DjangoCon 2012 - Eating in DC

13 August 2012

A caveat: When I'm eating in DC, it's usually because there's a Capitals game going on. I have very deep knowledge of the food options near the Verizon center and that's about it. Happily, DC people are heavy users of Yelp and such, so finding the good places isn't too difficult.

I highly recommend making reservations if you can. DC is unpredictable. I've walked into a restaurant on Friday night and found it dead. I've gone back a few weeks later on a Tuesday, and it's jammed. You don't know when conferences will be in town, so just save yourself some heartache and use Open Table.

That said, here's my list of places to eat and drink in DC!

Near the hotel

The hotel is near quite a bit of food. Some of the restaurants are chains (though higher-quality chains) and some are family owned.

    My favorites:
  • Kabob Place - As many commenters from my last post said, OH MY GOD. This place is awesome. Fantastic kabobs, and now they have a sit-down restaurant along side the original. You get a ton of food, but prepare to wait.
  • Ted's Montana Grill- A chain, but I've yet to be disappointed there. Get the buffalo, no matter what you do.
  • Cafe Pizzaiolo- Awesome pizza, and a great selection of beer for such a tiny place. Also, some good gelato.
  • Legal Seafood- It's fish, it's reliably good.
  • Cold Stone- Ice cream is a valid dinner choice.
  • Jaleo- Tapas. A bit pricey, but they have some options that aren't as bad.
  • Harar Mesob- Awesome Ethopian. Do this one family style.
  • Cafe Italia- Excellent Italian, with gluten-free options.
  • Neramitra - It's okay Thai. I love the pad see ew. They have outdoor seating. The portions are plentiful, so this may be a way to stretch your food budget without hitting up McDonalds.

Let's go to the city!

The city is a short metro ride away. I highly recommend making the trek at least once.


Um, this is awkward. See, we have a Chinatown... and we put a stadium in the middle of it. As a result, our Chinatown isn't what most people expect. We have a Ruby Tuesdays with Chinese calligraphy all over it. It's a bit weird.

It's still a great place to go grab something to eat. There's a ton of restaurants down there, and they range from the extremely pricey to the fairly cheap. If I'm with a group of mixed gastrointestinal needs, I'll head to Chinatown.

    My favorites:
  • Clydes- This is a good one when your group's budget is mixed. They have oysters on the half-shell alongside some reasonable salads and sandwiches. I will eat the hell out of their buffalo chicken sandwich when under the weather.
  • The Chophouse- Steak! Also, an old-school bar that I love to go to.
  • Rosa Mexicano- Great Mexican (you probably guessed the Mexican part).
  • Oyamel- A tapas place that isn't too bad, wallet-wise.
  • Fado- A very pub-like pub. If there's proper football on, you can see it there, along with all the other hooligans.
  • Gordon Biersch - Beer and American style food. Try the fried artichoke hearts.


If you're visiting the Mall, do yourself a favor and DO NOT eat on the Mall. It's expensive. Walk a few blocks away.

  • Fogo de Chao- A Brazillian bar-b-que. They walk around with swords full of meat and cut it off onto your plate. You can just get the salad bar, which was heart enough to feed the vegetarians in our group, the last time I took some there.
  • Capital City Brewing Company- They have beer!
  • Elephant and Castle- A pub with a nice range of prices
  • Old Ebbit Grill- They have oysters and a pretty nice price spread.
  • Teaism - Bento boxes! I adore this place. There's seating downstairs, so don't worry if it looks crowded up top.

Also recommended, for those wanting to put on fancy clothes, is The Capital Grille.

Old Town Alexandria

If, for some reason, you don't want to go to the city, take the metro down to King Street. There, you'll be in Old Town Alexandria. Lots of shopping, bars, and privately owned restaurants. This is a quieter option for those that don't want to be in the city (DC really isn't that busy, though, unless you're driving).

Food trucks

We have food trucks! Though the conference provides lunch, it can be fun to go track one of these down instead. Also, many are open for breakfast as well.

They move around from day to day, so check out Food Truck Fiestafor what's going on by us that day.

I'm ________

Paleo: Many restaurants will have some sort of meat 'n' veggies option. Retro Rays seems to be popular with the paleo crowd, though, and the buffalo at Ted's is grass-fed. And really, you can't go wrong with Fago de Chao.

Vegan: I rarely dine with vegans in DC. Most of my friends in the area are vegetarian, and that's completely different when looking for a restaurant. Happily, Urban Spoonhas a list for you! I can highly recommend 2Amys, Clydes, and Busboys and Poets.

Gluten-free: Many places around here offer gluten-free options. Urban Spoononce again comes through with a list of GF places.

Triple D likes...

These places!

I need to do this on the cheap

Every year, The Washingtonian Magazine puts together a list of Cheap Eatsfor the DC area. It's seriously worth checking out. I recommend hitting Five Guys if you can. This goes double for you West Coasters, so you can compare it to In-N-Out.

Next time!

How to Metro!


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1 Rosie says...

Two of my favorite places to eat in the city are Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan and Zaytinya in Chinatown. The falafelshop is cheap, open until 4am, makes great falafel with an incredible toppings bar, also frites. Zaytinya is a delicious Mediterranean tapas place with a bright and lively atmosphere, and it's not too pricey either, especially considering the quality of the food there. You might want to call ahead for Zaytinya - if they're busy, there can be a wait for a table.

Posted at 4:25 p.m. on August 13, 2012

2 Ben says...

FYI, your link for "medina kabob" is taking people to woodbridge. Maybe you mean this one: Also, call-aheads are a good idea here.

Oh and U Street is a cool place with good restaurants too. Ben's Chili bowl is certainly an icon, if you're into that sort of thing, but there are a lot of other options there too.

Posted at 8 a.m. on August 15, 2012

3 Katie says...

D'Oh! Thanks Ben! I updated the link.

And I think I will have to add a section on U Street. I was getting bloggers fatigue :)

Posted at 8:50 a.m. on August 15, 2012

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