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Washington DC for a five day sisters' trip

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My sisters and I will be in DC for four nights, five days this coming wknd. Looking for some fun places to eat. Criteria: food FIRST. Doesn't have to be fancy although we don't mind spending more either. So far we have dinners booked at Le Diplomate and Bourbon Steak. Would love suggestions for fun lunch/brunch spots and casual dining. Thks all!

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  1. I'll throw out a list of restaurants of hottest/best restaurants and you can check out their menus to see if you like them:

    Little Serow (Thai), Osteria Morini (Italian), Red Hen (Italian), Kapnos (Greek), Isakaya Seki (Japanese), Jaleo (Spanish), Fiola Mare (Italian seafood), Rogue 24 (Molecular Gastronomy), Rose's Luxury (Creative American), Sushi Taro (sushi bar omakase), Rasika (high end Indian).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Worldwide Diner

      Thks - great list and different from some I've seen. Haven been to Jaleo and loved it. Any thoughts on Bibiana Osteria, Lincoln, Black Salt or Blue Duck?

      1. re: duckandcake

        Fiola, Fiola Mare and Osteria Morini are better than Bibiana for Italian. Fiola and Osteria Morini are a little bit better, Fiola Mare is much better, but also more expensive. So if you want to go to Bibiana because the menu looks good, I wouldn't hold you back. Other good bets in DC are Casa Luca and Alba Osteria (comparable to Bibiana).

        I like Black Salt's food but the dining room just isn't very pretty. Again, Fiola Mare is better and more interesting, but more expensive. Unfortunately your options for pure seafood in DC is fairly limited. If you go to Union Market, I would suggest eating some shellfish at Rappahannock Oysters. Or if you're interested in some good cocktails, then Eat the Rich does that and serves some interesting seafood. Other seafood options include Kellari Tavern, Joe's Stone Crab, Oceanaire.

        Never been to Lincoln (because I don't think it's as good as the other joints I listed), and haven't been to Blue Duck in some time, but they still have a great reputation.

        I'm sure everyone has a different list. If you specify what you're looking for, or even what you don't want, you'll get more tailored suggestions.

        Oh, if you're into the ramen craze, Toki Underground is the hottest place for that.

        1. re: duckandcake

          Don't bother going to Lincoln. Food was blah and it was one of the loudest restaurants I've ever been to. We were shouting at each other trying to have a conversation.

          1. re: piafoodie

            Thks for the heads up on Lincoln. Worldwide, the challenge is that two of us love everything and one sister is the "picky" one, so probably will stay away from Thai/Asian (sadly). Your Italian choices sound great. I've been to Osteria Morini in NY, so maybe will try another. And I love the sound of Eat the Rich :-)

            1. re: duckandcake

              I'll put in a dissenting view in favor of Lincoln. It doesn't get much critical support, but I had an excellent meal there -- it's a restaurant that will let the picky eater get her fill of DC standards like crab cakes and shrimp and grits, but let the more open-minded try things like deviled eggs with black truffles, bone marrow, a DC half-smoke in puff pastry.

              I was happily surprised by Lincoln (plus it has hosted either Michelle or Barack Obama, usually a pretty good indication of good food).

              I laughed at your comment about coming from Toronto so not needing any "broadening" of your palate. My wife and I did a driving vacation to Toronto without doing any research at all ... so we were expecting some kind of vague "Canadian" food ... and found one of the greatest food cities we've ever been to. A city where more than half the residents are foreign born is bound to have great food, and Toronto certainly does. No more Canadian food jokes for us.

              One of the greatest meals of my life was at Black Hoof in Toronto. Is it still superb?

              If you could talk the picky sister into it, DC does have one cuisine that is underrepresented in Toronto -- Ethiopian. We're stronger than anywhere else in North America for that. But to the picky, it is really odd food -- starting with the slightly fermented, spongy, moist bread (injera).

              The suggestions above for mainstream restaurants are good and I can strongly second those for Kapnos and Rose's Luxury. If you want a more reasonable price point, I'd also recommend Cava on Capitol Hill (branches in Arlington and somewhere in Maryland). It's mostly Greek, but there are lots of things for the mainstream eater, and the grilled octopus and the lamb sliders are consistently superb.

              1. re: Mississippi Snopes

                Thks for the add'l feedback. The challenge with my sister is garlic - she literally cannot stomach it and in cuisine that is specific to a region, it's often harder for her to find things she can comfortably eat.

                Glad to hear that you discovered how great the food is here! Don't hold our British heritage against us :-). Black Hoof is still great, but the original chef has left and opened up a new place called Bar Isabel - recently voted one of the country's best restaurants. Haven't been yet - it is IMPOSSIBLE to get a reservation and we just haven't gotten around to trying to stop by for a cancellation.

      2. Worth doing is the walking/eatingtour of Georgetown. I did it last February. 5 or 6 good restuarants with large sample servings in a sit down setting. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable re. Georgetown history. A few bucks and 3 hours well spent.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bigjim68

          Thks! that sounds like fun and could also potentially serve as a lunch/dinner slot :-)

          1. re: duckandcake

            The tour we took was Metro DC. You won't need dinner or lunch. The samples are quite large, and the restaurant quality and selection was excellent.

          2. re: Bigjim68

            Which restaurants did you go to and what did you have, do you remember? Thanks.

          3. If you have a car and/or are willing to venture into the suburbs, especially if you've never tried Laotian cuisine and you like Vietnamese/Thai, I highly recommend Bangkok Golden in Seven Corners (Virginia).

            I don't know where you live, but if you don't have much Vietnamese food locally, that is one of the DC area's strengths, but most of the best is in VA not DC. Minh's is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the area and a short walk from the Courhouse metro station (just two stops from DC on the Orange line). Also to consider at Courthouse is Rays the Steaks -- I bet the bill including wine will be half as much as at Bourbon, no exaggeration, for just as good or better food.

            A lot of DC restaurants are not open for weekend lunch, Zaytinya (Middle Eastern/Greek mezze) is open all day on the weekends, a table during the day probably doesn't need a reservation.

            I agree with the ideas below for Izakaya Seki (no reservations) and any of Fiola/Fiola Mare/Casa Luca (all same owners). Also Rasika -- which I think should be emphasized since it's likely your hometown has nothing equivalent. There are two Rasikas, both very good. The original in Penn Quarter has a semi-private room -- if they are booked on opentable it's worth calling to see if they can accommodate your party.

            4 Replies
            1. re: holdtheline

              Thks for the suggestions. I'm in Toronto, home to every possible cuisine and 130+ languages spoken :-). Asian is strongly represented and there's a significant Indian community here, so I am lucky to have really great cuisine at my fingertips. Let me know if you are coming this way - we can trade tips :-). I will keep your reccos in my back pocket for a future trip as one of my sisters is NOT an adventuresome eater. These sound well worth the trip for a future visit.

              1. re: duckandcake

                On the whole, I'd say Toronto sounds like the better place to be this time of year.

                1. re: duckandcake

                  Do you have a strong Ethipian presence? If not, there are quite a few good ones in DC like Etete. I don't know if that's too adventurous for your sister. You could also try Ben's Chili Bowl more for the history than the food and Oohs and Ahhs for soul food. Also, there is Mitsitam in the American Indian Museum that might be different from anything you'd get in Toronto. There is enough variety that a picky eater will find plenty of options.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Thks - all good options. Will report back!