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Eating D.C. --a weekend of chow in Our Nation's Capital

Eating D.C. --a weekend of chow in Our Nation's Capital
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  • Eating D.C. --a weekend of chow in Our Nation's Capital

    Post #1 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:21 pm
    Post #1 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:21 pm Post #1 - November 3rd, 2005, 9:21 pm
    Each year my old high school buddy San Francisco Howie and I use a Fall weekend to eat our way through some city. This year’s target was Washington, D.C. With a lot of help from you LTHers and Tyler Cowen (personally) and his absolutely justifiably well-regarded dining guide

    http://www.gmu.edu/jbc/Tyler/cowenethnic17th.htm

    Howie and I had one seriously excellent trencher time. Herewith, our report.

    Our first serious foray was Sichuan food in that bastion of Chinese culinary delights, Rockville MD. Located a 15-minute walk from the Twinbrooke metro station, Joe’s Noodle House provided us with some spectacularly good Sichuan food. [H. and I have both eaten at Lao Sze Chuan: we agree that Joe’s meets or beats it every step of the way, except ambience.] The house is a crowded room set in a strip mall. (Where else?) Maybe 25 tables, maybe 125 covers. You’re taken to a table that’s already set up, given a menu, and alerted to the order/pay station at the center rear of the restaurant. The menu is huge, of course, but outstanding in its offering of everything you’ve ever ever heard about in Sichuan food. Every bit of offal --including tripe of pig and tongue of duck-- is there for you to order: indications are, this place is for real. Moreover, we were the only white guys among the teeming horde, not an essential sign, but a good one. I speak enough putonghua to bring a smile to everyone’s face when I look at their plates and ask ‘what’s that? is it good?’. We order, sit back, and wait. First brought to our table is Salty and Crispy Squid: chunks of very sweet, very fresh squid, with a thin, exceedingly crispy veneer of salt; wonderful contrasts, the salf and sweet. Howie and I have eaten calamari and squid all around the world; we agree that this is the best we’ve *ever* had. We come back two days later and order it again. It’s just as good the second time.

    Calamari w/Sour Cabbage is almost as good; the ‘sour cabbage’ is evidently a beautifully home-pickled Sichuan vegetable. Again, the flavor contrasts are magnificent, this time between the sweet squid and the mouth-watering sourness. Salty and crispy head-on shrimp is excellent, but we erred by ordering two dishes of the same style. House Fried
    Combo noodles is well-prepared, but of course we were dumb to get a combo. I swear by the rule "never order a combo", but then frequently swear in vain.

    That was enough for two guys first time around. Our stomachs weren’t in shape yet.

    Two days later we return. [N.B. My knees have essentially failed: football, then 3 ‘scope jobs. It is agony for me to walk the half-mile from the Metro to Joe’s. I did it *twice*, with foreseen pleasure luring me on. This is GOOD Sichuanese, folks.] We order the Salty and Crispy Squid, again, and devour it with just as much glee. We get a starter of Spicy Sweet and Sour Cabbage, nice and vinegary, with some sweet pepper slices and sesame oil. It’s cold, and makes a great palate freshener between other stuff. The really fresh Sauteed You Cai is beautifully cut, just wilted, and piled attractively on the plate. It has that haunting echo of smokiness in the flavor that I can NEVER get at home. How DO they do that?? Fried dumplings were plump, nice porky filling (not enough cabbage for me), thick chewy skin (which I like, but it's not everyone’s favorite, I know...) Steamed whole fish isn’t terribly successful: fish is mushy, the sauce is waaay too gloppy (too much corn starch, I’d say), and the plate is completely overfilled, sauce over the edges when the fish gets probed. And what in the world are those gelatinous 1-inch vaguely greenish cubes? Vegetables? agar-agar? I honestly don’t know. Anybody?

    We finished with Beef Noodle Soup Szechwan Style: a distinct triumph of the Niu Rou lineage. A faint reddish sheen of hot oil on the surface of a rich broth, distinct fronds of cilantro, chunks of very very good chuck, noodles that are either perfectly cooked dry versions, or perfectly made in house-- the toothiness is exquisite. Damn, how DO they do that? And, pervading everything is the thinnest nebula of anise aroma. Oh boy. This is basically as good as it gets. It really is.

    I will never again go to Our Nation’s Capital w/o a visit to Joe’s.

    That night, La Chaumiere on M in Georgetown. A decent neighborhood French place, old family favorite; since old family were there, we went. No report necessary, I should think. I’ll go again, bcz I like the place. But then, everyone’s got a fave French place, which doesn’t mean it’s the *best* French place. It’s just the fave.

    Sunday morning, Florida Avenue Grill. I will not bore you with the details, those having been rehearsed in this forum ad infinitum ad naseum. Let me just say: it’s all correct, what you’ve said.

    Biscuits like Mom made; properly *cooked* sausage gravy; and the country ham + red eye were just exactly on the mark. My own country fries are better. We were treated like welcome guests. Obviously what we have here is something that measures up to the Platonic Ideal of a diner. Nothing less.

    Sunday Afternoon and Evening. Lebanese Taverna for mezze. It’s a big room, and it’s always crowded, the cocktail hour until 7:30 there’s usually a line out the door. Professional, efficient staff. We order:

    KIBBEH: ground beef and crushed wheat shells stuffed with ground lamb, beef, pine nuts and almonds, fried, served with yogurt dip side. They’re ok, but the grind is awfully fine and there’s not a whole lot of flavor. The ‘tatziki’ is nice.

    KAFTA HARRA : seasoned ground beef and lamb fingers cooked with whole tomatoes, garlic, hot peppers and pine nuts. I like this--the tomato and peppers make for a nice background for the meat, which is mildly but well seasoned. Worth ordering again.

    KAFTA MESHWI: beef and lamb patties seasoned with onions, herbs and spices grilled, served over hommos and sumac spiced onions. A definite winner: the grilling is perfectly executed, the patties are very lamb-y, and the sumac comes through nicely on the onions.

    Their pocket bread is fabuluous: about the size and shape of the sole of a man’s size 13 shoe, the two layers completely separated to make the pocket. Brought hot and fresh to the table, to be dipped in the saucer of table sauce: good olive oil, garlic, oregano, and--I’m positive--sumac.

    I’ll go back to the Taverna, if only to get the kafta meshwi.

    We finished off our eating at The Afghan Grill, up a flight of stairs on a side street. A nice, understated room, wood floors with area rugs, some ethnic decor items on the walls, cloth tablecloths and napkins. Very friendly young wait-staff. We ordered grilled lamb chops on brown rice, and lamb spinach, their version of saag, on white rice. Both were excellent. The lamb chops were like popsicles: long bone handles, succlent grilled treats at the end. Excellent quality lamb in both dishes. The white rice under the ‘saag’ was well-prepared basmati, just moist enough to be eaten on its own.

    Now the brown rice, that’s a story on its own. This might be the best rice I’ve ever had: each grain was perfectly prepared, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Flavor was rich and rice-y; there was a dusting of coriander and ginger on the rice, just the lightest aromatic hint. We fought each other to finish the rice.

    So that’s the story of a weekend’s eating in Our Nation’s Capital. There wasn’t a clinker in the lot, and most of the dishes were worth ordering again.

    Can’t wait to get some more squid at Joe’s.

    Geo








    Joe's Noodle House
    1488-C Rockville Pike
    Rockville, Maryland 20852-1414
    Phone: (301) 881 - 5518
    http://www.joesnoodlehouse.com/

    Afghan Grill
    (202) 234-5095
    2309 Calvert St Nw
    Washington, DC 20008

    Lebanese Taverna
    2641 Connecticut Ave. NW o
    Washington, DC, 20008 o
    (202) 265-8681

    Florida Avenue Grill
    1100 Florida Ave. NW,
    Washington, DC 20009
    202-265-1586
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #2 - November 19th, 2005, 3:32 pm
    Post #2 - November 19th, 2005, 3:32 pm Post #2 - November 19th, 2005, 3:32 pm
    If you liked Joe's Noodle House (which I think is excellent), I strongly recommend you try Bob's Noodle 66. It is similar to Joe's Noodle House but Tawainese oriented. It is about 5min from Joe's to Bob's. There is a metro stop close to Bob's.

    The pork chop with scallion sauce is my favorite dish there, truly amazing. The short ribs are also great. They are known for their stinky tofu, but that is simply not my cup of tea (i tried it, and when they say stinky they really mean it)

    The noodle soups are fantastic. I order the noodle soup combo (beef, chicken and shrimp i believe). The noodles are made in house and are the perfect consistency. I've never had the noodles at Joe's but I will check them out. Anyways, glad you enjoyed your trip here

    Bob's Noodle 66
    305 N. Washington St.
    Rockville, MD 20850
    301-315-6668
  • Post #3 - November 19th, 2005, 7:25 pm
    Post #3 - November 19th, 2005, 7:25 pm Post #3 - November 19th, 2005, 7:25 pm
    Geo, I took your advice and ordered the Salty and Crispy Squid tonight and the Beef Noodle Soup Szechuan Style. You were spot on with the squid, very very very good. The Beef Soup was also fantastic, loved the hint of anise. It must say however, the noodles used at Bobs Noodle 66 are better in my opinion. Granted, the style of noodle is different at Bobs (thicker, almost like a mcdonalds french fry and more chewy) but I prefer them over the ones at Joes.

    anyways, thanks for the advice, the salty and crispy squid is def a staple now
  • Post #4 - November 19th, 2005, 9:43 pm
    Post #4 - November 19th, 2005, 9:43 pm Post #4 - November 19th, 2005, 9:43 pm
    I spent far too many days in Rockville in my past job, but never found those Chinese places, but I was also less adventurous in my eating then and tended to end up at the chain New Orleans place just up Rockville Pike from the Doubletree next to the train station.

    Lebanese Taverna is a place I never skip if I get a chance to get out to Adams-Morgan (my last time in town I was dragged all over town instead, never got up that way).

    I'm surprised nobody steered you to Full Kee (sp?) in Chinatown
    (see http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.ph ... hlight=kee)
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #5 - November 19th, 2005, 9:58 pm
    Post #5 - November 19th, 2005, 9:58 pm Post #5 - November 19th, 2005, 9:58 pm
    JoelF wrote:I spent far too many days in Rockville in my past job, but never found those Chinese places, but I was also less adventurous in my eating then and tended to end up at the chain New Orleans place just up Rockville Pike from the Doubletree next to the train station.


    Haha... You are referring to Copeland's and Joe's Noodle House is two storefronts down from it in the same strip. Everytime you went to Copeland's you could have walked about 20ft and walked into Joe's! Def give it a try next time you are there. Also, Bob's Noodle 66 is about 5min from there (Farther down Rockville Pike, near Regal Cinemas and Flagship Carwash).

    And I completely agree with you, Full Kee is fantastic
  • Post #6 - November 19th, 2005, 11:00 pm
    Post #6 - November 19th, 2005, 11:00 pm Post #6 - November 19th, 2005, 11:00 pm
    Prior to 1999, I was in Rockville frequently. In 1999 the FDA standardized electronic document submissions from pharmaceutical companies, and the need for me to go there went away.

    Now I have a different job, it's not likely I'll end up there at all.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #7 - December 25th, 2005, 8:30 am
    Post #7 - December 25th, 2005, 8:30 am Post #7 - December 25th, 2005, 8:30 am
    Thanks to Geo, I managed to make my way to Joe's Noodles not once but twice in the course of my recent 48 hour trip to Bethesda. Bill and I pushed our way through the pre-Christmas White Flint Mall traffic like salmon swimming upstream to spawn before we even stopped in to say hello to the family we were supposed to be visiting. Image

    Since we had Ed available by phone to read us Geo's post, we ordered wisely, including the terrific beef noodle soup szchwan style, the sour and sweet cabbage Image and the salty and crispy squid Image
    In addition, Bill, who always tries the hot and sour soup, not only declared it better than Moon Palace, but also said "I guess you could say I've been on a quest for the best hot and sour soup. At least so far, this is it."

    We returned the next evening for carry out for the extended family. Mostly people wanted to order their standards, so we had things like Hunan beef and sesame chicken. But they were good too, and I made sure that some of that squid made it to Bethesda as well.

    Thank you so much for posting about this place. If Joe's were in Chicago, it would be my favorite restaurant in town.
  • Post #8 - March 27th, 2008, 7:33 pm
    Post #8 - March 27th, 2008, 7:33 pm Post #8 - March 27th, 2008, 7:33 pm
    Howie and I went back, Easter weekend. Did Joe's, which retains its wonderful qualities. Ohhh, that squid; ohhhhh, that niu rou mien, etc.

    At the insistence of all you LTHers, we hit Full Kee. Good call. Indeed, Great Call! We did everything recommended, but particularly enjoyed the HK shrimp wonton meo mien, the oyster-pork hot pot, soft shell crabs, and some things we branched out on our own to try. In fact, we went twice, taking the staff of our guest house the second time.

    We really really enjoy where we stay: the Woodley Park Guest House, which is about 75 yds from the metro, has wonderful staff and owners, superb care, and is relatively cheap (c. $110/night). Basically, it can't be beat.

    We hit the Lebanese Taverna again, just as good as ever.

    The Afghan Grill has slipped: new owners, changed things down market. Real pity, that.

    The Woodley Park eating zone, from the metro south for a block or so, has really filled out. You can eat at some wonderful places there, then crawl back to the guest house and chill. Marvy circumstance.

    Geo


    http://www.dcinns.com/
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #9 - May 6th, 2008, 9:03 am
    Post #9 - May 6th, 2008, 9:03 am Post #9 - May 6th, 2008, 9:03 am
    I spent last weekend in DC and had a number of very enjoyable meals. Here's my report:

    Friday
    My first sit-down meal in DC was a late lunch by myself at Le Pain Quotidien in Georgetown. Sure, I could have tried one of the more local establishments, but I wanted to get off the crowded streets of Georgetown fast, and I'm a sucker for this Belgian chain. It quickly and reliably satisfies the Francophile in me, and I've made it a habit to visit Le Pain Quotidien whenever I'm in a city that has one. My ordering has always become habitual, too. It's always the tuna terrine with olive tapenade and roasted peppers and an Earl Grey tea (served in a drinking bowl, bien sur) at the communal table and then a giant meringue cookie to take away. The food is always made and presented well. On this visit, I ended up chatting with a woman at the communal table who has also been to Le Pain Quotidien around the world. It was lovely to lunch with someone who, like me, compares the merits of Le Pain Quotidien, say, in Brussels versus New York. Our discussion then turned to the inferiority of DC's Dean & Deluca compared to the NY stores. It was a fun conversation.

    For dinner on Friday, my boyfriend, our friend Ken and I dined at Malaysia Kopitiam, which Ken likes for their vegetarian dishes. We kept our appetizers vegetarian. The satay tofu was ordinary, but the char tao kuih was yummy--pan fried rice cake, chives, bean sprouts, egg, turnip and chili sauce. The rice cake resembled small pieces of potato but added a fun chewiness to the dish.

    Char tao kuih
    Image

    For entrees, we ordered the mock duck made with seitan, the chicken rendang and the spicy tamarind beef. The mock duck looked good, but I didn't try it. The two meat dishes had potential, but they were both overwhelmed by the amount and texture of sauce (too thick) and the lack of heat in flavor. I suspect that Kopitiam is the type of place with an extensive menu that's solid for the most part with a few standouts. The dishes we tried missed the mark, but I could see them being a lot more enjoyable with about ten times the heat.

    Saturday
    We spent Saturday afternoon at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and had lunch in the cafeteria. I agree with chapulin's assessment. The set-up is really neat, the range of offerings admirable. Overall, I think the cafeteria was a very bold move by the museum. From "Mesoamerica" (if I'm remembering correctly), my boyfriend ordered the crispy pork with garlic and aji amarillo mole, which was tasty but had a hint of heat lamp texture.

    Garlic pork
    Image

    I got the squid ink calamari ceviche and yucca with garlic sauce appetizers from "South America." I enjoyed the ceviche, with its large slices of yellow bell pepper, and if I could only eat one carb. for the rest of my life, I think it might be yucca, just as it was prepared at the cafeteria.

    Ceviche
    Image

    Yucca
    Image

    With a beer, a tea and a small strawberry tart, our lunch came to just under $40. I've only seen prices like this at one other museum—MoMA in New York—where the food is quite good but I'm mainly paying for the convenience of not having to leave the building to find sustenance in Midtown so that I can return and look at paintings until the museum closes. At the Museum of the American Indian, eating can be—perhaps chicken fingers and buffalo burgers aside—an interesting extension of the gallery experience (and you don't have to pay $20 per person to get into the museum, like you do at MoMA). I'd consider the cafeteria a destination on the Mall. The food isn't superb, but it's very good and I think encourages reflection on the museum's mission.

    After the Mall, we paid a visit to Eastern Market. We went with the intention of eating crab cakes, but lunch left us too full for more food. We still got a good look around. I wish I could have visited the market in its old location, before last year's the fire. The large white shed where the food stalls are located now seemed to lack personality especially I think because it was so sunny and lush and beautiful outside on Saturday.

    Eastern Market now
    Image

    The old market building under repair
    Image

    There wasn't a lot at the market that particularly appealed to me. I didn't think that the produce or meats were anything spectacular, and, again the space just didn't encourage leisurely browsing. I did take a few pictures.

    The cheese stall
    Image

    Treats at the Fine Sweet Shoppe
    Image

    Image

    Strawberries outside
    Image

    I don't think I'll go to great lengths to return to Eastern Market, but I remain curious about the crab cakes, which my boyfriend is crazy about.

    On Saturday night, we dined at Central Michel Richard. We had an excellent experience. At first, I was a little put off by the noise level. It's a large space, and we were seated in the middle aisle, not far from the open kitchen, but the volume turned out to be fine. It definitely felt like a bustling, full space on a Saturday night, but conversation was easy. I was also impressed by the mix of patrons—there were hipsters in shorts and t-shirts eating in the bar area, older couples on double dates, families celebrating birthdays, some business-looking people in suits and ties and, at one table, teenagers on prom night.

    We started with the fried oysters, which were very satisfying. The breading was crispy and the tartar sauce was robust and rich with fresh herbs. For entrees, my boyfriend ordered the seared scallops on pasta with olive and caper cream sauce. This dish was absolutely delightful. The scallops were perfectly seared and the pasta sauce was nuanced but did not overpower the taste of the seafood. I always order calf's liver if it's on the menu of where I'm eating, so that's what I had at Central. This was the best presentation of liver I've ever encountered. The liver was sauteed to perfection and placed on a bed of mashed potatoes. On top were grilled onions and oh-so-crispy goodness—onion strings and half a dozen slices of bacon (the latter, by request).

    Calf's liver
    Image

    We rounded out our meal with vanilla crème brulee and chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis topped with dark chocolate crunchies. The desserts very good but not exceptional. Not a low point, but I wouldn't go back to Central for dessert—for everything else, yes. The value is incredible for the quality of food, and I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Oh yeah, Central also makes a mean mojito. :)

    Sunday
    After Dupont Circle Market, we took a short drive across the bridge to Virginia for lunch in Rosslyn. China Garden is one of my boyfriend's favorite destinations for dim sum in the DC area (i.e. closer than Rockville). It's located in a corporate office building in downtown Rosslyn with a parking garage that offers free parking in the evenings and all day on the weekends to China Garden patrons. (The Rosslyn Metro stop is also very close.) Our ordering on Sunday wasn't very inspired. We ordered from the first carts we saw—ha gao, sticky rice, stuffed eggplant, Chinese broccoli... The ha gao tasted like maybe it had been steamed for too long, but everything else was solid. Notable were the spare ribs, which were very meaty, and something new to me—BBQ pork wrapped in super buttery pastry...a revelation!

    Spare ribs
    Image

    Pork in pastry
    Image

    As so often happens with dim sum, the most appealing dishes were rolled out after we were pretty full. The stuffed mushrooms and scallion dumplings looked particularly tasty. It was tough to refrain from picking up just a few more dishes. I look forward to visiting China Garden again.

    Overall, it was a very fine weekend of eating in DC.

    Le Pain Quotidien
    2815 M St
    Washington, DC 20007
    202-315 5420

    Malaysia Kopitiam
    1827 M St NW
    Washington DC 20036
    202-833-6233

    Cafeteria @ the National Museum of the American Indian
    4th St & Independence Ave SW
    Washington DC 20560
    202-633-1000

    Eastern Market
    7th St & North Carolina Ave SE
    Washington DC 20003

    Central Michel Richard
    1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington DC 20004
    202-626-0015

    China Garden
    1100 Wilson Blvd
    Twin Towers - Mall Level
    Rosslyn VA 22209
    703-525-5317
  • Post #10 - October 28th, 2008, 10:34 am
    Post #10 - October 28th, 2008, 10:34 am Post #10 - October 28th, 2008, 10:34 am
    happy_stomach wrote:There wasn't a lot at the market that particularly appealed to me. I didn't think that the produce or meats were anything spectacular, and, again the space just didn't encourage leisurely browsing. I did take a few pictures.

    I don't think I'll go to great lengths to return to Eastern Market, but I remain curious about the crab cakes, which my boyfriend is crazy about.


    As far as the market.. it's a temporary space so hard to complain too much. As a Chicagoan, it's especially difficult given that this is a daily market with 30 or 40 vendors... we don't have anything like that here.... Not sure why you felt it wasn't conducive to just browsing, I've browsed there numerous times. Usually the outdoor space is reserved for craft and flea market type booths. The produce could be better and more plentiful, as compared with other markets I've been to in places other than Chicago... but there are at least 5 or so strictly meat vendors that have quite a variety and a well priced. The cheese is better some days than others, but a visit to Pastoral or Sam's here will always result in better cheese finds. On weekends though they always have open air booths out front on the street that have pretty good produce, that portion is similar in size to the type of market we have here in Chicago. They call this section "Farmer's Line" (I like the market enough though in my search for neighborhoods to move to when I move to DC, Eastern Market is probably in the top 3).

    Eastern Market
    225 7th St SE (metro stop called "Eastern Market" is about 1 block south)

    South Hall Merchants:
    Tuesday-Friday 7 am to 7 pm
    Saturday 7 am to 6 pm
    Sunday 9 am to 5 pm
    Flea Market:
    Saturday & Sunday 9 am to 6 pm
    Arts & Crafts Market:
    Saturday & Sunday 9 am to 6 pm
    Farmers' Line:
    Saturday & Sunday 7 am to 4 pm
    http://www.easternmarketdc.com/


    why didn't you have the crab cakes then??? :]

    There's a place in the Eastern Market temporary space called Market Lunch that does them... I haven't had them, I've had their Carolina style pulled pork sandwich and their softshell crab sandwich. The soft shell crab was pretty good, and the pork respectable enough to have again. I've heard their crab cakes are good though too. The prices are reasonable, it's better food than than fast food, and they have a long counter with stools. My real complaint with the place was last time I was by there, it was Sunday and all they were serving was breakfast items, even when it was after noon. IIRC, they didn't open until 11 or so on Sunday, then the line got to be about 50 people long around lunch time (even though it was breakfast food... I think 1/3 the people in line might not have realized though). http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/resta ... 91807.html has a writeup on this place as well as hours.

    There are a few other vendors who do sandwiches and stuff, but not sure that any have fryers for crab cakes.

    Outside of the market itself, there are maybe 2 or 3 restaurants and 5 or 6 coffee shops in both directions. Two restaurants nearby were only serving brunch most of the day as well (until 3 or 4pm?), so I guess it's common. I don't mind a late brunch, but most places offer something at least a few lunch items too... Market Lunch no.

    Next time you're in the DC area, check out the fish market area in Southwest Waterfront of DC ("SW")... Directly adjacent to Gangplank Marina there are 15 or so vendors that have floating barges literally on the water and you walk right up.

    Image

    (yes, that's a barge on the water)...pretty cool. obviously there are tons and tons of bushels of crabs to be found, and they'll steam them for you and you can eat them on the spot if you'd like. Oysters... there's also tons of fish, and tons of varieties.

    Crabs are huge in the DC area, but few places actually serve you a whole crab for you to go at. if you're in DC, this is your best option probably... (perhaps your only option even for getting a dozen crabs..). in annapolis/baltimore area there are more places to eat crabs by the dozen (Cantler's, etc), but still relatively few there even.

    there are a few full service restaurants in the area as well... A few are higher end, but we wanted something more casual... Someone at the marina recommended Cantina Marina, a sort of tex mex seafood place. it's a good place to sit on the water on a Sunday afternoon... I probably wouldn't go there at night, I imagine the crowd packs it in. I just had a cheeseburger there, but it was good. And drank a few dark and stormy's (ginger beer with a dark rum that they seem to have everywhere there, can't think of the name of it now). they also have their own "old bay" like spice rub and don't be surprised to find yourself pouring it all over your burger and fries.

    .. it's a bit further away from things than many tourists would go--something that's seemingly hard to escape in DC. I think we were the only tourists there...
    Image
    (that's Rhoda, we made friends with her...)

    There is a metro stop near SW Waterfront but I can't think of the name of it.

    p.s., maybe this thread should be merged with the other recent DC thread
  • Post #11 - October 28th, 2008, 2:09 pm
    Post #11 - October 28th, 2008, 2:09 pm Post #11 - October 28th, 2008, 2:09 pm
    I've never been a fan of the Eastern Market, even in its pre-fire state. It's a fine place to take a tourist for a passable stand-up breakfast, but I was never impressed by the products or the prices. I spent a good deal of time in the neighborhood over the years, and would run in for some cheese or bread, but I never saw it as a shopping destination.

    During the summers, I was much happier buying my produce at the many decent area farmers markets (for example, Dupont and Takoma). In the winter, there just wasn't much there that I wanted. Sure, the baked goods are okay. And, tasting cheeses can be fun. But, there are markets with better quality products and I never found the prices at Eastern Market to be great.

    Also, I never really understood the SW waterfront market, despite having been at least a dozen times. It's another place I took tourists to visit. It's a fine place to buy catfish or steamed shrimp. It's fun to buy a whole fish and take it to a cleaning shack. And, I never get sick of watching the live crabs try to escape from their bushels into the not-so-clean waters of the Potomac. But, I found that the quality just wasn't that great.

    Bottom line - - I don't think that D.C. is a great market town. There are some quality, expensive options (for example, good fish/seafood at BlackSalt, and great meat at Wagshal's). But, reasonably-priced, quality options are few and far between.
  • Post #12 - October 29th, 2008, 5:37 am
    Post #12 - October 29th, 2008, 5:37 am Post #12 - October 29th, 2008, 5:37 am
    I miss dc :(
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #13 - October 29th, 2008, 6:18 am
    Post #13 - October 29th, 2008, 6:18 am Post #13 - October 29th, 2008, 6:18 am
    jpschust wrote:I miss dc :(


    After living there for five years, I have never said those words. Though in fairness, my wife has a few times.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #14 - October 29th, 2008, 8:25 am
    Post #14 - October 29th, 2008, 8:25 am Post #14 - October 29th, 2008, 8:25 am
    teatpuller wrote:
    jpschust wrote:I miss dc :(


    After living there for five years, I have never said those words. Though in fairness, my wife has a few times.
    I miss the winters. I miss the job I had. I miss a few friends (although most had left before I did). And, I miss D.C.'s wonderful Ethiopian and Vietnamese food.

    That's about it.
  • Post #15 - October 29th, 2008, 9:09 am
    Post #15 - October 29th, 2008, 9:09 am Post #15 - October 29th, 2008, 9:09 am
    REB wrote:
    teatpuller wrote:
    jpschust wrote:I miss dc :(


    After living there for five years, I have never said those words. Though in fairness, my wife has a few times.
    I miss the winters. I miss the job I had. I miss a few friends (although most had left before I did). And, I miss D.C.'s wonderful Ethiopian and Vietnamese food.

    That's about it.
    I miss the entire restaurant scene. There were a few places I really loved in Chicago, but I generally wasn't a huge fan of the Chicago dining scene. (I'll take NY over DC, though, but I can't imagine ever living in NY). I miss the people as well, though there are good people everywhere. My personal style meshes quite a bit better in DC than Chicago though.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #16 - October 29th, 2008, 9:39 am
    Post #16 - October 29th, 2008, 9:39 am Post #16 - October 29th, 2008, 9:39 am
    Interesting. In my seven years in D.C., I struggled to find great Mexican (mostly mediocre Salvadoran-owned spots), casual Italian (Pasta Mia just isn't good), sushi (Sushi Ko and Taro were okay), tapas (I don't like Jaleo), brunch (Tabard was good on occasion), bar food, etc. Sure, I did have plenty of favorites. It isn't as if I disliked everything. But, my biggest problem seemed to be finding places where I could get a great meal for $8-12. D.C. has plenty of high-end restaurants, but few hole-in-the-wall spots. Did I miss something?

    Here in Chicago, I can find plenty of reasonably-priced outstanding restaurants. And, Chicago's more expensive restaurants don't depend on expense account dining, which in my opinion means that restaurants are less likely to get lazy and count on past success to bring customers in.
  • Post #17 - October 29th, 2008, 9:59 am
    Post #17 - October 29th, 2008, 9:59 am Post #17 - October 29th, 2008, 9:59 am
    REB wrote:Interesting. In my seven years in D.C., I struggled to find great Mexican (mostly mediocre Salvadoran-owned spots), casual Italian (Pasta Mia just isn't good), sushi (Sushi Ko and Taro were okay), tapas (I don't like Jaleo), brunch (Tabard was good on occasion), bar food, etc. Sure, I did have plenty of favorites. It isn't as if I disliked everything. But, my biggest problem seemed to be finding places where I could get a great meal for $8-12. D.C. has plenty of high-end restaurants, but few hole-in-the-wall spots. Did I miss something?

    Here in Chicago, I can find plenty of reasonably-priced outstanding restaurants. And, Chicago's more expensive restaurants don't depend on expense account dining, which in my opinion means that restaurants are less likely to get lazy and count on past success to bring customers in.
    DC has come a long way even in the last few years both for mexican and for italian, and it's slowly getting there for affordable food, though there are great deals to be had all over the place. 13.50 for lunch at restaurant eve is pretty stellar if i do say so myself. Lots of good brunch now, and a bunch of great places with great bar food now (EatBar comes to mind). And I agree, Pasta Mia sucks.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #18 - November 1st, 2008, 7:46 pm
    Post #18 - November 1st, 2008, 7:46 pm Post #18 - November 1st, 2008, 7:46 pm
    I found myself in DC last week for what wound up to be a torture trip of continuous meetings with dinners held at McCormick & Ruth’s Schmick Chris Steafood places (and a depressing Thai meal at Thaiphoon and a forgettable meal at French-Asian (con)Fusion place Oya).

    Before the employers got the shackles on me, I was able to find a small window of time to ankle it around town for a meal on my own accord. Initially planning on staying the heck away from Friday night Adams Morgan, I figured I had just enough time to make in & out of Cashion’s Eat Place and make it out alive before turning into a pumpkin. Cashion’s fit the bill down to a T for what I was looking for – which was to plop myself down at a comforting bar, with an able ‘tender, and a nice list of grub and wine to work my way through. Actually, they far exceeded the expectations on all of those criteria. There’s a diner-like comfort (not aesthetic) to the place, Billy the bartender took great care of me, and the seasonal menu of simple, comforting small and large plates made ordering a difficult decision. The wine list was extraordinary. A very simple and delicious tuna sashimi with Ligurian olive oil, black sea salt & some kind of caviar; a beet salad w/ feta notable for its high-quality locally-sourced components; and well-executed veal sweetbreads w/ sauteed spinach rounded out the meal. I could be a regular at this place.

    Based on one of a few great suggestions from jpschust, I checked out a relatively new gastropub in Columbia Heights, CommonWealth. CommonWealth was a warm blanket on a blustery, frigid night and their housemade charcuterie and cask-conditioned brews are excellent. Dry-cured duck sausage was lean yet moist with rich flavour, and the stuffed trotters, served warm, with an ever-so-slightly sweet (porcine?) sauce was terrific, and went well with the cheese (a semi-soft and a creamy) whose pedigrees I’m forgetting. The steak & oyster pie was savory and soothing with great depth of flavour, only quibble being the ‘upside-down’ presentation (not my preference). Good sauce-mopping stuff.

    Cashion's Eat Place
    1819 Columbia Rd NW
    (between N Biltmore St & N Mintwood Pl)
    Washington, DC 20009
    (202) 797-1819
    http://www.cashionseatplace.com

    CommonWealth Gastropub
    1400 Irving St NW
    (between N 14th St & N Hiatt Pl)
    Washington, DC 20010
    (202) 265-1400
    http://commonwealthgastropub.com
  • Post #19 - November 1st, 2008, 7:51 pm
    Post #19 - November 1st, 2008, 7:51 pm Post #19 - November 1st, 2008, 7:51 pm
    When I lived in D.C., I spent many hours at the bar at Cashion's. They had one of the best sunday brunches in town. My regular order was the pork chop with cheese grits and greens. If I had someone with me, I'd go for the fresh-baked pastry basket.

    I have very fond memories of that restaurant. I'm glad to see that it's still going strong.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #20 - November 2nd, 2008, 7:53 pm
    Post #20 - November 2nd, 2008, 7:53 pm Post #20 - November 2nd, 2008, 7:53 pm
    eatchicago wrote:When I lived in D.C., I spent many hours at the bar at Cashion's. They had one of the best sunday brunches in town. My regular order was the pork chop with cheese grits and greens. If I had someone with me, I'd go for the fresh-baked pastry basket.

    I have very fond memories of that restaurant. I'm glad to see that it's still going strong.

    Best,
    Michael
    Ann Cashion no longer has any involvement in Cashion's as it's been sold- and after the last couple of years at Cashion's, it was for the best. Glad tatterdemalion has a great meal there- the new chef/owner is supposed to be really cool. Commonwealth is pretty cool- I know the owner and the chef from a few years back and they are both great people.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #21 - November 22nd, 2008, 8:21 pm
    Post #21 - November 22nd, 2008, 8:21 pm Post #21 - November 22nd, 2008, 8:21 pm
    Just a bump to say I will be in DC for a week in January, in the Woodley Park / Cleveland Park / Adams Morgan / Dupont Circle area. I hope to report back on the Lebanese Taverna, the Afghan Grill, 2 Amys, and others in the area that have been mentioned here. This will be my, let's see, 23rd January in a row attending this conference in DC in January, so I know the Lebanese Taverna already, and I've seen other things come and go in that neighborhood, but I also intend to go off on my own and visit some new places. Otherwise I'll wind up with all my other blottto conference-goers singing "green alligators, and long-necked geese, some humpty-back camels and some chimpanzees" at Murphy's pub til God-knows-what-hour of every morning, and wondering the next day why my clothes smell so smoky.*

    *Or has DC banned smoking in bars now too?
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"

    As Carl Sagan once said, to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. And sometimes I just don't have the time and energy to invent the universe. So I figure it's okay to buy some stuff.
  • Post #22 - November 22nd, 2008, 9:36 pm
    Post #22 - November 22nd, 2008, 9:36 pm Post #22 - November 22nd, 2008, 9:36 pm
    Katie--*do* try the Afghan Grill, I'd bet you'll like it. And, if you have the energy, the metro from Woodley Park to Joe's Noodle House isn't at all a long trip.

    In any case, report back, we'll be eagerly awaiting your news!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #23 - November 23rd, 2008, 1:13 pm
    Post #23 - November 23rd, 2008, 1:13 pm Post #23 - November 23rd, 2008, 1:13 pm
    Hi, Katie. I left D.C. for Chicago one year ago, so my info is fairly recent.

    My step mother's friend was in D.C. last week, and so I've just given this some thought.

    If you can get a table, my favorite spendy restaurant is Komi. If I could only pick one meal in D.C., this would be it. Amazing creative food with Greek influences. It's a very small casual restaurant that turns out wonderful food. Johnny Monis is a young talented chef. In just a few years, he went from a casual restaurant that turned out tasty pizzas to delivering one of the best tasting menus in town.

    My favorite brunch in the area you'll be in is Tabard Inn. Definitely need reservations for brunch. The food is usually good, and occasionally great. It's in a wonderful old hotel, though, and is worth visiting just for the atmosphere.

    If you'd like something better than what you can get in Chicago, go for Ethiopian with friendly table service at Etete or with the cabbies at Habesha Market. At Etete, I like the Yebeg Wat. At Habesha Market, I like the Lamb Awaze Tibs. Unless you're at Habesha during the lunch rush, stick with the veggie items and the made-to-order meat items. The pre-made meats seem to only be great when they're fresh. D.C. has the largest Ethiopian population in the world outside of Ethiopia. Even at Etete, a relatively trendy Ethiopian spot, you can be sitting next to 60-year-old native Ethiopians. The Ethiopian restaurants around the 9th and U corridor are primarily there for the Ethiopian community and they compete fiercely for customers - - hence, great food. I'd stay clear of Adams Morgan Ethiopian (I thought I didn't like Ethiopian for years because I'd only had it outside of the 9th and U area).

    2 Amy's is good. Not sure if it's better than anything in Chicago, but I enjoyed it. Pizza Paradiso in Dupont Circle, too, can be good.

    Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to help!
    Last edited by REB on November 24th, 2008, 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #24 - November 24th, 2008, 9:15 am
    Post #24 - November 24th, 2008, 9:15 am Post #24 - November 24th, 2008, 9:15 am
    Katie wrote:Just a bump to say I will be in DC for a week in January, in the Woodley Park / Cleveland Park / Adams Morgan / Dupont Circle area. I hope to report back on the Lebanese Taverna, the Afghan Grill, 2 Amys, and others in the area that have been mentioned here. This will be my, let's see, 23rd January in a row attending this conference in DC in January, so I know the Lebanese Taverna already, and I've seen other things come and go in that neighborhood, but I also intend to go off on my own and visit some new places. Otherwise I'll wind up with all my other blottto conference-goers singing "green alligators, and long-necked geese, some humpty-back camels and some chimpanzees" at Murphy's pub til God-knows-what-hour of every morning, and wondering the next day why my clothes smell so smoky.*

    *Or has DC banned smoking in bars now too?
    I'd skip 2 Amys and Lebanese Taverna, personally and head for Komi, Cashion's, Palena (bar), or Central. Even closer to you than most of those
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #25 - November 24th, 2008, 11:38 pm
    Post #25 - November 24th, 2008, 11:38 pm Post #25 - November 24th, 2008, 11:38 pm
    Thanks for the recommendations. Several of those places mentioned I hadn't heard of before.

    I probably can't skip the Lebanese Taverna even if I wanted to; the conference I'm attending is at the Woodley Marriott (in fact, that week, we completely take over three hotels: the Marriott, the Omni Shoreham, and the Hilton), so at some point I'm bound to wind up in a group of badge-wearing Dilberts waiting in line to get into the Lebanese Taverna for lunch. Alas, these are lunches intended to accomplish work/teaming/hobnobbing goals, so I'm afraid the dishes never get the attention they deserve.

    The Afghan Grill doesn't seem like my style of place at all, but I've read such good things about it that I'm willing to experiment with something outside my comfort zone. Heaven knows the other Dilberts won't find me there.

    The kind of place I'm always most hoping to find is cozy, quiet, dark, ideally with a fireplace, tasty food, glasses of wine, somewhere to go be by myself for a while, right some letters, make some journal notes, and escape the conference crowd. Any suggestions for that, former DC dwellers?
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"

    As Carl Sagan once said, to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. And sometimes I just don't have the time and energy to invent the universe. So I figure it's okay to buy some stuff.
  • Post #26 - November 25th, 2008, 10:35 am
    Post #26 - November 25th, 2008, 10:35 am Post #26 - November 25th, 2008, 10:35 am
    Katie wrote:The kind of place I'm always most hoping to find is cozy, quiet, dark, ideally with a fireplace, tasty food, glasses of wine, somewhere to go be by myself for a while, right some letters, make some journal notes, and escape the conference crowd. Any suggestions for that, former DC dwellers?

    Not sure how much of this there is in D.C.

    I think Tabard Inn in Dupont (which I mentioned in my last post), outside of the brunch and dinner rush, should be work. Darkish rooms, old worn sofas, and plenty of place to spread out. They have a few rooms, other than their main dining room, where I'm sure they'd be happy to bring you a glass (or bottle) of wine and some food. I'd call to make sure, but it should be good for you. I don't remember about the fireplaces. I do think, however, that they have live jazz on Sunday evenings. And they have a small bar if you'd feel more comfortable dining solo there.

    A trendier option, with a younger crowd and plenty of cozy sofas, is Tryst in Adams Morgan. During the day, it's filled with students drinking coffee and eating light lunches. In the evenings, it's more of a lounge and they have a full bar menu.

    The Hotel Lombardy has a velvet and pillow covered cozy lounge where you're likely to find a quiet spot for drinks and a light meal. I don't think I ever ate anything more than nuts there, but the drinks were decent. It was close to my old office, so we'd head there after work for a drink in a quiet spot. It definitely has a slight bordello feel to it.

    If you're thinking beer rather than wine, you're likely to find a nice seat at Brickskeller in Dupont Circle (If they're both open, I'd check out both the upstairs and downstairs bars to see which you'd prefer). They usually have some music playing and it can get crowded at night, so it's not always quiet. But, it is a unique spot, with an impressive beer list. I'd say it's dark and cozy, but still friendly. The food is merely passable (burgers, pierogies, po boys, etc.).

    I'll post again if I can think of any other options.
  • Post #27 - November 25th, 2008, 11:56 am
    Post #27 - November 25th, 2008, 11:56 am Post #27 - November 25th, 2008, 11:56 am
    Katie wrote:The kind of place I'm always most hoping to find is cozy, quiet, dark, ideally with a fireplace, tasty food, glasses of wine, somewhere to go be by myself for a while, right some letters, make some journal notes, and escape the conference crowd. Any suggestions for that, former DC dwellers?


    I was also there for a very large conference and was looking for a similar place to retreat, get some solo-time at a comforting place with good food and wine. Cashion's actually fit the bill, even on a Friday night (albeit early), and it was an easy walk from the Omni Shoreham. It may not be as dark as you'd like, and there may not be a fireplace, but go on a weeknight, find yourself a cozy corner on the bar (or a table tucked away), and I think you will be quite happy. If all else fails, the wine list is guaranteed to make you happy, and the food is quite good too. I found it c-o-z-y.
  • Post #28 - November 25th, 2008, 2:53 pm
    Post #28 - November 25th, 2008, 2:53 pm Post #28 - November 25th, 2008, 2:53 pm
    Palena will also fit the bill- albeit in a more modern space, the bar is small and cozy. I'd say Cashion's and Palena are a good bet. The lobby of Tabard is great for a glass of wine and maybe some oysters, but avoid the dinner food at all costs.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #29 - December 28th, 2008, 9:52 am
    Post #29 - December 28th, 2008, 9:52 am Post #29 - December 28th, 2008, 9:52 am
    On our recent trip to DC we spent a couple days on the mall visiting the various museums. Totally by accident, walking from our parking space to the NASM, we cut through the National Museum of the American Indian. Their Mitsitam cafeteria is vastly different from any museum fast food I've ever encountered. Different sections serve different specialties based on various native American regions. HIGHLY recommended over the typical fast food dining at the other museums in the area. Note: several items are NOT inexpensive, but were very good and well worth the price.

    From their web site www.nmai.si.edu :

    "The Mitsitam Native Foods Café is located inside the museum. “Mitsitam" means "Let’s eat!" in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. The café is an extension of the cultural experience of the museum. In the café, visitors can enjoy meals and snacks inspired by the indigenous foods and culinary traditions of the Native peoples of the Americas."
  • Post #30 - January 4th, 2009, 5:11 pm
    Post #30 - January 4th, 2009, 5:11 pm Post #30 - January 4th, 2009, 5:11 pm
    j r wrote:Totally by accident, walking from our parking space to the NASM, we cut through the National Museum of the American Indian. Their Mitsitam cafeteria is vastly different from any museum fast food I've ever encountered. Different sections serve different specialties based on various native American regions. HIGHLY recommended over the typical fast food dining at the other museums in the area.


    i'd second that recommendation... given the lack of dining in the mall area and that most of the other museums have mcdonald's as their featured dining, it's not hard to beat that... but they actually do some unique things at the NASM cafeteria...

    basically it's divided into sections by type of indians and what they might have eaten... some things are clearly kitschy and probably not authentic... others i'm sure are. you can get a sampler plate of 3 different items to try more than one thing.

    you probably can't eat for less than $15/person for a cafeteria, so it's not the cheapest place... but interesting. (and i went through recently mid-afternoon looking for something less than a meal and more snacky and couldn't find anything under $8 that would've qualified as a snack, so i left emptyhanded)...

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