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What types of restaurants does DC need now?

In your opinion, what is the DC restaurant scene missing? I'm hoping some restaurateurs will see this and take up our suggestions.

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  1. Uighur Chinese and/or Xinjiang (Muslim) Chinese.

    Breton galettes.


    5 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      I have read that there are more Uighurs in the DC area than anywhere else in the USA (we've had some in our ESL program in Falls Church). Too bad they're not gastronomically inclined.

      Can't help with Breton galettes (don't even know what that is), but I think we do sort of have some Israeli food (which is very similar to Jordanian/Egyptian food in many respects).

      Max's Kosher Deli in Wheaton and at Nats' Park has very respectable Israeli-style shawarma and falafel sandwiches and Water Park Cafe, a take-out stand in Crystal City has excellent foul medames, which, though Egyptian, is indistinguishable from the foul we had in Amman and Jerusalem. The owner also gave us a bite of Egyptian koshary, which was superb.

      So, I concede there's not exactly an Israeli restaurant here, but both Max's and Water Park Cafe are well worth knowing about for Israeli-ish food.



      1. re: Mississippi Snopes

        In terms of the piecemeal creation of an Israeli meal - the The Kafta Mania truck (I believe to be of Lebanese extraction) has very high quality babaganoush and also has a haloumi sandwich very similar to the style sold in Israel.

        Also in terms of 'food found in Israel' DC does have Ethiopian and Russian/FSU restaurants that have many dishes prevalent in Israel. I don't know of a place in DC that has shakshuka, burekas, or Jewish Yemini food, but other than that - most Israeli food cravings I can think of can basically be met by most DC restaurants.

        1. re: cresyd

          Yeah, you can sample some Israeli things here that are piecemeal. In Miami there is a place called Etzel Izik, where they start everyone off with a myriad of appetizers like different marinated vegetables and slaws. They also make an iced lemonade/mint drink that I hear in Tel Aviv is standard, but here in the States is a revelation.

          1. re: Steve

            Very true - getting the mix of Eastern Europe and Middle Eastern food in one place helps under the Israeli umbrella. And you are very correct abut lemonade with mint being a standard Israeli beverage - however served as a frozen beverage is less common. I prefer the drink when it just has basically a whole stalk of mint in the glass verses the mint cut up very finely.

            Wanting Israeli food though is a bit like saying "I want an American restaurant" - there are definitely some melting pot combos (carp caviar salad on top of labne....oh memories.....), but most of the food has origins within other more readily available cuisines. Regarding starting the meals with different appetizers - look for Middle Eastern/Turkish restaurants that have diverse mezzes appetizer places. Lots of places in the US will just do the standard babaganoush, hummus, and fried items - but it is more traditional to also have pickled/marinated veggies, slaws, and salads as well.

            Zaytinya actually is pretty close in options to what I'd consider to be an Israeli umbrella (minus some Ashkenazi food and plus some more Greek options). May not be the cheapest way to get that experience - but their Bamya (okra) is really spot on what I'd expect to get in Israel (if not better). Not to mention it is a place where you can get caviar salad and labne in the same place....

        2. re: Mississippi Snopes

          Galettes are buckwheat crepes from Brittany, with savory fillings. Hefty, but also buttery and lacey. It's why I hate places that use the same crepe better for both sweet and savory. Just doesn't work out so well.

      2. I want a real vegetarian restaurant. I love Souen in NYC—wish they'd open an outpost here.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mbabyok

          There was one here--Vegetate. We went there frequently when it was open. My husband isn't vegetarian and he loved it. Interesting food (not things like stir fried vegetables over brown rice), really good cocktails, and the space was interesting (an old row house converted into a restaurant.) We were really sad when it closed. I think upscale vegetarian/vegan fare is just too much of a niche market for this area. It's a shame.

          Oh, and if you haven't tried Elizabeth's Gone Raw (http://www.elizabethsonlstreet.com/), you should. It's the DC equivalent to Pure Food and Wine in NYC, but it's only open one day a week. I had one of the best meals of my life there, for my birthday this year.

          1. re: eam531

            I was actually hoping for moderately-priced vegetarian. When I lived in NYC I would go to Souen's or Angelica's Kitchen for vegetarian food after yoga. Both weren't that expensive, healthy, and better than what I could prepare at home.

            That said, I will definitely try Elizabeth's!

            1. re: mbabyok

              Don't know anything about it beyond the website, but one of these is coming in at Navy Memorial. Been watching them build it out for a month or so.


            1. re: braver

              Seriously! I was just in Toronto and had great Indochinese. I want Chili Garlic Noodles in DC!!!! A major void on the DC food scene.

              1. re: piafoodie

                Not completely lacking.

                Super Bowl - Chinese restaurant in Rockville - has a good version of chili chicken.

                Several restaurants - in the suburbs - have a few Indian Chinese dishes.I think there is an old thread or two on them. Maybe a new one is in order.

                1. re: Lori D

                  Here are links to two places with chilli garlic noodles on the menu (haven't been so don't know how good they are):


                2. re: piafoodie

                  My brother is in Vancouver, and when there we've done tours of some great Indonesian restaurants. That would be great to have here.

                  1. re: lapopessa

                    yeah in the category of Malay/Indonesian, Kopitiam was 'hit or miss' (but when it hit... watch out) and that other place, Penang? just never did it for me.

                    if someone can be convince to open an Indonesian (ok Indonesian/Dutch colonial period) joint, I bet the DC crowd would love a good Rijstaffel

                3. re: braver

                  There is a halal Chinese place in Springfield which is Pakistani Style Chinese. It is called Mandarin. They have mango lassis. If you order well, you can do well here and it's a good places for sauces and spicy food. Avoid Egg Foo Yung. I order off menu a lot and adjust their sauces (extra garlic, extra spicy, etc.)

                  Jason, www.dcfud.com

                4. lunchy-brunchy? get some good cheap dim sum back within the District borders. why is BBQ such a problem? why is it so hard to find a good Banh Mi or a Cubano or a Muffaletta w/o a food truck nearby? any of these should be a no-brainer.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: hill food

                    BBQ - DCity Smokehouse
                    Cubano - Mi Cuba

                    1. re: DanielK

                      DanielK, thank you for recommending Mi Cuba -- I see they have tostones so i WILL be making a trip there this weekend, Lord willing. And i see they have empanadas de guayaba y queso. Beautiful. Can't wait. (Superb that they do breakfast, too).

                      PS, were you on the east coast in Florida? I'm from Fort Myers.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Sophie's is also a good Cuban spot, between Dupont and Farragut.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          alkapal - I lived outside of Fort Lauderdale in the 80s. Mi Cuba compares to the better Cuban places I ate down there.

                        2. re: DanielK

                          but there ought to be more than one or 2 completely across town from the customer and/or each other and/or requiring a car or extensive Metro transfers.

                        3. re: hill food

                          Lunchy brunchy or even good low-key breakfast places.

                          1. DC is missing an exclusively gluten free restaurant, like Risotteria in the West Village. As a celiac, I can confidently say that I'd probably need to open up a line of credit at a restaurant where I could eat anything on the menu without fear.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: jim_malone

                              Not a gluten free restaurant, but there is a gluten free bakery - http://happytartbakery.com/ in Alexandria. The owner has celiac. The cupcakes, cakes are very good - it's like eating regular cake. And it is a very different experience to know that you can eat everything; it's moving to see people in there for the first time, having that experience.

                              Although I must say I haven't been there in awhile. I have actually found recently that I was getting way more gluten free baked goods than I should be eating, even more sweets than before I went gluten free. So I have cut back considerably, which means no recent trips to the bakery.

                              I would be happy with a restaurant that had decent gluten free bread/rolls so I could have a sandwich or a burger in a restaurant. It is possible (I have done that in Toronto, at the airport, even, and in Austin), but I haven't seen this in the DC area. If I am missing something, please let me know.

                              1. re: Lori D

                                while I do not need to be gluten-free, I do thank the heavens the recipes have advanced so much farther than my first 'adventure' 20 years ago, and I now have no reservations in joining in, but good lord that was awful back then. I suspected some ate it out a feeling of some strange obligation back then. (granted it was gluten, fat and dairy free vegan fare among a bunch of art-school types - so yeah it all seemed a lump of flavor-free play-doh except play-doh does have gluten)

                                1. re: Lori D

                                  Lori and jim: have you tried the 'special diets' board? that one like some others know no specific geography, but range all over.

                              2. affordable french --> we need another le gaulois! i miss that place so much. i need a fix of their quenelles de brochet in sauce americaine, veal casserole, mignonettes of beef in brandy peppercorn sauce, garlicky snails, saumon en papillote avec legumbres, bouillabaisse, berries in sabayon.....

                                and i wish we had more good bbq, too. the best around here is in gainesville -- bad to the bone. i wouldn't expect good bbq in the expense-account driven DC, but the burbs? close-in? why not?

                                cuban food -- yes! who is making tostones here? guarapa? pork fricassee? pork roast?

                                sri lankan restaurant -- one that offers a full range of sri lankan curries, sambols, hoppers (esp. hoppers)! (the one near del ray was quite mediocre in the very little they offered of actual sri lankan on the menu. terrible service and it took forever).

                                southern seafood -- fried gulf shrimp, fried grouper, hush puppies, slaw....

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: alkapal

                                  What price range do you mean for "affordable" french?

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    dinner entrees average around 22 ( i *guess* it'd be these days…back then it was more like avg. 17), with a french country menu like the old le gaulois. still pining!

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      We might have talked about this before and I haven't been in a long time but have you been to Le Refuge in Old Town? It's french country, a little higher than your price range but you can find things in that range.


                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Also in Georgetown, La Ruche is a basic nice French cafe that's been there for decades. I go back every few years and still enjoy it.

                                        1. re: lapopessa

                                          La Ruche is pretty bad, especially when you get a wine sauce that tastes more like a tomato sauce. This place has little to do with French food anymore.

                                  2. re: alkapal

                                    You're in luck - a Sri Lankan restaurant opened recently in Alexandria. And yes, they have hoppers!


                                    1. re: TenleyExpat

                                      thanks, but that is the place we went to, and i mentioned in my post. they only have string hoppers, which mr. alka declared to be "pretty good." i want the egg hoppers, which are like fermented rice batter crepes made in a mini wok, and then an egg is dropped in to cook slightly (leaving the yolk liquid, but the white cooked). these are served with sambols. the crepe-type hopper is also done sans egg.

                                  3. A good $5 lunch. With price and tax increases, today it's hard to get away from an order-at-the-counter lunch for under $7, and under $9 with table service.

                                    Example: Within a year, the Flippin' Pizza special of 2 slices and a drink for $5 including tax went to $5.50, then $6, and is now $6.60 (they finallly dropped the "including tax").

                                    And speaking of tax, Baja Fresh is always sending me a coupon for $2 off an order of $8+. With some judicious menu study, it's possible to come up with an $8.09 meal so they take off $2, but they (at least the Falls Church shop) charge tax on the full $8.09, probably pocketing an extra 20 cents.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: MikeR

                                      I would like more places where you have a nice lunch with friends but not spend a lot. I feel like there used to be more of those places, but now it's pretty much either places like Roti, or expensive tablecloth restaurants.

                                    2. DC and the metro whole area needs a place that has a real Gujarati-Rajasthani thali service. I think if the food were well made and if the atmosphere and service were nice, a Gujarati-Rajasthani thali service place, family owned or like the Maharaj Bhog or Rajdhani franchise, would do very very good business.

                                      1. The whole area could also use some good North Indian style chaat houses, and some Gujarati farsan+chaat houses.

                                        1. This area needs a good bakery and good ice cream.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Burb_Foodie

                                            Bread Furst (Van Ness) and York Castle (Rockville).

                                            1. re: Burb_Foodie

                                              Seems like everyone into bakeries has his or her favorite.

                                              Recent reports of Nice Creamery in Clarendon suggest that they have the best ice cream anywhere.

                                              1. re: MikeR

                                                yes, i agree, mike r. i think heidelberg bakery in arlington is top notch.

                                              2. i'd like more mid-eastern restaurants.

                                                1. Israeli. A full Argentine Bakery (Tango Pastry is good but limited). A steller but traditional kosher style deli near a metro in DC or Nova.

                                                  1. Good, affordable Indian places. Several outlets of Pollo Rico (there can never be enough opportunities to eat Pollo Rico). Good, affordable Vietnamese places. Granted the suburbs nicely cover these areas, but we're lacking them in DC proper.

                                                    I usually grouse about BBQ, but honestly, Kangaroo Boxing Club, DCity Smokehouse, and (surprisingly) Fat Pete's have all really impressed me in the last couple of months. Mr. P's serves excellent ribs on the weekend from his truck in Bloomingdale and when they aren't being shut down for vermin infestation, Hill Country makes decent (albeit inconsistent and over-priced) BBQ. I wouldn't call us a BBQ town, but I think we can finally say we have more than a couple of really good places for tender, flavorful, smoked meats.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                      You do realize, I hope, that complaining that the suburbs have food missing in DC proper is like complaining about being too pretty or thin.

                                                      1. re: Burb_Foodie

                                                        He Wasn't. He Was Just Acknowledging It So.that Someone Doesn't Try To Send Him To The Burbs. :)

                                                        1. re: Burb_Foodie

                                                          I'm not so sure I buy that analogy. There are things I miss in terms of food that I greatly enjoyed when living in Silver Spring, while there are things that I also greatly enjoy living in DC that I didn't have such easy access to while in Silver Spring.

                                                          1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                            I guess if depends what suburbs you're in. I'm closer to Gaithersburg and find the pickings to be slim.

                                                            1. re: Burb_Foodie

                                                              Yeah, I suppose I should have been more specific. Gaithersburg is out there, and seems a bit of a food desert. I was thinking more along the lines of Arlington/Falls church, Rockville, Wheaton, and to some degree, Alexandria. Those places all have many options for good, well priced food.

                                                              I really do miss being so close to Wheaton - delicious and cheap Chinese food at several places, some of the best and most affordable Thai food in the area, delicious and cheap Korean soups and stews at H Mart, Max's Kosher, Pollo Rico, bahn mis at Saigonese, Seoul Food's bibimbap bowls, Peruvian food at Asi Es Mi Tierra, excellent Ramen at Ren's Ramen, etc...

                                                        2. Georgian! There was one here briefly ages ago in Georgetown, a downstairs restaurant called Balalaika. Was lucky enough to have a friend who'd spent years there in town at the time and she pronounced it wonderfully authentic and we returned as many times as we could before she left town.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: lapopessa

                                                            RusUz in Ballston is an Uzbekistani restaurant and there are a lot of food similarities between that and Georgian cuisines. Some of the same stuff, some slight variations on a theme.

                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                              Ah, if only it were in DC. I don't get into the suburbs, disability that is enough to stop me from traveling easily ;). But good to know, thank you!

                                                              1. re: lapopessa

                                                                actually, it is relatively close to the ballston metro (elevator,,maybe 1- ½ short blocks), fwiw,

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  Ballston is fairly accessible as long as you don't have to cross Glebe (as an abled person I was terrified on a daily basis - more if I worked late)

                                                            2. re: lapopessa

                                                              Compass Rose near U Street has some Georgian offerings, including khachapuri (which is absolutely amazing!). I live by RusUz and agree with the other commenters that it is accessible.

                                                            3. I'd like to see a good Portuguese restaurant. The only two I know of are in Maryland and not that good.

                                                              1. Still dream about Paru's masala dosas. They were the best.