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National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

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National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

Hi there, newbie here. Still in the early info absorption stage, just barely oriented.

We're coming next weekend and staying near the mall, doing the Smithsonians (as many as we can last) and holocaust museum. I see that our hotel is seemingly in a food wasteland--some delis but they are all closed for the weekend.

If we wanted to have a good but not overly dressy dinner Saturday night, what would be a good area to choose? We will have access to a car but I'm not clear on whether that's a good idea, I assume parking is iffy anywhere there is good food? I'd like something modern American and gastro-pub-ish, or failing that a REALLY good burger. (I'm a fan of fine dining but my companions will not be interested in dressing up, so I'll settle for something delicious.)

Thai would be a possible alternative. We live in an area with dismal Asian food, so it wouldn't be hard to impress us.

Thanks in advance.

Rockville, Maryland
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1. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

What is your hotel?

Washington DC...
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2. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

I suggest the area bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue on the South, H Street on the North, 6th Street on the East, and 9th Street on the West. My favorite restaurants within that area are the three Jose Andres venues: Oyamel, Jaleo, and Zaytinia. There are other good ones, as well.

Washington DC...
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3. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

Which hotel are you staying at?

Whichever it is, I would plan to take a taxi or public transportation. Driving yourself is generally more hassle than it's worth.

I'm guessing from context clues that you may be staying near L'Enfant Plaza. If so, the restaurants of Penn Quarter are an easy choice, as that neighborhood is just across the Mall - you can walk in decent weather, taxi, Metro, or take the bus up/down 7th Street. A few ideas in PQ that come to mind are The Source by Wolfgang Puck (Asian-inspired Continental), Proof (American/wine bar), and Rasika (loud but delicious Indian). Also 701 (quietish American) or Poste (American, in the Hotel Monaco).

It's very easy to get around DC generally, so don't feel limited to areas near your hotel. You might like Birch and Barley (modern American/gastropubby) on 14th Street or Blue Duck Tavern (modern American) in the West End. For those two, I'd cab it there and back, as they're not right near a Metro station. Right by the White House (Farragut West Metro) I also love Oval Room (modern American) and Bombay Club (Indian). And my favorite Italian anywhere in the city is Bibiana, near the Metro Center Metro station.

All of these places are nice and upscale but not dressy-formal.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

Ah, I also second the trio of Zaytinya, Jaleo, and Oyamel! Yum.

Arlington, Virginia
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5. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

Some terrific recommendations in the thread so far. While I agree you should take public transit to any of the food options folks have listed within DC, if you want Thai specifically, and you do indeed have a car, you can head across the river to Bangkok 54 on Columbia Park in Arlington. They have free parking, and I think it's worth a visit. Even my friends who have favorite Thai places elsewhere in the area have raved about this place. I would not recommend it on a Friday evening, as traffic will be a problem between downtown and Columbia Pike, but on a Saturday or Sunday it should only take you 10 to 15 minutes.

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6. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

Thank you, I didn't expect so many quick responses.

I wasn't trying to be intentionally vague, staying at the Residence Inn DC Capitol. (The suite setup and price was right.) My assessment of the food situation was mostly done via mapping out the area with google maps--I see a pizza place and then a bunch of delis that are closed on weekends.

Checking out links now.

Washington DC...
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7. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

When the price of a hotel is cheaper than most, there is a reason. The hotels in SW DC are cheaper because of the dead location after offices close. But you aren't that far from the vibrant and good restaurant area of Penn Quarter/Chinatown, which is only a very short Metro ride away from L'Enfant Metro station via the Green of Yellow lines. Or a pretty cheap taxi ride. But with Metro you can get to many choices easily.

Washington DC...
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8. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

And try to make reservations on opentable. Popular restaurants may not have any tables available on a saturday night. Zaytinia is great, one of many small plates restaurants in DC, good for groups of people. My favorite tapas place is Estadio on 14th st nw, spanish food. If you want some amazing home cooked thai food, check out thai x-ing. Its a fixed price meal, you get a ton of food, and its byob. Make reservations now though! They have their own website.

Lighthouse Point...
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9. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

Does Birch and Barley serve lunch? I can't find a lunch menu on their website.

Washington DC...
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10. Re: National Mall-centric trip--dining strategy?

This isn't a National Mall related strategy, but something else that is easy to access from your hotel. Consider jumping on the orange/blue line metro near your hotel to head to the Eastern Market metro stop. This is a neighborhood on the eastern side of Capitol Hill. Once there, you have the many restaurants of DC's Barrack's Row for options. Some of the best are Aqua Al 2 (great Italian), Cava (Middle Eastern), Belga (Amazing Belgian mussels) and many other options. All of these places also serve lunch. Just an alternative to the Penn Quarter or downtown neighborhood. It will be an easy taxi ride back to your hotel, or just a short metro ride.