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DC Fine Dining Near Mandrin Oriental

In September, we will be back to DC, and it looks like some of my favs, like Citronelle, are no more.

We are staying at the Mandrin Oriental, so a bit farther south, than we are used to.

Looking for 2 - 3 fine-dining restaurants, whether new, or old.

In years past, we have done Vidalia's, Citronelle, La Peradou, Bis, Acadiana,1789, Occidental Grill, Charlie Palmer's, Marcel's, Galileo's and a few more. Some are gone, and some are still around. We are not "steakhouse fans," as I can normally do better than most at home, and have a 9K btl. wine cellar, to draw from.

We are looking for some new locations, and a walk, or a short cab-ride would be ideal.

The exact cuisine is not that important, but a good wine list is. The price-points are not an issue, but quality of the food, and the service are.

Thank you,


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  1. One obvious choice is City Zen, located in the Mandarin.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Zevonista

      We have not tried that one yet.

      Thank you,


    2. The hotel is in an isolated location for walking.

      Since you've enjoyed Citronelle, I recommend Central Michel Richard. More casual, but same ethos and still a bit swank.

      While CZ is an obvious choice, not everyone (including myself) is thrilled with it, but it seems right up your alley.

      Speaking of alleys, if you are feeling more adventurous, then Rogue 24 is not comparable to any of those; it does its own thing, admirably. Highly recommended.


      1. Fiola has great service, food, and Italian wine list. If you liked Charlie Palmer then I would consider Bourbon Steak. I think their non-steak items are superior. Lastly, you should consider Blue Duck Tavern. I think they meet your service and quality of food criteria.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Thank you.

            Not familiar with the latter two, but if you place them in the same list with Marcel's, that sounds good.

            It has been several trips, since we have done Marcel's, so they should be up near the top of our list.

            Lots of good spots to work with.



            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Estadio offers a very interesting and eclectic Spanish-centric list.

              Plume is just the opposite, with a very extensive and wide-ranging selection. Some find the list a little off-putting by highlighting the supposed "hidden gems" but just ignore that little quibble and you should very happy.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Thank you.

                I will definitely check each out. Each sounds lovely, and worth the time and calories.

                I have never heard of either - but now I know.

                If they ARE "hidden gems," I swear that I will not divulge the secret, or we will never be able to secure a table... [Grin]

                Greatly appreciated,


            2. re: ipsedixit

              ditto these three as a tasting swoop.

            3. Not necessarily fine dining, but new places worth a look:
              Teddy's and Lincoln. I've been hearing good things. Not sure on wine, but cocktails are interesting.


              PS: Turns our you really do know what I'll be missing from the east coast when I move to Oahu :-)

              1 Reply
              1. re: 0225eiluj

                Aloha Julie,

                So it was YOU, wanting to know about what would be missing, upon moving to Hawai`i.

                While I could not make note of everything, we left New Orleans many years ago, and missed much. Also, we have been in Hawai`i about 2x per year, for the last 25, so know some of the cuisine (mostly fine-dining), and where many of the chefs are heading. We also know some things that are just missing, due to the location and isolation.

                Your question is a great one!

                I am not familiar with Teddy's, or Lincoln, but will check them out. I often get into a bit of a rut, so long as my favorite restaurants do not disappoint me. When we lost Le Paradue and then Citronelle, I knew that it was time to branch out. Next, my wife has her meetings at the Occidental, which will be new to us, and in a slightly different location, so I want to try some new spots. Normally, when she meets with Congress, we are at the Hay Adams, or the DC Hilton, and with some of her medical meetings, we are up at the Marriott at Woodley Park. I know plenty of places near each, but not down at the Occidental, so I greatly appreciate the recs.

                I will check out their wines, as neither of us is really into cocktails, though both are from New Orleans, home of several.

                Mahalo, and enjoy the move to Hawai`i. I think that you will fall in love.


              2. I'm curious to know what your best experience has been in DC so far. Your Oahu recs served me well when I lived there :)

                11 Replies
                1. re: elhuevogrande

                  Hm-m, that is a toughie. We are in DC about 2 - 3x per year, but do often have dinners with my wife's events, or dinners with ____, who she needs to meet with, near their hotel.

                  While we have had great meals at Vidalia, and Citronelle, I will give the nod to Le Paradou, down on Indiana. They were always excellent, and to the max. How I miss them.

                  Marcel's has been good, over the years, and we have enjoyed a few tiny bistros up by Woodley Park (names have blurred now, but one was so good - right across from the Marriott - that we did three dinners, and two lunches.) It was cool, that when we first dined there, our luggage had been lost between PHX - SFO and IAD, and when we came in the next day, the staff noted, "We see that your luggage has not arrived yet." Keen observation. When we went back, the luggage HAD arrived. The server commented, "either your luggage arrived, or you went shopping." On our last visit, the owner came to the table with his new wine list, and asked me to comment on each proposed bottle. I was honored, and flattered. Wish I could recall the name, but it was up a half-flight of stairs, with an al fresco area, right at street level - isn't that Constitution? Great folk, and very, very good food.

                  We have dined at many other locations, but most have not impressed us. 1789 has been great, but also mediocre. Kincead's has been good, but also not so good. Others, like Bistro Bis, Acadiana, and several more, never made the first cut. Same for Charlie Palmer's, which we did enjoy in Sonoma, but not in DC.

                  We have enjoyed Capital Grille, but have one in PHX, so it's down our list. While they have never disappointed us, we'd rather head to a more local, chef-driven place.

                  As we are most often in town, we have NOT ventured out much, so cannot comment on near-by locations, other than to say that out by Dulles, the Hilton's bistro is as good as it gets - tried many others, and they all disappointed. Pains me to say that the Hilton in Herndon is better than all the rest out there.

                  Yes, Le Paradou was the best.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Bill -- the Hilton on 28??? We've lived out here for 20 years and I have never heard a single thing -- good bad or indifferent -- about the restaurant at the Hilton.

                    I am going to check this out!

                    1. re: Bob W

                      I am talking about the Hilton Dulles, http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/virg...

                      We stay there most often, when we have late meetings in DC, but then an early flight to PHX, SFO, or LHR.

                      For many years, we tried restaurants in the area, and cabbed it. They were all horrible. After about 10 years, we decided that we had exhausted all near-by restaurants, either free-standing, or in other hotels. We dined at that Hilton, and were surprised. While not on par with the restaurants in DC, it was better than anything that we had encountered out around Dulles - within about a 25 mi. radius.

                      We finally gave up on trying to find a good restaurant, out by Dulles, and just do the Hilton's little bistro.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        There are great places to eat near Dulles in Sterling and Chantilly, but maybe not the kind of food you are looking for:


                        1. re: Steve

                          Maybe we need to try to "venture out" again, but with monumental failures, I had given up.

                          One, Russia House, needed to get Gordon Ramsay, to do a "Kitchen Nightmares" episode. Great little couple, but totally lost in many respects.

                          We did two Italian restaurants, where one was OK but the other bad, then a half-dozen touted seafood restaurants. They were all dismal, at the very best.

                          Obviously, with one night, 4x per year, one cannot hit them all, but we were batting 0.000, so I just caved in.

                          I was spending US4 80 for cabs, and then finding weak, to horrible food, so not worth my $'s.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            There's also Mokomandy, which I greatly enjoyed recently thanks to recommendations from this board:


                            1. re: dracisk

                              I second MoKoMandy (Modern Korean by Mandy). It's completely unique to this or most areas. Cajun and Korean, but not a fusion of both. Incredible beer selection too.

                              1. re: Bob W

                                I wondered where the name came from -- thanks for the explanation!

                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                              Funny, but true.

                              Have you ever eaten at Nora?

                              1. re: law_doc89

                                Had to check, as I was not sure if Nora was in DC, or out by the airport (IAD). The menu looks very interesting, and like something that we would both enjoy.

                                Will need to check out the address on Florida, but looks very, very promising.

                                Thank you,


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  DC is all about what team you are on, not actually knowing anything. Nora has been a remarkable gem for 30 years, establishing, rather than following. Another interesting place is Le Zinc that has successfully fought off a terrible attack for not fitting in with the establishment newthink. It is across from the ever trendy 2 Amys and does a reasonable facsimile of a French bistro.

                  2. Unfortunately your hotel isn't walking distance to much. As some have mentioned CItyZen is in your hotel. I haven't tried it before so I can't really speak to it's quality but many people like it.

                    In terms of higher end (and easy to cab to) I would recommend Komi (if you can get a reservation), the Source, J & G Steakhouse or Equinox.

                    Since you seem to like some Southern/Cajun food (Vidalia/Acadiana) you might want to check out a much more casual spot called Pearl Dive on 14th Street. 14th is a newer neighborhood and you likely haven't been there before. Lots of great restaurants (including Le Diplomat, Birch and Barley and Estadio). Any of those choices would give you a great, more casual meal out.

                    Finally you might want to check out Central since you liked Citronelle so much. Or you could go to Mintwood (personally one of my favorite restaurants in DC) which was opened by the former Central chef. Wonderful french influenced bistro cusine.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Elyssa

                      Komi and Equinox will be investigated. We have a J&G Steakhouse at the Phoenician, which replaced Mary Elaine's (a very good to great formal restaurant), so I can get that here. I think that Phoenix now has more "absentee celebrity chef steakhouses" per capita (4.1M), than any other city in the US. We seldom do such here, and would not think of doing so elsewhere (Capital Grille, DC is an exception).

                      Mintwood is also new to me, and looks interesting.

                      Cabs are not an issue, it's just that I like to walk, when I can.

                      Thank you,


                    2. - City Zen is the most obvious choice, given it's reputation and location for you
                      - Fiola for fine Italian, though the atmosphere is more casual than you might expect given the food and prices. At its best Fiola is phenomenal
                      - if you've never been to Rasika, go (either location) and order anything you haven't seen on another Indian menu before (in other words, no reason to try Chicken Tikka Masala there)
                      - Izakaya Seki -- no it's not "fine dining" and they don't take reservations for parties less than 5. But if you're open, sit at the bar in front of the chef and tell him to make you what's best today and enjoy.