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Mar 17, 2012 10:04 AM

Critique My Picks

I'll be in DC a week from now for the first time. I'm pretty much tagging along with some friends who have business, and will just fish, do all the touristy things, and visit my sister. What are everyone's thoughts on the markets and restaurants I plan on visiting? Feel free to chime in with suggestions of other places, dishes to order, or why I should avoid something I picked. Most of the time we will not have a car. I'm more into ethnic food cooked by a grandma rather than a gastropub.

The fish market on the water for crabs-I have to.

Thai-xing-I love good thai food and the place sounds fun.

DC-3 - I want to try a white hot, and my friend who's going has never had some of the regional dogs.

Sushi Taro-This might not happen due to funds, but we're thinking about the kaiseki meal.

manouch dog- one of my good friends did undergrad at GWU. I have to go for him and get a picture.

Old Europe-My sister really wants to eat here. She can't cook at all and we grew up on german and czech food. I was going to cook duck, sauerkraut, and potato dumplings for her, but am banned from her place due to a bed bug infestation.

chef geoffs-It's my sister's favorite happy hour for the burgers.

The Sri Lankan food festival I read about on here. That's on my birthday too, so I'm super pumped.

General foodie things:
A Litteri, Hana, H Mart.

I'm also going clamming, oystering,and am hoping to find some ramps and morels on the drive out and back. We're driving from Iowa.

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  1. Not sure about crabs on the water this time of year- I would check. haven't been and don't know much about this.
    Have read good things about Thai-xing but if you want fantastic Thai one of the best new restaurants in town is Little Serow. no reservations- so you must go before they open and hope to get in.
    Great burgers at BrGR Joint if you want an alternative. haven't tried Chef Geoff's.
    it's not really a very traditional list- so can't be very helpful but hope this helps a bit.

    Chef Geoff's
    3201 New Mexico Avenue, Washington, DC 20016

    1. Getting a reservation at Thai X-ing can be difficult. My friends and I tried and failed a few months ago, and the whole thing was frustrating. Really amazing Thai at Ruan Thai in Wheaton, which is an easy metro ride from the city.
      When you go to DC-3, which I also was excited about but found my Sonoran disappointing :( make sure to drop by the Sweet Lobby on the same street and check out their exceptional macarons. Really really impressive. Note that DC3 is near Eastern Market, so check that out as well but don't get your hopes up too high.
      I tried catering from Old Europe once and was impressed. Some funkier and new wave Eastern Europe options: Domku, Bistro Bohem (just opened literally last week).
      One glaring thing missing on your list is Ethiopian food: try Etete or Madjet in the U Street neighborhood. A must-do.
      If you're in Georgetown, drop by Baked and Wired for a cupcake or other dessert and good coffee.
      H Mart is far...if you go there (there's one near Wheaton), then definitely go to Ruan Thai.

      6 Replies
      1. re: hamster

        The DC Wharf - has crabs year around they ship them in from Carolina and Louisiana during MD offseason - make sure you have them steam the live crabs while you wait and by from Captain Whites shall only.

        Chef Geoff's.- does have some tasting hamburgers and at $5.95 during HH its a bargin

        1. re: hamster

          Thanks for the suggestions so far. Hamster, a special thanks for the head's up on Bistro Bohem. I emailed her about it and she's ecstatic that she can finally get duck and dumplings in DC. There is one very excited person working in Foggy Bottom right now. She literally flies home when tickets are cheap just to eat duck and dumplings. I even called my czech grandma today to tell her that my sister can get duck and dumplings in DC now. Grandma is happy! Děkuji Vám!

          I'm having mixed feelings on the Ethiopian. I've had really good Ethiopian in the past and it's always been cheap. Here is a picture of one of my favorite places. That sampler platter is $12.

          Another place I love.

          Is the ethiopian in DC that much better? I can get raw gored gored, ect around here. I know the population is high in DC, so that's why I'm asking. What Ethiopian place makes their own injera with all teff? Do any places sell tej? (that's my favorite beverage). I just don't want to drop $50 and come away disappointed. Do any places have fish dishes? The Ethiopian fish dishes I've had in the past were among the best things I've ever eaten.

          1. re: ajb05854

            Given what you're looking for regarding Ethiopian, definitely plan to hit up Etete and in addition to the vegetarian plate (my favorite), try the deep-fried whole fish. Also, along that block there are a few Ethiopian markets, which you might want to peruse.

            And I'm going to recommend Bistro Bohem. Since they're JUST opened, I haven't found my way there yet, but Old Europe saw its best days years ago, and there's definitely something appealing about trying Eastern European food in a more-modern setting (compared to the piano player at Old Europe who just plays the soundtrack from Sound of Music over and over again).

            1. re: ajb05854

              The Ethiopian really is good here and you are unlikely to be disappointed. It's cheap for DC, but perhaps not quite the $12 bargain you mentioned. Generally a veggie combo is maybe $12-$15 (you can check menus online) and a meat dish is maybe $15, so you're spending $30 for a huge one-person meal or, more usually, a restrained 2-person meal. So you don't have to spend $50, that's for sure. I haven't seen any fish dishes besides the whole fried fish...Maybe at one of the fancier places like Ethiopic, but then it will also be more expensive.

              1. re: hamster

                You've got me sold. I read a bunch of reviews today and I'm either goign to Etete or Zenebech Injera. Zenech Injera sounds a little divey-er, so I'm kind of leaning towards it, but will honestly just go with my gut when I see them.

                Bangkok Golden is exactly the kind of place I'd like. I grew up butchering, canning, foraging, hunting, fishing, ect. I love restaurants where I can just go in, ask for good food, and get something super authentic. My girlfriend and I were planning on dropping about $150 at a "nice" place, but I'm about 99.9% sure we are going there and ordering a ton of dishes. I hope my sister and all her friends like Laotian food. She loved the menu when I was telling her about some of the dishes.

                1. re: ajb05854

                  you won't be sorry. even the 'ehh meh' Ethiopian places (which have NOT been mentioned here and I'm not going to) are, well, amazing by comparison to anywhere else I've ever had it. I never liked injeera much until i went to the better DC ones around the U and 14th street area.

          2. If you have a car, much better Thai options are Ruan Thai in Wheaton (as recommended above) or the Lao menu at Bangkok Golden in Falls Church, VA . Search for specific recs on this Board to get the best of the best.

            Old Europe - blecch. You will regret spending the money.

            The prepared foods at the fish market tend to be only ok - not sure at all about freshly steamed crabs.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Steve

              I'm kind of leaning towards Bangkok Golden now. Basically, a friend of mine has to do some research work in Pittsburgh, and figured he might as well visit his mom in the DC area if he's renting a car and driving that far. My girlfriend got invited to a congressional thing, so it turned into road trip time. When I was growing up, my dad worked at a packing plant. Christmas meant trading foods. Ham and turkey would be switched for Laotian, Guatemalan, Mexican, and Egyptian. I haven't had Laotian food since I was a kid, so that's awesome.

              I wanted to get the crabs in DC, but if there is a better place around, near the coast, please let me know.

              1. re: ajb05854

                There are some really great things to get at Bangkok Golden. Some are on the menu, and some are off-menu. If you are looking for something specific, you can always call in advance. The woman there (Sang) doesn't mind improvising. She is a great ambassador for Lao food.

                My favorite dish off-menu is the som pa (fermented fish), ordered raw (though it's damned good fried, too.) The other day I had a special of Kao Soi - she made a Chiang Mai version of this egg noodle soup with coconut milk that was spectacular. She also touts her pork rib soup (another special), but I haven't tried it. Great items on the menu include nam kao (rice ball salad), mieng muang luang (rice paste wrap), kao piak sen (chicken noodle soup), beef jerky, and sai oua (Lao sausage). Also I have ordered poon pa (pounded fish) off-menu that was very good.

                You can get crabs at The Quarterdeck in Arlington, VA. They are a serious operation. Freshly steamed crabs aren't cheap.

                1. re: Steve

                  We had another fantastic dinner at Bangkok Golden tonight! Rice paste, kao piak sen, grilled pork neck special . . . they were really on. Place was busy, busy, busy on a Mon. night at 6:30.

                2. re: ajb05854

                  you can grab crabs to go from the DC Wharf from Captain Whites Stall - at less expensive then crabhouse but the crabs will be from else since crab season has not started