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D.C. restaurants for a 23 y.o food lover

Help. My son, a 23 y.o , who works on the hill, asked me for the name of some restaurants to take a date. Both of them have great taste in food but he has a limited budget. Any suggestions for a place that is fun, great food but not outrageous in price
Thanks

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  1. Menomale Pizza or Rustik Tavern.

    1. Ghibellina for pizza and cocktails in Logan Circle
      Regent Thai in Adams Morgan
      Jaleo for Spanish tapas in Gallery Place
      Bistro D'Oc for a romantic French bistro setting in Metro Center

      If he doesn't mind dining on the earlier end he can consider some of the great pre-theater specials around town at some usually higher end restaurants: Rasika (Indian-$35), Central (French/American $35), and Masa14 (Asian/Latin $32 and includes a cocktail).

      4 Replies
      1. re: Elyssa

        Also forgot Etete for Ethiopian on U Street. Affordable and fun!

        1. re: Elyssa

          Tosca has a great pretheater menu too for $38.

          side note: I do remember one time dining on a pre-theater menu (I believe it was 701) and service either was incompetent or did not believe we actually had theater tix because they disappeared for about 20 minutes after they served us coffee.

          1. re: Doh

            That's funny, because most of the time I find that when I'm doing a pre-theater menu at a DC restaurant (and I'm not going to the theater), I always feel a bit rushed.

            The words conveyor belt and drive-thru come to mind. Food doesn't suffer so much as the pacing and service of the meal.

            One reason I always hesitate to recommend a restaurant for a date night and then follow-up it up with "get the theater menu".

            1. re: Doh

              I'm not sure Tosca or 701 would be all that enjoyable for a 23 year-old if they are looking for something fun, which is the only reason I didn't include them in my list. Those 2 restaurants tend to cater to an older crowd.

          2. If he has a car, he can go to any one of the many dozens of fantastic cheap ethnic restaurants in the burbs. May not seem date-like at first, but a great meal will prove to the date that he went to the trouble of finding something the date will enjoy.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Just Visiting

              Many years ago I took my now-wife to the old Pho 75 location on Wilson Blvd. She was very put off by the limited menu but now she is more of a pho lover than I am.

              1. re: Bob W

                Speaking only for myself, if a guy took me to a "fine dining" place I would not enjoy myself nearly so much or be nearly as impressed as if he took me to a great ethnic place. Because that would be my kind of guy. So I suppose the OP's son needs to take the girl to a place that would impress the kind of girl he would like to be with.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  My wife came from a Baltimore family that was completely ignorant of ethnic foods. Incredibly -- we met in 1989 -- they never had gone out for Chinese food! So Pho 75, with its long tables and one-item menu, was bit much, I guess. But she came around .8<D

            2. First, beware of blanket recommendations. Most places do only some things well.

              Here are my top five:

              El Rinconcito: there is one at 11th and M Sts, but I think the one on the 1300 block of Park Rd (Colombia Heights metro) is nicer. Go for the carne deshilada, papusas, and tamales.

              Ghibelina, Happy Hour, pizza at bar seating only. Half price. Quality is sky high. Share a pizza ($9) and split something else.

              Toki Underground, must reserve, but go principally for the kimchi ramen. Seriously, this is a must order. I can't tell you how many people I meet say this. Reservation link:

              https://www.cityeats.com/dc/restauran...

              Lyon Hall in Arlington. Easy metro ride to this Alsatian spot for kraut garnie, pickled vegetables, and warm soft pretzels.

              Full Kee:
              Hong Kong style shrimp wonton soup, duck stuffed with shrimp paste, oyster and ginger casserole.

              1. Thanks for all the recommendations. I will pass them on to him.

                  1. re: drsmoke

                    I think both Black Salt and Graffiato might be budget-busters for OP's son.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Black Salt is very expensive. If I was 23 that's the type of place I would wait to until the folks were in town or Restaurant Week.

                      I was at Graffiato the other day and there was a young couple (I would say 23-25 yo) on a first date and they seemed to really be enjoying it.

                  2. "who works on the hill"

                    does he want to stay on the HIll or is the whole town their oyster?

                    1. Well then The Cheesecake Factory!