I'll be in DC in early October. Looking for great food. I'm not talking fancy restaurants. I'm talking food that when I eat it I wont forget it.
You need to eat at Old Ebbitt Grill right next to the white house. Start with some oysters and then pick a good dinner. Make sure you finish up about 30 minutes before sunset so you can walk next door and watch the sun set over the White House from the top of the W. Best way to do one night in DC.
barmini is your place!! I just took my boyfriend there for his birthday and our minds were blown. BLOWN. (And that takes a lot for us to say, we are exxxttrreeemely critical foodies.)
There's a prix fixe menu restaurant right next door called Minibar By José Andrés, don't get them confused otherwise it's going to cost you!
I just wrote about my experience there: http://www.breannajwilson.com/blog/barmini-by-jose-andres/
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Oohh's & Aahh's on U Street is a wonderful hole in the wall with some of the best soul food known to man. Guy Fierre visits often for the Mac and cheese, but the fried chicken, and shrimp and grits are AMAZING. Open late on weekends.
For something a little fancier, anything from Jose Andreas, but especially Jaleo, you won't soon be forgetting.
Depending on what you like and price point you're looking for I'd recommend the following:
Daikaya - Ramen - Izakaya - go upstairs to the restaurant not downstairs to the ramen shop. The menu is really unusual and it is very tasty.
Zaytinya - a long time DC staple and the food doesn't disappoint. It is better with a couple of people because the food is small plates.
Rose's Luxury - both an experience and a delicious meal, but you need to get in line early to get a seating, but that will give you time to wander Capitol Hill
Dino's Grotto - a very laid back dining experience with top-quality food and a great bar
I hope you enjoy!
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Not sure how you feel about Thai food but one of the most memorable dinners I've had recently was at Little Serow. Just be aware that they do not take reservations so I recommend having an early dinner and showing up at 5:00 pm. My second favorite Thai restaurant would be Thai X-ing. Very unpretentious and amazing food.
This is kind of strange, but the Mitsitam Cafe. It has all sorts of dishes inspired by ingredients Native American tribes used. What's strange is that this is pretty much a museum cafeteria. But it's really fun and unusual.
Other than that, the food in DC is really pretty uninspiring (and I've spent a combined total of about six months of my life working there). I've had better Ethiopian, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai and plain ol' pub food just about everywhere ... and I have yet to find a good coffeehouse there. Its beer scene has improved quite a bit over the years. But overall, DC and the surrounding area is not a destination for great food.