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Family in DC

My wife and I are taking our boys, 10 and 16 to DC for a week in March. We're staying at the Grand Hyatt in Penn Quarter and doing touristy things. What are the best places with decent adult food that welcome kids? Can anyone suggest a special occasion place for my wife and I if we want one dinner ourselves? Places close to the Grand Hyatt would be preferred but we'll be roaming the city. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Can anyone suggest a special occasion place for my wife and I if we want one dinner ourselves?
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    Would help to know your food preferences and price range.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      We like American contemporary food as well as most European cuisines. We both love wine. I'd hope to spend no more than $250 on the night out (wine and tip incl.)

    2. Not knowing your price range for various meals here are my suggestions:

      Special occassion restaurant--The Source, Proof, and Corduroy (near hotel). Mintwood Place, Palena, or Equinox (not walking distance to hotel but accesible through metro or cab).

      Restaurants for the whole family--Busboys and Poets, Jaleo, Matchbox, Central, Hill Country BBQ, and Acadiana are all near the hotel and would be welcoming to your family.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Elyssa

        add Zaytynia, Graffiato and Carmines to your family list

        1. re: dining with doc

          Graffiato is a good choice as well. Not a fan personally of Zaytinya but everyone else seems to adore it for some reason. I would rather go to Jaleo personally.

          1. re: dining with doc

            Thanks everyone. Since we'll be buying 11-12 meals out, what about diner or burger joint options?

            1. re: lentnej

              diner/burger type place? screw Hard Rock - Ollie's Trolley!

              http://www.olliestrolleydc.com/
              although I prefer the bacon cheeseburger over the signature burger.

              and as long as I'm being pedestrian, the food court next to the National Press Club http://www.downtowndc.org/go/eat-nati..., and the one under Union Station have a decent variety of choices in that fast-food genre (ok, better than typical anyway).

              the old Post Office is a great setting, but its food court choices are sort of grim. But and this is a big and swaggering but, there's a killer view from the tower and it's FREE and usually NO LINE - almost as good as the Washington Monument. sort-of makes up for the meh food downstairs.
              http://www.oldpostofficedc.com/

              1. re: hill food

                Have you been to Ollie's recently? I was there a few months ago and the Ollieburger was just bad. It was basically a McDouble with NO Olliesauce on it. And while the place has always been a bit seedy, it's now fairly filthy. I know the ownership has flipped several times over the years, but I can't recommend Ollies anymore.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  pity. nothing good ever lasts in this stinkin' world...

                2. re: hill food

                  Wow, great tip hill food! My son wants to visit the Washington Monument which is closed and I didn't know about this second highest tower. Thanks so much!

                  1. re: lentnej

                    Yes, the Old Post Office tower is fantastic. Only thing to say about the food court there, though, is it's pretty cheap (and cheap DC souvenirs) and it's convenient to some tourist stuff you might want to do like Fords Theater and NMNH. March is tourist season and it can be a long line (of 8th grade school trips) to get in because of security, so you might try off hours. I think for a food court that National Place, which hillfood mentioned, is probably the best one.

                    But this made me think of the cafeteria at the Labor Dept, which has a terrace with a great view, really great. I haven't been in years, though, so you should double check my recommendation. Not instead of the tower though, you've got to do that.

                    I'm bummed about Ollie's. I used to go there pretty regularly (usually before movie at E St) and appreciated having something like that around -- and I'm sure after it had already started going downhill according to those with with the longer memories like monkeyrotica.... I do seem to remember thinking that the last time it wasn't quite the same, and the guy (white guy ponytail) who was always there wasn't there, hmm.

          2. Top choices for Chow-worthy low cost eating include:

            Nando's peri-peri: This is a small chain of places in the mid-atlantic originating in South Africa which features peri-peri chicken from Mozambique. Order it spicy with sides of mushy peas and fries with perinnaise sauce.

            Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill: Burgers, fries, and shakes. Get the sunnyside burger and the toasted marshmallow milkshake. Milky way milkshake is also very good or maybe the flavor of the month. Village fries are very good.

            In Chinatown, Go to Full Kee for the duck stuffed with shrimp paste, oyster and ginger casserole, and the soup with shrimp dumplings.

            El Rinconcito at 11th and M for carne deshilada, tamales, papusas. I wouldn't go much past that on the menu, but those are reliably good.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Steve

              2nd Nandos Peri Peri and Good Stuff
              I like Eat First for chinese in chinatown
              other cheap options are Five Guys for burgers and both Pizza Paradiso and 2 Amys for pizza
              also might want to consider pho for an inexpensive one dish vietnamese noodle soup meal just not sure which pho places are good in DC. tons in NOVA and MD.

              1. re: Steve

                Full Kee might have some of the worst cooking in Chinatown. They can't even get steamed white rice right.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  oh there's worse than Full Kee... trust me.

                  please ipse, consider the relative context: IIRC you spend some of your time in the LA area where it's somewhat easy to find great specific regional Chinese.

                  ehh, but that said, I think I would stay with the dumpling soup at FK.

                2. re: Steve

                  These are all great choices. I would add to the list Roti (various locations), BGR (Dupont Circle), and California Tortilla (Penn Quarter and Cleveland Park).

                3. For special occasions in the neighborhood, I recommend Cedar around the corner. I also like Bistro d'Oc across from Ford's Theater and Acadiana.

                  Carmine's for family style Italian. Graffiato is good, but I've found the place really loud, just like Zatinya.

                  If you're in the mood for a burger, skip Five Guys and Good Stuff. Go to Shake Shack.

                  1. I would strongly suggest Jaleo with your boys. It's fun, great food, and if they are anything like typical boys they will love the new decor. And a zillion ways to eat pork.

                    A cheap option for dinner is Medium Rare in Cleveland Park, right on the Metro station (red line). This is my son's favorite restaurant in DC, and it's really cheap, very child friendly. You make one choice - the temperature of your steak. I don't particularly love it, but it's great with kids, $19.50 a person, and my son thinks its the greatest treat on earth.

                    Along with that, it's a chain and I don't particularly care for it, but with boys that age, if you don't have one in your hometown, you might try Fogo de Chao.

                    I think Shake Shack in DC is overrated, so I would skip if you have been in NYC, if not, it's an okay burger / dog.

                    Not a fan of Carmine's, personally. I don't think DC does family Italian terribly well, and the portions there are crazy.

                    Ethiopian is a must try in DC. Ethiopic and Dukem are good. Very, very kid friendly.

                    CityZen might be slightly out of your price range, but I think its one of the best grown up dinners in DC. I would at least consider it.

                    * Also not sure how much of a concern "child friendly" is at 10 and 16, assuming they behave. Are there specific things they like or dislike? There are a lot of restaurants in DC, so if they have a specific desire / aversion that would be a good thing to know to steer you to places they may like. I wouldn't take my kids to CityZen, but in any of Jose Andres's restaurants you will find a ton of kids, even though they are restaurants frequented on date nights as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ninabasu

                      Wow, thanks for the knowledge. As far as child friendly goes, my boys won't sit pleasantly for over 90 minutes. My older son likes experimenting but he can't do spicey hot. My younger son just doesn't like herbs but he will eat fish, chicken and all kinds of meat- as long as it's close to unadorned.