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LA Hound heading to DC area for 5 days and would love comments on recommendations

Heading to DC for work and I am solo for 5 nights. I will have no car but will travel the metro or walk starting from Club Quarters.

I arrive on Sunday late afternoon and want to have a nice meal with Soft Shell Crabs and maybe some crab cakes. Any suggestions for the best available close to the hotel or metro?

All meals are based on per diem, so I am trying to keep lunches under $15 before tax and tip and dinners are $40 before tax and tip.

I am looking for locals only type places. I appreciate all types of ethnic cuisine and would love your recs. I currently live in LA, so not looking for recommendations on Thai, Korean, Mexican, Salvodorean, Japanese, and Chinese.

Here is what I have gathered for recommendations so far:
1. Rays HellBurger
2. Rosemary's Thyme (What do I get here?)
3. Ben's Chili Bowl (Is there a better place for a half smoke?)
4. Founding Farmers
5. Addis Abada (Is this the best Ethiopian, is is meat friendly? What do you recommend?)
6. Central (Is this a good place to dine solo? Do they have a bar? What is the thing to order here for 1?)
7. Sundevich (What is your favorite here?)
8. Bangkok Joe's
9. Chop't
10. Oohs and Aahhs
11. Filter Coffee
12. Swings Coffee

Anything else you would recommend? Any types of cuisine I missed?

Thank you in advance for your help. I cant wait to explore your great city.

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  1. Hanks Oyster Bar on Q street is about a 15 minute walk north of Club Quarters. http://hanksoysterbar.com/ They have both soft shell crabs and crab cakes on the menu right now. One of my staples.

    I wouldn't rush to Rosemary's or Founding Farmers.

    Other things to try:

    Taylor's Deli -- Multiple locations. Great sandwiches and salads for lunch
    Graffiato -- Chinatown. Monday/Tuesday you should be able to sit at the bar, great small plates Italian food
    Estadio -- 14th St. You should be able to get a seat at the bar. Spanish tapas

    2 Replies
    1. re: Energy09

      I still like Taylor Gourmet salads and rice balls but I'm noticing a decline in their quality. Is it just me? I frequent the one on 5th and K and I have not enjoyed my sandwich the last three times I've went. The whole sandwich was just dry and tasted stale. Also, not a fan of their whole wheat bread. I find the meat to bread ratio to be almost 50-50 making the sandwich dry and hard to chew.

      1. re: shake N baik

        I haven't had a sandwich in a few months from Taylor's, so I'm not sure. I really like the goat cheese and roasted pepper salad, and I add meatballs. I do think their service is often sloppy.

    2. Instead of Central (for what appears to be of your few fine dining excursions), I would do Komi or Rasika.

      For Ethiopian, I would do Keren or Ethiopic. Don't believe Addis Adaba is even in DC, is it?

      No Chinese. Just no.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Komi is a very expensive tasting menu (>$100). Does not fit in the OP's budget.

        1. re: Steve

          Good catch, totally flaked on the price restrictions in the OP.

          Hmm, maybe OP can skip a couple of meals and save up for Komi?

          Just based on that list, I'd easily give up on Founding Fathers, Ray's and Rosemary's for one meal at Komi.

      2. Locolat for Belgian waffles with savory toppings. Pesto waffles with escargot are a very good choice or maybe the garlic waffles with carbonade. Will fit in your dinner budget.

        Take Eat Easy for their chivito, which is a Uruguayan sandwich featuring quite a few ingredients including steak, egg, olives,etc.
        Served with fries for $13, it's quite hefty.

        Definitely Oohs and Aahs, a hole-in-the-wall but not cheap, so maybe for dinner. Search for my recs.

        Is there a better place for a half-smoke? Maybe a better question is: is there a worse place? It's historic, that's about it. There's a Russian guy who fries up half smokes at a hot dog stand near 21st and H Sts. Very limited hours, More detailed info:
        http://gwadmissions.blogspot.com/2012...

        Happy Hour at Taberna del Alabardero (walking distance) Expensive place, but tapas and sangria are half price in the bar area. Ask for patatas bravas, fresh sardines, etc.

        Lyon Hall in Arlington, VA (Clarendon Metro) Alsatian food, Get the chourcroute garnie, pickled vegetables, and soft pretzels. This will be cheap. Add anything else that looks good.

        Nandos Peri Peri. Mozambiquan spicy chicken. Get the quarter dark at the hottest spice level (you have a choice), add the mushy peas and the fries with perinnaise sauce. Counter service, cheap.

        Central: Bacon and onion tart, tuna burger, fried chicken, short ribs, side of mac n' cheese (ultimate version).

        Bangkok Joes' is Thai, n'est-ce pas? Avoid.
        Founding Farmers, avoid.

        1. I believe Ray's Hellburger is closed. Skip Rosemary's Thyme, Bangkok Joe's, and Chopt.
          Did you pick these by neighborhood?
          I like Bobby's Burger Palace, Greek Deli, G Street Foods, Taylor Gourmet, Shawafel (recommend the lamb shawarma), Zenebech Injera for Ethiopian (recommend the lamb tibs (in a "curry sauce")). These are all under $15.
          For dinners, check out Bistro Boheme, Montmartre, Rasika, Bibiana, maybe the new Diplomate which is getting a lot of buzz.

          4 Replies
          1. re: hamster

            Rays Hellburgers are being served at Rays to the Third.

            1. re: Steve

              How does the atmosphere compare to the original Ray's?

              I went to Ray's to the Third back when Ray's closed and it wasn't quite the same. There's something to be said for being able to order burgers from the counter and eating it with a roll of paper towels.

              1. re: pgm123

                I haven't been since the change.... I believe there is a separate front area that exclusively does Hellburgers.

                1. re: Steve

                  OK, that sounds very promising. I'll have to give it another chance. Ray's was one of the few places you could convince DC people of the value of actually going out to the suburbs. (Though the ethnic food out here tends to be better anyway).

          2. Oohs and Aahhs but not the fried chicken.

            Another idea for lunch, Fast Gourmet for a chivito sandwich. But, I've heard they recently changed owners. Has anyone been lately?

            If you can get to Arlington, check out the specials at Bayou Bakery. The owner/chef is from New Orleans. Even better, if you can get there for breakfast, the beignets and coffee are worth a stop. Their baked goods are very good, too. One of the few places where the frosting isn't too sweet.

            6 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              As I mentioned upthread the Uruguayan brothers from FG moved to Take Eat Easy.... on M St between 19th and 20th, I believe.

              1. re: Steve

                Thanks for the heads up. I'll have to check out the new location. Have you been to FG since the change?

                1. re: chowser

                  Yes, but I ordered something for the first time, so it would have been hard to compare. What I had was not very good though, and I don't even remember what it was.

              2. re: chowser

                Bayou Bakery is in my work office building, and I'm always shocked when people suggest it. I refuse to go in there, or else I will smell like a fryer the rest of the day. Maybe its more prominent when you are going back to work...

                1. re: Energy09

                  Mmm, what's that cologne you are wearing?

                  I have no idea what you are talking about, and apparently the people suggesting it are equally oblivious.

                  The Arm Drip sandwich could make me forget to go back to work, it's that good.

                  1. re: Energy09

                    I've never had that experience. Maybe you spend more time in there than I do on a visit?

                2. I really enjoy the Istanbul from SUNdeVICH. The ground meat is always juicy and tender and the baguette SUNdeVICH uses is great.

                  1. Thank you all for the recs. The short report:

                    Sunday: Hanks Oyster Bar - Had a lobster roll (okay, not my favorite and an amazing draft special - Flying Dog - Best part of my meal
                    Monday - Filter Coffee - Foggy Bottom - Perfect
                    Monday Dinner - SunDevich - Beirut Sandwich - Delicious interplay between the fresh ingredients, warm steak and hummous
                    Tuesday - Dinner at Bobby Van's - Crab Cakes - just ok. DC Brau Brown - very nice local beer
                    Wednesday - CF Folks Restaurant - Crab Cake Sandwich - had to make up for the meh one from last night and CF Folks did not disappoint. Best crab cake i have had ever!
                    Wednesday Night - Take Eat Easy - Cubano and Milanesa - Exellent sandwiches and overall really liked this place
                    Thursday Lunch - CF Folks Restaurant - Veal Scallopini - Exellent food from this James Beard winning restaurant.

                    Overall - Thank you all for the recs. Wish I had more down time to try more places across your city but time ran out!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Food_destroyed_my_life

                      cf folks is a unique lunch counter, so I think you did very well to hit that up. It's a great experience.