Out of Town Guests in DC: Dinner for a High Schooler and a Grandpa
June 10, 2015 3:11 PM   Subscribe

My cousin's kid is coming to DC with her grandfather as a high school graduation present. I would like to take them out somewhere for dinner next week, where should I go?

They're staying near Meridian Hill Park and I'd love to take them out for dinner somewhere or maybe an evening activity.

I usually frequent places based on how cheap the happy hour is, so I'm at a bit of a loss for a good dinner spot that's a little exotic, but still accessible for nice Midwesterners from Ohio.

I was thinking Ethiopian if anyone has any suggestions on that front, but mostly I'd like some place not too loud or expensive but...kind of neat. Busboys and Poets was also on my list.

I've never met the grandfather before, but the kid is really sweet. She's really into musicals and theater, so I was thinking of checking out The Source Festival, but with grandpa in tow I don't want to suggest anything that ends up being R-rated. Any suggestions on fun tourists things to suggest they see while they're here are also welcome.
posted by forkisbetter to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Cashion's Eat Place and Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan are our go tos for these kind of meals. Eatonville, across from the Busboys & Poets on 14th St., is also worth looking into - it's more casual than the other two, but has a nice atmosphere, friendly staff, and is generally less crowded and less noisy than Busboys.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:20 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I read Midwesterners from Ohio and thought Ted's Bulletin but it sounds like you're more ambitious than that, which I applaud. I do like Busboys and Poets and have taken my chain-restaurant-loving father there. We've also gone to Old Ebbitt and Clyde's. I'm opposed to tapas generally but this actually might be a good occasion to go that route so they can be a little adventurous, but if they get something they hate, it's no big. Sorry that's not specific!

As for an evening activity, look for free concerts - jazz in the sculpture garden, I think the Air Force band frequently performs on the steps of the Capitol. Jazz in the sculpture garden can be crazy so maybe look at music in Yards Park too. I really like Yards Park actually - you could wander around there and get some ice cream and go to Bluejacket for dinner. That's a part of DC a lot of people are not familiar with.

Also, it costs money but I've taken visitors to the Newseum and they dig it. Pro-tip: the Newseum is huge and hard to see in a day which is okay because you can bring your ticket stub from the day before and return for free.
posted by kat518 at 3:33 PM on June 10, 2015

Is Raku still around in Dupont? Not only did I get taken there as a 16 year old and think SO GLAMOROUS!!!, I also took my young niece there when I was in grad school and she was like SO GLAMOROUS!!! even though the effect had worn off for me. But it's a nice spot, seeing all the people walking about and being so close to the circle itself.

Busboys would be cool for a youngster, especially one into theater, and I bet gramps would appreciate the vibe. Also maybe one of the restaus down by the Studio Theater (I moved out of DC long enough ago that I have no idea how to keep a handle on the ever-rotating dining options along 14th). Maybe see what's at the Studio Theater while you're at it.

Other ideas: Teaism, anything along Mt. Pleasant (I quite like Beau Thai, but also have no idea what took Tonic's place, which would have been a good suggestion), Aatish on the Hill (on Pennsylvania SE near Eastern Market), Zatinya.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:51 PM on June 10, 2015

Best answer: I just took some Ohioans to Satellite Room and they loooooved it. It's nearish to Meridian Hill.
posted by inevitability at 5:01 PM on June 10, 2015

My go-to for out of town guests is Ethiopian, and I almost always take them to Etete. Good food --one of the best examples of Ethiopean food in the city in my opinion-- not too pricey, and because of the set-up of the restaurant, it's not noisy even when it's full. Plus, if you time it right with a party of three or four they will sit you in the window at the mesob (the traditional woven table), which makes it even more fun for those not familiar with the food.

Another great option if you're willing to be a little pricier (but not super expensive) would be Rasika (Indian, Penn Quarter or West End location). The food is amazing -- Zagat had it in its list of top 20 restaurants in the country last year -- and it's incredibly hard to find food like it for the price. Both locations feel pretty swanky, and even if your guests get Indian food where they live, they probably don't get modern Indian food like this.
posted by alligatorpear at 6:24 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd go with Dukem over Etete for Ethiopian: it has a little more of a sit-down atmosphere, and I've had a string of especially bad service at Etete lately; Dukem's service is slow but reliable. Try to get a spot outside if it's not raining. (Meskerem would have been my first pick, but it has sadly closed.)

As a backup, Marvin is quite nice and not far from Meridian Hill Park at all. Belgian/Southern food; should hit the "exotic yet accessible" sweet spot. A little pricier than Dukem, though.

A little further out but still an easy drive or bus ride from Meridian Hill: Thip Khao, a new Laotian place in north Columbia Heights. Very good food, cuisine that is harder to find but the flavors are pretty approachable, and lovely atmosphere.

I'd skip Ted's Bulletin or Satellite Room. They're good, but nothing special.
posted by capricorn at 6:59 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ethiopian is a great idea if they are ok with the general concept. Long before I moved to the area, I visited as a high schooler and a slightly older cousin took me to an Ethiopian restaurant in Adams Morgan, approximately across the street from Meskerem and now long-closed. At the time it was the most wonderful and interesting food I'd ever had, and I love it to this day. As to particular restaurants, I've enjoyed Dukem though I'm not familiar with the other places folks have mentioned.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 7:58 PM on June 10, 2015

I like Jose Andreas' restaurants for out-of-towners (and myself!) because they have interesting, delicious food in fun, beautiful rooms. Jaleo, Oyamel, Zaytinya, you can't go wrong.
posted by lunasol at 11:51 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing Zaytinya, Dukem, Busboys and Poets, and Ted's Bulletin. Cashions and Mintwood are also nice, but a bit pricey IMO.

Smoke & Barrel is also on 18th Street, and has pretty good options for both carnivores and vegetarians/vegans. Further down towards the Zoo, you've got Mama Ayesha's and Lebanese Taverna. Near Petworth, there's Fish in the Hood, which I can't personally vouch for but got thumbs-ups from fellow DC MeFites. Also, if you're willing to make the hike out to H St, you could try Granville Moore's or Ethiopic.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:50 AM on June 11, 2015

2 cats in the yard: i bet that was the deeply missed Red Sea!

I agree about Etete if you go Ethiopian, but i find the woven table uncomfortable and hard to eat at. Depending on grandpa's age, he might also.
posted by jindc at 8:48 AM on June 11, 2015

Best answer: Like lunasol, I was also thinking of Jaleo. It's fun to share a few little things, and then order a few more, so it can be nicely social. It always seemed like there was something that would appeal to people with conservative taste-buds. I know some people who can't stand to eat with their fingers, so I think Ethiopian isn't for everybody. (Also, my mid-western town has two Ethiopian restaurants, so it might not be as unusual as you might hope.) I like Teaism, mentioned upthread, although it might not be as fancy as you are looking for -- the locations I've been to did not have table service. A warning for the grandfather, the Teaism that's on 8th St NW which is handily located near museums and the Shakespeare and woolly mammoth theaters, has most of the dinning area down a staircase which is hard to navigate with your tray of hot soup and teapot.

When I went to DC for the first time at about that age, I was really excited to see the monuments. I haven't been back to most in the 20+ years since, but seeing something in real life from TV and school books was a thrill.
posted by SandiBeech at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2015

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