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suggestions for visiting kentucky community college prof taking 15 students to dinner?

i'm taking fifteen community college students presenting at a conference and staying at the crystal city marriott out to dinner on saturday night. i'd like to stretch their dining horizons on a budget. suggestions?

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  1. Jaleo for Spanish tapas - not sure they are cheap enough, check their menu.

    1. Cheap exotic cuisine does exist in Crystal City, but the question is 'how good is it?' Harar Mesob is Ethiopian, and ok, but maybe not good enough to convince someone about Ethiopian food for the first time. Kabob Palace is also there, but again could be a major turn off as it is not very good.

      Nerimitra Thai is right in Crystal City, and is a good place, probably your best bet. Around here, Thai is like Italian used to be, two or three in every neighborhood.

      If you don't mind venturing out a bit, then Jerusalem Restaurant for Palestinian food is excellent all around and has some superb dishes (musakhan, makluba, mujadarrah, fukharrah). But it is not right there, so you have to factor in travel - about 10 minutes by car.


      Jaleo is one of my favorite places in the area, but it is not cheap. The fact that they no longer serve bread coupled with decreasing portion size means it is getting a bit pricey for tapas.

      1. What transportation will you have?


          2 Replies
          1. re: dining with doc

            How wedded to the idea of staying in Crystal City are you? If you are willing to go to the Verizon Center area, that opens up tons of choices, including Carmine's - and gives you a chance to see some of the city, as well.. I assumed that you wanted to stay near the hotel. If you answer this question and KeithW's question, we'll be better prepared to help you with more meaningful options.

            Oh, and you mentioned wanting to broaden their horizons ... Old School Italian doesn't do that as well as lots of other places.

            1. re: dining with doc

              If you can travel to the Verizon Center area you could also consider Grafiato - Top Chef runner up Mike Isabella's homage to his New Jersey Italian American past. Good wood-fired pies and a small plate per diner should keep toe price reasonable. Plus you students can watch DC yuppy scum do their mating dance.

            2. 1 solid option is Nam Viet in Clarendon. Metro friendly from CC, which would be one experience. There are other things nearby if you/they want (not sure the rules you have in place).

              They have at least one large table but you would want to call ahead and make sure they can reserve space for you. I've never had anything bad on the menu (though I wouldn't get pho there - too long of an explanation to give right here).

              Or, look along the blue or orange lines in DC - I am not coming up with good suggestions off the top of my head there.

              1. I'd metro to East Falls Church and then cab to Eden Center. There's lots of good Vietnamese food on a budget to be had there. You will need reservations and many places are cash only. If they will take reservations, I'd suggest Huong Viet.

                2 Replies
                1. re: PollyG

                  Maybe with 5 people. Might be a bit of a logistical challenge w/16. I'd have to go with Dennis on this one.

                  1. re: PollyG

                    This is definitely the best way to cheaply broaden their horizons. Good Pho for $8 plus interesting desserts, snacks, and other options.

                  2. First, you are one super-great prof! Many won't make that kind of effort with undergrads - and yours are presenting!! That's major! Second, I suggest valium and ear-plugs (grin). You don't say where in Kentucky and obviously not everyplace in Kentucky is a meat-plus-three kind of town. I know there is ethnic food in Kentucky; I think the real issue is that they are very young and so probably haven't encountered much of life yet, much less started to expand their comfort zones.

                    Which means that the options are probably huge and I would think your major issue besides cost is going to be transportation. Keeping track of all 15 of them on the metro could be a real hassle and while they are all legally adults, I am sure you still fee responsible for them. So Crystal City will surely be the easiest answer. So here are some options (I can't vouch for most of them but maybe others will chime in):

                    Asia Bistro (Asian fusion in Pentagon Row)
                    Athenas Pallas (Greek)
                    Black Lime Mediterranean Cafe
                    Jaleo (tapas)
                    Kohinoor Dhaba (Indian)
                    Nando's Peri-peri (spicy grilled Malaysian chicken)
                    Saigon Saigon (Vietnamese; not the best in this area, but probably a nice gentle intro to this cuisine)

                    Then go back to the hotel and try to look the other way as they all call out for pizza!

                    Whatever you do, avoid Cafe Italia. It is absolutely dreadful.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      I thought Nando's was South African (Mozambique/Portugese) grilled chicken. haven't been yet but it is on the list.

                      and valium, not xanax? really? I'm far more functional on xanax.

                      1. re: hill food


                        1. re: hill food

                          The pepper itself (Bird's eye pepper) is, like all chili peppers, native to the New World. How it got to Portugal is not certain, but the Portugese brought it to southern Africa. I identify it as Malay because, like many Cape Dutch dishes, it is one of the many dishes attributed to the Malay people brought into the region as slaves and domestic labor. Sorry to confuse everyone.

                          Whatever it is called, I am addicted to it. I was so glad to see the franchise pop up in the DC area.

                          1. re: Just Visiting

                            I just love cultural mash-up. be it food or the arts.

                            the Portugese did get around quite a bit in the 15th through 18th centuries after all. wacky cats like Vasco de Gama, Magellan et al. I'll remain silent here on the subject of international slave trade.

                            wish they'd expand, apparently they're in multiple countries but only in DC in the US

                      2. I'd suggest taking them for Ethiopian someplace in DC. Easy to get to on the METRO and that can be an adventure in itself. With a group that large, you would want to call ahead but Ethiopic 401 H St., NE, would be a good choice. Or Etete, a little more refined, at 1942 Ninth St., NW,. Of course it also depends on how brave you are about traveling in the city, but with a group that large, shouldn't be any worry.

                        I've never been but friends recommend Neramitra, 2200-I Crystal Drive (near the Crystal City METRO stop) for Thai food. Again, call them first, it isn't a big place.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dinwiddie

                          I agree that Ethiopian food is a good choice for a group like yours. The food is delicious, meant to be served to a group and shared, and very friendly to vegetarians. I can personally recommend Etete, but other suggestions are surely worth checking out if they are in your vacinity Etete is at the U Street Metro stop and you could get out under $20 per person. This is where I like to take my out of town visitors and everyone has loved it.

                          1. re: Terrie H.

                            I'll repeat this for as long as it stays up (apparently deleted when I posted it a couple of days ago). I know it's not about chow, but Crystal City is on the Metro BLUE line. Going just about anywhere by Metro that's been suggested here involves a transfer. I'm sure that isn't beyond they ability of a college student, but herding 15 of them might be difficult unless they're from a place like New York City (which they aren't).

                            23rd Street or Pentagon Row in Arlington offers several decent choices. Some mediocre ones, too, so take the suggestions in the neighborhood to heart.

                        2. Minh's is good Vietnamese, very near the Courthouse metro, a short metro ride from Crystal City on the blue line.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: dcandohio

                            Blue line from/to Crystal City, switch to Orange line at Rosslyn for either this or Nam Viet. I will admit I haven't made it to Minh's. A few hounds and I were going to swap dinners some time back but it didn't work out.

                            1. re: Dennis S

                              My bad. Metro map error. I wonder if Minh's is walkable from Rosslyn? I think I've done it. Can't remember. But the Yellow line to Gallery Place probably offers the greatest number of affordable options, and college students might find that area cool.

                              1. re: dcandohio

                                Minh's is about a mile from the Rosslyn metro (note that the mile is uphill). It's between the Courthouse and Clarendon stops on the Orange Line.

                                There are a number of options along Wilson Boulevard that college students would probably enjoy, although they might not be a stretch. What kind of cuisine did you have in mind?

                          2. How about Lebanese Taverna (www.lebanesetaverna.com)? The food is interesting and different from the usual college fare, but not likely to be labelled strange. They do a group menu which would be good for both sharing and trying a variety and also to keep the bill simple- everyone can chip in an equal amount.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Hobbert

                              Many years ago, I cooked up a feast of Lebanese dishes for my husband's first year law students in Chapel Hill. The only things anyone of them ate were bread and hummus!

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Really? I'm not a terribly adventurous eater but Lebanese seems to have the familiar basics- protein and rice and veggies. How frustrating for you! I'd have scarfed down my dinner just to seem polite at least :)

                                1. re: Hobbert

                                  I suspect it was the visuals: Kibbee doesn't look like lamb, stuffed grapevine leaves don't look like anything "American," tabbouli doesn't look like salad, and mujadarra is kind of odd looking. I was shocked, but happy to have the leftovers. (This was 30 years ago; maybe today's kids are more sophisticated.)

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    pika - I would hope so, heck 30 years ago when I was 17 I was hunting down Indian, Lebanese, Thai and VN and that was definitely not how I was raised. all before the abundant glories of the internet.

                                    I'd have said thank you and asked for seconds.

                            2. man. this is my first time on chowhound. incredible feedback. sorry not to be online, but i've had to take all these students to dc...but you knew that.

                              thank you all so much. we'll let you know how it goes.