Just returned from Washington D.C. and thought I would start a list of my favorite restaurants in Washington D.C., surrounding areaa in Maryland and Virgina, to which others could also list their favorites as well, as I plan on making several trips this year, and would like to try out new restaurants.
Any restaurants to add???
La Ruche's description of their restaurant as, "a little bit of Paris on the Potomac" is perhaps the best way to describe this restaurant.
It was the 2nd of 3 french style cafe's to open in the 1970s-1980s, and the entire french speaking population of Washington DC flocked to these restaurants. La Ruche was so popular that the orginal cafe, Cafe de Paris, eventually went out of business because only the tourists continued to patronize it.
My favorite dishes at La Rucke are the Fish Soup and Croque Monsieur. Both are as authentic as anything I have had in France, be it a cafe in Paris, or fish soup in Marseille.
Often, after a day of shopping, we would meet friends for pastry (my favorite are the fruit tarts) and coffee. Or after a night at Kennedy Center, stop in for some appetizers or soup depending on the weather.
On the way to the train station on Sunday nite, stopped here for fish soup (more marseille style) and croque monsiur. The restaurant was filled with French speaking clientele only, including a large group celebrating a special occassion.
Bistro Français was the 3rd of the three original cafes from the 1970s, and as they advertise have become, " a Washington DC Instition". When it opened, it became the gathering spot for not only the French Speaking population, but also any ex-pat that enjoyed soceer as they use to tape soceer games from all over the world and air ship the tapes in to broadcast in the restaurant. Also, if you came in late at night, it was not unusal to see many of the french chefs in town eatting there after they closed their restaurants down for the night. I learned from them the best Beaujolais nouveau, when it was available for the current year, to eat it with apples and cheese, etc.
The receipes are from southwestern Fance and quite well done. My favorites are the fish soup gratinee, the liver pate, steak tarte which come from the standard menu, and from the nightly specials, the skate wing, veal kidney, rabbit, coq au vin, etc. All the bread and pastry is made on site as well. Over the years the menu has become standardized (some of my favorites are no longer available) but what is left is well-executed. It is directly on M street in Georgetown and for this reason draws more of the tourist trade than La Ruche. I also overhear alot of families visiting, where the parents are telling their kids how they ate there in college before meeting their spounse, and are now introducing their kids to their favorite restaurant.
I stopped by on Saturday for Fish Soup Gratinee and Eggs Norweigen (poached egg on freshly smoked salmon with hollandaise sauce), and again on Sunday lunch for Fish Soup Gratinee and Liver Pate. The saturday afternoon cliented were some regulars who had reserved their tables and were quite chummy with the host, and military families meeting in town, some currently living there, others that had previously lived there and were returning to enjoy their favorite restaurant.
I have quite a few favorite restaurants in the DC/Baltimore area. Although some of my favorites in this area are technically chain restaurants they are nothing like the major chain restaurants (e.g Applebees, Chillis) and are definitely worth a try.
Geez, this is really a tall task, and new, exciting places open constantly, so I'm only scratching the surface, but the suggestions I often offer include:
Hotel Tabard Inn - Excellent brunch and wonderful dinners, in a great atmosphere. Just south of Dupont Circle. Hotel Tabard Inn
St. Arnold's on Jefferson - cozy Belgian spot, with incredible variety of mussels and perfect frites! Very nice selection of Belgian beers, too. St Arnold's on Jefferson
Brasserie Beck - Another great Belgian place, more upscale (and expensive) than St. Arnold's but also good. St. Arnold's is more of a great neighborhood spot.Brasserie Beck, Washington, DC - Robert Wiedmaier
Bastille, Old Town Alexandria - Wonderful little french restaurant at the north end of Royal. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Bastille | Alexandria, VA 22303
Pizzeria Paradiso - there are a few around the city, we have enjoyed the one just off Dupont Circle, wonderful and creative selections of both pizza and craft beers. http://www.eatyourpizza.com/
The Occidental at the Willard - Have had a few wonderful meals here, great location near the White House. http://www.occidentaldc.com/occidental/index.cfm
Jaleo - Penn's Quarter, just east of the White House. Excellent tapas restaurant with great homemade sangria. http://www.jaleo.com/
Old Ebbitt Grill - Years back, used to be around the corner and was the oldest bar in DC. Consistently good, not elegant, but good. Prefer the main dining room. Old Ebbitt Grill
Filomena in Georgetown - excellent italian, homemade pasta. Filomena Ristorante
Love, Love, Love, "The Inn at Little Washington"!
Unfortunately with a short weekend, there was not enough time.
Another one I like, and technically not in DC as it is in Great Falls is, "L'Auberge Chez Francois"
Also love Old Ebbit Grill, which was moved from the original location to the same street as the Treasury Building when Metro Center was built, as it is the oldest tavern in WDC dating back to 1856.
Its now owned by Clydes, and has the same menu as all Clyde's restaurants.
One of my friends that works at Treasury likes to eat Sunday Brunch there, so we use her parking spot.
Always wanted to dine at The Inn at Little Washington, but have not yet!
Likewise, I really enjoyed Old Ebbets Grill, and when staying at The JW, The Washington Hotel, (Top Floor), a great view of the White House! Lastly, The Occidental Grill has such historic charm.
Thanks again for such an interesting subject.
We really should have "Dining Guides for MRI" for major cities and by states (Many of us know fine places of value that are NOT major cities). It would really help us travelers who sometimes don't really know where to dine. It should be for all budgets as well, and would include breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Many of us will be glad to contribute if Michelle/Andy think this is worthwhile.
When I moved away from WDC many years ago, everyone in the office was fighting over my restaurant guide. It was a very nice paperback with reviews by Phyllis Richmond, that I had annotated for the various restaurants we visited.
While I was there this weekend we were reminising over the good old days, like eating at La Miche in Bethesda which sadly, is no longer there now. You could call 24h in advance and make any special requests for dishes they do but maybe did not plan to have on the menu like sweetbreads in port wine sauce or pistachio souffle!
L'Auberge Chez Francois was modeled on the French Country Inn in aesthetics, location and service in that the typical French Auberge has 1 seating and 1 menu where the folks in the city would drive to the country on the weekend to eat and would all be seated at the same time and served the same menu. L'Auberge Chez Francois use to have just 2 seatings and a limited menu, but now it seems they have changed to the standard menu.
Metropolitan Washington DC is also great for very authentic ethnic food.
This time we went out to Virgina and tried a Persian restaurant called, "Shamshiry". My friend who took us there also told us the meaning behind the name of the restaurant (shamsheer is the Farsi word for sword) and that originally kebab was cooked on swords (cause a skewer was a waste of precious metal). They also said that cooking meat on a, "baghdad blade" (sword) was jannat (heaven).! And this meal was definately heaven!
When we open the door and walk in, it could have been Tehran. We were the only non-Farsi speakers in the place. Everyone was dressed very traditionally, and while waiting for tables reading the Farsi newspapers they had. We had an assortment of Chelo Kabobs with saffron rice, followed by saffron ice cream!
It was fantastic!