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Montrealers in DC

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My girlfriend and I will be heading down to DC for 3 nights in April to celebrate her birthday. We have made some reservations and would like to know what DC chowhounds think of our selections, and whether we are missing anything truely special. Just an FYI - my gf is a vegetarian and I don't eat fish, so please keep this is mind. We are in our mid-twenties and don't want anything pretencious, no fancy gastronomy - just yummy food. We are saying in the whitehouse area, but will travel.

Dinner Picks:
1st night - Church Key - we will be getting in late Thursday night after driving all day from Montreal - do you think we'll be able to get a table around 9 or 10?
2nd night - Aqua al 2 - my girlfriend loves pasta, this is her birthday
3rd night - Zaytinya - will this place be fun on a Saturday night???
[5:05:15 PM] Marlee Silverstein: Lunch Picks:
Two Amys - what is the wait like in the afternoon?
Other suggestions? Any great sunday bruch places not to miss?

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  1. Churchkey will be busy but since it's first come first serve you can definitely get a table if you scope the place out and wait around for someone to leave.

    Aqua al 2 isn't a bad. You can book a reservation via savored.com and get 30% of your entire bill.

    1. Eola does a vegetarian tasting menu. It's better than any restaurant you've suggested and they're very accomodating. Not pretentious, like one of the great restaurants you'd find in Montreal in terms of atmosphere.

      1. I don't know about Aqua, but I would highly recommend Bibiana. Plenty of great veggie options, such as the fried artichokes and the pasta with cauliflower.

        Zaytinya wil be busy and loud Sat night -- you may want to consider it for lunch (it's one of the few good dc restaurants open for lunch on weekends, in fact it's open from lunch through dinner)

        The classic Sunday brunch option is Tabard Inn -- assuming the weather cooperates, you can eat outside in their courtyard. I'd make the reservation in advance, it's popular.

        Usually I base my recommendations for visitors on what they have/don't have in their home town. If you don't have many great Vietnamese or Ethiopian spots in Montreal, that is a real strength here in DC (though the Vietnamese is much better in Virginia than DC). Closest to DC (Metro accessible) and very good is Minh's in Arlington. If you have a little time, you may find it fun to take a trip to the Eden Center in Falls Church.

        We also have three outstanding Indian restaurants in DC (Rasika, Bombay Club and Masala Art), so you may want to try one of those.

        6 Replies
        1. re: holdtheline

          My husband and I go to Montreal a lot and fall in love with it every time we go. You definitely have better Vietnamese than our DC, VA or MD options so stick to DC specific things.

          Your itinerary looks great. Church Key will be a bit crowded, but not too bad on a late Thursday night. The happy hour crowd would have gone home by then. It's worth going b/c it's just the two of you and you'll be able to find room to stand at the very least.

          Definitely try to do brunch at Tabard Inn OR you can try some DC home cooking at Oohh's and Aahh's on U Street or Saint's Paradise Cafeteria for a true DC church breakfast experience. Another brunch option is Cork on 14th Street on Sunday. They're a little local restaurant that has great wine. Kind of like our Joe Beef, but with wine.

          The wait at 2 Amy's won't be bad, even when it's at it's worse, it's still not terrible. Definitely worth checking out. Their pizza is great, but I love their small plates too.

          I have no idea about Aqua, but I agree holdtheline, Bibiana would be a great pick. You may also want to try Posto, for a more local vibe. They're on 14th Street and have great pasta dishes (veggie included). Fiola is hot right now and they deserve it...their food is delicious. I also agree with the Rasika idea. Yum! I'd scrap Zatinya. The crowd is more "embassy brat" these days. But, if you're into the thing, go for it. It may be worth just a drink or two. It will be crowded on a Saturday night. Proof is next door and has great wine and cocktails. Also, if you want to try an amazing cocktail in kind of a DC hipster scene, try the Passanger on 7th (close enough to Zaytinya).

          Holdtheline mentioned Ethiopian and I definitely think it's worth a try in DC. We have great Ethiopian. Ethiopic on H Street, NE is excellent.

          So, if I would rework your list like this...

          Dinner Picks:
          1st night - Church Key
          2nd night - Fiola (or Posto for something more neighborhoody) drinks afterward at Passanger
          3rd night - Get into the neighborhoods and do Eola, Cork for dinner or go downtown to Rasika, drinks afterward at American Ice Company, Proof or PS 7's. (depending where you are)
          Sat Afternoon: 2 Amy's
          Sun Brunch: Cork, Tabbard Inn or Oohhs and Aahhs.

          The chows have always been nice to us on our trips to Montreal, so I hope this helps!

          1. re: Bood

            I would also switch to Fiola or Bibiana over Aqua, or even Tosca.

            1. re: Bood

              While I also love Fiola -- my wife have gone there for our last two celebratory dinners and been wowed both times -- I think it's a little less vegetarian friendly than Bibiana, and also a bit more expensive, thus my Bibiana recommendation.

              Another reason I think Zaytina may be worth it is because of the extensive list of veggie-only items, most of which are very tasty.

              1. re: Bood

                better Vietnamese in MTL? This doesn't really seem possible given the huge Vietnamese population in NOVA.

                1. re: xdcx

                  MTL has a Vietnamese population comparable in size to Nova which is sigificantly smaller then Calif, Texas, Washington and Florida

                  1. re: agarnett100

                    it's slightly smaller, but doesn't explain why it's better there than here.

            2. Love Montreal and a great food scene - a few thoughts on something different from what you'll find in Montreal-

              Like others have mentioned, we have the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia, so something like Etete or Dukem on U Street would be different.

              You might consider something "modern" like Central or The Source or even America Eats pop up that I don't think you'll find in Montreal. Also, a nice take on chocolate (as well as a good brunch) is CoCo Sala.

              Have a great time!

              1. For Pasta I'd recommend Bibbiana or Dino. For small plates and good drink, Cafe St Ex or Bar Pillar.