I will be in D. C. this weekend attending a conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention center. My hotel will be near there. What are some of your favorite haunts? Here are my parameters:
Price: a maximum of about $20 for an entree, average about $13
Type: Anything but Mexican (I live in TX, I get enough of it here:D) I’ve heard that D. C. has quite a bit of Ethiopian restaurants. I’ve never had this cuisine before. I like spicy foods, if that helps.
Location: As I said, close to the convention center, but reachable by a short taxi ride.
You could just go to one of the neighborhoods that have a lot of good restaurants. I was at first going to suggest that for Ethiopian restaurants, you probably want to go to the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Ask the taxi driver to take you to Meskerem at 2434 18th Street NW. You’ll have fun walking around Adams Morgan and you might find another restaurant you’ll want to eat at.
The problem is that Meskerem is a good but not great Ethiopian restaurant. A better one is Etete, which is in the Shaw neighborhood. Its address is 1942 9th Street NW. There aren’t very many interesting restaurants around it, but you can walk west on U Street and you’ll pass a few interesting ones. Eventually you’ll get to Dupont Circle, and that’s a good neighborhood for restaurants. It’s about ten blocks west on U Street and south on New Hampshire Avenue. Another possibility is to just go directly to Dupont Circle. In that case, tell the taxi driver to let you off at Kramerbooks and Afterwords.
Any of these neighborhoods (Adams Morgan, Shaw, and Dupont Circle) are short taxi rides from where you’re staying.
Adams-Morgan and downtown Bethesda, both on the Red line (for Adams-Morgan you have to cross a bridge from the Woodley Park-Zoo station) have the best assortment of restaurants. Go to either and follow your nose!
Frankly you’d be hard pressed to find neighborhoods in this part of the country without at least a few good places.
Wheaton is positively scary in many ways, but has amazing Peruvian and Salvadoran food and an amazing Thai place that thickens their soup with pig’s blood. Prince William County, where I live, has long stretches of chain Generica broken up by amazing barbecue, Belgian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Indian places. People in the know in Tyson’s breeze past the chain steakhouses and hit an amazing little place called JR’s Stockyards Inn. It has been there since 1978, and serves up a great steak for about 60% of the price of Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris.
If I ever move from here, this is what I will miss the most.
PS 7’s bar menu. It includes one of the best sandwich deals in town (a giant Primanti Brothers sandwich – sopressatta, slaw, shoestring fries, and a fried egg – for $8) and some absolutely incredible burgers, among other things. And it’s on I between 7th and 8th, so it’s very near the Convention Center.
Oh, and the cocktails are some of the best around (along with those at PX, the Gibson, and a few other places) – the Thai’s the Limit is ridiculously good.
As far as other reasonably priced, tasty places in the immediate area (no need to go to Bethesda or even Adams-Morgan!), you’ve got:
-Full Kee (pretty much anything on their menu, but the giant bowl of roasted pork and noodle soup is tremendous value for $5.50, especially if you add a little chili oil to bring out the flavors)
-New Big Wong (pretty much anything in the specials/chef’s recommendation part of their menu, but especially their dry scallop fried rice)
-Chinatown Express (anything with their homemade noodles)
-Whatever the Thai place is next to Chinatown Express
-Whatever the Vietnamese place is next to the Thai place (although their banh mi is better than their pho…for good pho you need to go to Rosslyn or at least Columbia Heights)
-Jaleo (Spanish tapas)
-I think the bar menu at Corduroy (one of the best restaurants in the city) is a pretty good value, but I’ve never actually had it and could be wrong…it’s right near the convention center, though, and has phenomenal food
I’ll chime in with more in that vicinity as I think of them. (And yeah, if you expand your area to U Street and such, I recommend Etete for Ethiopian, Bar Pilar for delicious and reasonable small plates, and Oohs and Ahs for fantastic soul food, among other places.)
Edit: Oh, and villa reminded me: any of the Ray’s places are wonderful, but Ray’s Hell Burgers – right next door to the really good pho place in Rosslyn/Courthouse has some of the best burgers in the country. I promise. …Of course, they’ve been wall-to-wall packed ever since Obama ate there, but you can still get in without too much of a wait if you don’t go at peak hours, especially if they’ve opened up the carry-out location next door that they’ve been planning on doing.
Edit again: Finally, for other recommendations, you should check out Don Rockwell’s board at http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?showforum=5. It’s a foodie place, and people definitely know where the best value in town is. Dino in Cleveland Park is another place that’s a little far afield of you, but ridiculously good and very reasonably priced.
For great small plates in the U Street Area (by which I mean plates that are between $5 to $8, where two or three of them is a satisfying meal), I also recommend Cork. Their avocado bruschetta, for example, is unbelievable, as are their french fries with spicy house-made ketchup. And their sunchokes. And…man, I need to go back to Cork.
I’ll stop posting now.
Edit (I lied about not posting more): If you go to Cork, by the way, try their house-made lemonade, either in a cocktail or by itself. It’s got some star anise in it as well as a few other things, and it’s sooooooooooo good. …I wonder if Cork ever instituted lunch service. wanders off to Google
My best meal in DC came from going to Chinatown (one metro stop away from the convention center) and giving a homeless guy my change in exchange for him telling me the best restaurant in Chinatown to eat at. I don’t remember the name but it was magically delicious.
I must be the only long-time DC resident who can’t get worked up about Ben’s Chili Bowl. I took my little brother there last fall when he came to visit, since I felt it was kinda my duty to do so, and it was really disappointing.
For health food I’d rather stick with the bacon bloody mary at Bar Pilar or the spicy deep fried head-on shrimp at Full Kee.
For Ethiopian, I’ll second Etete and add in Dukem on 12th and U. I like that whole corridor as a place to go have a meal and a drink. Adams Morgan is a little too booze oriented in the evenings for me and it seems like the crowd on U Street runs a few years older and less likely to get liquored up. Creme Cafe on 13th and U is also pretty good.
I really like Granville Moore’s. The executive chef was on America’s Next Food Network Star and competed against Bobby Flay on Throwdown last year. The only issue is that it isn’t that close to a Metro station and the neighborhood itself is gentrifying and tends to intimidate some people.
I like Ray’s the Steaks in Arlington for the food, but the service always seems hit or miss and the wait can be interminable.
This probably wouldn’t be a good restaurant for you, because it’s hard to get to if you’re at the convention center without a car, but I first went there a few weeks ago, and it’s great, so I wanted to let the people in this thread about it. The restaurant is Maizbon, on the Little River Turnpike near Landmark Mall in Alexandria. It’s an Afghan restaurant, and it’s great.
In the lower level of the Native American museum, you’ll find a restaurant unlike any other in America. In a huge, cafeteria-style serving area, there are sections devoted to the foods of all the different Native American regions. You could eat there every day for weeks without repeating yourself.
It’s mezze, which is like tapas- there aren’t entrees per se but small servings of everything from lamb to rabbit to Turkish delight, and they average around $5 per, so for $20 you can make a meal. It’s well located, nice atmosphere- overlooks the International Spy Museum which is probably the easiest way to find it on a map. Everyone I’ve taken there loved it also.
Also a great place. And you can get a sampler platter for about $20 that includes buffalo, salmon, and other native dishes. Very close to the Capitol. Closes early though.
And taxis in D.C., at least when I’ve used them (admittedly it’s been about 2 years) were always very reasonably priced compared to other cities. And the Metro isn’t hard to learn at all.
PS- I tried Ethiopian in D.C… It wasn’t bad at all, but it’s not anything I’d go that far out of my way for again.