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Jun 26, 2012 05:05 PM

Food Recommendations for Conventioneer

I will be in town for the National Education Association convention @ the Walter Washington Conv. Center for six nights. I looked through Tom Seitsma's DC Dining Guide, with particular attention to one of his features titled "15 Restaurants Where I Wish I Was A Regular." I'm an adventurous eater, likely dining by myself w/ the exception of two evenings. My cuisine region of choice is Asia (be it Chinese, Indian, Thai). I'm not big on fancified, high-end Italian. My meal per-diem is $60/day, but I'm the type to have a protein shake or cereal bar for lunch if it means a kick-butt dinner.

The choices I've made thus far, that I don't intend to change:

* Rasika (I've heard from many people who's palates I trust that this is the best Indian restaurant they've ever been to)

* Georgia Browns (good friend of mine, whom I'll be attending the convention with, likes the place a lot. I've never been, so I'm giving it a shot.)

* America Eats (I'm intrigued by the concept of recipes from the National Archives, however that takes shape... The fact that it is closing on July 4th also appeals as I'd like to try the concept and a Jose Andres restaurant before it's closed.)

The following restaurants are others that I've tentatively identified for dinner (feel free to talk me out of or in to any of these):

* Central Michel Richard
* Belga Cafe (I love Belgian beer, which is the only reason this is on there)
* Little Serow (probably no chance I get a seating here, but very intriguing)

These are some places that don't appear to be upscale, reservation-needed type places but look very interesting for lunches or a no-frills dinner:

* Amsterdam Falafel
* Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen
* Fast Gourmet

Here's what I'm hoping for some advice/suggestions on: (1) any other *must try* places in the DuPont Circle area or brief cab rides from the Renaissance Washington; (2) Bars near the same DuPont Circle/Renaissance Washington with excellent beer options; (3) quick, hole-in-the-wall, lunch options near the Convention Center (Chinatown being right nearby).

Thanks in advance for all of the help. I'm pretty excited to visit the city and looking forward even more to the culinary adventure.


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  1. Hole in wall in chinatown includes eat first ( stick to the non Americanized menu and the specials on paper on the wall), Chinatown express, Nando's Peri Peri food African spicy roasted chicken, sechuan house bakery for pork filled buns etc,, Bistro Med a ny style pizza place- good and greasy thin crust in a little hole in the wall where you eat on counter tops, DC Pho for Vietnamese noodle soup ( not the best Pho place around but good and cheap even though it is pricey compared to other Pho places). Wok an Roll ( sushi and Chinese..again not the best but good and cheap and fast for lunch.can sit at sushi bar and eat Chinese and sushi)

    1. Bonus for eating at Wok'n'Roll, it's part of the Lincoln assassination. It's been years since I read the marker, but I think John Wilkes Booth skulked around the tavern before leaving to kill Lincoln at Ford's. Even if you don't eat there, stop and read the marker before heading to Sechaun House bakery. I also like Chinatown Express for the roast meats and the green sauce and pickled garlic they give you.

      American Eats is best for lunch, brunch or a happy hour. On Thursdays, there's a farmer's market in front of it. If you're craving fresh local fruit, that's the place to go.

      Central is a good choice for dinner. I don't think there's a reason to talk you out of that.

      You may want to try Cedar on E St's happy hour.

      If you're up early enough, go to Paul's and grab a coffee and a warm croissant for breakfast and Penn Ave wake up.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Mer_Made

        After your conference, go across the street to Corduroy (on 9th street). It is not an Asian restaurant but my favorite dish there is the big eyed Tuna with sushi rice and hijiki. The soups there also lean Asian and are very good. If you dine solo, you can go upstairs to the bar and take advantage of the 3 course menu. It is one of the best spent $35 in town,.

        1. re: Mer_Made

          I think Booth ordered the #7 with a hot and sour soup . . . .

        2. I'm sure you'll love Rasika - don't neglect to order the palak chaat!

          I love Central and Little Serow. If you show up at LS early, say, around 5:00, you will be seated at the first seating at 5:30 when it opens.

          I haven't been to the Belga Cafe, but the best Belgian beer list I've seen in DC - pages and pages long - is at Brasserie Beck, which also has the best moules and frites in town IMHO. Granville Moore's is also good and is located on H St. NE, a big up and coming neighborhood that you most likely wouldn't see otherwise.

          I haven't been to Shophouse, but I love AF and FG. At FG, the best sandwiches are the Cubano (best one I've ever had) and the Chivito. I love going with another person and sharing those 50/50.

          Best beer options in town can be found at Churchkey on 14th St., but arrive early to be assured of a seat. This is about 15 mins. walk east of Dupont Circle.

          In Chinatown, I love China Express for the "noodles in soup" - delicious and relatively healthy meal for about $7, especially with their table condiments added.

          Taylor Gourmet has great Philly-style subs and is located two blocks east of Mt. Vernon Square. There is also one on 14th St.

          If you'll be around for Sunday brunch, one of the best ones in town is at The Tabard Inn at Dupont Circle. Reservations required.

          A bar I love is near the Convention Center... The Passenger has great bar food and a good, but not huge, beer selection - fun atmosphere. In the back of The Passenger is the best high-end cocktail bar in town, The Columbia Room - reservations required. This is a very special experience.

          DC is known for excellent Ethiopian food. My favorite place is Etete, but there are several other good ones.

          It's been my experience in DC that a lot of places that I would expect to be open for lunch aren't, so be sure to check ahead of time.

          Enjoy your trip!

          1. Having just been blown away by Bistro Bohem, I'd replace Belga Cafe with that (if you're willing to swap Belgian beer for Polish or Czech beer). It's really just a few blocks north of the convention center (though I wouldn't walk it unless you're very comfortable with a developing neighborhood).

            For Belgian Beer, if you're determined, DEFINITELY get to Brasserie Beck. If they have skate on the menu, get it.

            1. Major thumbs down for Shophouse. Think McDonalds does Asia.

              The Chivito at Fast Gourmet is a four-star Chowhound delight.

              Amsterdam Felafel: will not impress if youv'e been to a serious felafel place, but won't do any harm. In the same neighborhood, Locolat is Belgian, has some unique beer choices I've never seen elsewhere, and makes killer savory waffles with a range of perfectly executed toppings. The Queens Delight is my favorite, but the escargot, carbonade, or grilled vegetables are all excellent.

              You will do better at Thai-Xing than at Little Serow. Tiny, unique place, must reserve, though the opposite of trendy.

              Right near your hotel is Brasserie Beck a true Belgian bra with some serious food, though not quite as good as when it first opened.