I'll be in DC for 4 nights at the beginning of April and I'm looking for nice restaurants for lunch and dinner. A lot of our meetings will only give as 1-2hrs for meals so spots within easy distance of the Woodley Park-Zoo metro stop would be helpful.
But nicer restaurants worth at trek across town are welcome too, as we may have 1-2 nights to check them out.
I generally enjoy a good gastropub, or creative French or American usually keeps me entertained. Asian or Mediterranean options are welcome as well. I know there are a few Ethiopian places a short cab ride away but have trouble deciding which ones are good.
In any case suggestions are welcome, and thanks in advance for the help!
PS- Coming from CA where foie gras is banned, so wouldn't mind finding a place that serves it, especially if it's done properly.
South of the zoo there are a number of places (clustered around the intersection of Connecticut and Calvert but I haven't tried any of them.
Go one metro stop north to Cleveland Park and you will have more good choices than you will need. Start with Ardeo/Bardeo, which always has great, creative food and excellent service. Palena is not-to-be-missed. Everyone raves about Dino. These are the three higher-end choices up there, but for faster/less expensive, there is a very good pan-Asian called Spices,a Vietnamese place called Nam-Viet, and many others all within a couple of long blocks.
I don't think it is a short cab ride to Little Ethiopia from your part of town if you have only an hour for a meal. Assuming traffic and traffic light miracles, it would be at least 15 minutes each way. Even with two hours, you might be rushing. In any case, it seems lately like the consensus on best Ethiopian is Ethiopic, which is down near UnionStation.
About a 15 minute walk (or a shorter cab ride) will take you to either Adams Morgan or Cleveland Park and lots of options.
In Adams Morgan go to the wonderful Mintwood Cafe. Cashion's Eat Place is also very good.
In Cleveland Park you can try Ardeo, Ripple, Spices, Dino, or Palena (the cafe or the more formal dining room).
In Woodley Park proper Open City is good for a quick diner-style bite to eat. Also Mama Ayesha's is a good middle eastern restaurant.
For Ethiopian a shorter cab ride would be to U Street and Etete which is great! I also went to Ethiopic recently and was very impressed---but it's a longer cab ride since it's H Street, NE.
I haven't made it there yet, but I hear Bryan Voltaggio's new restaurant, Range, has a good foie gras. It's about 3 metro stops north, so it's not difficult to get to but it falls into "across town" category. Reservations may be scarce, but I think they have some walk in tables.
The restaurants at that metro stop are terrible. Go north one metro stop and there is Lavandou, a very nice southern French restaurant with good service and some of the most reliable, if not spectacular food. On the same black is Dino, a decent, over rated restaurant that serves satisfying meals with a large wine list.
A short cab ride is Bistro Lepic in upper Georgetown. It is a genuinely European restaurant that serve rogons. It tends to bewilder the hipster crowd in DC, but is full of Europeans nightly, and they have a large list of half bottles, so paring per course is easy. Sometimes they have foie gras.
Adams Morgan had some interesting quality years ago, but is a tired neighborhood these days. Another short cab ride is to MacArthur Blvd for either Black Salt (seafood) or Makota, (sushi) Because of trendyness, Obama ate at Black Salt, so it may not be good anymore; I haven't eaten there since.
Have you been to Adams Morgan lately? Because if not than you are missing out on one of the best new restaurants in DC--Mintwood. It is anything but tired. Also Perry's has a new chef and is putting out good stuff and Cashion's is as good as always. 18th Street might be crazy on the weekend but one street over some of the best cooking in DC is taking place. Much closer than the far away Black Salt (which is great but a pain to get to).
I personally haven't been to Perry's with the new chef but my friends (who are trusted foodies) have made this there go to spot in the neighborhood. They said the menu is fresh and seasonal with lots of nice options.
The last time I was at Cashion's I had a really nice rabbit dish which was perfectly cooked with a delicate sauce. They also continue to have a great brunch (although Mintwood is giving them a run for their money on that front). Cashion's is the perfect neighborhood restaurant. Good service, good wine list and reliable delicious cooking in a comfortable environment.
Is that specific enough?
Though I haven't tried it yet, I've heard Taan, the new ramen place in Adams Morgan, is very good. That would be a 10 minute walk across the Calvert Road bridge.
The new Pho 14 on Columbia Road (note there are several locations), also in Adams Morgan, is very good and casual.
Doener Bisto, also on Columbia Road, could be good for a quick meal as well.
For Ethiopian, I recommend Zenebech Injera. It would be a 15-20 minute taxi ride. Hole in the wall atmosphere.
Wow! Thanks for all the recs! Really looking forward to the trip, and I'll be sure to report back on what I got to try.
Mintwood sounds like a definite Go, and District Kitchen since they are close. Hoping I can get in at Voltaggio's but it all depends on scheduling.
Thanks so much!
Just got back from the trip. For the most part dinners were set directly next to the conference center just because of time constraints. The group hit up sushi and Indian on the strip, which were passable but not really much of note. We did go to the Afghan Grill which was a fairly pleasant surprise. Really nice roasted squash, spinach, and eggplant dishes, plus the wine was better than I normally would expect for that type of restaurant.
On the nicer end of things Open City diner was a great choice for breakfast (but not super quick). My friend got chai waffles and I had a standard but lovely American breakfast of poached eggs, grits, sausage, and hashbrowns. Being Southern I was happy to see grits again.
District kitchen was great food- nice sweetbreads, a really rich but dairy-free mushroom soup, assorted pickles made in house, roasted duck. The real win though was the cocktails. My sister had a "Yoda Soda" (lime, fruit, vanilla) and I had "Till the bitter end" (dark rum, mole bitters). I took my Boss there the next day and he was raving about their version of a Manhattan. They also had a dry rose, which I generally like on a warm afternoon. As a place for cocktails and snacks I'd recommend it if you happen to be anywhere in the area.
We also made it up to Bryan Voltaggio's Range. I'd been to his brother's restaurant Ink in LA (very different, more asian flavors and molecular gastronomy) so I wanted to try it out. The food was by all accounts amazing. The menu is extensive and has so much variation. Duck galantine, beef heart in chimichurri, sweet pea ravioli with edible flowers, smoked grits, spiced oven roasted potatoes, pan roasted white fish, potted foie. The amount of offal and other unusual dishes was pretty impressive. Overall I'd say the food was pretty mellow with a soul food feel, but with really nicely nuanced flavors.
The restaurant is also massive, and parts of the kitchen are open with bar seats right next to the chef-- likely a good spot for solo dining in the evenings and for date night (there's a movie theater across the street). I absolutely recommend it.
In any case, thanks for all your nice recs, and I'll keep the rest of them on file for my next trip to DC, which hopefully will have more leisure time for dinners!