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Downtown Wash. DC


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My friend and his 12 and 16 year old are spending a week staying downtown DC. He is looking for inexpensive dining options for himself and kids. What can you recommend? It will need to be within walking, bussing or cab distance of downtown.

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My friend and his 12 and 16 year old are spending a week staying downtown DC.  He is looking for inexpensive dining options for himself and kids.  What can you recommend?  It will need to be within walking, bussing or cab distance of downtown.

A couple of questions:

What's "inexpensive?" Sandwich shops? Cafes? Less expensive "nice" restaurant?

"Downtown" means different things to different people. Do you have a hotel or location?

Will they do ethnic?

One place to start is Washingtonian magazine's "Dirt Cheap Eats"

Virtually every DC restaurant on the list is close to a subway, as are some of the suburban spots, though I am less metro-conversant there.

The magazine's "100 Best Bargain" restaurants is a year old, the new one not being up, yet, but is a good place to look, as well.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thank you Busboy for those 2 excellent magazine references featuring cheap eats. They will come in handy.

He is staying at the Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol, 550 C St SW, Washington, DC, 1 block from Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and 1 block from Metro.

He is on a really tight budget, so inexpensive would mean cafes, ethnic (he is from Guyana/Caribbean, living in Miami now, and loves hot spicy food, and other ethnic foods, especially Thai), or other reasonably priced or bargain places. They will need b-fast, lunch and dinner. His boy is 16, so I'm sure eats a lot at that age, too.

They plan on visiting a lot of museums within walking distance of the hotel. Are there some museum cafes that might be a good option for them?

I'm also wondering are there any Vietnamese places within easy reach? In Seattle, some of our best bargains for lunch are Bahn Mi's and Pho.

Are there any grocery markets or similar, maybe bakery? ...they could pick up picnic items (ie baguette/cheese/fruit, etc) for picnic lunches or breakfasts, so they could splurge a little on dinner at a nicer inexpensive to moderately priced restaurant one night? Or pizza nearby? I've also read that DC has good Ethiopian food. Is there a recommended place nearby?

edited to add a map Here

Edited by Blue Heron (log)
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The Museum of the American Indian is close to his hotel and has a great cafe. It's not exactly cheap eats, but is worth checking out. There's not much super close, but many good options are a short metro ride away.

Teaism is across the mall, near the Archives/Navy Memorial metro station. Thread here.

Ethiopian... the area around 9th and U has many and is accessible via the U St/Cardozo stop on the Green line. Busboy will have specific recs.

That area is a tough one - I'll give it some thought this week.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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In terms of location your friend is in a soulless little backwater, I'm afraid. Once a thriving little slum, the entire SW quadrant of the city was razed in the 50's, all the "poor" -- that is, African American -- people moved out, and the area repopulated with government office buildings and modernist apartments. The food in the area is equally characterless.

But, by Metro, the world awaits.

Here's some Ethiopian recs, to which I would now add Roha.

It may be worth catching the metro up to Columbia Heights and heading either into Adams-Morgan for El Tamarando or into my 'hood, Mt.Pleasant, for Ercilia's Pupusas (Mt. Pleasant St. and Irving Street). You can also wander around this area and look for cheap latin food if you're in the mood.

Were I in Georgetown, and it was a nice evening or an un-oppressive afternoon, I would go to Cafe La Ruche, where the locals hang, for an omlette or a pate sandwich on the patio.

If they're near Dupont Circle -- and they should see the Philips and the Textile Museum (much cooler than you'd think) -- check and see if Galileo is serving their lunch grill and grab a sandwich to eat in the park. A minor splurge: go to the Osteria Galileo for dinner: excellent,inexpensive food and wine, though service can be indifferent -- it's not you they don't like, it's everyone. :wink: Get the boy into some decent shoes for this, it's part of a very swank spot.

Also, my favorite place for people watching and swilling god-awful but dirt-cheap wine is the patio at Zorba's Cafe, which serves up decent Greek.

I am in between Thai Restarants right now -- I'm separatedfrom Sala Thai at 21st and P -- but there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, scattered across the city, and they are of generally good quality.

Full Key, in Chinatown, is a fine place to get beef tendon and jelleyfish, as well as less exotic fare.

And many love Ben's Chili Bowl, 13th and U -- near Little Ethiopia and the U Street Metro stop -- for their chili dogs and half-smokes.

Sadly, the Vietnamese in the area are have located to fairly distant suburbs which are not metro-friendly. There is one decent spot, Pho 75, on Connecticut Avenue, steps from the Cleveland Park Metro, and if your friend is a movie buff or just wants to kill the evening hours the Uptown Theater is literally one of the best movie screens in the country, and is directly acrossthe street fromPho 75 and the slightly more expensive Spices. They could also splurge by hitting the Cafe at Palena: Burgers, roast chicken, weird fries at a reasonable price. Go early to get a table.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thank you busboy and hjshorter for these recs. I will pass them along. :smile:

For anyone reading this thread recently... I edited my above post to include a map of the area they are staying. Here is the link again, in case anyone else has any more suggestions.

*****

I've done some homework, and I'm throwing out a list of add'l names that look like good options for nearby or interesting inexpensive meals. If any of them jump out at anyone, can you please comment as to whether you agree/disagree, or have a better option? And are they easily accecssible by his metro stop or near an interesting sightseeing venue he could go to while in that neighborhood?

Malaysia Kopitiam, 1827 M St., NW;

Eastern Market (Market Lunch, Tortilla Grill & Cafe, Canales Deli)

Pacific Cafe & Grill , a Vietnamese place at 11th and Penn SE.

La Plaza, on Penn between 7th and 8th

Las Placitas, 517 8th St., SE (on 8th Street, a block or two over from Penn Ave)

Capitol Hill Tandoor & Grill lunch buffet. 419 8th Street SE Washington (Indian) - approx 2 mi east of hotel

Marty's, 527 8th St., SE, burgers, ribs

Negril... Caribbean, Howard Univ, 2301-G Georgia Ave. NW

Old Ebbitt Grill, near White House, for burgers

Breadline at 1751 Pennsylvania Ave. NW across from the World Bank

Queen Makeda for Ethiopian food - (just n. of Kennedy Ctr).1917 9th St

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Thank you busboy and hjshorter for these recs.  I will pass them along. :smile:

For anyone reading this thread recently... I edited my above post to include a map of the area they are staying.  Here is the link again, in case anyone else has any more suggestions.

*****

I've done some homework, and I'm throwing out a list of add'l names that look like good options for nearby or interesting inexpensive meals.  If any of them jump out at anyone, can you please comment as to whether you agree/disagree, or have a better option?  And are they easily accecssible by his metro stop or near an interesting sightseeing venue he could go to while in that neighborhood?

Malaysia Kopitiam, 1827 M St., NW;

Eastern Market (Market Lunch, Tortilla Grill & Cafe, Canales Deli)

Pacific Cafe & Grill , a Vietnamese place at 11th and Penn SE.

La Plaza, on Penn between 7th and 8th

Las Placitas, 517 8th St., SE (on 8th Street, a block or two over from Penn Ave)

Capitol Hill Tandoor & Grill lunch buffet. 419 8th Street SE Washington (Indian) - approx 2 mi east of hotel

Marty's, 527 8th St., SE, burgers, ribs

Negril... Caribbean,  Howard Univ, 2301-G Georgia Ave. NW

Old Ebbitt Grill, near White House, for burgers

Breadline at 1751 Pennsylvania Ave. NW across from the World Bank

Queen Makeda for Ethiopian food - (just n. of Kennedy Ctr).1917 9th St

Malasia Kopitam is quite good, as is Breadline.

If I was going for Burgers I'd go to Circle Bistro, on Washington Circle. Though Old Ebbit isquite credible, it's part of a local chain, and so not as cool. :wink: It is a good place to know of if you're still on West Coast Time -- it serves late.

Queen Makeda, btw, is a good 25 blocks from the Kennedy Center.

If you're on 8th Street on the Hill (I wouldn't go out of my way for any of those spots, but they're likely fine -- almost better to go to the Tune Inn on Pennsylvania and 4th for a bad buger at a legendary bar, 4th and Penn), you're near the Marine Barraks and can watch the Friday parade.

If you're feeling less martial, the sculpture garden at the National Gallery, (Not the Hirshorn) has free jazz Friday nights. The snackbar is credibleand it's almost walking distance from the hotel.

Thursday Nights is free music at the National Zoo,, pick up a pizza or a sub from Vace, Connecticut and Porter (see Spices/Utown Theater above) and walk down, or go in the back entrance and drop by the Adams-Morgan (the Falafel Shop on 18th) or Mt.Pleasant (Pollo Sabroso) neighborhoods on the way in or out.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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