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DC Questions

Discussion in 'Washington, D.C.' started by Tyr, May 17, 2017.

  1. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    Hello all you VMP Fam DC peeps! I know there's quite a few of you out there so I wanted to ask you opinion on some places in the city as I have not been there since I was 16y/o.

    I'll be taking my awesome wifi to DC as a surprise in mid-late August. She loves museums and the Smithsonian Museums in DC are the finest ones I've ever visited. I'm not worried about the weather as we live in AZ currently and at that time we'll be enjoying having our skin melted off. So the DC weather will be a reprieve from our current area :)

    I was wanting to know if anyone has any thoughts/personal experience on either the Mandarin Oriental just south of the Mall or on the Sofitel on Lafayette Square? I am considering either of those places because of their close proximity to the Smithsonian museums. Thoughts? Feedback? Better recommendations?

    Also looking for some restaurant and nightlife recs in the area. We are food lovers and obviously music lovers so any place that you think is rad in the area would be most appreciated. I'm a big lover of seafood as well.

    She's not really interested in visiting any of the memorials or Hill buildings (though, those are MY personal faves) so I think it will mostly be museum, restaurant, bookstore hopping for the 5 or so days we'll be in town.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give!
     
  2. mcherry

    mcherry Moderator

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  3. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    Hi all!

    Just to update; I ended up going with the Sofitel in DC based upon an IRL bud's recommendation. So we're good on that one!

    Thanks
     
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  4. teee

    teee Well-Known Member

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    Crud, I forgot to get back to this.

    Please remind me tomorrow. I have recommendations.
     
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  5. kvetcha

    kvetcha Well-Known Member

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    There is just a metric ton of good food and drink in DC. Jose Andres is kind of a local name; his restaurant Zaytinya, which serves Mediterranean tapas, is delightful. Barmini is a great cocktail experience if you can snag a reservation. Rasika does exceptional modern Indian food.

    If you're willing to hop around town a bit, I highly recommend trying Rose's Luxury, The Dabney, Bad Saint, The Red Hen, and Kyirisan.

    If you really want to break the bank, try snagging a reservation at Minibar or Pineapples & Pearls.
     
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  6. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the awesome recommendations!

    I'm a fan of Jose Andres style of cooking and have been to both of his places in Las Vegas. May have to check out either Minibar or Zytinya (which both sound like my speed).

    I'll look into the other places as well. Not opposed to hopping around town for a good bite to eat and some entertainment.
    Thanks again!
     
  7. kvetcha

    kvetcha Well-Known Member

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    Minibar is exorbitantly expensive but (I'm told by friends who've gone) one of the finest places in the city. Zaytinya is probably my favorite of his more down-to-earth restaurants (Jaleo, Oyamel, and China Poblano are also in the neighborhood.)

    The Dabney uses all Mid-Atlantic ingredients (except for lemons) and do many of their dishes over/in an open charcoal hearth. Really good, seasonal menu, constantly changing. Next door is The Columbia Room, which does exceptional cocktails. Not a bad one-two punch.

    Bad Saint is Filipino and has been impossible to get into since it made the inaugural DC Michelin list. But very very good.

    Kyirisan is sort of a dark horse on the list. I mention it because I'm acquainted with the head chef and I think the Asian-French fusion they do is really fun.
     
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  8. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    This is the EXACT kind of feedback I'm looking for. Thank you! I love knowing all of the little fun intricacies of places I visit, especially as you describe what you enjoy so much about Kyirisan.

    Yeah, I looked up Minibar and it looks similarly priced to other Michelin restaurants. I remember having to mentally prepare my wallet for our trip to Alinea in Chicago (LOL). At least it appears that it will be easier to get a res at Minibar since I'm planning so far in advance. Will just have to try and book it 60 days out or so.

    The Dabney also sounds excellent. I was reading about Ambar, a Balkan style restaurant in the area. Any thoughts on that one?

    Thank you again.
     
  9. kvetcha

    kvetcha Well-Known Member

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    Haven't heard much about Ambar, I'm sorry. I've been out of the fine dining scene for a year or two because we've been saving for a house. ;)

    re: Minibar, expect to spend even more for a wine pairing.

    If you're into Japanese food, I am told the omakase menu at Sushi Taro is absolutely top-notch. There are also a few legitimately good ramen places in the city, including Toki Underground and Daikaya.
     
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  10. teee

    teee Well-Known Member

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    I've been to MiniBar. It is exorbitantly expensive. I am not sure it is worth it. I have been to another similiar splurge that I think is better: Komi. It was the best meal I've ever had in my life. Rose's Luxury is less expensive than both of those and every bit as good. I took my parents there for an xmas present and my sis and bro-in-law there as a wedding gift. Everyone absolutely loved it.

    Like @kvetcha - Zaytinya is my favorite of his restaurants. It is delightful. And @kvetcha's posts in the cocktail thread got me to go to Barmini and it was such an incredible experience. Go and do the drink flight. Outside of the city is P/X, another amazing cocktail experience. But look it up and read about how you get in - it isn't a guarantee.

    I'll second The Red Hen. It is one of my favorite places in the city.

    Also 2 Amy's for wood fire pizza and red fizzy wine! I used to go to 2 Amy's every single Friday for about 8 years (or at least 48 out of 52 Fridays). And I would sit at the bar. Try the wine bar small plates.

    It might be too late for you to get a reservation at Rasika, but I endorse that pick as well.

    OK - if you google places to go in DC - Old Ebbitt Grill is going to come up. Ugh. If you want oysters, then sure, go there. But it is a tourist spot. It is huge, it is always crowded and it is usually inhabited by the political party in office at the time. So..... do what you want with that piece of info.

    You will also see tons of things that say to go to Ben's Chili Bowl. Don't. Unless you have been drinking. Then by all means do. And not only get a hot dog smothered in chili with fries, but also get the neon pink cake sitting by the cash register. Trust me. Here's a trick - there will probably be a long line. If you bypass the line and go straight to the back room, you will usually find a seat. At least you used to be able to. Who knows if that has changed. I haven't been to Ben's in awhile.

    You might also see Lauriol Plaza mentioned as a good spot. It isn't. The margaritas are good and they have a great patio and also a great roof. But the food is abysmal. And the service is some of the worst in DC. If you want to drink a margarita outside, there are other spots - El Chucho comes to mind.

    I really like Bar Pilar. Their buttermilk pie is to die for. Great drinks. Great food that is seasonal. Just an all around cool place with a chill atmosphere. And there is a record store next door! It is called Som. It's my favorite DC store. Other good DC record stores: Red Onion and Smash!

    You must try Ethiopian. I read somewhere that DC has the highest population of Ethiopians in the world outside of the actual country. So there are plenty of really good Ethiopian restaurants. Etete, Dukem and Ethiopic come to mind.

    Cork is also really good - and they are suing the orange one. So, they're getting some cruddy death threats and the like. It is a wine bar and I've never had a bad meal there. This is going to sound odd but: get the fries with ketchup and the avocado bread.

    If you are into beer you must go to ChurchKey. Seriously. It has over 500 beers, of which I think about 100 are on tap. They have about 6 cask beers too. The beer changes often - when a keg runs out, they often replace it with a different beer altogether. Fair warning - Fri and Sat nights there are a madhouse. I go for Sunday brunch and never have a wait.

    What is DC known for? Hmmmm...... I'm going to go with a Jumbo Slice. It is a slice of pizza that is the size of your torso. Manny and Olga's next to Som and Bar Pilar and The Black Cat sells a Jumbo Slice. But just like Ben's, only for when you have been drinking.

    You better invite me out to one of these meals!!!! And I'm more of a day drinker, FYI.

    Hop online now for reservations if you want to go to any of these places: Komi, MiniBar, BarMini, Rasika, The Red Hen. They fill up FAST!

    Nightlife? What is that? I haven't gone out past 8 in sooooo long. Check out these places for shows: 9:30 Club (consistently voted the #1 club in the nation), the Black Cat, DC9, Howard Theater, Lincoln Theater. Our local paper is called the City Paper. You can probably peruse that for music options.

    Things to do in the city: My favorite favorite favorite place is the Botanic Garden. I adore that place. It is right near the capitol. I'm not much of a museum person myself, I'll maybe hit the art museums occasionally. @kvetcha - do you know if the bug exhibit is still at the Natural History museum? Cause that is pretty cool.

    Hope that helps!
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
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  11. kvetcha

    kvetcha Well-Known Member

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    @teee74 is spot on with pretty much everything. Not sure whether the bug exhibit is still open, but Natural History in general is one of my favorites.

    2 Amys rules.
     
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  12. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    I LOVE Japanese food. Japan is actually the one place in the world I have travelled that instantly felt like home to me. And omakase is the way to go at any self-respecting Japanese establishment :) I'm 100% sure this will be on our dining itinerary.

    Also re: Minibar, I'm a big fan of wine but my wife doesn't drink much of it so we usually end up getting away cheaper from the higher-end places.

    OH MY GOD!!! This post is fabulous! Between you and @kvetcha I will have more places to try than days on this fun little excursion. Thank you so much. And you can bet your sweet bippity that I'll be shooting an invite out your way to join us for a little midday adult beverage.

    Ok, now to dive into the specifics. In regards to your opinion on Minibar; how do you feel it stacks up to other chef flagship restaurants (French Laundry, Bouchon, Alinea, Robuchon, etc.)? Most of them are priced way too high but my experiences with Alinea and French Laundry in particular keep getting me to try these types of places. Also, I am totally going to check out Komi. What's their res situation like? Moderate, Difficult, or bribe someone famous territory?

    Based upon the fine dining info I'll have to make reservations soon for most places.

    Also, thank you for telling me where not to go. Or to go there but only in certain circumstances. That is every bit as helpful since avoiding tourist traps are sometimes difficult without a local sherpa to guide you.

    Fizzy wine and pizza? You know my heart. Every time we go to Monterey we do something similar on the first and last night we are there. Fantastic rec.

    Wrecka stows are also on the itinerary so thanks for the hook-up there.

    Beer fan also checking in. Churchkey also sounds like my kind of jam. I'll have to look up what types of beer are exclusive to the area. Last time we were in Chicago I ended up having to pack and mail 2 large boxes full of beer back that I couldn't get here in AZ. I'll more than likely be skipping that little adventure this time but drinking it is absolutely on tap ;)

    I love my nightlife. We're home-bodies as well at home. But when we travel we try to sleep as little as possible (unless we're going to somewhere with a nice beach) so I can see us hitting up some wonderful events into the wee hours of the morning.

    Botanical Gardens. CHECK! Echo will love that so I'll add it to the list of things to do during the day.

    SO MUCH TO PLAN. You've both helped me out tremendously. Thank you so much. I'm so excited.
     
  13. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    Also @kvetcha, my fingers are crossed for you on the upcoming home purchase. We just got finished with that and I totally know how you feel. Such a pain in the ass.
     
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  14. teee

    teee Well-Known Member

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    Komi and Minibar are on the same level as each other.

    I would say Minibar is akin to Alinea in that they both experiment with food. It isn't traditional by any means. I had a foie gras cappuccino (clearly I went before I became vegetarian), foie gras wrapped in cotton candy, a sugar lightbulb, that kind of thing.

    But I like Komi so much more. I went once as a meat eater and once as a vegetarian. The food is just phenomenal - Greek inspired. It's more straight forward but perfectly executed. That's just my personal choice. Read about both. Komi reservations can be difficult to get - just give it a try on their site. Looks like they advertise on their site if they have open spots:

    upload_2017-5-31_17-48-44.png


    I would say your expensive options are: Komi, Rasika, Pineapples and Pearls, and MiniBar. With Rasika being more manageable because it isn't a set price/menu. Pineapples is the same chef as Rose's. I haven't been to Pineapples but have heard nothing but great things. And after the amazing meals I've had at Rose's, I don't doubt it.

    The mid range are: Rose's, The Red Hen, Zaytinya, Cork. (And if you decide on Rose's, let me know, I'll tell you the things that aren't on the menu that they will make for you if you ask). Rose's and Cork don't take reservations. Rose's line to get in can start an hour before they open.

    Cheapest: 2 Amy's, Bar Pilar, Churchkey, Ben's (dirt cheap), Ethiopian, jumbo slice.

    There are plenty of clubs in DC. Plenty of them. I'm not a club person - I won't stand in line for someone to judge if I'm acceptable enough to enter. The only club I've gone to in recent years is Town and it is a gay club. It's totally fun. The drinks are expensive and weak (just like any club really).

    I'm not sure about some of the places K mentioned.
     
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  15. kvetcha

    kvetcha Well-Known Member

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  16. TheWhale22

    TheWhale22 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not from DC but visited recently so I'll throw these 2 recommendations into the mix:

    Kramerbooks - It's a bookstore and a bar on Dupont Circle.

    Right Proper Brewing Company - Pretty chill brewery in the Shaw neighborhood.
     
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  17. teee

    teee Well-Known Member

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    Excellent choices!!

    @Tyr - this is a great book store! I'll also recommend Politics and Prose. And right next to it is Comet Ping Pong. Yes, that very Comet - the one the orange nation decided was the home of a secret child sex ring (spoiler alert: it isn't). My band has played there. Good food and there are ping pong tables.

    Right Proper is a better brewery than DC Brau, so yes, great picks Whale person!
     
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  18. SLeeK

    SLeeK Well-Known Member

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    I'm not cheap, I've dropped in the $300's on a nice dinner. With that said my buddy and his wife dropped over a grand at minibar. I can't wrap my head around spending that on a dinner, maybe you can. Just a little insight.
     
  19. teee

    teee Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I, personally, wouldn't go to Minibar again. I went before all of the price increases.

    If you're jones-ing for a Jose Andreas experience, I'd do Barmini for drinks followed by dinner at Zaytinya. They are within walking distance of each other.
     
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  20. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    AWESOME! Thanks again @teee74 for the info. I think a good mix of mid range and a night out at one of the upper end places will be in our itinerary.

    Yeah, we're not necessarily club-y people but I do like to dance (ask Sev). Mellow bars with live music is more our speed. Also, Echo is like a gay guy magnet so we always end up at gay clubs anyway for drinks. Its never a planned thing, it always just seems to happen.

    Love this. Thank you. That is exactly how I see omakase. Excited for that.

    BOOKSTORE!!! Thanks for the rec. We always try and hit up interesting bookstores when traveling.

    Totally understand. I don't mind paying for high priced dinners once in awhile as long as they are worth it and are mind-blowing experiences. From the feedback, it does not seem like MiniBar lives up to that level of dining experience. Will probably take a pass on that.
     

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