In DC for a few days with family... looking for ideas
A NYC chowhound here, in DC until Thursday with my family.
I am the real chowhound in my family - adventerous eater. But I gotta keep my wife and kids happy. We will be doing touristy stuff and looking for lunch and dinner ideas. We are staying at the Affinia 418 New Jersey Ave.
All of us like American, Italian, Mexican..... I know DC is known for Ethiopian, not sure how well that would fly with my children (ages 17 and 11) but might try it.
On the NYC boards I know this kind of question comes up all the time, and links to previous questions would be great.
Casual places much preferred
There's no way of telling exactly how your kids will take to Ethiopian - it can be fun and unusual, that's for sure. Depends on how insistent they are on being catered to......
I would take them to Etete on 9th below U st. (U st/Cardozo Metro Stop) Get a vegetarian platter, the drek tibs, and add the fish fir a couple of bucks. Just warn them they eat with their hands and use the unleavened injera to grap their food - it is a sour bread that looks like folded napkins. An acquired taste but one worth acquiring.
Also in the same neighborhood is Oohhs and Aahhs, a Soul Food joint that has great lemon pepper wings, grilled shrimp with grits, short ribs, and a broiled crab cake (this will take 35 minutes - worth the wait). Super casual place, but not cheap! There is a hidden dining area upstairs with waitress service.
Go to Nando's Peri-peri for (what else ) peri-peri chicken. Counter service. I order the quarter dark at the spiciest level, plus the fries with perinnaise sauce and the mushy peas. A really fine meal.
ALso, go to DC-3, which is a hot dog shop. The best is the Seoul hot dog with both kimchi and bulgogi on top. Outrageous. Other good choices are the Tuscon Sonoran and the Jersey Ripper.
For milkshakes, go to Good Stuff Eatery. The toasted marshamlow milkshake is great, but other good choices are the milky way or check out the flavor of the month. Also here I like the sunnyside burger and the village fries.
A bit further afield for you is Locolat, a tiny super-casual Belgian place which specializes in savory waffles. Toppings like escargot, grilled vegetables, carbonnade, Queen's Delight, crab cake, Get the pesto or the garlic waffles.
Within easy walking distance of your hotel the Liason Capitol Hill is Rasika (Indian) and Minibar, a bit further are places like Rogue and Seasonal Pantry (a market that also offers a "supper club" dining experience).
Even further away is Little Serow, which is great for Thai, but get there early.
Just a warning on the above places. They're all great, but they are expensive and are often booked far in advance.
Rasika - fantastic Indian for those of us who don't "like" "Indian". Expensive and probably fully booked on weekend nights.
Minibar - cutting edge molecular gastronomy, very small (17 seats) and VERY expensive - - $225 per person before drinks, tax and tip
Rogue 24 - similar to minibar, but bigger and cheaper, but still a very expensive meal
Little Serow - fantastic northern Thai and very cheap for what you get (for DC). $45 per person, but it's very small and very popular and they don't take reservations. They open at 5:30 and the line starts forming a half hour to an hour before opening! Great place, but it might be too much hassle with a family
I would walk to Batter Bowl Bakery for really lovely French pastries and open-faced sandwiches. Very high quality, very accessible.
Also walkable: I've heard good things about the Carving Room, interesting combo of Jewish Ashkenazi (home-smoked deli meats) and Sephardic flavors.
If you're on the south side of the Mall, check out the food trucks gathered at L'Enfant Plaza. If you look at foodtruckfiesta.com, you can see the exact location and all the trucks. Weekdays only, lots of interesting options.
If you're on the north side of the Mall, I recommend Paul bakery for French sandwiches and pastries. Hill Country Barbeque and Carmine's are often recommended, BBQ and Italian respectively. All of these are casual. District Taco is fine though nothing revelatory, and there's one downtown on F Street.