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Looking for something "D.C."


polishjj
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Hi everyone. I'm going to be passing through D.C. on my way up to Toronto. I'm looking for something unique that is not to far off the highway. I'll be taking 95 to 395 to 495 to 270. Please give me some suggestions. I've a huge fan of artisan food products (especially breads and chocolates). If there is nothing along these lines, then where should I stop in for lunch or espresso. I'd love to find something close to the highway, but I'm willing to take a slight detour.

Thanks!

-JJ

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JJ--our area does strip malls fairly well in the suburbs and exurbs--perhaps even better than New Jersey. :biggrin:

As far as your two specific suggestions--bread and chocolate--for bread and lunch, Breadline is probably your only real option in a "Best of DC" kind of way. It's without peer locally. From where you'll be on 495 slightly "detour" by taking the GW Parkway in toward town, go over the Roosevelt Bridge, then make a left before you get to the Washington monument. Traffic is worse here than you are probably used to. For chocolate, there's nothing worth mentioning locally anywhere near as good as the Pierre Herme line of chocolates at the new large Sterling Wegmans--but that isn't necessarily worth a detour (there are many Wegmans, some doing a better job than this new one) and the Herme chocolates are available mail order anyway. But, and this is a big but, if you've never ever been to a Wegmans--then that "slight" detour might be worth it after all--it's supermarket as Disneyland except better--from 495 take the Dulles Toll Road-267 out to the Rt. 28 exit. When Wegmans first opened its superb Princeton NJ store, those in the know made detours to it when passing by on the Turnpike/95 as well.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Note: If you've never been to the area before, you really aren't going through DC, but around DC.

If you're looking for an adventure, you could take a detour into the city, but it sounds like you are looking for a quick good bite, and then want to get back on the highway. If that's the case, I reccomend not coming into the city, b/c of traffic, parking, and the fact you'll probably get lost. :)

Breadline is great, but note: it's only open Mon-Fri, and for lunch only, so if you aren't here around that time, you're out of luck.

I let Jsmeeker tell me where to eat in Vegas.

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Another geographic note - you won't actually be on 395 at any point in your trip. 395 is an extension of 95 inside the beltway beginning in Springfield, VA. If you end up on 395 then you've gone too far.

I can't think on anything off the top of my head but to spur other's ideas - we have some very good ethnic options that, according to the consensus, are at their best in the suburbs. Anyone have ideas on that type of thing near the Beltway?

Bill Russell

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mediterranean cafe is about a 5min detour off the beltway - take 395 north like you're going into d.c. but exit duke street in alexandria-take duke street east to pickett street and turn right. this store is in a strip mall (surprise) with a home depot-it will be on your left about 2 blocks up pickett. it's an international food store with a middle eastern flair-you can get a pretty good gyro on homemade pita bread. great assortment of baklava, olives, condiments, teas and coffees. i'm driving back to richmond today from penna and i'll make a point of stopping there to stock up on feta and yogurt. good luck!

"Ham isn't heroin..." Morgan Spurlock from "Supersize Me"

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Old Town might have the best variety of choices and it's a relatively short hop off the Beltway.

If I understand correctly, our traveler is heading north (from Richmond) to the beltway and connecting to I270. If this is the case, they will not be driving by the Old Town exits (Washington St. or Rt. 1) from the beltway. They would need to travel several miles in the opposite direction (toward the dreaded Wilson Bridge) to get there. There are probably better options that are on a more direct path toward their ultimate destination.

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This is not really on polishjj's flight path, but when I think of something that is unique to Washington DC, Half-Smokes come to mind. Has anyone found a half smoke in any other cities? and for that matter, Ben's Chili Bowl is half-smoke headquarters.

Just a thought, not exactly an artisan bread... (Bread-line was a great suggestion though, if they would be passing through/by at lunch time.)

Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar

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Old Town might have the best variety of choices and it's a relatively short hop off the Beltway.

If I understand correctly, our traveler is heading north (from Richmond) to the beltway and connecting to I270. If this is the case, they will not be driving by the Old Town exits (Washington St. or Rt. 1) from the beltway. They would need to travel several miles in the opposite direction (toward the dreaded Wilson Bridge) to get there. There are probably better options that are on a more direct path toward their ultimate destination.

There is a bridge to dread no matter which route one takes. At lunchtime, the traffic on the Wilson Bridge (495) or the 14th Street Bridge (395) should not be too bad. Old Town Alexandria is probably the most convenient because it is so close to the beltway and there is a plethora of restaurants on King Street to choose from.

As for the central question of "what does DC do best," I can't think of anything unique that DC has to offer that you can't get anywhere else. I am not going to suggest that JJ go looking for half-smokes.

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This is not really on polishjj's flight path, but when I think of something that is unique to Washington DC, Half-Smokes come to mind. Has anyone found a half smoke in any other cities? and for that matter, Ben's Chili Bowl is half-smoke headquarters.

Just a thought, not exactly an artisan bread... (Bread-line was a great suggestion though, if they would be passing through/by at lunch time.)

The half-smokes you get in the DC area are made in New Jersey and are generally available on push carts on downtown sidewalks in most major cities. They probably are more prevalent in NYC that in DC.

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What DC does best is views. So, my 2 cents is to take 495 East from 95 towards maryland, exit to go north on the GW Parkway. Go through old town and stop off at Trader Joe's (N St Asaph St.) for picnic supplies. Continue North on the GW Parkway and stop just north of the airport at Gravelly Point. Picnic with great views of the monuments and depending on wind direction, you'll be right under the airplanes taking off and landing. Which though it may be geeky, I think is so f'ing cool!.

To get to 270, continue North on the GW to 495 (signs say Maryland). Once on 495 get in left lanes and follow signs to 270 north.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Old Town might have the best variety of choices and it's a relatively short hop off the Beltway.

If I understand correctly, our traveler is heading north (from Richmond) to the beltway and connecting to I270. If this is the case, they will not be driving by the Old Town exits (Washington St. or Rt. 1) from the beltway. They would need to travel several miles in the opposite direction (toward the dreaded Wilson Bridge) to get there. There are probably better options that are on a more direct path toward their ultimate destination.

You're right. I didn't notice 270 and was just thinking the 95 corridor.

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gp tp georgetown bagelry...i truly believe that the bagels in this area are some of the best in the country, with georgetown bagelry being the finest DC has to offer.

grab a bagel at the location on river road in maryland (off of 495) and eat it while sitting on the capitol-crescent trail. or visit the store in georgetown.

DC is such a transient city, in that every two or four years there is a turnover. It is difficult for DC to establish a truly unique food or product. Maryland has the whole crab thing, virginia has it own unique things i am sure...but DC somehow doesn't.

Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

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There is also a Sutton Place Gourmet (or is it now Balducci's) on S. Washington Street, that would also be a good source for picnic supplies. To get to it, once you exit 495 at Rt. 1 North, take the first right off and go about three blocks. Washington Street will turn into the GW Parkway north of Old Town. Once past the airport, Gravely Point is just past the end of the runway. Great views of planes either landing or taking off (one or the other but not both) and views of the Lincoln, Washington monuments and the Capitol. Or, park at the airport and take the Yellow Line to Smithsonian and picnic on the mall.

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I'm surprised nobody has said this yet, but DC's biggest strength lies in the diversity of its ethnic cuisines. There's no one single experience that's quintessentially DC (unless you dine in the Senate cafeteria), so I'd pick an ethnic dive and scarf.

If you're looking for a good meal, you could take I-95 to the inner loop of I-495, get off on Route 7 West, and have a quick meal at Colvin Run Tavern before continuing on towards 270 and points north (being careful not to hit the American Legion Bridge and 270 corridor during afternoon rush hour).

Or perhaps you could get off the inner loop of I-495 at Route 50 East and hit the stunningly beautiful patio at 2941. Built with internet money, the architecture of this restaurant is extraordinary without being tacky. And you'll love the food, too, but you might not want to show up in jeans.

P.S. If you do get stuck in traffic, well, there's your quintessential DC experience. When you're infuriated at being stopped on the beltway, you can at least take solace in the fact that you have indeed gone native, and revel in the moment.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Hmmm... I guess it really depends on how much time you've got. I'd probably take 95 from Virginia, then 495 toward 66, then 66 into town, and exit into Georgetown. There's a few places to eat there, or just keep going up Wisconsin Ave til you hit Tenleytown, and grab a pizza at 2Amy's (more parking, less traffic). Then you could continue on your way up Wisconsin til you hit 495 again, then take 270. It's a slightly longer route, but you'd drive through a nicer part of the city and still see things, and eat a good meal where there's decent parking.

You could also take 95 to 395 into downtown, exit Maine Avenue, and drive through the Smithsonian/Mall. Grab a sidewalk hotdog, soda and chips for $2.50 and enjoy the scenery. If it's a nice sunny day there's a lot to see around there and it's worth the drive. You can't beat it with a stick, and it's something everyone loves to do... walk around the National Mall. The Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Tidal Basin area... all very nice on a warm, sunny day.

Five Guys is also a good local burger joint off of 395. Take King St exit away from Alexandria. Nothing incredibly interesting to see around there, tho.

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This is not really on polishjj's flight path, but when I think of something that is unique to Washington DC,  Half-Smokes come to mind. Has anyone found a half smoke in any other cities? and for that matter, Ben's Chili Bowl is half-smoke headquarters.

Just a thought, not exactly an artisan bread... (Bread-line was a great suggestion though, if they would be passing through/by at lunch time.)

The half-smokes you get in the DC area are made in New Jersey and are generally available on push carts on downtown sidewalks in most major cities. They probably are more prevalent in NYC that in DC.

Not to be argumentative, but the Half-Smoke Sausage is, or at least was unique to the Washington area. As much as some of you might hate to admit it, it is one of the few, if not the only original contribution that Washington has made to the world's culinary community. The sausages I'm referring to are half-smoked here in DC and not in NJ, although I'm sure some enterprising NJ company may make them and potentially sell them in other cities, I'd be willing to bet that if you stopped by a New York push cart vendor, he would most certainly not be selling half-smokes. Feel free to prove me wrong.

And mnebergall, until you can suggest something that is unique to the Washington area, in response to the 'What does Washington do best?' question... why snub my suggestion?

To be frank, I'm not even a half-smoke freak, I think they are tasty, I very rarely eat them, but sometimes I think eGulleters forget what it truly means to be a foodie. Anyway, forgive the rant.

and who's got my back here?

Edited by JRage (log)

Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar

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If you can wait, and to stop about 20 miles north of DC, on 270 just above Gaithersburg is an Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch market that makes the BEST pies and has the best BBQ I've ever had (and my father owns a BBQ restaurant... sadly, I've now been disowned :) )

Also in the Gaithersburg area is some of the best chinese food in the area: Fu Shing - right off Frederick Ave.

I would say that if you are going around the beltway, you want to keep moving. If you don't encounter traffic at 1, stop for 2 hours, and then try and get back on the road, you'll hit traffic almost immediately and it will just SUCK after that.

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This is not really on polishjj's flight path, but when I think of something that is unique to Washington DC,  Half-Smokes come to mind. Has anyone found a half smoke in any other cities? and for that matter, Ben's Chili Bowl is half-smoke headquarters.

Just a thought, not exactly an artisan bread... (Bread-line was a great suggestion though, if they would be passing through/by at lunch time.)

The half-smokes you get in the DC area are made in New Jersey and are generally available on push carts on downtown sidewalks in most major cities. They probably are more prevalent in NYC that in DC.

Not to be argumentative, but the Half-Smoke Sausage is, or at least was unique to the Washington area. As much as some of you might hate to admit it, it is one of the few, if not the only original contribution that Washington has made to the world's culinary community. The sausages I'm referring to are half-smoked here in DC and not in NJ, although I'm sure some enterprising NJ company may make them and potentially sell them in other cities, I'd be willing to bet that if you stopped by a New York push cart vendor, he would most certainly not be selling half-smokes. Feel free to prove me wrong.

And Rocks, until you can suggest something that is unique to the Washington area, in response to the 'What does Washington do best?' question... why snub my suggestion?

To be frank, I'm not even a half-smoke freak, I think they are tasty, I very rarely eat them, but sometimes I think eGulleters forget what it truly means to be a foodie. Anyway, forgive the rant.

and who's got my back here?

Tell me where I can find a half-smoke that was actually made in DC. The only ones I have ever seen are made by companies like Sabrett and Esskay.

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Eden Center!!

or not-so-little Saigon--slurp a bowl of pho at the stinky shop with books creaking along the wall, grab a pork sandwich, mango bubble tea and vietnamese treats from the kitty-corner cafe for the road, amuse your eyes in the jewelry and food markets, then get back in your car and drive away.

Take 495 towards Route 50 East, exit 10 A (Arlington Blvd towards Arlington)

Go straight on Route 50 East until Route 7 (Leesburg Pike)

Take right unto Route 7 ramp up to light into Seven Corners

Bear left onto Wilson Blvd and Make the first Left into Eden Center

Eden Center

oh, and please note--you'll not be so foolish as to attempt to drive around D.C. near rush hour, correct?

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Eden Center!!

or not-so-little Saigon--slurp a bowl of pho at the stinky shop with books creaking along the wall, grab a pork sandwich, mango bubble tea and vietnamese treats from the kitty-corner cafe for the road, amuse your eyes in the jewelry and food markets, then get back in your car and drive away.

Take 495 towards Route 50 East, exit 10 A (Arlington Blvd towards Arlington)

Go straight on Route 50 East until Route 7 (Leesburg Pike)

Take right unto Route 7 ramp up to light into Seven Corners

Bear left onto Wilson Blvd and Make the first Left into Eden Center

Eden Center

oh, and please note--you'll not be so foolish as to attempt to drive around D.C. near rush hour, correct?

I can't believe you would send an out-of-towner to Seven Corners. They will never find their way out.

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Or drive into the city and stop at the Waterfront fish market in SW. Pick up a pound of Old Bay shrimp or a fish sandwich and eat right there on the river with your legs swinging over the side of the dock.

You beat me to it! Great minds think alike :wink:

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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