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Jun 22, 2013 10:55 AM

Looking for good food, fabulous atmosphere in July

My husband and I will be passing through DC in mid-July for 2 nights. We will have a car. I am looking for a dinner place with good food, a great wine list and wonderful atmosphere. I'm not exactly sure what we are looking for but as a frame of reference, I love ABC Kitchen, Babbo, Pastis in NYC. Also really like Rezaz and Table in Asheville NC.

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  1. Do you have cost constraints?

    There are a few decent choices, but it seems you are looking for a fancy setting. Since you like Babbo Pastis, I assume you know Daniel. Plume is the closest in DC I can think of that is similar. Nora or Rasika are good, but not the same atmosphere, and both very different, Nora sorta like ABC Kitchen.

    2 Replies
    1. re: law_doc89

      Isn't plume closed? I think it has been re-imagined as more casual Mediterranean.

    2. I'm thinking that Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA will be very good for you. Has the feel of a secret place (this is the DC area, after all) with excellent food. Not quite like the others you mentioned.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        Restaurant eve looks amazing. Is the Tasting Room a prix fixe menu?

        1. re: kirkaw

          I believe so. I've only been to the main part of the restaurant.

          If you are interested in a tasting menu, then you should check out Rogue 24, which is its own unique experience. The videos on the website are telling. After it's all over, this pricey meal seems like a bargain.

      2. Nora is a good recommendation. You might also enjoy Rasika, Bibianna, or The Source.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Elyssa

          Nora is decidedly *not* a good recommendation. About as far in quality from ABC Kitchen and Babbo as one can imagine. Not sure there's anything here in DC comparable to those, other than Komi (which will be a virtually impossible reservation this late in the day). I haven't been to Eve, though, and trust Steve's rec. Also haven't been to Blue Duck Tavern or CitiZen, one or both of which might fit the bill. Palena (not the cafe) and Corduroy offer excellent food, but nothing-special atmosphere.

          Three curve-ball possibilities for you to consider:

          Eola (check recent reviews)

          Litlte Serow (must get in line at 4:45 or so -- seven-course northern Thai; very casual)

          Red Hen (new and not groundbreaking, but very solid neighborhood spot with a very convivial vibe)

          1. re: Marty L.

            When is the last time you were at Nora? I went about a month ago for the first time and was really impressed with the quality. The environment feels like you are dining in some beautiful, European country restaurant. I haven't been to ABC Kitchen so I can't compare. But if you are looking for super local, organic you can't really beat Nora.

            1. re: Elyssa

              Nora is the closest thing in DC to ABC Kitchen. Agree, going strong after 30 years.


              Someone followed our recs and got back about the experience.

              1. re: law_doc89

                One other thing I forgot to mention, we went to Hamersley's Bistro in Boston last year; it came highly recommended. I have to say that I loved the atmsophere and the wine was good, but I was not overly impressed with the food. Maybe I'm just not a French Bistro person? We went to lovely place on that same trip in Beacon Hll, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was called. The butternut squash ravioli was to DIE for!
                One last note, I was not impressed with Mailiano (sp?) in NYC either. On the other hand, Cookshop was amazing, but then again, we went there for brunch.

                1. re: kirkaw

                  I personally love Hamersley's Bistro (I'm from Boston originally). If you like that atmosphere and style food check out Mintwood Place in DC>

            2. re: Marty L.

              This post by the uber-relaible Zora Margolis points to CityZen as your best bet -- . . .

              . . . except that she also indicates the chef will be in Japan for some period of time. Worth inquiring.

              1. re: Marty L.

                These are all great recommendations. Now that I've reviewed some of the web sites, I can refine my request a little. I am not interested in a prix fixe menu.
                I love the look of Restaurant Eve and although the food looks amazing at Nora, I was not thrilled with (what appears to me) the 'colonnial' atmmosphere.
                I loved the wine list at Plume, but for some reason, was unable to get the dinner menu to display.
                Lastly, the menu of Red Hen looks interesting, but I found the website to be lacking as far as 'selling' me on going there.
                I guess I opened myself up for expensive menus when I suggested Babbo, but is there anything with innovative food with entree prices in the $18-28 range instead of north of $30?

                1. re: kirkaw

                  Well, now I think you're limiting your options a bit too much. A lot of spots with great food do not have a "fabulous" atmosphere, and others are priced out of your range. Still others are solid but not "innovative." I would take another look at Red Hen (although the atmosphere is more comfortable and neighborhoodly, not fabulous). And also consider the following:



                  Mintwood Place

                  Seki (sitting at the bar -- but not "fabulous")

                  Zaytinya (a recent post here or on Donrockwell raved about a chef's tasting menu there, but you can certainly go a la carte and put together a great meal you can't find elsewhere)

                  Jaleo downtown


                  1. re: Marty L.

                    If you go to Mintwood, get the flammekuchen.

                  2. re: kirkaw

                    In that price range check out Mintwood Place or Graffiato (Italian-American small plates. Very hip vibe).

              2. Based on your criteria, I would suggest 1789, Eve, and maybe Marcel's.