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

reenbean Dec 16, 2013 06:04 PM

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

  1. d
    drsmoke Dec 21, 2013 02:00 PM

    Well then The Cheesecake Factory!

    1. hill food Dec 17, 2013 11:25 PM

      "who works on the hill"

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

      1. d
        drsmoke Dec 17, 2013 02:23 PM

        Black Salt


        2 Replies
        1. re: drsmoke
          ipsedixit Dec 17, 2013 06:22 PM

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

          1. re: ipsedixit
            Elyssa Dec 19, 2013 01:42 PM

            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. r
          reenbean Dec 17, 2013 02:10 PM

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

          1. s
            Steve Dec 17, 2013 06:54 AM

            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:


            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. j
              Just Visiting Dec 17, 2013 04:25 AM

              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
                Bob W Dec 17, 2013 06:20 AM

                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
                  Just Visiting Dec 17, 2013 01:12 PM

                  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
                    Bob W Dec 17, 2013 01:25 PM

                    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. e
                Elyssa Dec 16, 2013 07:46 PM

                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
                  Elyssa Dec 17, 2013 05:01 AM

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

                  1. re: Elyssa
                    Doh Dec 17, 2013 08:30 AM

                    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
                      ipsedixit Dec 17, 2013 09:57 AM

                      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
                        Elyssa Dec 17, 2013 01:56 PM

                        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. ipsedixit Dec 16, 2013 07:02 PM

                      Menomale Pizza or Rustik Tavern.

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