

                                      However, in no way would I suggest a Chowhound vacationer go out of their way for their insipid chili that tastes like it came out of a can ...and then was watered down. And never for a hot dog but even the half-smokes are only a shadow of what I can cook up by buying the hot Manger's variety from Canales Meats at Eastern Market and blackening them in a frying pan at home. Once I started doing that, I never looked back.

                                      If you're local, it's cheap enough for anyone to go to and make up their own mind. I would not dissuade someone from DC, especially if they were in the neighborhood already.

                                      But when you have a limited amount of time on vacation, eating horrid food in an out-of-the-way location just because the place is historic does not make for a happy Chowhound. I've been down that road. Add to that the idea that really great food is just a block away, and it seems such a shame to go to Ben's.

                                      Old Ebbit Grill is another example. It's part of a chain of corporate casual restaurants. Mostly food you can get anywhere in any town. It is squarely on the tourist map because it is historic. Wade through the crowds in the lobby, practically fight to get to the bathrooms, put up with the deafening noise, and for what? It's in all the guidebooks, no need to consult a website devoted to food.