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DC dress code


bobmac
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What's acceptable in restaurants? Coat? Tie? Also what restaurants are uniquely DC?

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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Same as NYC or Seattle. Jeans and sneaks for some places, satin, diamonds and Manolos for others.

Depending upon your persuasion, if you're wearing lapels and don't mind judgmental glances, a tiny flag pin's always good at some of the better steakhouses.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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What's acceptable in restaurants? Coat? Tie? Also what restaurants are uniquely DC?

What city are you coming from? What restaurants are you going to?

Personally, I think if you have a decent sport coat, leather shoes, a nice shirt and jeans without holes you'll fit right in at 90% of the places in town.

The main thing is not to look like a "tourist," which is different from a "traveller" in that tourists dress funny, tip poorly, and say things like "don't you have any normal food in this restaurant" (except when they're eating at a tourist restaurant), and are secretely sneered at by many waiters; whereas travellers spend big, eat exotic stuff and tip standard and get good advice on where to go for drinks from their waiters.

So, the the "USS Pascagula" baseball hat, sweat shirt reading "YOU DON'T KNOW ME federal witness protection program" and white shoes of any variety, should stay in the hotel room at dinner time.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Same as NYC or Seattle.  Jeans and sneaks for some places, satin, diamonds and Manolos for others.

Definitely more formal than Seattle or just about anywhere on the west coast in my experience. Maybe that's not so much dress "code" (i.e., an official policy) but I think you stand out from the crowd if you go too casual in this town. This is neither a put-down or a... put-up(?). Sometimes I think it's fun that everybody dresses up a little more, sometimes I think it's a PITA.

"If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?"

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Yes, leather shoes are better bet for men.

D.C. used to be known for tremendous conservatism when it comes to fashion. Because diners often arrive at the restaurant directly from the office, or the Hill, sometimes continuing their work day at the table, you may see more cautiously chosen dark suits on men and women at some establishments.

However, this city is quite diverse and there are artists, insurance underwriters, softwear engineers and so forth. No matter what, darker solid colors or soft grays, tans and beiges prevail. Pastel knits and tropical prints are out unless they're sardonic and hip, preferably worn by women who expose their collarbones and put on at least two or three necklaces.

As for restaurants, look at other recent threads on this forum for comments about Jaleo and Ray's. Also move back to the beginning of the year when the city had bargains during Restaurant Week. Many of the local favorites are discussed by members who live in this area. Since the metro system is simple to use, you might find it easiest to take the train to places within the city, such as Dino's, two steps away from the Cleveland Park stop on the Red line.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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With a few exceptions, business casual is the norm. Places like Citronelle and the Prime Rib require men to wear jackets, but otherwise, business casual is as dressy as one is expected to get.

DC is a fairly conservatively dressed town, even we liberals dress conservatively.

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OK, so a blazer and slacks is OK. I once schlepped a suit to London, just to go to high tea. It was a pain. We're coming from Boston where once upon a time you would not think of entering a restaurant without a coat and tie.

As for tourists, we're partly that (my wife will be there on business; I'm tagging along), but I don't agree with the theory that tourists always tip poorly and are picky about food, which is why I asked about distinctly DC fare. It's like drinking the local beer or the time I ate pig's ear in Kansas. Is it possible that waiters' sneering is obvious to the point that they provide poor service and receive a commensurate tip? It could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We've got lots of Vietnamese places in Boston, so Ethiopian might be nice, although my wife recalls, wincing, that Ethiopian was the spiciest food she's ever eaten. In fact, I think it was in DC.

Thanks for the suggestions.

As for the lapel pin, what does that get you and is any flag OK?

Edited by bobmac (log)

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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OK, so a blazer and slacks is OK. I once schlepped a suit to London, just to go to high tea. It was a pain. We're coming from Boston where once upon a time you would not think of entering a restaurant without a coat and tie.

As for tourists, we're partly that (my wife will be there on business; I'm tagging along), but I don't agree with the theory that tourists always tip poorly and are picky about food, which is why I asked about distinctly DC fare. It's like drinking the local beer or the time I ate pig's ear in Kansas. Is it possible that waiters' sneering is obvious to the point that they provide poor service and receive a commensurate tip? It could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We've got lots of Vietnamese places in Boston, so Ethiopian might be nice, although my wife recalls, wincing, that Ethiopian was the spiciest food she's ever eaten. In fact, I think it was in DC.

Thanks for the suggestions.

As for the lapel pin, what does that get you and is any flag OK?

I'm not saying tourists are bad -- I'm a tourist myself on occasion -- but it is true that waiters here in a lot of places (and perhaps any big city) tend to be distrustful and disdainful of the sneaker and fanny-pack crowd. The fact is, in a lot of parts of the country, lower tips are standard and prices are lower -- not a few people take out their sticker shock on the waiters. And in spring, they come here by the busload, ready for the monuments but not, perhaps, for the Thai food or the $6 beers.

The differential between "traveller" and "tourist" I laid out was a bit tongue in cheek. But two people could live next door to each other, have the same income and tastes, but let one wear a windbreaker and white loafers to dinner while his buddy wears a blazer and slacks, there's a reasonable chance the latter will get better service than the former. Shouldn't be that way, but it is.

I remember a trip to Boston where the hotel has a sign saying "Gentlemen are requested to wear a jacket in the lobby." The Ritz, maybe?

Ethiopian can be -- perhaps should be-- quite spicy, though there are places that offer less firery variations than others. Zed's in Georgetown, for example. But they tend not to be critics' favorites.

What "distinctive DC food" is has been hotly debated, with little tangible result. You migh tend toward seafood (though that's hardly unknown in Boston) and a little southern/soul food.

Cherry Blossoms peaking last week in March, btw. If your here, and they predict a sunny morning, go before breakfast and beat the crowds, then walk over to the Bread Line (near the White House) for a great croissant.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks. Sounds like East Coast city food is East Coast city food. One of the threads mentioned Circle Bistro, which sounds interesting.

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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Thanks. Sounds like East Coast city food is East Coast city food. One of the threads mentioned Circle Bistro, which sounds interesting.

To be honest, the best thing about DC food is its diversity. This is an ethnic food lovers heaven. Because of the large diplomatic community here, and thus the large ethnic communities, we have a little of everything. Ethiopian food is ubiquitious in DC, especially along the U Street Corridor but Etete on 9th St is probably one of the best and Meskeerem in Adams-Morgan is one of the ones that has been around the longest. Much of it is in the suburbs, espcially Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Salavadorian food. Great dim sum in both MD and VA burbs, but not really much good in DC proper.

However there are lots of great fine dining places. Depending on what you want to spend, etc. Circlo Bistro is excellent, but there are quite a few that are just as good, I like Marcel's personally and Palena is one of my all time favorites, either for a pris fix dinner (and reasonabley priced and very good) in back or a great burger or the fantastic roast chicken up front in the cafe. And if you get to the Eastern Market area, Montemartre is a great French bistro. If you like meze (tapas) try Zaytinya (my favorite but they don't take reservations after 6 or so) or Jaleo. For Italian fine dining I like Tosca or Notti Bianche if I am in the trattoria mood. Corduroy or Komi are my favorites for American modern, and the Tabard Inn is a great place to eat on the patio if the weather is nice, good weekend brunch too.

Also be sure to go to the cafeteria at the Museaum of the American Indian if you are at the Smithsonian.

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So, the the "USS Pascagula" baseball hat, sweat shirt reading "YOU DON'T KNOW ME federal witness protection program" and white shoes of any variety, should stay in the hotel room at dinner time.

Damn. Now you tell me.

I was wondering why I kept ending up between the kitchen door and the hallway to the can.

Next time I'll be better prepared.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Nobody has mentioned the security ID tags that about 95% of DCer's wear hanging from their necks. I saw so many when I lived there, I thought people had them physically attached. :wink::biggrin:

The reason that DC is a tad conservative, is that most people there are either working for the government or meeting somebody relating to official business.

DC has the higest rate of hotel occupancy in the US.

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But they are really nice shoes.

The finest patent leather, gold buckles and everything.

I woulda' picked you for more of a workboots and DeKalb Feeds gimme cap kinda guy, kinda like the guys in the Cafe Scene in Easy Rider. Aren't the white shoes more of a Midwestern thing.

Bobmac -- I like Circle Bistro quite a bit. The chef there, Brendan Cox does and excellent job and is a good guy, to boot. And, if you're on your own dime (don't know if your wife gets a per diem), you'll probably find it noticeably less expensive than, say, Pigalle or a similar Boston restaurant.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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How convenient! I just discovered Circle Bistro is in our hotel, and the prices are low compared to restaurants 40 miles out of Boston.

Edited by bobmac (log)

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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  • 3 weeks later...

Got my lapel pin -- the Union Jack.

Loved the quail line!

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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Had lunch at Bistro du Coin the other day and noticed that there were indeed a number of lapel pins being displayed, although the only American flag was crossed with another flag, indistinguishable at a distance, sported by a swarthy embassy type.

I think the flags are bigger up on the Hill, along with the popular Member of Congress pins.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Nary a lapel pin in sight that night over at Old Ebbitt's Grill despite the nature of the establishment and its location.

All the tourists just wore shorts, khakis, polo shirts, cotton knit sweaters.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 4 weeks later...

OK, the first night we met a friend at the Circle Bistro. I wore a jacket, a dress shirt, no tie; wife dressed accordingly. Our friend, not a tourist (works for gummint), wore jeans. We waited forever for service. Funny aside: The menu advertised "Gloucester rock fish," and I asked the waiter if that meant striped bass. It did. Of course there were no striped bass in Gloucester that week. At that time of year they are mostly... in the Chesapeake Bay. We were happy with the food.

I did the museums wearing leather shoes. My feet hurt like a mother. I ate in the museums surrounded by people wearing sensible shoes.

Second night we met more friends, an academic (Georgetown), a former teacher, and a businesswoman. At their suggestion we went to the Daily Grill, perhaps because of its location. I was happy; would not have known it was a chain.

Third day I got to Johnny's Halfshell. Again, sort of a delay in getting a waitress, but I came at an odd hour for lunch. As mentioned elsewhere on this board, $24 may be a bit steep at lunch for crab cakes, but, hey, I was on vacation. And they were superb, unlike anything I have ever gotten in New England -- very crabby with hardly a jot of filler. The remoulade and cole slaw were excellent (another Gulleteer found the slaw too dry, I would disagree). The fries were too good add a condiment to.

Thanks for everybody's help.

Edited by bobmac (log)

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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