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Would love some recommendations for downtown/Penn Quarter

My husband and I (mid 30's) are heading to DC next weekend and staying at the Willard. We head to DC a couple times a year and typically stay near the zoo or near Dupont Circle. We decided to try a new area since we got a great rate on a pricy hotel and would love some recommendations for the area. We've gotten some great advice on here before (Cashion's was awesome!). Looking for a quick breakfast place (coffee/pastry) and a few places for dinner. We are not looking for Minibar but love ethnic food, bistro, contemporary American and someplace that does a good craft cocktail. Any good happy hours (food and beverage) in the area? As always any advice is appreciated!

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  1. We had Thanksgiving dinner at 701 Restaurant at Penn Quarter. If their regular menu is as great as this, you'd love it. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/750865

    Also Rasika which gets lots of love here. You can find many comments about it on CH.

    Great nabe.

    1. Not sure if this would appeal or not, but The Columbia Room (reservations required), located in the area you want, serves amazing cocktails - and one light bite between cocktails. I would highly recommend it for pre-or post-dinner. Truly, I think it is one of the most special experiences available in DC. It's in a "secret" location, behind an unmarked door in the back of The Passenger, a much more casual, fun bar with great bar food. http://passengerdc.com/columbia/index...

      Central is fantastic for a French look at classic American cooking.

      I second Rasika. http://www.rasikarestaurant.com/

      1. Restaurants in DC I have been to and would recommend:
        Rasika West End (or “the original” Rasika, but I haven’t been there recently)
        The Source: very good, maybe a bit pricey
        Blue Duck Tavern
        Art and Soul

        Restaurant I haven’t been to but would love to go to:
        Little Serow

        Art and Soul doesn't get mentioned much on this board for some reason, but I like it. All the others I think are often recommended. If you are interested in the differences between Rasika and Rasika West End maybe someone else can give you guidance, Rasika West End is mentioned more often recently.

        Edit: Note that several of the above are outside of Penn Quarter; Rasika,The Source, Zatinya,& Oyamel are in Penn Quarter or close to it.

        1. Jaleo for tapas -- fun place with really good food.

          I would certainly second Rasika and Zaytinya too. Oyamel is good but maybe not quite as good as those three.

          The Source is really good, but it is indeed pricy.

            1. Also, for breakfast, in the Willard itself is Cafe du Parc which is nice, and you're near Teaism which is good for breakfast (but tea only, no coffee; good pastries). Paul is a good idea. Not for good quality, but if you want early breakfast the food court in the Reagan Building opens early, I think 7am and some spots in the Old Post Office food court do also. I'm confused by The Hamilton (never been there) but they might have breakfast(?) and it's very near. All just mentioned, openings depend on days of the week, so double-check.

              Gazillion good restaurants and many with good and great cocktails in that area -- Rasika and Central both have great bars (in my limited experience), for example, as well as great food. If it's decent weather a cocktail crawl could be in order. DC is a happy hour kind of town, but I think mostly just weeknights.

              I don't think anyone else has mentioned Proof, which I feel like since you enjoyed Cashion's you might also like (I haven't been in a while though.)

              I'd also suggest going to the rooftop bar in the W hotel next to the Willard. Snooty and overpriced, but still worth it for the view, since you're right there.

              The Willard bar is known for mint juleps, by the way.

              1. I like Zaytina in that area, but find Andres' other well-know spot, Jaleo, to be ho-hum. I've had a couple of nice meals at Sei as well, and I love the interior there.

                1. Thanks for all the replys so far! While I'd love to try Rasika I'm afraid that's out since the only reservations this weekend are at 1015 pm. Having been to Spain I far prefer the traditional tapas at Taberna de Alberdero(super authentic) to that of Jaleo but I have enjoyed Oyamel.
                  Hamster- that post is great! Also Proof has been on my radar so I think I'll give that a try.Will decide between Central and Ceiba for my other dinner

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wanderingviolet

                    We just walked into Rasika for lunch. Sat in the bar area.

                  2. Fiola has one of the best bars in DC if you are looking for a good cocktail. They have a bar menu, early-bird special and one of the best restaurants (for my money) in DC.

                    1. Following recommendations we enjoyed Central and Ceiba for dinner. We even had a celebrity encounter at Central-MC Hammer! He was very polite. Thanks again for all the advice!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wanderingviolet

                        wow, I doubt I'd recognize Mr. Hammer at this point (unless of course he was shirtless, wearing silly baggy-loose pants and a jacket)

                      2. I always point people to Cedar, and they generally come back happy. It's got very good food and expertly made, interesting cocktails. And I've never had a problem getting a table. The menu is contemporary American, and the space is interesting (it is underground, so no windows, but the walls are covered with wallpaper of cedar forests, which sounds cheesy but it actually pretty cool).


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: firstbitedc

                          We wandered into Cedar once when we were looking for something open pre-theater and enjoyed our meal.

                        2. Hill food- We had just walked in and the host was bringing us back to seat us as Mr. Hammer was walking out. The host stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes. I kind of recognized him and picked up who he was through the context of the conversation. He turned to my husband and I and asked how we were. He was very well dressed(no parachute pants) and very polite.

                          Patrick- I considered Cedar but will give it a try when I come back to DC.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: wanderingviolet

                            Sorry you missed Proof...put that on your "next time" list too!