Capital Asses and Drinking Glasses
June 22, 2011 7:47 AM   Subscribe

In a few weeks I'll be in DC for most of a week for a conference. I am a foodie. Help!

That pretty much sums it up. I'll be at the Grand Hyatt from like the 12th to the 16th or something of July for a conference. I know one night I'm going to Fugo de Chao, but I don't have anything else lined up.

There's just about nothing I *won't* eat, not a real fan of bugs---but offal is fine, any ethnicity is fine, love love love Pho Dac Biet. I also love love love oysters...last year I went to Old...Old Dominion? Old...the super old upper scale restaurant down by...a statue...of someone on a horse?

Anyway, do you have any place to recommend? I have a per diem and some extra cash, don't necessarily want to spend it all. I don't want to take a cab either, but walking 15 blocks isn't an issue. Any meal is fine, from breakfast to dinner.

Sidebar---if anyone would like to join me, I'd love company.
posted by TomMelee to Food & Drink (39 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1) Go to U St between 18th & 11th and Adams Morgan (18th St NW)
2) Eat all the Ethiopian food.
3) Repeat as necessary.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:53 AM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

I've been trying to get to MiniBar forever, and just can't get it to happen. Maybe I can live vicariously through you?
posted by goggie at 7:54 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: I'm not a huge foodie but I've enjoyed the Blue Duck Tavern as well as Birch and Barley when doing nice dinners downtown. They are both walkable from Dupont.

Otherwise, I completely agree with Tomorrowful.
posted by Loto at 7:55 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Ben's Chili Bowl is a must. I still dream of El Pollo Sabroso.
posted by lunasol at 7:56 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: You went to Old Ebbitt. :)
posted by nkknkk at 7:59 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh! Yes to Ethiopian on Adams Morgan (I prefer Meskerem, but others would definitely argue otherwise). Also ditto to Ben's Chili Bowl. I also just thought of Granville Moores as another place I would love to go (toddler and living in Baltimore makes restaurant eating in DC surprisingly difficult). They do authentic Belgian style moules frites.
posted by goggie at 8:03 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Head over to Palena and be very happy.
posted by PussKillian at 8:09 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tosca! Best Italian food I've ever had in the US.
posted by caoimhe at 8:19 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have a crab cake at the Eastern Market lunch counter (closed on Mondays). If you are ever here during months with an "r" that is the place for fried oysters! I can't wait 'til September. Yes, you went to Old Ebbitt. It is packed every evening. I've heard raves about their breakfasts.
posted by jgirl at 8:21 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: I love Jaleo for tapas, sherry flights, etc. Excellent food!
And yeah, Ben's chili bowl is open late & very tasty
posted by pointystick at 8:23 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Nora is pricey, but worth it.

For oysters, Hank's generally does live up to its hype.

If you're going out for Ethiopian (and we do it better than anyplace outside of Ethiopia), I recommend Queen of Sheba for dinner and Habesha Market for lunch.

Get a sandwich at Bread Line, then head over to M.E. Swing for coffee. If you have an afternoon off, explore the Capital City Market and get a sandwich at A. Litteri.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:26 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: If you're going to be on H St NE (where Granville Moore's is) and you're not already sick of Ethiopian, you can head a couple blocks down to Ethiopic. And as always, visit any of the "Ray's" (i.e. The Steaks, Hellburger, The Classics) locations in the DC area for gourmet beef at reasonable prices.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:28 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: I really love Oyamel in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown - it's run by the same guy that does minibar (which I've been to and loved, sorry goggie) and Jaleo, but I think it's better than Jaelo by far. They do Oaxacan Mexican food served small-plate style. Get the grasshopper tacos!

Also, not to whore too much for Jose Andres, but his other restaurant in the area, Zaytinya, is a great Mediterranean place and is just like 3 blocks down from Oyamel.
posted by SNWidget at 8:29 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Rocklands BBQ.
Pete's Apizza.
posted by D.Billy at 8:30 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Bistrot Du Coin has wonderful french fare
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 8:42 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: If you like Thai, try Thai-Xing. The food is awesome and authentic, and the experience is kind of bizarre, in a fun way. You'll basically be eating in some guy's nick-nack-filled basement, elbow-to-elbow with other patrons. You can't just show up, if you intend to eat there you need to call ahead of time and order your dish, so check out the menu ahead of time. Either call and leave a message, or call IMMEDIATELY when they open. The first time we went, we were noobs and called about 15 minutes after opening, and they were already booked up for the evening.
posted by illenion at 8:42 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, not to whore too much for Jose Andres ...

Zantiya is overrated - expensive, often too-greasy Mediterranean "tapas" served up with unjustified attitude.

Two sleepers for Mediterranean food worth checking out:

Lebanese Taverna's Woodley Park location - solid, unpretentious, priced right, and sometimes much, much better than they have to be.

Greek Deli is consistently fantastic. Carry out only, but worth it if you get a nice day and can eat outside.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:45 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Here are my picks... NW-centric, but that's my hood :)

* Oysters: my go-to is Hank's Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle. Old Ebbitt's (where you went) and Clyde's also have them, as does the newly-opened Tackle Box in Cleveland Park (3 varieties last week, mostly Canadian, but I didn't try them).

* Non-oyster seafood (all in Dupont): Pesce is great. If you want Greek seafood, try Mourayo. I'm a big fan of the mussels at Bistrot du Coin (but if you go and it's too crowded, DO NOT go to "Bistro Bistro" across the street -- try Mourayo or Pizzaria Paradiso [great pizza, even better beers]).

* Seriously high-end foodiness: Komi.

* Ethiopian: DC does Ethiopian better than any other US city I've tried, & Dukem is consistently decent. On preview, what Tomorrowful said (Dukem is in there too). Wherever you go, don't just get one thing; order a tasting platters & go to town.

* Italian & pizza: I am a HUGE fan of Dino. The food is wonderful, the drinks are nice, and the owner is routinely around talking to patrons :) Nearby Palena is excellent. Paradiso makes good pizza and has GREAT beers, like I said; but REALLY good pizza and wonderful small plates can be had at 2 Amy's (we usually just get one pizza and gorge ourselves on the small plates -- mmm, Cantabrian anchovies).

* Middle Eastern: Amsterdam Falafel on 18th St in Adams Morgan has falafel & fries & a bar-full of toppings, and literally nothing else (except soda & brownies) -- they do one thing, but they do it RIGHT. For more variety, go-tos are: Lebanese Taverna (multiple locations -- they're local but successful enough to open up in a few places, one of which is right on Conn Ave across from the Adams Morgan/ Woodley Park metro stop), Mama Ayeshas (Calvert & Connecticut NW in Adams Morgan & close to the Woodley Park metro), and Zaytinya (downtown). You can do the shared mezze thing at all of them, which is fun.

* Spanish: Jaleo is Jose Andres' tapas bar (downtown near Gallery Place). It's good and it's very fun. I prefer the more traditional [some would say stuffy] Taberna del Alabardero (17th & I NW, near Farragut Square). It's their 3rd location -- the other two are in Madrid :) They have a great tapas happy hour.

* Nouveau Mexican/Latin American: Oyamel, Rosa Mexicano, and Cafe Atlantico (all downtown near Gallery Place) are well-known for doing inventive dishes. I like Cafe Atlantico (another one of Jose Andres' places) the best; Minibar, mentioned above, is there too, but I think it's temporarily closed. Personally, I don't love Oyamel -- I feel they're heavy on the salt -- but many others love them.

* Nouveau American: I'm a big fan of Cashion's Eat Place (on Columbia in Adams Morgan) and New Heights (on Calvert right around the corner from Adams Morgan/Woodley Park metro stop). Also, New Heights has an amazing gin list.
posted by Westringia F. at 8:46 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Check out the DC Eater 38, and monitor DC Eater for news about new places. (The site appears to be down at the moment.)

Also read the essential Tyler Cowen Ethnic Dining Guide, but be forewarned that many (most?) of the best ethnic restaurants in the DC area are actually in the suburbs.

And avoid Old Ebbitt, for cryin' out loud. It's a tourist trap. So is Fogo de Chao, actually, but it's not as egregious as Ebbitt.
posted by arco at 9:03 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: * Yes, it's not particularly close by, but you should make room in your schedule for a trip to Ray's Hell Burger.

* For great izakaya, Kushi's delicious.

* I'm fond of the blood pudding and braised tripe at Againn, but you must save some room for their amazing banoffee pie.

* For cheap and unusual eats, DC-3 serves hotdogs from all around the US.

* Food trucks are the latest craze sweeping DC, and you can use Food Truck Fiesta to track their current locations.

* If you've watched "Top Chef," Mike Isabella will be opening up Graffiato next week. Spike Mendelsohn has two restaurants in DC as well: We the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery.
posted by evoque at 9:16 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For ethiopian my fave is Etete up on U. You could walk there but for your location I'd head east to the Chinatown station and take the green line up to the U Street station. There's a minor upswing in street crime of late and I've had friends mugged in the Logan/Shaw area. Not majorly violent and I'd still walk the city without fear, but for someone in from out of town who might be a wee anxious already... *shrug* the odds are in your favor but I always err on the side of caution for out-of-towner recommendations.

Ben's Chili Bowl would also be the U St station. It's more an Experience than something you do for good food, though I love love love a half smoke. You might want to wander over to my favorite bar in that area, the Passenger, just three blocks away next to the convention center. They have a chili half smoke on the menu as well as fantastic cocktails and a nice atmosphere.

Right near you - one block north - is Acadiana, who has fantastic gumbo. I enjoy the rest of their menu as well but the gumbo is divine.

Just west of it by one block is Againn, also good.

Personally I don't care for Tyler Cowen's guide and I'd dispute that the best restaurants are in the suburbs; I think his guide more reflects the fact that he's a prof at a university that happens to be situated in Fairfax (well, his department is on the FFX campus, anyway, not the Arlington one)

Also close to you, Matchbox. Not stellar food but a nice atmosphere and good pizza. Certainly better and better-reviewed than Spike's offering.

Lastly, I will shamelessly plug my joint, We Love DC, and our food coverage. There are other good local blogs covering food as well, of course - DCist, DC Foodies, etc.

By the way, if you have any interest in theater - you're going to be here right in the middle of Fringe and right near the epicenter. It's fun if you like live stuff and it runs the full gamut. Consequently I may not be free for a drink or dinner anywhere in there but I imagine you can build a meet-up around your visit if you so desire and can just pick a specific date and time you know you'll be free.
posted by phearlez at 9:30 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Lots of good recommendations here, and several I don't agree with. Here's the scoop:

Best food is in the suburbs, but you're not going to the suburbs, right?

If you don't already have a minibar reservation, you're too late, so folks should just stop recommending that. I've been, it's great, but you're not going to go there, not on this trip.

The best place for oysters is Senart's. I was there Sunday. I had oysters. Get there before anyone else finds out about it.

Every meal I've had at Jaleo has been one of the best meals I've ever had. It's my #1 go-to place for fancy food. You order 3 or 4 small plates for each person, so you're not stuck with a big plate of I-don't-like-that.

Ben's is great so you can say you've been to Ben's, but, really, it's a cheap-ass chili dog. I mean, if you're in the nighborhood, by all means, go. Fine for breakfast, too, but, seriously, it's not a destination restaurant.

Ethiopic is the best among many greats, and is in a cool, out-of-the-way spot where you won't run into drunken frat boys--the only downside is that it's not really near Metro.

If you get the chance and have the time to wait in line, find the Redhook Lobster Pound.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:32 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: B. Smith's at Union Square is good if you are in that part of town. (Note: I have had terrible food in DC so I would definitely pick and choose based on this AskMe.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:34 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: If you want cajun, I'd vote for The Cajun Experience, at 1825 18th Street NW (between S and T). Despite their (in my opinion) kinda crappy website, the food is great. (And if you go, don't get suckered in by large crowds next door at Lauriol Plaza. Just don't.)
posted by inigo2 at 9:55 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Seconding avoiding Lauriol Plaza. Founding Farmers has a delicious brunch, so I'll recommend that as a breakfast option. I also believe that the peanut butter bacon burger at Ted's Bulletin is a necessary experience. I've been very happy with the food on the two occasions that I've eaten at Taberna Del Alabardero. I would elope with the hazelnut praline salty caramel macaron at The Sweet Lobby, but it would be a sadly brief honeymoon because I would eat it allllllllll in very short order.

Call a meetup! Call a meetup!
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:13 AM on June 22, 2011

@phearlez: I would wholeheartedly disagree with your statement on Tyler Cohen's guide.

DC itself does have excellent eating, and a number of great fusion joints (ie, Oyamel above). High-priced and high-quality eating, this city definetly does have.

However, the greatets degree of ethnic diversity is by far in the DC suburbs (which are spectacularly diverse while the city itself is pretty much white and black only) - thus the best ethnic eating is in the (largely inner) suburbs as well - where there is the native population to support that particular restaurant serving authentic (ie, not modified for white people) cuisine. You can't find good Korean BBQ in DC (try Annandale or Wheaton), or good Dim Sum (try Silver Spring, Rockville, and Rosslyn). Best Afghan is in MD and VA as well, etcetera...the list goes on.

The closest DC manages to a 'dim sum' place is a place called "Ping Pong" which reimagines Chinese food like tapas. I rest my case.
posted by waylaid at 10:13 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Track down the food trucks!

posted by ihavepromisestokeep at 10:27 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Must go to 2 Amys in Glover Park. They have these deep fried risotto balls (aka suppli a telefono) that are to die! Solid pizza selection as well - big pieces of buffalo mozzarella, light on the sauce, meats and all, etc.
posted by jay.eye.elle.elle. at 10:44 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Founding Farmers (how I love thee...)
Black Salt (seafood)
Granville Moore's (mussels and beer - low key)
Brasierre Becks (beer and mussels - high key)
Restaurant Nora (organic goodness...)
Huong Viet (in the VA burbs, but best and authentic pho in the metro region)
Ray's the Steaks (VA burbs again, but worth it)
John Georges Steakhouse (in the W Hotel... amazing service and steaks, but you pay for it)
Matchbox (just get the mini-cheeseburgers with fried onions and Gorgonzola)
La Tasca (good luck getting a table)
Jaleo (ditto...)
posted by matty at 11:27 AM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: I left off Bibiana!

And Ray's the Steaks is in Arlington but it's practically right outside the orange line's Courthouse station exit.
posted by phearlez at 12:38 PM on June 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, just a cursory read so far, work emergency. Will be back later.
posted by TomMelee at 1:16 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Grainville's is pretty nice (and in my neighborhood too, so there's some loyalty there!). However, Bistrot du Coin in Dupont Circle also has great mussels, if that's your sort of thing (and a much bigger menu for other items if they're not). (Bistrot du Coin is not the best French restaurant I've been to in the US. However, it's without a doubt the most accurate representation of actually eating at a restaurant in France that I've seen in America. Take that as you will. I like it a lot; it's also vastly more affordable than most French food.)

I'd give A. Litteri's a pass. The Capitol City Market is...erm...unique, as is Litteri's. If that absurd flea market was still around, I might recommend stopping by there, but since it isn't, I'd avoid it; yes, they're a "real" Italian deli, but their subs are completely unremarkable. The market itself is a fascinating/horrifying glimpse into the grimy underbelly of DC's food industry.

Instead, if you're near H St and want a sandwich, Taylor Gourmet is seriously great (they also have risotto balls. so good). Also on H St are: The Argonaut (great pub; best Fish tacos I've ever had), Toki Underground ("Real" ramen noodles and soups), Liberty Tree (New England style cuisine), The Atlas Room, and Ethiopic. Lots of new/funky options in this neighborhood.

Matchbox and La Tasca seem a bit too commercialized/touristy. I got sick the last time I ate at La Tasca, and Matchbox feels overpriced for what it is.

Lauriol Plaza is DC's Mexican Soup Nazi. The food and prices are good, but there's a catch -- it's always mobbed, and the service is outright hostile. Just don't.

If you want a really good hamburger, you're in luck. DC has inexplicably become a gourmet burger mecca. My favorite is Good Stuff on Pennsylvania Ave SE, but there are plenty of other options available.

Pete's is surprisingly good New Haven-style pizza. Red Rocks is quite good too. People seem to be split on whether or not Two Amys is good anymore, and you'll want to skip We The Pizza entirely. DC pizza has improved vastly in recent years, but is not quite at New York levels yet.

Southern/cajun food really isn't my thing, but I quite enjoyed Eatonville when I was there last year.

Hook in Georgetown has (allegedly) great fish. The Tacklebox next door is run by the same people, has much simpler fish-based entrees, counter service, and is about a quarter of the price.

I've ended many a night with dessert at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle. Their dinner is apparently pretty good too.

Mr. Yogato is the most endearingly weird frozen yogurt joint I've ever been to. Sing your order to the tune of Mr. Roboto for 5% off. Stand on one foot while doing it for another 5%. Work the names of the two NBA teams whose names don't end in the letter 's' into your order for an additional 5%. Oh, and it's some of the best froyo I've ever had.

Beer snob? Head over to Churchkey. I guarantee that they'll out-beer-snob you.

I'll need to come back to this list and see what I've been missing in my home city. Still haven't eaten at any of the "greats."
posted by schmod at 1:42 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Instead, if you're near H St and want a sandwich, Taylor Gourmet is seriously great

Actually there is a Taylor's location on K just east of the NPR HQ, easy walking distance from your hotel, actually. I second that recommendation - I had been more sit-down-with-service restaurant minded in my answer.
posted by phearlez at 1:53 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: I'm a big fan of Jaleo, already mentioned quite a bit above - but the wait for a table isn't as bad as it's made out to be unless it's a weekend. But if you're in the Dupont Circle area, Estadio is a fairly worthy competitor.

You can't get into Minibar without reservations well in advance, but you might be able to squeeze into Komi - which is fantastic. It's hard to get reservations there, but they do occasionally just have some available seating. Good luck! If you get it, it's worth the trouble. Nora is ok, but not nearly as good - they've kind of gone downhill. If you're looking for more of the same like that, you might check out Restaurant Eve in Alexandria (very close to the city). Obelisk is also pretty good, or at least was the last time I went, but also hard to get into. Right across the street, though, there's a fairly new place called Eola, which was surprisingly good.

Personally I don't care for Tyler Cowen's guide and I'd dispute that the best restaurants are in the suburbs

I don't think the best restaurants are in the suburbs, but it's hard to dispute that the best ethnic restaurants are in the suburbs - that's where the people of those ethnicities live and eat. If you want, say, Korean food, there are one or two places in the city that are pretty mediocre. But there's a nice Indian place directly south of Chinatown called Rasika which has this fantastic spinach salad - the leaves are crisp and slightly burnt, and it's really different from anything I've had elsewhere.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:47 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Thirding Taylor's - their salads are delicious, too (especially when accompanied by risotto balls). In addition to their delightful beers, Churchkey's food is also nice, if somewhat overpriced. However, I have to disagree with schmod on Bistrot du Coin's mussels - they were really disappointing the last time I was there, and I can't say I was terribly impressed with them on previous occasions. I've never been disappointed at Granville Moore's, though, and while I've only been to Brasserie Beck once, their mussels were at least on par with Granville Moore's.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:57 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned Rasika (though you will need a reservation I would think.)
posted by gudrun at 6:42 PM on June 22, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, so finally back in my seat. There is a LOT of data here. Wow. I don't really want to go through and mark all the answers as best, but I think that might be the only solution. I really appreciate everyone's input, I wish I had been able to threadsit a little better for more direction, but this is great.

Regarding Fugo de Chao, I know it's touristy, but I have an intense passion for their lamb. If you can recommend a place to me in DC where I can get that much lamb (AYCE) that's that good or better for $50 a person, tell me where to go and I'll give it a shot. I've had lamb in many places in the world, and I've never had it like they do it...especially an edge piece. Gosh, I'm drooling and it's 8:35am.

Do any of your taco stands do tongue? Lingua? I haven't had it before, and I'd like to try it.

Thanks, back to rereading all these responses!
posted by TomMelee at 5:36 AM on June 23, 2011

Best answer: Do any of your taco stands do tongue? Lingua? I haven't had it before, and I'd like to try it.

I've heard really good things about the lengua at Super Tacos on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan, but since I'm vegaquarian I can't personally vouch. Yelp:

It's about a 10-15min walk from the Woodley Park station, and basically around the corner from the 18th St strip of restaurants/bars (where Meskerem & Amsterdam Felafel, mentioned upthread, are), so no shortage of options in the area. If you keep going up Columbia, away from 18th St & the metro, you'll come to another taco joint (Pica Taco).

Huh: on search, found this. It's a year old, but anyway:
posted by Westringia F. at 9:41 AM on June 23, 2011

Lauriol Plaza is DC's Mexican Soup Nazi. The food and prices are good, but there's a catch -- it's always mobbed, and the service is outright hostile.

FWIW, I've eaten there more than I'd like to admit, but I don't agree with the comment about the service. Sometimes have slow service, but never not friendly. (But yes -- it's always mobbed, and the food isn't all that special.)
posted by inigo2 at 7:21 AM on June 24, 2011

« Older I can't search my yahoo mail   |   Traitor! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.