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Group Meal Downtown/Penn Quarter

I will be in DC for the Fancy Food Show in June. I am looking for a good restaurant to take 7 people.

I will be going to Rasika and Fiola, love them both. This particular meal will be on me, so I am looking for good atmosphere, good food and good price point. I originally thought of America Eats Tavern, I loved it last year, but don't want to spend that much. I took the crew to Central last year, too expensive and not worth it IMO. I reserved a table at Ping Pong Dim Sum, but there seem to be a lot of haters on the boards, so please help me out.

Thank you

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    1. re: ahack

      great idea, called Oyamel and have to call back in two weeks for June.
      Any thoughts on Asian Spice? It has a 21 in Zagat...

      1. re: lukshen

        Avoid Asian Spice and avoid Pong Pong Dim Sum. Oyamel or Zaytinya are much better choices.

        Another good option would be Graffiato. America Eats I'd worry about because, technically, it's a pop-up. Granted, it's the longest running pop-up I've ever heard of, but I imagine you'd always be running the chance of it closing!

        Sixth Engine looks like it has promise, though it's too new right now to be sure: http://dc.eater.com/archives/2012/02/...

        1. re: katecm

          Thank you, I cancelled Ping Pong. Both Graffiato and Sixth Engine look good for a smaller party, but the menus are limited for so many people (some don't read meat or shellfish etc). FYI - America Eats is closing the week after the food show. I heard the entire restaurant will become "Minibar". I hope so.

          1. re: lukshen

            Very curious where / how you learned that America Eats will become an expanded Minibar? [that would make it a Maxibar, I suppose]. That would indeed be big news.

            1. re: crackers

              Not surprisingly, it turns out Todd Kliman of Washingtonian Magazine got the scoop on this way back in October of 2010! An 18-seat three-story Minibar. And now maybe I can get a seat.

    2. you can eat after the food show?!

      I'll see ya there - already excited!

      1. How about Carmine's. Italian family style. Went last night. Food was good and reasonably priced. Carmine's salad was relish and linguine in clam sause outstanding. Chicken Parmesean was ok. Not haute cuisine but enjoyable nevertheless. Portions are huge and meant for sharing.

        1 Reply
        1. if you aren't dead set on penn quarter, try...
          Urbana
          Bibiana
          Even venture on the metro a few stops - Dino is an excellent spot - ask for the Grotto area

          1. I wouldn't go to Ping Pong Dim Sum. Everything tastes exactly the same and is mediocre at best. Their drinks are good but not so much the food.

            How about sushi and Asian small plates at Sei? You could also do casual BBQ in a fun atmosphere at Hill Country BBQ. I hear good things about Carmine's but haven't been myself. Everything is served family style so that could keep costs down.

            I also really like Jaleo for Spanish tapas.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Elyssa

              Jaleo just closed for renovations. not sure when it will reopen. Went to Urbana last night and food was mixed- some good, some great, some not good at all. It was not cheap. Graffiato has plenty of options for non-meat eaters. Carmines may be fun too- food doesn't compare to Graffiato.

              1. re: startsev

                Thank you all for your input. Jeserf, I always try to stay away from sampling, unless there is cheese or pate involved. I have lots of meetings and work to keep me from the "buffet". I live near NYC, in NJ. I do like Carmines and Hill Country, but want something unique to DC. I really think that Jose Andres is a great restauranteur and enjoy going to his restaurants when I can. I was disappointed when Cafe Atlantico became America Eats, until I really enjoyed America Eats last year. I am nixing Graffiato because we are going to Fiola and I want to spread my ethnic eating experiences around. I would try Jaleo, but hear that a reservation may be hard to come by, especially because we don't know when it is reopening. The lineup so far:
                Fiola, Oyamel and Rasika. I have 1 more night to reserve, Sunday night. Elyssa, I will look into Sei. Please keep your sugggestions coming.

                1. re: lukshen

                  How about Etete -Ethiopian on 9th and U

                  1. re: agarnett100

                    You know, my niece just came back from Ethiopia and I am interested, but I'm not sure about the 7 other diners, thank you though.