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New Yorkers Visiting Washington, DC


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This is NOT one of those annoyingly general posts that litter Chowhound saying, “Hey, we’re visiting DC for a few weeks. So where should we eat?” Please read on…

Four Noo Yawkuhs will be spending an upcoming Saturday and Sunday in your fair city, dining Saturday at the Mini-Bar and brunching Sunday at Colorado Kitchen. If y’all would be so kind as to assist, we have just a few questions:

  • What might make for a good Saturday-afternoon snack, say a DC counterpart to our own Katz’s, Papaya King, Mei Lai Wah (a favorite Chinatown roast-pork-bun place), Doughnut Plant, or even Pearl Oyster Bar? The aforementioned five have nothing in common save that they’re interesting, idiosyncratic, and relatively quick.
  • On the off chance that we’re still hungry after the Mini-Bar, where might we head for a nearby postprandial (9 pm) bite? And no, not Wendy's.
  • At what time must we arrive at Colorado Kitchen in order to partake of the first seating?
  • Non-foodwise, is it worth a schlep to the airport for a sci/tech fan to see the Udvar-Hazy Center?
  • What really important question(s) have I foolishly neglected to ask?

TIA.

Edited to fix an infernal typo.

Edited by ahr
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[*] What might make for a good Saturday-afternoon snack, say a DC counterpart to our own Katz’s, Papaya King, Mei Lai Wah (a favorite Chinatown roast-pork-bun place), Doughnut Plant, or even Pearl Oyster Bar?  The aforementioned five have nothing in common save that they’re interesting, idiosyncratic, and relatively quick.

Don't think of things in NYC terms. Drop by The Old Ebbitt for a few drinks and some shucked oysters. It's right near the White House. Perfect for a Sat afternoon snack and buzz.

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Second C-B on the Uzar thing. Very cool.

After the Mini-Bar, if still hungry, go to Jaleo for tapas -- same uber-chef, small plates, good times.

CK is overrated.

Saturday afternoon, though more expensive than Papaya King, hit up the Tabard Inn on N street between 17th and 18th, where you can sit in front of the fire and order aps and fine wines.

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After Minibar, maybe Citronelle for dessert? Never been to the far out Space Museum, but had a great time recently at the Spy Museum.

If I were you, I'd reverse it and maybe have brunch at Cafe Atlantico on the late side (for Latin Dim Sum). And the night before go to Colorado Kitchen and then Palena for a progressive dinner (getting an interesting feel of DC). Don't go to Ben's Chili Bowl.

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Don't go to Ben's Chili Bowl.

Except to get something that is actuallyassociated with DC: the half-smoke. It is a hot dog which is half pork and half beef. I have no idea where the smoke comes into it. Quite tasty, actually. And, since it is on U Street, you will have the opportunity to look at some signs along the U Street Heritage Trail. This is/was Duke Ellington country.
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I was at minibar in September and had absolutely no appetite afterward. If you're going to the 8:30 seating, you might snack before, though. Teaism, which is right across the street, has lots of cookies and bento and (of course) tea and other munchables. But Al's suggestion of Old Ebbitt is far more DC-esque.

Enjoy your visit!

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Good evening, kind ladies and gents. Thanks for the welcome and the suggestions. Let me see…

First, I’m not looking for places necessarily similar in atmosphere or cuisine to those I named in New York—just one or two that are similarly sui generis, DC-style. Because two of our party are fans of El Bulli and experimental cuisine (and especially because of the write-up it got from Don Rockwell—the man, not the com), the Minibar is non-negotiable; so’s probably CK. Now, to summarize what we’ve got so far, both in this thread and via PM:

PRE-MINIBAR (Saturday afternoon)

  • Old Ebbitt Grill for drinks and oysters.
  • Tabard Inn for drinks and appetizers.
  • Teaism for snacks or sweets and tea. (Could also be post-Minibar)
  • 2 Amys for world-class pizza, good salads and small plates.

POST-MINIBAR (Saturday after about 8:30)

  • Jaleo for Tapas.
  • Citronelle for dessert.
  • Not to worry; you won’t leave hungry.

COLORADO KITCHEN (Sunday brunch)

  • Arrive no later than 10:45. Check. In fact, we’ll arrive at 10:30.
  • Skip it entirely. This seems to be a minority opinion.

MUSEUM

  • The coolest place on earth.
  • Really far (two hours, round-trip) from anywhere.
  • Do something with more local flavor downtown or in Georgetown or Old Town.

BEN’S CHILI BOWL

  • Avoid at all costs.
  • Get a real DC half-smoke—but nothing else—and see the U Street Heritage Trail.
  • Get a half-smoke ‘n’ eggs breakfast—but nothing else.

OK, continue to argue amongst yourselves while I prospect the site.

Thanks again.

Edited to add 2 Amys, submitted by a bashful PMer.

Edited by ahr
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How about a visit to the Museum of the American Indian on the Mall?  The cafeteria is an unbelievably cool experience.  Seriously, it is a really unique experience...

Seconded, and has the added benefit of having decent, interesting food. You could trek over after visiting the Hirschorn or the National Gallery of Art.

Non-food related: "Cezanne in Provence" is opening at the NGA this weekend and continues through May. Impressionist exhibits usually attract crowds so plan accordingly when visiting places (Teaism, Jaleo) that are close to the museums.

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Good evening, kind ladies and gents.  Thanks for the welcome and the suggestions.  Let me see…

First, I’m not looking for places necessarily similar in atmosphere or cuisine to those I named in New York—just one or two that are similarly sui generis, DC-style.  Because two of our party are fans of El Bulli and experimental cuisine (and especially because of the write-up it got from Don Rockwell—the man, not the com), the Minibar is non-negotiable; so’s probably CK.  Now, to summarize what we’ve got so far, both in this thread and via PM:

PRE-MINIBAR (Saturday afternoon)

  • Old Ebbitt Grill for drinks and oysters.
  • Tabard Inn for drinks and appetizers.
  • Teaism for snacks or sweets and tea. (Could also be post-Minibar)

POST-MINIBAR (Saturday after about 8:30)

  • Jaleo for Tapas.
  • Citronelle for dessert.
  • Not to worry; you won’t leave hungry.

COLORADO KITCHEN (Sunday brunch)

  • Arrive no later than 10:45.  Check.  In fact, we’ll arrive at 10:30.
  • Skip it entirely.  This seems to be a minority opinion.

MUSEUM

  • The coolest place on earth.
  • Really far (two hours, round-trip) from anywhere.
  • Do something with more local flavor downtown or in Georgetown or Old Town.

BEN’S CHILI BOWL

  • Avoid at all costs.
  • Get a real DC half-smoke—but nothing else—and see the U Street Heritage Trail.
  • Get a half-smoke ‘n’ eggs breakfast—but nothing else.

OK, continue to argue amongst yourselves while I prospect the site.

Thanks again.

Bag Jaleo for Cafe Atlantic Bar,Stick with Ben's, Hit the Eastern Market

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If you do a Georgetown/C & O Canal lookaround, consider a mid-afternoon pick-me-up at Ching-Ching Cha at 1063 Wisconsin, between M & K Streets. It's very serene and cool inside, and they have brilliant Chinese teas and tea snacks.

Or head to Leopold's Cafe in Cady's Alley, behind (and below) the 3400 block of M Street for seriously good Viennese pastries and coffee in trendy surroundings.

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If you do a Georgetown/C & O Canal lookaround, consider a mid-afternoon pick-me-up at Ching-Ching Cha at 1063 Wisconsin, between M & K Streets. It's very serene and cool inside, and they have brilliant Chinese teas and tea snacks.

Or head to Leopold's Cafe in Cady's Alley, behind (and below) the 3400 block of M Street for seriously good Viennese pastries and coffee in trendy surroundings.

I second Ching-Ching-Cha. This is one of my favorite spots in Washington, a serene shelter from the meretricious Georgetown bustle. And despite the fact that it's a teahouse, the food is really very good.

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If you're down here in the snow you have no choice but to wander through the Dupont Circle/Kalorama area until your ninnies are beginning to freeze up and then head into either A) Bistro du Coin for an onion soup :lol: Sette Osteria and a seat near the wood-fuled pizza oven (you can feel the heat from the seats) for a pizza or the cheese and meat platter or C) the lounge at the Tabard Inn for a seat near the fireplace and something warm and chewy from their excellent winelist.

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There's a chance we might have one seat to spare. (Actually, try gamely though we may to make our way down from NYC, there's a chance we might have four seats to spare.)

Anyone seriously interested in this seat at the Minibar tomorrow night (Saturday, February 11, 6:30 pm), please PM me--though I won't know until later this evening whether it's available.

Going...going...

Edited by ahr
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There's a chance we might have one seat to spare.  (Actually, try gamely though we may to make our way down from NYC, there's a chance we might have four seats to spare.)

Anyone seriously interested in this seat at the Minibar tomorrow night (Saturday, February 11, 6:30 pm), please PM me--though I won't know until later this evening whether it's available.

Going...going...

Hey, love the invite but can't make it. There's lots on this board who would love it if you could take some pictures and post them. Haven't seen some in a long time. And we all get off on cell cam pics taken of hi-test restaurant dishes!

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…gone, and now back home.

Blizzard or no, we went, we ate, we photographed, and we had a ball. CrescentFresh, I’ll try to get my dining companions’ images posted sometime in the next few weeks.

Thinking it would be fun to try both the same chef’s “normal” and experimental cuisines—and to ensure we’d be well-fed—we made Saturday an all-Atlántico day, starting with a delicious, original, and filling dim sum brunch prior to a short walk to the Cézanne exhibit at the National Gallery. Dinner at minibar (they seem to elide the article and capitalization) was one of the very most interesting and delicious meals I've had, in which regard I disagree with those who find this food more intellectually stimulating than tasty. The experience itself was sheer fun: Five people sat on stools at a copper bar facing two chefs, who, along with a waiter, did nothing for 2 ½ hours but prepare food in an open kitchen as we watched, place it before us upon the counter, explain exactly what they had prepared and how, and answer with patience and enthusiasm as many and as detailed questions as we cared to pose. Dish descriptions and analysis may accompany the posting of the photographs.

Sunday morning, we called Colorado Kitchen several times, getting, variously, an answering machine and fax tones. Thinking that perhaps ignoring the phone was one of CK’s quirky charms, we broke fast but lightly (blueberry pancakes for me) at the hotel, walked the Mall a bit more, and visited the Botanic Garden, which always has, among other things, a large and highly photogenic display of that most beautifully gynecologic of flora, the orchid. We then detoured past CK on our way out of town, hoping for brunch, to find it genuinely closed.

Once again, thanks to all for your recommendations, especially those which, for whatever reason, we chose or were forced to disregard. Maybe next time.

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A note from a New Yorker in town for a quick weekend: Komi and Colorado Kitchen, completely different though they be, were everything we expected, and more, producing a fair number of Oohs, Ahhs, and Mmms. Ching Ching Cha was an oasis of civilization amidst the hustle-bustle that is Georgetown. The oysters and soups at Old Ebbitt were irreproachable, no matter who owns the place. Other than a few things like the short ribs, Central MR generally disappointed, given its lineage and price point. We passed on RTC because the party preferred Central MR to some steakhouse. We also missed Ethiopian, but there's always next time.

My meal-planning research consisted of several hours with dr.com and some menu checks. Thanks again for the guidance.

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Three jaded (etc., etc.) New Yorkers, in DC from the evening of Friday, May 2, through the late afternoon of Sunday, May 4, are looking for suggestions for the TBDs in -- or other comments on -- our tentative plans, below:

Friday dinner: Ray’s the Classics

Saturday coffee: Hotel (Bethesda Marriott)

Saturday lunch: TBD

Saturday dinner: Colorado Kitchen

Sunday brunch: TBD

Sunday afternoon: Ching Ching Cha

We're considering Ethiopian (the forums seem to indicate Etete, Dukem, Queen Makeda, or maybe old faithful Meskerem), but crab cakes, softshells, or fried oysters might be nice. We’re a little wary of going upscale after our recent dinner at Central MR (though Komi was excellent), but we'd consider recommendations of special and uniquely DC places, beyond Ethiopian and seafood, at any price point.

Those with the patience and inclination can scroll up in this thread for our recent experiences.

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Here's an article from yesterday's post about brunches. Many options. I really like Martin's but it's totally old school. If you will be in G-town for Cha Cha Ching and have something to occupy your time with between brunch and afternoon this would be a good choice. Tourist suggestions Dumbarton Oaks and Oak Hill Cemetary. These will afford you the opportunity to stroll off some of the food you have enjoyed over your weeked, weather permitting. They are perhaps my two favorite places to visit in all of Washington.
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I second Mrs. B -- Martin's is an excellent suggestion (for lunch/brunch Saturday or Sunday). It's a Washington institution that has been doing what it does for a really long time. Their fried oysters are superb; order them. The gardens of Dumbarton Oaks are among the most beautiful urban spaces anywhere in the world, and Oak Hill Cemetery, which is nearby, is surpassingly lovely.

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We’re a little wary of going upscale after our recent dinner at Central MR
Please don't base your view of upscale dining in DC on one meal at Central. Any restaurant can be off for a night (others have had wonderful experiences at Central), or just not suit your taste (some just don't like it). More importantly, it's not an upscale restaurant. It's meant to be a nice but casual alternative to the truly upscale Citronelle. It just happens to be somewhat expensive for a casual place.
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For Saturday lunch, you might want to try the Market Lunch counter at Eastern Market, D.C.'s oldest market, currently housed in a temporary space across from the original location that burned down recently (It's being rebuilt). Really known for their breakfasts (blueberry buckwheat pancakes "bluebucks", crab cake benedict, omelets, grits and such), but their lunch menu has a great Carolina style BBQ pork sandwich and their crab cakes are good. Market lunch is a D.C. institution and fits your "uniquely D.C." requirement, with limited seating and specific "rules" - cash only, no sitting until you have your food, no saving seats, no lingering after you're finished eating, etc. You can check out the goods from the other market vendors afterwards. It's near Capitol Hill so you're close to sightseeing,museums, etc. If Market Lunch's line is too long, you can check out Montmartre in the same neighborhood for a casual, French bistro meal. It's underrated, in my opinion.

For Sunday brunch in Georgetown, I'd recommend Leopold's Konditorei on the early side. Great European-style cafe and pastry shop with a modern vibe, although folks on this board have mixed opinions about it. I've had several great brunches here (truffle parmesan grits, lemon souffle pancakes which were specials, a German sausage and eggs platter, a great assorted breads basket, mushroom tart, olive tart, among many choices). The pastries and coffee are also very good. Another unconventional choice and local favorite would be 2 Amy's (off Wisconsin Ave, so on your way down to Georgetown from Bethesda) if you're interested in Neapolitan pizza and fresh Italian fare for brunch (though they open at 12 so it's more like lunch). On Sundays, they have yummy sugar spice donuts (with the holes) and special brunch-y cocktails, in addition to their usual menu of brick-oven pizza, salads and daily specials. Love the suppli, polpettine, small plates and charcuterie, good wine selection (by glass or bottle).

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Thanks for all the suggestions; I shall read and digest.

agm, the meal at Central was both overpriced and flawed, and dampened our enthusiasm for trying Citronelle. We've enjoyed Komi and the minibar on previous visits, but, given the choices available to us back home, the likely risk/reward ratio seems most favorable at (moderately priced?) places unique to, or at least characteristic of, DC.

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