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New Yorkers Visiting DC


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Hello, dcdiningists. Last year, Don reprimanded me for cluttering the main board with my annoying annual requests, so here I am in Help Needed.

A few New Yorkers are contemplating a weekend in the District, culinary ambitions somewhat chastened by the new economy handed down by our political masters. (That’s a non-partisan statement, so please be not distracted.)

Our only must-do is Ching Ching Cha—that oasis of tranquility—plus perhaps the General Store, Etc., if it’s as tasty and charming as Colorado Kitchen, and maybe Ray’s Hell Burger, if it’s convenient, just for the heck of it.

A few specific questions:

  • If (big IF, as in unlikely) we decide to (semi-)splurge on one dinner, is there any good reason not simply to return to Komi? We preferred Komi’s food and vibe to CityZen’s (disclosure: we had the CityZen bar menu, but added supplements) and nothing we ate at Central inspired us to fork over what Citronelle would require. (Rereading the previous sentence, I see that it WAY understates how very much we appreciated Komi.) We had a ball at minibar, but don’t need to return just yet; we haven't eaten at Palena.
  • Is any Ethiopian restaurant currently better than Etete, where the waitress, albeit reluctantly, even allowed us to order raw dulet last year?
  • Are worthwhile fried oysters, crab cakes, or soft-shells from the mighty Chesapeake Bay anywhere nearby to be found?
  • Are there any other inexpensive or moderately priced places, either new or board favorites that we’ve missed or resolutely avoided, that we absolutely must try?
  • Is the Eastern Market worth a stop for snacking or foodie sightseeing?

As always, we’re looking for special and uniquely DC places that we can’t easily replicate (or surpass) back home.

Thanks in advance to all.

P.S.: Thanks again to those who suggested last year that we visit Dumbarton Oaks.

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[*]Is the Eastern Market worth a stop for snacking or foodie sightseeing?
No. I'd recommend Dupont Circle's market on Sunday (see forum on farmers markets) for the latter part of agenda, deferring to someone else about the snacking.
P.S.: Thanks again to those who suggested last year that we visit Dumbarton Oaks.
And, yes, The New York Times recommends the exhibition, so perhaps you already know, but you have got to visit Mami Wata this time around. And if you need any sort of cautionary visual aid to keep you from over-indulging, walk down the Mall just a little further to check out this guy at the Hirshhorn. (Ron Mueck, "Untitled (Big Man)", 2000.)
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No. I'd recommend Dupont Circle's market on Sunday (see forum on farmers markets) for the latter part of agenda, deferring to someone else about the snacking.

And, yes, The New York Times recommends the exhibition, so perhaps you already know, but you have got to visit Mami Wata this time around. And if you need any sort of cautionary visual aid to keep you from over-indulging, walk down the Mall just a little further to check out this guy at the Hirshhorn. (Ron Mueck, "Untitled (Big Man)", 2000.)

Dupont Market is better for buying food. Also, buy some oysters from Buster's if you want the best local bivalves. Bring a bottle of Chablis and we'll shuck 'em for you on our front porch. Alice Waters buys from Buster's, so they have to be good. Eastern Market is better for flea-marketing and going to Montmartre for lunch.

I prefer CityZen to Komi, because I like my chefs to actually chef, as oppose to slicing. But, they are both excellent and so completely different there's no real point in comparing. If you want the perfect bit of raw whatever garnished subtly, go to Komi. If you want the most incredible lobster dish of your life, with foam and stuff, go to CityZen.

Everyone goes to Etete. If you want to be totally cool -- and have equal or better food -- go to Zenebech. No beer, though. Queen Maketa is pretty good, too.

You are a little early for any local crab, but keep an eye on this space as someone usually posts about it when they appear. Also, try Johnny's Half Shell.

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I am rather fond of the Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian (DR thread found here) and think it would be a great place to eat after Anna Blume's exhibit recommendations.

Though, of the times I've been there, I've only thought it was decent because of the area it's in. Anywhere else in the city and I wouldn't really think of it as an option.

I second the suggestion for Palena. I've never eaten in the back so can't guide you one way or the other there (though it seems to be loved by many) but the Cafe up front is nice, though doesn't take reservations. It's also a bit small, which could be an issue depending on your group size. 4 shouldn't be a problem but larger than that possibly would. You can also order dishes from the full menu from the Cafe, so you can mix and match a bit.

Dino, right down the road from Palena, is another option. I like to think of it as a wine place that happens to have pretty darn good food. It's owner is very knowledgeable about wine and very helpful working through the large wine list. Depending on when you are here they have wine specials certain nights of the week.

My last suggestion would be to look at Restaurant Eve. I personally (and think most would agree) would place it solidly in a line-up with CityZen, Komi, Citronelle, etc. as far as level of dining goes. The food is excellent, the service is excellent, the drinks are excellent, the price is not so excellent (similar to other restaurants in this stratosphere though). If you are around Alexandria during the week near lunch time they have an excellent special at their bar called the Lickety Split which is a great alternative for eating at Eve more economically.

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