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Feb 15, 2013 09:40 AM

One Week in DC

I'm visiting DC in early June with my parents who are both around 70. I am the type of person who thinks food is one of the most important aspects of travel. My parents enjoy good food, but aren't as obsessed.

We are staying in the Capital Hill area, but I am willing to explore for a good meal. I have a few places in mind, and would love to hear some other suggestions. We are open to any type of cuisine, however I would prefer restaurants that are "classic" or "can't miss" DC spots.
Thanks in advance.

Places I am already interested in:
Ben's Chili Bowl
Tortilla Cafe

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  1. I'd make sure to try an Ethiopian restaurant (most are around 9th & U st. NW, not far from Ben's Chili Bowl, but Ethiopic would be a shorter cab ride for you since it's in NE).

    Jose Andres is a famous restaurant owner in DC and I think Zaytinya is his best place.

    On Capitol Hill, snacking at Eastern Market is fun (go to Market Lunch if you want a sit down meal--it's counter service). Other popular things nearby include Seventh Hill Pizza, Pitango gelato, Matchbox (pizza, sliders, brunch), and Ted's Bulletin (classic/retro American).

    If you're not coming until June, there will be more options in the Navy Yard neighborhood, close to Capitol Hill. Among the most eagerly anticipated is Bluejacket, which should have a very good beer selection and good food too.

    1. On Capitol Hill, Tune Inn is a great neighborhood bar with the usual burger fare. Also: scrapple.  Pete's Diner near Library of Congress does a good diner breakfast. Ambar is a new Serbian place on Barracks Row, a nice change of pace from the usual small plates. Down the block, Cava Mezze serves the best grilled octopus in town. If the weather's nice, you can't beat a good al fresco seafood lunch at Maine Avenue Fish Market. Jimmy's Grill does a classic fried whiting platter; Jessie Taylor for a dozen oysters on the half shell for $10.

      1. If you are going to the effort of getting to Ben's Chili Bowl, you'll eat much better at Oohhs and Ahhs, which is nearby, right across the street from the U St/Cardozo Metro Stop. Ben's Chili Bowl is not really worth a special trip, and after the fifteen minutes you've spent there eating a chili dog, the time you've taken to get there and back will seem wasteful.

        At O&A, which specializes in Coastal Carolina soul food, go for the shrimp and grits (ask for the vegetables with this), lemon pepper wings, and the broiled crabcake (this will take some time, so eat the other stuff first). Other good items are the short ribs, turkey chop and the meatloaf.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve

          I agree with Steve - if it's super important for you go to to Ben's Chilli Bowl for some reason, ok. It's certainly an institution, but my 70+ year old parents wouldn't find a thing to eat there.

          Your list is missing one of the great treasures DC has that most other places don't - Ethiopian.

        2. Thanks for the advice so far.

          Ben's is only my list because I've seen it on TV so many times over the years. I guess I'll have to run it by my parents. They both like chili dogs. :-)

          Oddly enough we live pretty close to a number of Ethiopian restaurants. We live in the desert north of LA and the Fairfax district of Hollywood is lined with Ethiopian places. I've eaten at a couple places in NYC too.

          Fried whiting sounds interesting. It's new to me.

          Jose Andres is on my list too, but I wasn't sure which place to try. I'll look into Zaytinya.

          Thanks again for the tips.

          4 Replies
          1. re: antzona

            Definitely skip the chili dogs. If you go, you want the halfsmokes, a sausage that's unique to DC/MD/VA. You can get a cheaper one at Canales Deli in Eastern Market.

            If your folks are into dogs, DC3 on Barracks row serves nothing but hotdogs from different parts of the country.

            1. re: antzona

              Sure, go to Ben's for an appetizer. It will be a below average chili dog. You could do better at home. Then go somewhere good to eat.

              1. re: antzona

                Ben's Chili - is a DC landmark and institution more than a culinary destinations - yes there are better half smokes but none have the story or history behind it. -- if Ben's is crowd you can try next door Ben's Next Door for restaurant environment with an expanded menu and adult beverages

                Fried Whiting - Horace and Dickies or Jimmy's Grill - both are carry out spots

                1. re: antzona

                  I know Fairfax (LA's) has all sorts of ME and North African places, but at least have a lunch at an Ethiopian in DC. as NYC can claim bagels and SF its baguettes, for some reason DC can claim injeera like no other.

                  don't want to sound like a nanny, but a search for that on this board will provide many suggestions (and arguments).

                  June is a great time, which side of the hill are you staying? NE is more sedate, SE is sedate, but more uhh interactive.

                2. Tabard Inn
                  Old Ebbit Grill (same reason you're going to Ben's)
                  The Oval Room
                  Johnny's Half Shell (for breakfast)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Old Ebbit Grill - has a good raw bar Happy Hour Close to the White House