Let's talk DC restaurants

Jul 16th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 12,708
Let's talk DC restaurants

We will be going to DC in a couple weeks, so I am looking for restaurant recommendations. We are my husband and I, my mom, and my aunt and uncle - we'll be there for 2 days, staying at the Crowne Plaza Hamilton on 14th, a few blocks northeast of the white house. Sightseeing will be mostly around the national mall - we've got tours of the Capitol and the Library of Congress set up, and we will also visit a couple of the Smithsonian museums on the mall and some monuments.

We are interested in most types of food except east and southeast asian (mom and aunt's preference). Looking for budget to moderate prices - entres below $15 for lunch, below $25 for dinner. Good local brewery restaurants are always appreciated - we like to try local brews wherever we go.

Later in the trip, my husband and I will be back in DC by ourselves for a couple days, staying near Dupont Circle. For that portion of the trip, we chose Dupont Circle because we are interested in hanging out there in the evenings. We are open to all types of food except sushi. For bars, any recommendations for places with good beer selections and a nice vibe for hanging out are very much appreciated.
november_moon is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 01:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,142
Near your hotel - Brasserie Beck @ 11th & K NW. Excellent food and a HUGE (and very good) beer menu.

Near the Mall - Jaleo @ 7th & E NW. Spanish small plates. The best (and the original) of star chef José Andrés' restauarants. Well within your budget and perfect for a group of 5 people as it is best experienced when all in the group share their food.

Near the Capitol & LOC: - Good Stuff Eatery @ 3rd @ Penn. Ave. SE- name says it all. Cheap to boot.

I can't recommend any local breweries - the best are in the suburbs. Here some places in town with good beer selections (all have food also) and nice hanging out vibes - my top choices first:

Churchkey 14th & R.I. Ave. NW (4 blocks north of Crown Plaza Hamilton).

The Saloon @ 1207 U St. NW (1 block to U St. Metro station)

Cafe St. Ex @ 14th @ T (3 blocks to U St. Metro station - close to The Saloon, go to both since you're in the neighborhood)

The Brickseller @ 22nd St. between P & Q sts.(good Dupont area option)

RFD 7th between H & I sts. (1/2 block to Gallery Place Metro - Chinatown exit)
bardo1 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 01:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,864
Here are a few recommendations with quotes from my trip report (link below with photos).

Two in Dupont Circle:

Bistrot du Coin - 1738 Connecticut Avenue - We made reservations for 7:30. The decibel level at Bistrot du Coin makes The Old Ebbitt Grill sound like a library. It was hopping. It was packed, but we were able to secure a table at the top of the stairs overlooking the action. It seemed like there were a lot of locals, a real neighborhood place.

I never pass up on escargot, which paired well with my new drink du jour called a Versailles; Vodka and Chambord together again for the first time. Dinners included a Cassoulet with duck, lamb, beef and white beans, along with hanger steak with pommes frites. Kim and I had filets to the best of my recollection, which was growing dimmer from the red wine we were now consuming. The food here was good, as was the vibe."

Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave NW - between N St & N 20th St - is only about a 10-15 minute walk from the Rouge, and when we arrived at 7:45, it was jam-packed. We were seated near the “firefly tree,” and from start to finish we received very personable service from their great wait staff. The food was damn good, too! Tracy and Mary started with a roasted tomato bisque soup, while I had a lettuce wedge with blue cheese.

For the main course, I went for the house specialty; pot roast on a bed of Yukon Gold potatoes. Sumptuous! Kim went the chicken route again with a roasted chicken on a bed of greens. Tracy dined on an 8-ounce bistro steak, potatoes au gratin and cauliflower. Mary, not swimming far from her fishy ways, had the halibut, collards and fava bean pesto. Fortunately Hannibal Lecter was nowhere in sight, but to be safe we stayed away from the Chianti.

For dessert, I had a brown apple-betty with blackberry ice cream and an Irish coffee. The Jenny Craig diet was now in full retreat, but we never gain weight on our travels because we walk 50 miles a day (or so it seems). I guess Joe must have seen the bill for the evening, because before we left he poured me a complimentary, little glass of his favorite gin (oh yeah, we talked about gin, too). The Bluecoat gin made it a little more difficult for me to navigate a straight line to the hotel."

Across from National Portrait Gallery:

Zaytinya (701 9th Street NW - corner of 9th This fit the bill perfectly. They serve “mezze,” which are actually “small plates of the Eastern Mediterranean and The Middle East.” We had also heard they served a mean pear martini. We sat at the bar, and our new friend Kent (very personable bartender) gave us the rundown on some of the small plate items the restaurant offers. I said, “I hear you have a special pear martini.” “Oh, you mean Aphrodite’s Pear.” I said, “Wow, I don’t think I have ever seen Aphrodite’s pair.”

Kent shook his head (like so many people do when in my general vicinity), and said, “No. Aphrodite’s Pear is a martini made from Grey Goose Pear vodka, fresh squeezed Lime Juice and St. Germain elderflower cordial.” They also add a thinly sliced pear, which I believe can be considered part of your 5-A-Day servings of fruits and vegetables. I took one sip and said, “Damn, that is one great martini!” Tracy’s martini was also good. The Lemonas Maximus is a concoction of Skyy Citrus Vodka, Limoncello and fresh Lemon Juice. The pear martini was better, however. For our spread, we tried the Htipiti. This delicious dish was comprised of roasted red peppers, feta and thyme."

TenPenh - 10th and Pennsylvania This turned out to be a rather chic restaurant located at 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Instead of defining the cuisine myself, I will steal this quote from the executive chef that comes from the restaurant’s website, “I've taken good solid French-based techniques, seasonal foods, and added indigenous ingredients from Thailand, Vietnam, China, The Philippines, Malaysia, and Japan. The result is a great restaurant called TenPenh. I would define the cuisine as Asian-Pacific inspired Contemporary Cuisine."

However you describe it, the food was exceptional. Tracy had the Red Pepper Sambal Halibut with cold peanut soba noodles and cilantro sauce. Not to be outdone in the fish category, Mary ordered pan-seared Sea Scallops. Our congressman and Kim lassoed the “Cowboy Steak,” while I dined on delectable Lamb Chops with Black Bean Garlic Rice Noodles and Chinese mustard. Because I hadn’t eaten in nearly two hours, I convinced the table to order a side of Wasabi Mashed potatoes."

For a very special meal. Dress Up time in Georgetown:

1789 - Address: 1226 36th Street, NW - After getting spruced up, we were in a cab whisking us to one of the area’s most famous restaurants, It is one of the top restaurants in the United States and the "quintessential Washington, D.C. dining experience."

Built in a country inn-type setting, the restaurant has been in existence for almost 40 years. There are six separate rooms to dine in that range from Civil war décor to a garden room to where we were situated on this evening; The Pub. It was quite warm inside, and this restaurant requires a coat and tie, which complicated matters for me. The room, although full, was very quiet, and the four of us were afraid that this might be a pretty stuffy dinner.

Well, we’ve never met a room that we couldn’t get to liven up, and tonight was no different. Our very professional server, a very lovely young woman by the name of Caro, chatted with us extensively and soon a couple of tables changed out to customers who were a little more lively and who we got to know later, with a little surprise thrown in for good measure.

The food was exquisite. I started with a dish entitled “Snails In A Blanket,” which is certainly better to have here than at your hotel. It was burgundy snails, wild Ramps (I think Kim dated her in college), Neal’s Yard Coolea (who I actually thought was a rap artist) and parsley. Tracy began with the Baby Carrot Soup that included crispy veal sweetbread croutons (showing why she is the “brains” of the family), raisin compote and tarragon mustard. Kim decided on a Bitter Greens Salad of Belgian endive, radicchio, frisée, fennel vinaigrette and spiced croutons.

Mary went with the Farro Salad of spring garlic, baby carrots, black Spanish radishes, green almonds and wild Dandelion greens. Before we got to the main event, we were served “amuse bouche,” which, although sounding more like a Cirque du Soleil show, were actually crostinis topped with baby wild onion flowers.

The main event was equally as good. Kim dined on an EcoFriendly Farms Pork Chop (no pigs were harmed in the making…oh wait, yes they were) with Black-eyed peas (no Fergie, however), Applewood smoked bacon, wild Dandelion greens, grilled green garlic and Blis sherry vinegar.

Mary, ever the fish girl, had the Day Boat Halibut with potato gnocchi, Fiddlehead Ferns (my college date), wild spring onions and Yellowfoot chanterelle. Tracy’s Bo Bo Farms Free Range Chicken with Smokey Blue Cheese polenta, baby carrots, roasted young Vidalia onions and Herb jus (Tracy’s ex-boyfriend) was a hit.

I had the Muscovy Duck Breast with a Long pepper crusted foie gras, baby turnips, Riesling Macerated Black Mission figs and stewed turnip greens.

By now we were extremely full, and when Caro asked what we wanted for dessert, we passed. Major 1789 faux paus! Caro’s face turned long when we ordered only cappuccinos and my Mexican coffee. A short time later, she returned…with treats for the table! "Dinner is like a book,” Caro told us in a nice, but stern tone. “There is the prelude, the story and the conclusion, and dinner, like a book, is not complete without the conclusion.”

So (on the house I might add), we were first presented various sorbet of Rhubarb Lime, Raw Almond and HoneyComb grapefruit. All were pure essence of the flavors. Sorbets were served with cranberry and chocolate chip cookies along with chocolate wafers. “Wow, that was nice of her,” we said. But like the late, great Billy Mays would have said, “Wait, there’s more!!!” Caro then brought over to our table an assortment of pastry Savories, pecan Sandies (which I had only known as a golf term) and chocolate Sandies with pink peppercorn. These cookies melted in your mouth, and Mary exclaimed that the pecan Sandies tasted “just like Christmas.”

By now the room had emptied somewhat, but the remaining guests were now all talking with one another, and then part of the 1789 crew from the other rooms starting sifting in to The Pub. One of them said, “I wish I had worked this room tonight. It looks like everyone is having so much fun.” So much for stuffy, eh?

One of the waitresses then took me on a tour of the restaurant showing me all the other rooms, which was very cool, I thought. What was also interesting to me was that we were the last few remaining groups in the entire restaurant (the four of us did the same thing at Il Latini in Florence one night until finally our entire group, including many Italians we had been singing with, had to leave through the darkness of the rest of the establishment).

We apologized to the crew for keeping them there so late, and they said, “Don’t worry, we’re having fun, too.” It was after 11, so we said goodbye to Kim’s relatives, a couple of other revelers and all the good folks at 1789. As for the cost of the evening, I will simply go to the end of the commercial and say, “Memories – Priceless!”


maitaitom is online now  
Jul 16th, 2010, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,881
None of maitaitom's are likely in your price range, except for Bistro du Coin (and there are much better places for Belgian/French food). There are some good recs for splurges.

Bardo's suggestions are good. You might also wonder over to Capitol Hill (or Chinatown) for Matchbox, which could be in your price range. Near your hotel in Logan Circle are Logan Tavern and Stoneys, as well as Churchkey.
MikeT is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 06:23 PM
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Posts: 8,864
oops, didn't see that part about $25.

maitaitom is online now  
Jul 18th, 2010, 12:26 PM
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Thanks for the recommendations - several of them are now on the list. And yeah - maitaitom's suggestions are too pricey for us, but they sound great nontheless
november_moon is offline  
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