Lunch near the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

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Nov 19th, 2012, 01:34 PM
  #1
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Lunch near the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Probably going to the Smithsonian this Friday (Black Friday). Where can we break for a good lunch near by?
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Nov 19th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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Which one? I assume you mean the ones on Constitution?
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Nov 19th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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Museums are spread out on both sides of the mall so what's convenient for one is not so convenient for another.

When near the Museum of American History (and National Archives & National Gallery, my go to places are Teaism (Penn Quarter location) and Jaleo
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Nov 19th, 2012, 03:14 PM
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First choice (by a landslide): http://www.jaleo.com/ Excellent food at great bargains in a comfortable relaxed setting. Go, go GO! Moderate prices

Other top choices very near the Smithsonian Museums:

http://www.oyamel.com/ Best Mexican restaurant in the area - BY FAR. Don't even THINK about Rosa Mexicana....Moderate prices

http://www.rasikarestaurant.com/pennquarter/ Best Indian food in the US (and possibly outside India). Expensive and a reservation is a must. Probably too late to get a table, but a serious epicure might want to try anyway.

A budget choice: http://www.paul-usa.com/ French super-casual chain next to Archives. Very good - save room for dessert.

If you decide to eat museum fare - go for the National Gallery of Art. NOT the vastly over-rated Museum of the American Indian cafe or (gasp!) any of the other museum cafes.
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Nov 19th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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Agree with bardo1's choices - except I would put Oyamel as my first choice.
Some people like Hill Country barbecue.
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Nov 19th, 2012, 06:25 PM
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I agree with bardo's choices. {Except in a pinch I would not turn away from Rosa Mex's guacamole and margaritas.} Patrick has probably visited the Paul chain in London.
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Nov 19th, 2012, 09:29 PM
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I would choose Oyamel over Jaleo. I would skip the NGA cafeteria (and the Smithsonian cafes, as well); NGA is overpriced and mostly ordinary food. Teaism is casual and lovely, but finding a table can take some time during the lunch rush.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 06:45 AM
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I see so many recommendations for Jaleo, but I ate there the last time I was in DC, and I just didn't like it. It was by far the worst meal of our trip. Maybe they were having a bad night; the service wasn't very good, and we had an awful table, so I'm sure those also contributed, but the food just wasn't very good. I'd choose something else.

On the other hand, we had an excellent lunch at Teaism, and it wasn't that crowded on the day we went (a Saturday).
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Nov 20th, 2012, 07:06 AM
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I agree with Bardo that if you are going to eat museum fare, go to the National Gallery of Art. That's my "go-to" place when I'm on the Mall and it's clearly the best of the museum choices.

Hill Country--As a Texan, I'm not a big fan. The food is OK, but way overpriced for what you get. The service is mediocre, at best. I only go there when I'm DESPERATE for BBQ.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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I too recommend looking into the National Gallery of Art. The Garden Cafe in the west building changes up its menu frequently, and is now offering "Americana" fare: http://www.nga.gov/pdf/americana-menu.pdf

When we visited in July, they featured Catalonian cuisine and wines. The theme of the food was paired with a Miro exhibition. Although served buffet-style, our meal was an unexpected delight.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 09:01 AM
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>>When we visited in July, they featured Catalonian cuisine and wines. The theme of the food was paired with a Miro exhibition. Although served buffet-style, our meal was an unexpected delight.<<

That was one of Jose Andres pop up restaurants -- he is owner of two of the recommended spots here, Oyamel and Jaleo. Too bad, Doug, I've never had a bad meal at Jaleo. Guess anyplace can have an off day.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 09:02 AM
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We ate at the NGA when they did the Catalonian lunch and it was very good. It was done in conjunction with Jose Andres . The regular cafeteria food is nothing special and I think expensive for what you get.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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Wow. A lot to think about. Actually while looking at the site for Teaism, I was very impressed and enticed. Meanwhile I was also glad to see another Teaism near our hotel (The Fairfax) near Dupont Circle.

On a different vein. Friends want to meet us for Sunday breakfast/brunch at Founding Farmers near the White House. What do you think?
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Nov 20th, 2012, 12:27 PM
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Its very LOUD and I don't think the food is that great. It opened up a few years back with much fanfare. I failed to ever experience a great meal there. U could do much better. Review from WPost reviewer this past Spring
http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/re...s,1153804.html
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Nov 20th, 2012, 12:42 PM
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Wow. That's interesting. I had noted it is #20 of something like 1400 restaurants in DC, so somebody sure likes it. Hundreds of reviews, mostly raves about the food, although a number mention how loud it is. We'd just be doing breakfast, so I'm not sure how important many of the food criticisms are.

My friends live in Annapolis but visit their daughter in DC and this is apparently their favorite breakfast spot. I had mentioned Bistro Lepic in Georgetown, but I think it's a little high budget wise for them.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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I love Bistro Lepic -- just had dinner there a few weeks back...great neighborhood place. R these reviews on TA? None of my friends have had good meals there, but u r right in that brunch could be just fine -- prepare to yell! Enjoy DC. Supposed to be decent weather.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 01:25 PM
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I like Founding Farmers. A lot, actually. It was quite the darling when it first opened and has fallen a bit from lauded grace since then. Been there twice in the last 6 months -- brunch and dinner and was quite happy on both occasions. Upscaled comfort food, not super expensive. It is noisy but when you see the layout (first floor with mezzanine, lots of open and stainless steel surfaces) you won't be too surprised. Would it be my once in a lifetime choice? No. But I'd go back and almost certainly will.
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Nov 20th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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Founding Farmers is pretty good, but on the weekends, the Farragut area is pretty dead (most restaurants close down since you're surrounded by a bunch of office buildings, including mine). That being said, if you're trying to eat close to the White House, your options may be a bit limited.

Back to your original question - when we're around the mall, we love taking people to the Eastern Market area, past Capitol Hill. It's a bit of a hike, but a desintation in itself. If you do head there, Belga Cafe does a great brunch (although expect a wait), but our favorite is Montmarte. For a very casual lunch, Goodstuff Eatery is always a hit (expect long lines though). If you're trying to stick closer to the mall, Teaism, Oyamel and Jaleo are all great recommendations, as is obvious by the number of people that suggested them. Another place that has gotten great reviews is the Mitsitam Cafe at the Native American Museum: http://nmai.si.edu/visit/washington/mitsitam-cafe/

And, since you are staying in Dupont - I definitely recommend going to Teaism - we go at least once a month. If you're still here, I would suggest on Sunday since you can also hit up the Sunday farmers market a couple blocks away. Teaism is reasonable and always good. Definitely try the scrambled eggs and ginger scones. Another amazing brunch spot is Tabard Inn. It is most likely too late to get a reservation, but you can walk in and eat at the bar.
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Nov 21st, 2012, 05:09 AM
  #19
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Ah, so many places, so little time.

I mentioned the loud comment and other thoughts about Founding Farmers to my friend in DC. She was a little surprised -- yes, it IS loud, but fun -- and they reallllllly like the place for breakfast saying it's even worth the usual wait when you have reservations, and she already got reservations for Sunday, so we'll be sticking with it. She was surprised about negative comments on the food, which they think is really great for breakfast. And although I did see raves on TripAdvisor which I take with a grain of salt, there were more raves and a couple of major awards on Open Table. And when I checked Chowhound (where I tend to believe the people really know food), it was really raves for foods, particularly breakfast -- only a few issues with service and reservations. Simplicity with really good ingredients seems to be the overall impression.

By the way, another breakfast recommendation -- probably for Friday before going to the museums is Old Ebbit Grill. It should be quieter that day (Black Friday -- offices slow and everybody out shopping) and really is a place worth going to -- especially for breakfast". No?

Our hotel has mentioned that we can probably easily park on the streets -- all weekend is a "holiday" and is free and they expect the area around the Fairfax to be quite "deserted". Do you think? Beats the $40 plus a night for valet at the hotel. Again, we're at the Fairfax, 2100 Massachusetts at 20th Street.
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Nov 21st, 2012, 05:31 AM
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Re. street parking near hotel - I concur. Street park and save yourself the $40/day. Just don't drive to the Smithsonian which generally is very crowded around the holidays with out of town guest - particular Black Friday. Apparently not everyone shops the day after Thanksgiving. I often play tour guide for guests that day and am always surprised at the size of the crowds at the museums (and the zoo).
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