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Coming to DC April 6th weekend, need recs

Heading to DC to celebrate my wife's 30th. We chose DC because it's a short flight from Boston and I was also able to snag a reservation at miniBar. (I'm an unabashed Jose Andres fan.)

Last time we were in DC, we had very disappointing breakfasts. We will be staying in the Dupont Circle area and any rec on breakfast spots in that location would be great.

For our other meals, we don't plan on going as high end as miniBar (since I couldn't get Komi reservations) and it doesn't have to be extremely romantic or formal. We love hole in the walls and counter bar spaces. Any unique to DC spots that we definitely have to check out? (Other than Ben's Chili Bowl of course, another spot we always hit when in DC.) We saw on TV a while ago some place in DC that have Italian grandmothers making homemade pasta. Couldn't remember the name of the place and after a quick google search the only place I could find was Filomena. Is that a good spot or a tourist trap?

Also, any fun festivals happening that weekend?

(This will also be our first weekend away from our infant son, so any fun lounges/bars that are unique to DC would be appreciated too.)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Bethesda Bagel in Dupont Circle is new and fabulous - great for a take-out breakfast (no seating).

    For "unique to DC" you have to have Ethiopian food. I like Etete, but there are other good ones.

    I personally haven't been to Filomena, but my impression from reading this board is that it's an expensive tourist trap, but the pasta is good. Others can provide more valuable info.

    1. Avoid Filomena. Heavy, gummy pastas.

      In the same neighborhood as Ben's, but with great food, is Oohhs and Aahhs, a Coastal Carolina soul food kitchen with four stools in front. Get the shrimp and grits, the broiled (do not get fried) crabcake, and lemon pepper wings. Outstanding. Takes a while to get your food, and although it is a dive it is pricey.

      For a highly idiosyncratc meal, give Thai X-ing a call. Like eating in someone's apartment. Hard to get a reservation. You leave a message and they call you back. Ask about the red curry salmon, though I'm not sure they do requests.


      7 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        Finally made it to Oohhs and Aahhs today for a late lunch.
        Steve you are dead on about the lemon pepper wings - I love this dish never had anything like that before.
        Got a side order of Collard Green - after the first bite I almost called my mother to tell her tthey stolen her receipe. Lol
        Mac and Cheese - was better then most
        On a side note the staff was incredibly friendly and extremely helpful. The owner Oji Abbott was there also very nice down to earth fellow. I plan to return next time I am in the area for lunch to try some other dishes.


        1. re: agarnett100

          Glad you liked it. Everytime I go there someone in line is talking about how they drove across the city to eat there... and that's just for carry out. Next time get the broiled crabcake. It takes them about 35 minutes (I don't know why) to prepare. It might forever change how you look at a crabcake. But you have to ask for broiled, not fried.

          1. re: Steve

            I really want some peach cobbler but they didn't have it. I usually don't order crab cakes at restaurants since I make an awesome broiled one at home on the regular. I really liked the down home atmosphere and the fact that it was unpretentious

            1. re: agarnett100

              I liked it, too, for the most part. We just tried it a few weeks ago with a LS coupon. The grits were too sweet for my tastes, but I loved the shrimp. My husband's blackened catfish was delicious. It wasn't traditionally blackened (which I think has to be done in cast iron) but all the flavors were there and it was cooked perfectly. I had dish envy. :-) Collards were delicious. Very friendly folks - neat place.

              1. re: VaPaula

                Cast Iron adds a little something to the flavor thats all I use to cook. Cast Iron is the way to go I have a few skillets that at least 50-60 yrs old

                1. re: VaPaula

                  Odd that the grits were sweet at all... sounds like a weird mistake! The fish, either blackened or fried, is the only thing I've been disappointed with.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Ha! That's funny. Yeah, the grits reminded me of a sweet cornbread, which I don't like either.

        2. 2nd bethesda bagel in dupont circle
          inexpensive- 2-Amys upscale pizza and italian bistro, Busboys and Poets- sustainable interesting sandwiches, salads gourmet american, Pizza Paradiso- dupont circle close 2nd to 2-Amys, Bistro Du Coin- french bistro dupont circle, Etete- ethiopian,

          1. Since you'll be infant-less, maybe you'll want to sleep in...? If so, I recommend Darlington House for brunch. But go Saturday, because Sunday is Easter, and I imagine it's pretty popular for brunch that day.

            Have a great time!

            1 Reply
            1. re: VaPaula

              How about Little Serow? Rasika? Oyamel?

            2. If you are going to be here over a weekend and staying in the Dupont Circle area, the obvious answer fro great breakfast is the Tabard Inn. They serve breakfast (Sat 8-9:45, Sun 8-9:15) but what you really want, if you can wait, is the brunch (Saturday 11-2:30 and Sunday 10:30 - 2:30). Breakfast is first-come first served but brunch requires reservations. They start taking reservations four weeks out so for 4/6 you may be out of luck unless they have had a cancellation. It is absolutely terrific, especially the homemade donuts. And the space is both quirky and romantic, even though romantic isn't on your must list.

              I have lived here 25 years and have yet to meet anyone who goes to Filomena. It does seem to be popular with out-of-towners. I do think that is the place you saw on TV. They are known for the ladies sitting by the window making pasta. If you want to go to Georgetown, I recommend Sea Catch which has outdoor seating on the canal and though rarely spectacular, it is always a good meal. Again, even though romantic is not on your list of musts, the ambiance is great.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Just Visiting

                No chance of getting reservations at Tabard Inn on that Sunday as it is Easter Sunday. I made my reservations 30 days out to the date - and spent over 30min trying to get through their busy signal to snag a reservation. I second Bethesda baget though in Dupont. Around the corner is Teaism which does a nice breakfast - great french toast, and you can't beat their tea and chai!

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Though I am sure Tabard Inn very busy on Easter, I want to say that 2 of us went there a week or so ago on Saturday for brunch without a reservation. Waited about 10 minutes for a table and bar seats opened up earlier than that. So it is possible. Saturday might be a better bet. Crab and leek tart was outstanding.

                2. OH - and a metro stop or two north - at the Cleveland Park metro - Dino's for great Italian cuisine, Ardeo/Bardeo for fantastic, eclectic food and great service, and Palena for phenomenal food and great atmosphere.

                  1. Thanks for all the tips. Will definitely skip on Filomena then and hit up Bathesda Bagels since it's near the hotel.

                    I like how DC seems to have Thai food served as chef tasting menus (at least at Thai X-ing and Little Serrow) and while I'm interested in it, the wife wasn't feeling it for this upcoming trip.

                    We will most likely go to the zoo and some museums on Saturday and try to do a food crawl while we are at it. Ardeo/Bardeo looks neat as does Oohhs and Aahhs so if we are near by those places I'm going to have to at least grab a snack.

                    Finally we are thinking of trying to get a drink/snack at Birch and Barley too since it's not too far from the hotel and we love beer. Hopefully it's not as packed and crowded as these boards make it seem.

                    Will update when we get back. Thanks again.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jpeezey12

                      Most places on a Sat after 9:30pm start to fill up quickly especially if the weather is nice.

                      1. re: agarnett100

                        Fyi birch and barley has a good brunch.

                        One of my favorite bars in dc is fruit bat on h street but its hard to get to unless you take a cab or drive

                    2. Back from our trip. The weather could not have been nicer.

                      We arrived on Friday in the early afternoon. Stayed at Hotel Palomar (which will get it's own write up on Tripadvisor) and from there we walked around to get some snacks before our big dinner.

                      Hank's Oyster Bar - Wife hasn't had oysters in nearly a year with being pregnant and all so she was dying to get some for a quick snack. Lunch menu at Hank's seemed very reasonable with a variety of sandwiches and fried items. We got a dozen oysters and some onion rings. Rings needed a little salt, but were fried nicely. Wish they gave us more than 5 for $5, but the rings were on the large side. Oysters were oysters, and were fantastic.

                      Panas Gourmet Empanadas - 3 empanadas for $7. We wanted another snack as we were heading back to our hotel to rest up for our big dinner. This place was right near the hotel and I gotta say, wasn't bad at all. The empanadas weren't as greasy as the ones I am used to getting at food trucks or random hole in the walls and actually had good flavor. I wasn't expecting much and maybe that was the reason why, but I'd eat here if it was near my work and I wanted a quick bite.

                      miniBar - greatest food experience of my life. So unique and different. Did not feel rushed or absolutely full from eating all those bites. (I've had tasting menus in the past where half way through I wanted to just tell the chef to stop and put the rest in to go bags.) There were some misses (and they didn't miss by much) but nearly all 30 bites had me wanting more.

                      Bethesda Bagel - we went here on both Saturday and Sunday morning. Good bagel. Egg sandwiches and BLT were both big and filling. Long lines that moved very quickly. Weather was so nice we took the food to nearby benches and ate outside. I can see why this place is so popular, but for some reason I kept thinking the prices were about $1-$2 too high. Maybe I'm just a cheapskate.

                      Alero Restaurant - We went to the zoo Saturday morning with some friends and their young daughter and afterwards walked to Cleavland Circle for some food. Ardeo/Bardeo looked like a great menu but we weren't sure if their daughter would like eating there. Alero had a large patio and it was so sunny that we all decided we wanted to be outside. Decent Tex/Mex food. Guess it's a chain because we noticed the next day there was another location right by Bethesda Bagel in Dupont. Nothing at all to complain about here. Beers were good, food was plentiful and staff was very nice.

                      Harry's Restaurant - We tried going to the museums and after 45 minutes of being way over crowded and the exhibits we wanted to see were closed for renovations, we had enough and needed a beer. Our buddy walked us over to Harry's where we had a nice pitcher of Yuengling. If I worked in the area I could easily see myself coming here for drinks instead of all the chain places we walked by.

                      ChurchKey - We arrived at 5:45 thinking it'd be empty since supposedly they just opened up at 5:30, but nope it was packed. Luckily a group left a booth right when we arrived. Tons of ladies wearing very skimpy outfits (along with men wearing playboy bunny outfits) were around getting drinks. We assumed correctly there was some sort of charity run that must have just completed. While waiting for a friend to arrive we ordered a bunch of 4oz samplers and that was nice. Some good beers that I've never had before along with some that weren't to my liking. After our friend arrive we got the mac and cheese sticks, grilled cheese, and tater tots to snack on. All very good. I really enjoyed this bar. One thing I would change would be to have foot rests at the booth on the table instead of on the chair where I was sitting. Felt weird putting my feet way behind my legs to sit.

                      Estadio - My buddy was raving about the tonic drinks here, about how they were homemade and how we had to have one, so we walked up the street and found a spot at the bar almost instantly. I knew I was going to love this place when I went to the restroom and saw a Pixies "Surfer Rosa" poster. We got some gin and tonic drink that was absolutely amazing. So crisp and with nice citrus flavors. We probably ordered too many as the night went on. For tapas, the brussels sprouts, white anchovies and pork belly bocadillo were all home runs. The roasted peppers with salt and olive oil was nice too but not on the same level. I wasn't a big fan of the fava bean dip either. I'd come back if I was ever in DC again.

                      The Big Hunt - We ended the night here for a few beers. We found this place last time we were in DC and my wife loved it. Dirty, smelly bathroom, and loud...it's a pretty good bar in our eyes. We enjoyed watching a blind date commence near us.

                      All in all we ate fantastically well. Could not have asked for DC to be any nicer in terms of weather or people. (Outside of the bearded bum in Dupont Circle that was spitting on people left and right. He got me barely on my left temple and I had to find a bathroom ASAP to sanitize myself.)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jpeezey12

                        Sounds like you had a good trip. Big hunt really is a fun bar, I need to go back there