This Weekend, Tammi is taking a Ladies' Weekend down to our nations capital to knit, hang out and generally swoon in Obama-Awe. On request, Guyvera chimed in with a number of recommendations on places to eat. I'm posting it here for my own future reference as much as yours.
For further recommendations, Serious Eats posted a DC Eating Guide for Inauguration week last month.
And now, Guyvera...
Ben's Chili Bowl
Ben's is close to the U Street/Af-Am Civl War Memorial stop on the Green Line
Ben's is cheapish. Most things on the menu are decently sized, and run $6-7. You can be happy full (and greasy) for $10 or less. Things to get here are 1/2-smoke hot dogs (w or w/o chili); chili fries (quite quite good), scrapple (if you can handle it), greasy breakfasts (with grits!). Ben's is good, but in my personal opinion not earth-shattering. Still, it's a bit of a must-hit for a number of reasons (local celebs, famous place, mix of "real" DC people and assorted hosers). Ben's keeps late hours, and is the kind of place that tastes better the later it is.
(1213 U St NW (between N 12th St & N 13th St) (202) 667-0909)
In the U street Area, there's also a respectable soul food place called Oohs and Aahs (it's good, not transcendent, and tends to be heavy with the salt), a good (if salty and with unpredictable hours) VEGETARIAN SOUL FOOD place run by Black Israelites (no joke) across the street from Howard Univ. It's called Soul Vegetarian. Prices are about $10/plate, but I usually eat 1/2 for dinner and 1/2 the next day for lunch. Yep, the portions are really that big.
One of my favorite hangouts in the general area is a place called Busboys and Poets. It's a bookstore, cafe, and performance space. I find the cafe to be overpriced, though the food is good (not totally worth the price, but not a disaster either). Lots of good looking professional people here in their late 20s early 30s. Nice vibe. Internet, lots of poignancy and whatnot.
(2021 14th St NW (between N U St & N V St) - (202) 387-7638)
Walking distance (20 min walk) away, is Amsterdam Falafel
This place is in the heart of the Adam's Morgan area. Amsterdam's falafel by itself is ok. Where it shines is in your ability to add whatever topping you please from their self-serve bar: beets, yogurt, hot sauce spicy enough to give me the hiccoughs, peppers, cabbage, tahini, etc. The fries here are also particularly delicious, and I'm not much of a french fry-man. Falafel sandwiches here run about $6, but if you stuff the pita well, you won't really need anything else. There are not a lot of places to sit here. If you eat outside on a weekend night, you can watch drunken frat boys wander the streets.
(2425 18th Street NW - (202) 234-1969)
Ok. one or two more for now, and maybe a couple later on tonight...
Full Kee Restaurant
Chinatown in DC is a testament to displacement and gentrification. It's becoming Chinatown without Chinese people. Anyway, the food at Full Kee is good, reasonably priced, and there's stuff here both for people who like "General Tso's Chicken" and for people who like Congee, or more "typical" fare. My fave is something like "Stinky turnip greens with pig intestine." No joke. De-lish!
(509 H St NW (202) 371-2233)
Gourmet pizza, tasty sliders. This is a "scene" place. It's not crazy expensive, but you go here in part to see and be seen. It's a hangout, and is often ridiculously packed on weekend nights at prime dining hours. It's ok. You know I'm not exactly highbrow in my dining choices. This place is respectable. You already know where to find truly quality pizza. Food is fine.
(713 H Street NW (between N 7th St & N 8th St) (202) 289-4441)
Two places I haven't been, but am eager to go:
This is supposed to be The Spot around here for soon dobu (spelling?), an often spicy Korean stew (rice served on the side) with tofu and your choice of meat. TOJ introduced me to this particular dish at a place in L.A. Very nice. The page on Yelp.com that describes this place is full of typical Yelp nincompoopery, but the reviews collectively do a good job of describing the stew.
(4121 Chatelain Road Suite 100 Annandale, VA 22003)
Korean BBQ. I can only hope this is the DC area cousin of a place with the same name I've visited a few times in LA. This is pricier, though not fancier than any other place on the list. Maybe in the neighborhood of $20 per person? Korean BBQ. You know the drill. Tasty Pork meat bits. Mmmm.
(7220-C Columbia Pike Annandale, VA 22003 (703) 256-5229)
Also, I'd be remiss to not mention the local chain of burger joints called Five Guys. I've seen one or two in NYC, but the Washington Metro area (actually northern VA) is the birthplace. Think the East Coast version of In 'N Out, except not quite as fresh, but with a lot more toppings, better fries, and a total lack of creepy religious subliminal messages. In 'N Out is still my gold standard for fast food burgers, but when I get a hankering for a greazy cheeseburger, and I'm here, I go to Five Guys.