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Mar 8, 2012 10:33 AM

Dupont circle with 8 y.o.

We will be in DC for 3 nights, March 15-18, staying at the Palomar HOtel in Dupont circle. Looking for good food in restaurants that are child friendly. DS does not eat pizza or cheese, but loves steak and chinese, noodles and lamb...and raw vegetables! DS is used to going out to restaurants and is very well behaved, just a fussy eater.

So far, from previous posts, I have Bistro du coin, Panas Empanadas, Kabob House. DH is an oenophile, but will eat anything. I know there is much more, I must not be searching correctly. We will also have one or two lunches in the neighborhood.

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  1. Shake Shack for burgers and great ice cream items, Bethesda Bagel for great bagels and lunch sandwiches (but no seating).

    Sichuan Pavilion (K St.) and Great Wall (14th St.) are the best Chinese places near you. They are both just fine, but don't compare to what you can get in the 'burbs.

    I like the Sacrificial Lamb for kabobs, wraps and Indian food - very casual. I like it for delivery.

    2 Replies
    1. re: woodleyparkhound

      Have you compared to Kabob House on P Street? I've only been to Sacrifical Lamb once but I did not think the kabob was anywhere near as good as at Kabob House.

      Just returned to Shake Shack last week, and my friend and I were both blown away by the special of the day - chocolate peanut butter frozen custard. Very rich and amazing, though not the typical frozen custard consistency I'm used to from Milwaukee!

      Pinkberry across the street is also fun for fro yo.

      1. re: hamster

        I went to Sacrificial Lamb recently for take out (didn't get the kabob) and found it really mediocre. If I were to get a kabob in Dupont I would go to Moby Dicks. For Indian I like Heritage and Dalchinni.

    2. Bistro du Coin is a great idea. If your son likes steak then they have a number on the menu.

      If seafood is an option for your group, I would recommend Hank's Oyster Bar. You might also enjoy Agora for Middle Eastern/Med small plates.

      In terms of Chinese, not that far from your hotel is Sichuan Pavilion on 18th and K. In my opinion this is the best option for Chinese in the city.

      There is also an excellent restaurant, Urbana, in your hotel. I personally haven't seen kids there before but I'm sure they would be fine with it since it's a hotel restaurant. Also in Dupont is Firefly which should work out well for your group (I have seen kids there).

      For a casual burger lunch I like BGR. Also right next door is Shophouse which is a lot of fun if you are into Asian flavors.

      38 Replies
      1. re: Elyssa

        Most helpful, thanks. I will add Sichuan and Agora. We love seafood, but I didn't see anything on Hank's menu to appeal to non-fish eating ds (sigh...).

        Urbina is an option if we are all wiped out! And Bistro du coin is definitely up our alley.

        Is there ambiance at Kabob House or all fluroscent lighting (happened at the last kabob restaurant we tried!)

        Where is BGR and Shophouse? We are arriving around noon next Thursday, so I am looking for nearby lunch options on the way to the metro, before we hit the mall in the afternoon. Shake shack, which we know from NYC, is not our favoritw.

        1. re: bawc

          Shophouse and BGR are a short (5 minutes at most) walk from your hotel. In fact it is on the way to the metro. They are right next to each other on Connecticut (right off of the Circle).

          You could also try lunch at Kramerbooks and Afterwards, which is a restaurant/bookstore. They have a steak sandwich your son might like.

          1. re: Elyssa

            I was planning on Kramerbooks for one of our breakfast stops. Alas, ds doesn't eat sandwiches either...but give him a baguette with meat on the side and I might have luck...Now you know why he is barely on the kids' weight charts...

            My list of breakfast places includes the following, would love some feedback:
            Crepes a go go
            Pain Quotidien
            Soho tea nd coffee
            Luna Grill
            Firehook bakery
            Bethesda bagel
            Cafe dupont

            1. re: bawc

              All are fine except Soho, which I have not been impressed by at all. Thankfully DC has moved beyond Soho. Crepes a gogo is nothing special but if you really want crepes, it's fine.
              I would recommend Bethesda Bagel first (except note there is NO seating at all) as well as Pain Quotidien for food quality. You can definitely get baguette and meat (probably ham) on the side for your kid! They have some nice pastries, good breads and spreads. A tad pricey.
              Kramerbooks is a nice DC institution and they have basic breakfast food, same as Luna Grill. Luna Grill is nice and comfortable and they have a large menu.
              Firehook is not worth checking out, the pastries are meh and seating is minimal. If you're here on a Sunday morning, you can find some better pastry at one of the stands in the Dupont farmers market.
              A lot of people like Teaism but I don't really get it. It does have nice seating and a big tea selection if that's your thing, but the food is hit or miss.

              1. re: hamster

                Have you tried the chicken salad wrap at Soho? If not that you are missing out on one of the best sandwiches in town---seriously!

                1. re: Elyssa

                  No...I am unlikely to try it now that there are other options. Have you tried that green felafel place across the street? It's been open for a year or so.

                  1. re: hamster

                    No haven't tried it yet. I usually go to Maoz for falafal.

                      1. re: hamster

                        Yes....and I'm a little depressed about it. Their garlic mayo was sent from the gods. So good!

              2. re: bawc

                Crepes a Go Go is no longer open. For breakfast I would go to Pain Quotidien, Soho Coffee (their breakfast burrito is good) or Bethesda Bagel (my new favorite...although there is no seating). Also Cafe Dupont has a pretty good breakfast menu.

                Kramers also works for breakfast.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Thank you! Where is the dupont farmer's market?
                  Revised breakfast: Bethesda Bagel, Luna, Kramerbooks, Pain Quotidien
                  Revised lunch: Kramerbooks, BGR, Shophouse
                  Revised dinner options: Bistro du coin, Sichuan house, Agora, Kabob House Urbana

                  Also a friend mentioned a cupcake place near dupont circle, but didn't remember the name or the exact location...any ideas?

                  Another friend mentioned an out of the neighborhood option called Corduroy? Any thoughts?

                  1. re: bawc

                    Fyi Shophouse is mouth burning spicy - not sure how your son handles spice. For example, the steak is coated with spices so it is spicy even without adding sauce.

                    The cupcake place is Hello Cupcake on Connecticut Ave just below Dupont circle.

                    1. re: cheesepowder

                      Thanks for the name of the cupcake place, that will be a hit with ds. And you are correct, he can't handle spices, although dh loves it hot. Does shophouse do anything non-spicy?

                      1. re: bawc

                        I'm not sure what combination at Shophouse wouldn't be spicy.
                        You might consider the Kabob House for lunch instead of dinner. It's more casual than the other places you listed for dinner and doesn't have much atmosphere.

                        1. re: bawc

                          There are bahn-mi sandwiches at Shophouse which you can get sans sauce. You can also probably get the rice bowls without sauce as well.

                        2. re: cheesepowder

                          There are 2 or 3 different sauces at Shophouse. I've only found one (the hottest curry) to be incredibly hot. The other one is tolerable, especially if you eat curry often.

                          Another place you might want to check out is Nando's Peri Peri Chicken (where they have a spicy version of the chicken but also a mild, herb flavored one as well).

                        3. re: bawc

                          The farmers markets is near the Q street exist of the metro stop. You will see it on 20th between Q and Massachusetts.

                          Hello Cupcake is fine (I prefer Baked and Wired in Georgetown, which is far more charming and delicious), but if you're looking for desserts, you *must* go to Dolcezza, which sells the most amazing gelato. Really exceptional Argentine gelato, and it's north of Dupont Circle on Connecticut and S. A must-do.

                          1. re: hamster

                            Ice cream is not hard sell in our family! I am not sure we will make it to georgetown this trip, but I will try to remember the cup cake place for another visit. thank you for the info on the farmer's market, might be a good stop on Sunday morning as we head out for our last half day...

                            Kabob house for lunch or bgr sound like good ideas.

                            Will we need dinner reservations (around 6:15) at any of the above mentioned places for dinner?

                            Ebbitt's grill has been mentioned a few times on this board, but I am unclear whether the food is worth it. We will be visiting the Capitol building on Friday morning, I think it is near there?

                            1. re: bawc

                              You should be fine with a 6:15pm dinner without a reservation but you might want to make one at Urbana or Agora just in case (you never know when they might have a special event). Not sure if the other places take reservations.

                              Old Ebbitt is closer to the White House than the Capitol. I think it's kind of a tourist trap. If it's seafood you are looking for there are other places that are just as good and not as much as a zoo (and are a little more original). I personally like Hank's Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle. I also have been hearing great things about Pearl Dive on 14th Street (a short cab ride from your hotel).

                              1. re: bawc

                                Old Ebbitt Grill is not worth it is only good for Happy Hour with its raw bar specials

                                1. re: agarnett100

                                  I will strike OEG. If we are going to Museum of natural history from capitol hill (morning tour), would "Central" work for lunch, or is it worth going to for dinner, and leaving the dupont circle neighborhood? Too similar to Bistro du Coin?

                                  1. re: bawc

                                    Not similar at all to Bistro du Coin. It's great for lunch or dinner.

                                    At the Museum of Natural History make sure not to miss the IMAX (I just saw the movie on corral has a Crosby, Stills and Nash soundtrack!) and the butterfly room.

                                    Another option would be the new Hamilton, which is not too far from the Museum of Natural History. The menu is HUGE and therefore should have something for everyone. Also open 24 hours so you can go for any meal.

                              2. re: hamster

                                My first rec. was going to be the Farmer's Market Sunday morning. We had a good meal at Casa Nonna recently and there are plenty of non-pizza options.

                                DC is small...are you tied to Dupont? Dinner on U street might be nice for a non-weekend night.

                              3. re: bawc

                                Breakfast: Second Bethesda Bagel. Skip Kramer Books---the food is really nothing special and not a good value. They have a nice beer selection, but I don't see that fitting in with your requirements, especially at breakfast. Luna's food is really nothing to write home about, either, but it would work in a pinch (decent selection). What about bottomless brunch at Masa 14 on Saturday or Sunday?

                                Pain Quotidien is solid, but something of a chain. Better if you can get pastries at the Dupont Farmer's market on Sunday. I think there are two vendors, a French bakery and a bread bakery, offering nice, fresh items you can munch while you browse.

                                Not sure if anyone mentioned it, but Tabard Inn is a very good brunch option on the weekend, too. You'd need to book a reservation now.

                                Lunch: again, ax Kramer. BGR has great burgers and I'd second that suggestion. The au poivre is very good, and my DH likes the grilled tuna. You might want to add C.F. Folks to that list (weekdays only). Their specials are supposed to be good, as are the deli classics:

                                Dinner: I'd add Vidalia to that list---they have a good weekday happy hour (something like 5-7pm?) with excellent bar bites (it's a low-key, upscale bar and you can sit on the "lounge" sofas with your family without any awkwardness). Details (click menus-->other menus):
                                The biggest thing going for Vidalia: the food's really good---generous, sophisticated takes on Southern classics. Order some nice bar bites and call it tapas, then end with dessert.

                                And if you're open to making a meal from tapas, you might as well try to get into either Estadio, Cork (bonus points for your wine-loving DH), or Bar Pilar. They're pretty consistently good.

                                Mandu can be a crowd pleaser, especially if you don't have much access to Korean food in your hometown, but it won't bowl you over with its authenticity. It's good, not amazing, but it's always fun and you won't leave hungry. The bi bim bap in the hot stone bowl is solid. And there are enough non-spicy options on the menu to satisfy everyone.

                                ETA: I'd pick Central over Bistrot du Coin for dinner. Bistrot du Coin is actually a good weekend brunch option---their eggs benedict (many varieties) and mussels are pretty sure to please.

                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                  Bar Pilar is half closed and I don't believe they're serving any food until they finish their renovations. (They're opening up a second floor, eventually.)

                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                    I think you missed the part of the post where they said they have an 8 year old that is a somewhat picky eater. Not sure Vidalia, Cork or Bar Pilar would be appropriate in this situation. (or would Masa 14 bottomless brunch for that matter....but that's the posters call haha).

                                    1. re: Elyssa

                                      As I understood, the only real restrictions were pizza and cheese. It sounds like the OP is mainly interested in good food, not just whatever happens to be closest to the Palomar.

                          2. re: bawc

                            Just my two cents, but I've eaten at Urbana and didn't find the food anything worth seeking out. It will do in a pinch, but if you can, eat elsewhere. It's glorified hotel food.

                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                              Also, if your son likes pasta, Dupont Italian Kitchen is a decent option for lunch or dinner. Their bolognese/spaghetti with meat sauce is surprisingly good, and the rest of the pastas are hearty and, if not the most pristine in their ingredients or execution, still pretty reliably decent. My friends like the cheese tortellini in creamy tomato sauce, and the chicken Francaise and parmiagana are not bad, either. The pizza is even pretty good (for you and your husband, at least). You could do a lot worse in Dupont.

                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                DIK is terrible, I wouldn't feed my dog that food.

                                1. re: masonuc

                                  I think I added enough qualifiers to set reasonable expectations. I don't find it terrible at all. It's not haute cuisine, but it is one of the few mid-level family friendly Italian places in DC besides, oh, Buca di Beppo.

                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                    You'll see my rec below for Casa Nonna which is certainly moderately priced and far and away better than Buca di Beppo and DIK.

                                    Sette Osteria is also pretty good, although I prefer Casa Nonna.

                                    1. re: Elyssa

                                      I find Casa Nonna to be kind of pricey, but maybe the portions make up for it. I've heard mixed things and haven't been yet, but plan on checking it out.

                              2. re: ChristinaMason

                                I would prefer not to eat in the hotel, I was holding it as a backup in case of child exhaustion. How far is Estadio, cork or vidalia or bar pilar from our dupont circle hotel? Which is the most child friendly?

                                I will make a reservation at Central.

                                Brunch on weekends is not an extended affair...we will want to be at the mall by about 10. I know PQ well from nyc...not my first choice, but good coffee and baguette. I think we will do Thursday lunch near hotel...everyone will be hungry, and then we will be on our way.

                                1. re: bawc

                                  Estadio is the most child friendly. It's about a 20-minute walk, 10-minute or less bus ride, and even shorter cab ride from your hotel:

                                  Just make a reservation beforehand if you can (I think they're on open table).

                                  Vidalia is reasonably kid-friendly, and it's closer to your hotel. As long as you're comfortable being with your son in an upscale, quiet bar lounge area, I don't see a problem. You could always call to ask.

                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                    Vidalia also is a regular high end sit down restaurant....not just a bar/lounge. Personally I wouldn't go there with an 8 year-old. It's nothing against Vidalia or your son....I just don't think of it as a family-friendly type restaurant.

                                  2. re: bawc

                                    Estadio would be the most child friendly. It's a bit of a walk or a short cab ride. In terms of children though, I've only actually seen babies there before. But I'm sure it wouldn't be an issue to bring your son---just check out the menu ahead of time and see if it's something he would be in to.

                            2. I've lived in Dupont with kids for years, and have eaten just about every place, so here are a slew of recommendations.

                              First of all, what Kabob House are you talking about? Moby Dick? No, no. You want Food Corner Kabob which is right near your hotel and absolutely fabulous. (P St -- I think this is the same one hamster recommended). Super casual, fantastic kabobs. Probably my #1 recommendation in all of Dupont (and it might be the top reviewed place on Yelp). Bistro Du Coin is fine for steak (and frites and mussels). I heartily recommend Agora on the other side of the Circle -- fantastic Greek/Mediterranean tapas. Another great spot is Levante's, fantastic Turkish/Middle Eastern food and the best bread in DC. Very close to you. There's a good falafel place also near you, vFalafel. For a nice kid-friendly dinner, you should check out Firefly. Not my absolute favorite place, but very, very kid-friendly yet moderately upscale and a good menu -- and it's very close to your hotel. For Chinese -- you should rely on Meiwah. It's close to there and at least as good as Sichuan Pavilion and Great Wall. Another place with great pizza (which son doesn't like) but lots of noodles (which he does) is Sette. That'd be my top casual Italian place in Dupont. Or Casa Nonna, which is less casual.

                              I would skip the Empanadas place, except maybe for a snack. It's nothing special. For a very special treat make sure you hit Dolcezza for the best gelato you'll ever eat. I also recommend Shake Shack for burgers and shakes. From your list below -- do not go to Kramerbooks (dirty and lousy food), Soho (nothing good), or Crepes (closed). Cafe DuPont has a lovely patio and bar area but the management and service are terrible and frankly the food is nothing special.

                              Just an FYI from reading more down: definitely go to Shake Shack over BGR. Better burgers, better shakes. And do not go to Kramerbooks, I'm sorry to say. Except if you need a book. Bethesda Bagels is great but there's nowhere to sit. The little bagel shop on P st is actually pretty decent (right across from your hotel) and there's a Panera at the Circle too if you want bagels. Again, Bethesda Bagels is by far the best but there's only a small counter for sitting -- fits maybe 3 people.

                              I don't understand why you'd hike all the way to Central (which is pretty overrated) or Estadio. There's Agora, Bistro du Coin, Firefly, Sette, and a new restaurant Boqueria all right near you. That's just off the top of my head. Central is not particularly kid-friendly either.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: masonuc

                                True, I forgot about Sette. That's a good rec. And admittedly better food that DIK (though certainly not as cheap or casual).

                                Does Shake Shack cook burgers medium rare or less? I thought I'd heard they did not, which is something of a deal breaker in my book. Overcooked beef = crime.

                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                  We don't mind a qick cab ride. I loved the list of sherries at estadio! One meal to please me...we have reservations at agora. Will look at sette, levante meiwah. Kabibs for lunch, ds does like shake shack in nyc...

                                2. re: masonuc

                                  THese are all good recs....except Meiwah. I find Meiwah to be incredibly mediocre and no where close to as good as Sichuan Pavilion.

                                  I also disagree that Central is not kid friendly. I see families there almost every time I eat there (when it's not super late at night).

                                3. Thought of one more place you might want to check out: Casa Nonna. I walked by last night and saw 3 or 4 families (with all age groups of kids) eating outside and enjoying themselves. It's red sauce style Italian and very good. It could work for both lunch and dinner.

                                  Also walking distance from your hotel.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                    update on day 1 in DC and thanks for all your help.

                                    Kabob house on P street for lunch. It was terrific, really tasty, and a free cup of soup they were offering to all the patrons in the place at the time , clearly just made.
                                    Central for dinner. Sorry to say, overrated, oversalted, over noisy. Certainly not worth the effort to get there.
                                    Tomorrow night's dinner is Estadio, but I am having second thoughts about leaving the neighborhood. We has a cab ride from hell this evening to Central, and returned by metro with a very tired child. I really like this area.
                                    Saturday evening, we have reservations at Agora. Looking forward to it!
                                    Tomorrow, for breakfast, the concierge suggested going to Ted's near Eastern market before our 9:30 capital tour. Any thoughts?

                                    1. re: bawc

                                      I've been to Ted's and enjoyed it. I don't know if I'd go out of my way to eat there, but if you're
                                      heading to Eastern Market/Barracks Row anyway, it's a very good option. And it's very kid friendly. Ask for the window seat, if it's available. I don't think they take reservations, so there might be a little bit of a wait. Very popular with families in the neighborhood. They're famous for their homemade pop tarts, btw.

                                      1. re: bawc

                                        Not to say I told you so about Central... but. Anyway, skip Estadio and go to Levante's and sit outside on their patio. This will be a much more enjoyable way to end the long day. Ted's is fine but nothing special. You open a decent, hipster-ish diner on Capital Hill and people think you've discovered fusion. But if you're on the Hill, it's fine. You might consider Good Stuff Eatery for lunch. Get the toasted marshmallow milkshake.

                                        1. re: masonuc

                                          We ran late this morning, so had a quick so-so breakfast in Union station on the way to the Senator's office. ds declined to eat at Good stuff eatery (it was packed and had a fried oil smell that was distateful), so we are a mediocre meal at we pizza next door. ds opted for chicken soup while we had pizza. the sasparilla soda was good.
                                          We did eat at Estadio this evening, and it was delicious (I didn't get masonuc answer before dinner). ds had the hanger steak and olives, dh scallops, I had duck breast and we shared beet and goat cheese on bread and roasted brussel sprouts. finished with the cheese cake. Took a taxi there, but had a very pleasant walk back.
                                          We almost went to Razika, got a last minute cancelation, but we were too tired and rushed to trek over there this evening.
                                          Tomorrow we have a dinner reservation at Agora.
                                          In the morning we will join a walking tour from the white house to the Lincoln memorial, and see the cherry blossoms as well. In the afternoon, National Portrait gallery and museum of buildings (lego exhibit). Any lunch suggestions?

                                          1. re: bawc

                                            Lots of lovely places near the Portrait Gallery -- Zatinya (sp?) for tapas-type pleasing to kids, Co Co Sala for fancy desserts (not sure about open for lunch though), Poste if weather is nice can sit in patio area (fancier prices, but relaxing and good food). Also should be some food carts. For snacks, Tangy Sweet yogurt and/or Red Velvet cupcakes.

                                            1. re: sarichardson

                                              Thank you! are the snacks from carts or the desert place?

                                              1. re: bawc



                                                Glad you enjoyed Estadio!

                                                If you're in that area and feel like Chinese, you might check out New Big Wong. It will probably please IF you order more traditional Chinese dishes and avoid the Americanized tourist-targeted items:

                                                I've had good entrees at "Eat First" Chinese restaurant in Chinatown as well, but the menu's a bit hit or miss. The shrimp-paste stuffed eggplant is excellent; ma po tofu, not so much. Won ton soup etc. are all decent but nothing too exciting. They have nice soup bowls if you're into that.

                                                If you get snacky, Szechuan House Bakery (a total dive hole-in-the-wall) has pretty good meat buns:

                                                The food at Proof is also supposed to be quite good. I've been to Zatinya several times and have always been a little underwhelmed (along the same lines as Jaleo and Oyamel...OK food, occasionally very good, and boy, do those small plate$ add up). Poste has a lovely courtyard if the weather is good---check if they're open for lunch. The menu is on the pricier side, but if you see a salmon dish with fave bean puree--get it! Nice cocktails, too.

                                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                  Breakfast at Pain Quotidien. Good coffee, expensive for what it is, but dh and I had a miscommunication so we ended up there.

                                                  Lunch at Poste. Food was very good, service was atrocious, although the place was not full. We were able to sit on the patio on this beautiful afternoon. Thanks for the recommendation, by the time we got there at 2:30, we were starved.

                                                  Dinner at Agora. Food and service were good although probably not quite as exceptional as Estadio. The mood was more relaxed though, for which we were grateful.
                                                  Tomorrow, our last day, we will either go to the newsmuseum or the museum of american history. I think we will eat back in Dupont neighborhood since we have to check out of the hotel but in case we are delayed I would welcome any suggestions in those areas. I will review all your suggestions for lunch around Dupont. Breakfast plans are that we treck over to Bethesda bagel, or I head out and return with it to eat in the room (but dh hates doing that). Maybe circle through the dupont farmer's market on the way to the metro.

                                                  Thanks again for all the help and suggestions from chow contributors.

                                                  1. re: bawc

                                                    If you would be willing to head back to the area near Cork (14th St. Corridor), I'd add Pearl Dive Oyster Palace to your lunch list. They have great mussels, a wonderful shrimp po' boy, excellent oysters (of course), and what's reputed to be the area's best fried chicken (braised then battered and fried). They are open for lunch.

                                                    If you need one final dinner option, I quite like Mourayo in Dupont, although I haven't been in a few years. Friends of mine (also Chowhounds) went last year and enjoyed it---although they never got to entrees because they filled up on apps. Their mezze samplers and whole grilled, salt-crusted fish are excellent. I've heard good things about the moussaka, too. And they'll definitely have lamb for DS and maybe some unusual wines for DH.

                                                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                      I'm curious how your last round of eating went. Did you find anything good?