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Hungry tourists


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We will be in DC for 8 or 9 meals this weekend. We live in Montreal and are adventurous eaters.

What we can't get here are

BBQ, TEX MEX,SOUTHERN , AFRICAN, REALLY GOOD GRILLED STEAK, CRAB/OYSTERS and Grits-Ham-Gravy type breakfasts.

We are flying in, staying at Layayette Sq. and want to use public transportation as much as possible. Please Advice and consent.

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REALLY GOOD GRILLED STEAK

Hmm... I wonder what egullet is going to have to say about this one.

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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BBQ, TEX MEX,SOUTHERN , AFRICAN, REALLY GOOD GRILLED STEAK, CRAB/OYSTERS and Grits-Ham-Gravy type breakfasts.

Surprisingly, some of those sorts of food can be hard to find (or at least hard to find if you have high standards) in Washington. While we are technically south of the Mason-Dixon Line, this isn't like going to Atlanta and looking for soul breakfasts or visiting Austin for tex-mex.

There are a few BBQ joints in town. Rocklands is probably the best-known of these, but it's in Glover Park (just north of Georgetown) and not accessible via Metrorail (you can take a bus there though). None of the BBQ in town will set off fireworks, but I believe Rocklands has a respectable product.

We do shine with our Ethiopian cuisine, however--which certainly counts as African food. There are a number of choices around U Street (not too far from the U Street-Cardozo metro stop), including Dukem. Meskerem on 18th Street in Adams-Morgan has a really cool decor, but scuttlebutt is their food isn't nearly as good as closer to the U and 10th Street area.

Everybody's just going to tell you to go to Ray's the Steaks in Arlington, VA for steak--there's a lengthy thread in this forum telling you why. I suspect you may be too late to get in there for a steak next weekend, but you can always call and ask. They're not too far from the Courthouse metro stop on the orange line. The "Michael's Rib-Eye Diablo" at Firefly in Dupont Circle is ostensibly quite similar--this isn't a steakhouse, but it is a damn good steak. Washington has plenty of yupscale steak chains like Morton's, Ruth's Chris, Palm, and Smith & Wollensky. A better bet is Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill--you may as well get a guarantee of quality sides along with a nice piece of beef.

Crab and Oysters are an easier matter--pretty much everybody has both on the menu, and in most fine-dining restaurants it's hard to go wrong. The new Hank's in Dupont Circle off 17th Street has earned rave reviews for its crab cake already. Kinkead's near Foggy Bottom has a serviceable version of almost any seafood dish you'd expect, although the price tag can be steep. (I like to eat lunch at the bar there.) Soft-shell crabs are appearing everywhere these days--I tasted a wonderful stuffed crisp-fried soft-shell at Citronelle last week. this thread has some good advice.

For your grits/ham/gravy breakfast and tex-mex--I hope others have ideas, 'cause I'm fresh out. I guess you could try Fla Ave Grill for the former--I've not had breakfast there, and a lunch of fried chicken and collards was only so-so.

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If you can't get in Ray's, for a steak that has won praise from Michael Landrum (he of Ray's) go to Corduroy (12th and K)

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

Joe W

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A better bet is Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill--you may as well get a guarantee of quality sides along with a nice piece of beef.

And, at night, one of the better restaurant views in town with the full view looking up THE Hill at the illuminated Capitol dome.

Bill Russell

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I'm not a big oyster person, Old Ebbit Grill by the White House is also purported to have a great oyster program in addition to having a very "DC" vibe.

Bill Russell

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A better bet is Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill--you may as well get a guarantee of quality sides along with a nice piece of beef.

And, at night, one of the better restaurant views in town with the full view looking up THE Hill at the illuminated Capitol dome.

Bill Russell

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For a BBQ lunch I would recommend Capital Q in Chinatown. Not far from the Gallery Place/Chinatown stop on the Metro, green/yellow/red line. Very tasty Texas barbeque in a... minimalist atmosphere. Counter service only. Great brisket and sweet tea.

Vidalia has tasty upscale Southern food, but it's a tad expensive for what you get -- Corduroy, I think, is better. Not Southern, but delicious.

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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I'm not a big oyster person, Old Ebbit Grill by the White House is also purported to have a great oyster program in addition to having a very "DC" vibe.

Drinks on the roof of the Hotel Washington and then around the corner for oysters at Old Ebbit would be a great combo.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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If you can pull it off, getting down to the Main Avenue fish market and buying a couple of dozen steamed crabs and then picknicking along the river (with some cold frosties) is pretty pleasant way to spend an evening.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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The Old Ebbitt has a very DC feel and isn't hard on the bank, either. Monday through Thursday from 3-6 and 11 pm-1 am all their raw bar stuff is half price.

Capital Q will do in a pinch, especially if you have to rely on public transportation. I'd prefer Rocklands myself, but it's harder to get to. And the difference between Capital Q and Rockland's isn't as great as the difference between those two and the places way out in Virginia, so given the circumstances it'll do.

Southern. Vidalia definitely, but it's very upscale. Do you mind going to dives? For southern you might have a few options then. There's the Florida Avenue Grill, especially good for breakfast. Then there's also the new Oohs and Aahs at U and 10th Streets, very metro accessible.

Steaks, Ray's of course but odds of getting a table are slim. You say you can't get good steak in Montreal? Is that why they invented Montreal Steak Seasoning? :wink:

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BBQ- Old Glory (ph: 202.337.3406; casual; $$) in Georgetown is a good spot. Friday and Sat nights do get pretty crowded and might require a bit of a wait (30-45 min), but if you time it a bit early (6pm or so) you should be able to get in promptly.

Of course, I second Rocklands (ph: 703.778.9663; casual; $$) as well. This phone number is for their newest location in Alexandria.

TEX MEX - No good choices here I am afraid. Maybe "Rio Grande" chains?

SOUTHERN & AFRICAN - Sorry can't help here. Cracker Barrel, maybe :biggrin: ?

REALLY GOOD GRILLED STEAK - Ray's will be booked solid, no doubt about it. They don't take walkins as a rule. Hit a Morton's, Ruth's Chris or others as has been suggested. Feel like Kobe Beef? 2941 (ph: 703.270.1500; casual-upscale; $$$$) may work for ya.

CRAB/OYSTERS- Cameron's Seafood Market (ph: 301.951.1000; casual; $) in Bethesda is a fave and it's usually pretty easy to get into. Now, I don't eat the shellfish (damned allergy), but I like the bivalves and everything else they have. DC Northwest's Black Salt (ph: 202.342.9101; casual-upscale; $$$+) rightfully deserves the high marks (I can't get enough of this place).

Hope that helps,

- CSR

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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REALLY GOOD GRILLED STEAK - Ray's will be booked solid, no doubt about it. They don't take walkins as a rule. Hit a Morton's, Ruth's Chris or others as has been suggested. Feel like Kobe Beef? 2941 (ph: 703.270.1500; casual-upscale; $$$$) may work ya. 

Hope that helps,

- CSR

Avoid Ruth's Chris at all costs.

I'm not a big Morton's fan, either. The Palm (19th and M) serves good, if not great steaks and is a complete Washington institution with a reasonable chance at spotting a celebrity (if you follow American Politics). Deamnd a seat in the back room. Charlie Palmer's is the hot steakhouse of the moment; and I have always been partial to Sam & Harry's (across the street from The Palm and next to Smith and Wollenski's, if you're in the mood to do a steak taste test), though its reputation has diminished.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Charlie Palmer's is the hot steakhouse of the moment...

Busboy,

This one's on my list to hit this month. Recommendations on what to eat? I've had a look at the website and the platings definitely get you hungry.

Thanks,

- CSR

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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Avoid Ruth's Chris at all costs.

I second the anti-recommendation. I was extremely disappointed. I had a better steak at District Chophouse at half the price, and it came with mashed potatoes.

For Tex-Mex I like Austin Grill, which has a location down near 8th and E, also Gallery Place metro. Really you could go anywhere in a three-block radius down there (Chophouse, Austin Grill, Jaleo, Andale, Cafe Atlantico, Rosa Mexicano, even Teaism) and not have a bad meal. Of course some are more expensive than others.

Edited by jm chen (log)

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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Being somewhat familiar with both Montreal and DC, I am surprised you specified a steakhouse. Montreal has a few good ones.

While you didn't specify these cuisines, some suggestions that would be different or better than you would get in Montreal would be spanish food from Jose Andres at Jaleo or Minibar. In addition he has middle-eastern at Zaytinya and Latino at Cafe Atlantico and Mexican (not Tex-mex) at Oyamel. Two Amys offers a true neapolitan style pizza, the likes of which I have never had in Montreal.

Corduroy, Firefly, Palena and Rays the Steaks are all excellent and worth going to even if stylistically they are not that much different than what can be found in Montreal. Citronelle, a splurge perhaps, is simply one of the finest French restaurants in the US and at least the equal of anything I have had in Montreal, which is saying alot.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Avoid Ruth's Chris at all costs.

I second the anti-recommendation. I was extremely disappointed. I had a better steak at District Chophouse at half the price, and it came with mashed potatoes.

For Tex-Mex I like Austin Grill, which has a location down near 8th and E, also Gallery Place metro. Really you could go anywhere in a three-block radius down there (Chophouse, Austin Grill, Jaleo, Andale, Cafe Atlantico, Rosa Mexicano, even Teaism) and not have a bad meal. Of course some are more expensive than others.

YIKES, I retract my recommendations :biggrin:! I was reporting on the Herndon/Fairfax area R's C and Morton's. Both are capable of bringing out food with little drama (at least that's my experience). These places are really that inconsistent, huh? (rhetorical question :smile:).

Thanks for the advice, y'all. Nothing like good, solid 2nd and 3rd opinions.

- CSR

"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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Soul Food/Southern (i.e. cornbread, fried chicken, mac&cheese, pork chops, collard greens, & also CRAB CAKES):

Oohhs & Aahhs, at 10th & U St

1005 U St. NW. (202) 667-7142

check out these reviews:

Oohhs & Aahhs @ www.DonRockwell.com

Its the best southern/soul food in the city, and its cheap-o

Edited by LittleWing (log)

Eat.Drink.DC.

...dining in the district...

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch.

- Orson Welles

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For steamed hard crabs, the Maine Ave. Waterfront suggestion above is a good one. The seafood stalls are probably no more than a 10 or 20 minute walk from L'Enfant Plaza metro station, and there's a lot of ready to eat seafood to buy as well. For a more upscale hard crab experience, you could take the metro to Bethesda and go to the Bethesda Crab House down on Bethesda Ave. It's a longer walk than the Maine Ave waterfront would be, but it is a sit-down restaurant, and they have excellent crabs (though more expensive than Maine ave).

I am not associated with Ruth's Chris in any way, but am curious about the vehement anti-recommendations against it. While I haven't eaten there in over a year, I've never had a bad steak or bad service. I don't think it compares any less favorably than say The Palm, Sam & Harry's and the like. The next time I do go for a "big-name" steak, it will be at The Old Homestead as it's a smaller chain than Ruth's Chris, and I've never been. I'd be interested to read if there's been really bad food served, or horrible service, to warrant the "avoid at all costs" warning.

I mean no disrespect at all to any R.C. naysayers. I myself despise Smith & Wollensky (service both horrible AND indifferent, but great hash browns & pretzel rolls) but know that many love it.

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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I eat at the Palm a couple or three times a year. I like the atmosphere and my wife is treated like royalty, some of that rubs off on me, so we always have a good time. I find that they put out a good, but not particilarly great steak. 85 on the Steak Spectator scale.

The last RC steak I had -- when we were looking to go up a level -- was simply surprisingly bad...tough, tasteless, expensive. Made The Palm beef look like Kobe. They're a huge chain now, with 80 locations; maybe they just can't do quality control like they did. Or maybe they just live off the easy pickings of the tourist trade -- the one in DC is just down the street from the Hilton -- and they don't have to hustle any more. At any rate, with so many other place to go, it seems ridiculous to spend time there.

I agree with you on S&W. And I did have an excellent steak at the Old Homestead, recently. Not the Kobe but their "signature" Gotham Steak. That had the opposite effect of the RC steak..you're about three bites into it while carrying on your conversation and you stop babbling and say: "holy shit, this is some good steak." (Wasn't overwhelmed by the hot dog, btw).

Finally, it occurs to me that I had an excellent piece of beef at Equinox not long ago, as I was "researching" an article. Well-bred, properly-aged grass-fed stuff, and served with a little more panache than a steakhouse cut. If one person wants steak but another wants something more exotic, Equinox would be a pretty good compromise.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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For steamed hard crabs, the Maine Ave. Waterfront suggestion above is a good one.  The seafood stalls are probably no more than a 10 or 20 minute walk from L'Enfant Plaza metro station, and there's a lot of ready to eat seafood to buy as well.

It's an even closer walk from the Waterfront Station on Metro's green line.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I'm not a big oyster person, Old Ebbit Grill by the White House is also purported to have a great oyster program in addition to having a very "DC" vibe.

Drinks on the roof of the Hotel Washington and then around the corner for oysters at Old Ebbit would be a great combo.

For the "DC vibe" I second the Hotel Washington roof/Old Ebbitt combo. I also like Old Ebbitt for lunch. Quite reasonable.

As for Tex-Mex, I'm never entirely satisfied with anything outside of Texas, but, I have been known to eat heartily at Austin Grill near the MCI Center. Get the pork tacos. Oh yum. And drink many margaritas.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Thanks Gullets!!!

Have discovered that in between eats we must also sightsee and go to the Saturday Nat's game.

This seriously limits chow time!! So Sunday Night @ Ray's has been booked and we will fill in with,

Ebbitt's, Oohs and Aaghs( which sounds really special), Capital, one of the Andres' places for lunch.

This probably leaves us some snacking room so keep the recs coming.

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Andres has a couple of places that are easy walks from the museums -- Jaleo and Cafe Atlantico are both about 10 mins from the National Gallery or the Archives on foot.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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