Restaurants in Washington DC

I hope I picked the correct forum. Anyway, I’m going to DC in October and my husband and I want to go to a nice, fancy restaurant for my birthday. And recommendations? And if it’s a historical restaurant, even better. Also, we were thinking of seeing a production at Ford’s Theatre. Is it worth it or is there a better theatre. And any recommendations for pretheatre dinner?

Finally, last time my husband and I were in DC several years ago, we went to this great seafood buffet restaurant which I believe was on the Potomac but can’t remember the name - any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

I don’t know about historical restaurants but if you want something memorable, stop in McCormick & Schmick’s at 1652 K or 901 F.

That buffet place you’re thinking of is probably Phillips Flagship.

That was EXACTLY the seafood buffet I was looking for! I appreciate it - and I’ll check out the other restaurant too - thanks again! Other responses would be appreciated on the fancy restaurant category.

My personal favorites are Luigino’s (Italian, but inspired. See the menu on their website) and Les Halles (A Parisian brasserie). Both are great and not overly expensive.

My current fav is Obelisk on P-street (just 3 blocks from Dupont Circle). The menu changes each day based on what the chefs finds while shopping. They have what called prix-fixe…it’s a fixed $60 for 5 courses. You get to choose from 3-4 first courses, 5-6 second courses, 7-8 third (main) courses, followed by a palate cleanser and then a list of 10 desserts to chosse from. The cuisine is italian influenced but with a modern twist…

Be sure to book like 2-3 weeks in advance cause they only have like 30 seats.

Another fav is Grapeseed in Bethesda (MD), and Butterfield 9 (probably your closest bet to the theater)

If you really want to splurge, I’d say go to Citronelle by Michel Richard (considered one of the top chefs in the country)…it doesn’t get more upscale and pricey like his place (but worth every penny of it)

I’m a big fan of [url=“”]Georgia Brown’s**. Be sure to get the fried green tomatoes for a starter. The peach iced tea is delicious, too.

My wife and I have a couple of special places.

Marcel’s, on Pennsylvania Avenue, has great food and great service both. Little pricy, though. Belgian and French cuisine.

The Serbian Crown, just over the river in Great Falls, Virginia, specializes in Russian, French, and game dishes. They have a good prix fix menu for both one and two that will really satisfy. And dining in a “Serbian” restaurant in this day and age is just politically incorrect enough to be fun.

Cafe Atlantico is nice and it makes great mojitos (a friend was telling me that the quality has dropped a bit lately, though)

Check out the rest. reviews at, it’s free, but you have to register. You can search by location and price.

If you like steak, there are two good steakhouses near Dupont Circle. Check out either Smith & Wollinsky (which also has a restaurant in New York) or Sam & Harry’s.

**Oceanaire ** is near the theater and they have great, fresh seafood. I second Butterfield 9, the food is amazing. **Jaleo ** has good tapas (but it’s very popular and crowded). The restaurant at the top of the Hotel Washington has a beautiful view but the food is so-so. The Washington Post website and have good reviews and lists based on location. Good luck!

You want historic? Come across the river to Alexandria and Gadsby’s Tavern. Washington ate here, often!

DC has fancy restaurants up the wazoo. Most of the ritzy ones are located in Georgetown (M Street west of Rock Creek, Wisconsin Avenue south of Massachusetts Avenue, and thereabouts). Most of the fun ones are located in Adams-Morgan (19th and Columbia NW). My favorite there is Fasika’s Ethiopian (Best if you’re with a group of 4-10 people). Chinatown is okay, but mostly for dim sum on weekends.

Catch a play? Ford’s Theater has historical significance, but they don’t get first pick of the good plays. Their typical season consists of treacle like Nunsense, Forever Plaid and A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart. Kennedy Center, the National Theater, the Warner Theater, Arena Stage and Folger Shalespeare are where the elite meet to watch thea-TAH. You can do better. Up 14th Street, look for Source Theater, New Playwrights Theater and Wooly Mammoth for the cool avant-garde stuff. Grab a copy of City Paper for the most reliable reviews and information (or, if you must, the Post Weekend section every Friday).

And hell, while you’re in town, check out the Smithsonian or the National Gallery. These are world-class museums.

The Official Tourism Site of Washington, D.C. Click on “Events” near the top of that page for more information about theater and other performances.

Oddly enough, I too will be visiting Washington for a birthday in October!

The Alpine is a nice (fancy, even) Italian place in Arlington.

who has given me great info, especially those who provided a link. I hope others will continue to give ideas too as this is almost as much fun as the trip itself.

And in keeping with the theme, are there any bars you would recommend as a must see? My husband and I are in our early 30’s so we’re more into the “pub” like atmosphere than the hook up, dance club feel - not that there’s anything wrong with that - I enjoyed them in “my time” (boy did I just sound old), but after a day of touring, we would rather just relax and enjoy the atmosphere with a good drink! - thanks again!

The Brickskeller, if you can manage to get in. I hear it’s usually quite crowded.

boucheresq writes:

> Finally, last time my husband and I were in DC several years ago, we went to
> this great seafood buffet restaurant which I believe was on the Potomac but
> can’t remember the name - any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

For what it’s worth, Phillips Flagship is considered a place where tourists go but which has no particularly high reputation among locals. It’s certainly not fancy. If what you want is a rather crowded buffet where you can eat a lot of food, it’s your place. If you want a really nice-looking place with great food, you can do better.

I would recommend Montmartre on Capitol Hill. Honestly, I think McCormick & Schmick’s is overrated. If you are going to Old Town Alexandria, I really like The Majestic Cafe. For pubs, I will second the recommendation of the Brickskellar. I also like The Big Hunt in DuPont Circle and the Irish Times on the Hill across from Union Station.

I guess it has some of the local stigma that Wendell mentioned regarding Phillips Flagship. McCormick & Schmick’s does seem to be geared toward tourists, at least duing lunchtime.

Bistrot du Coin at Dupont Circle is my all-time favourite French restaurant. Even down to the snooty French servers. Apparent favourites (since I’ve never touched them) are the bucketfuls of steamed mussels.

Myself, I always get the Poulet roti au four, a succulent half chicken with gravy and French fries. Real french fries.

Good lord, I’m drooling.

German food, we used to go to Cafe Mozart on H St. all the time. Added bonus of having a German corner store/deli at the same time. Good stuff.

It’s been twenty years since I lived in the DC area, and restaraunts come and go so rapidy, so all of these may be out of date:

La Chaumiare – Excellent small French restaraunt in Georgetown. Wonderful food and atmosphere. One day they were closed, and there was a very fine (upscale) Mexican restaraunt a few doors over, also highly recommenced.

A Fruit De Mare – College hangout, seafood, center of Georgetown. Funky decor, wonderful food, good time.

Le Lion D’Or – At the time, one of the two top restaraunts in DC. My girlfriend, now my wife, went there to celebrate returning home after three years in DC. Over $100 bill (in 1982), but the finest restaraunt meal I have ever had, bar none. Order the raspberry soufle when you place your meal order.

I would love to hear from current DC people – are any of these still around? Are they still good?