Friday Question of the Day – Where Was Your Favorite Meal in DC?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ken_1001

I’m gonna be a little selfish for today’s FQotD because I have a birthday coming up and I’m curious where some of your most memorable meals have been in the DC area? I’m not talking about most expensive, just most memorable. It could be something like Thai X-ing or it can be more high end like Komi. What jumps straight to your head when someone asks you – where is the best meal you’ve ever had in DC?

For me, in 13 years here, my favorite meal remains one I had at Obelisk (2029 P St NW). But I’m looking for a new one this year. Where should I go?

134 Comment

  • It’s a cliche for a reason – Komi.

    • That was my birthday meal this year and I can’t wait to go again. The food was amazing and both the food and the service style are like Inn at Little Washington, but about 1/2 to 1/3 of the price and no crazy long drive.

      But if you go to Inn at Little Washington, the Tin of Sin is the best.thing.ever.

  • The duck at Acadiana.

  • Marrakech in Mt. Vernon Square is quite the experience, if you have 3 hours to spare. 7 courses, a belly dancer, magic tea tricks. Great place for a birthday or other kind of celebration.

    • I loathe that place. They turn the lights off and crank the music to a painful volume when the bellydancer comes out. You literally cannot hear or see ANYthing except some gal who took a class at the Y. I would have walked out, except it was too dark to find the door, and too loud to tell my friends where I was going.

  • I’ve loved Komi and Citronelle.

  • minibar!

  • Laboratorio. Hands down. RIP.

    I also highly recommend Marrakesh for celebratory meals.

  • Acadiana NYE 2008-09

  • Equinox. impeccable service and delicious food.

  • I love the CTown Express. It smells like urine, but the food is so dang good and cheap.

    Sing Ha while waiting for my take out noodles and dumplings……………….pure heaven.

  • For fancy Obelisk. Been years, but it looks like it is still good!!

  • it’s not particularly trendy, but i love bistro d’oc every time i go there. especially on colder nights like these. happy birthday PoP.

  • since of you said favorite meal and not favorite restaurant, i’m going to have to go with taylor gourmet sandwiches.

  • seven fingers of whiskey and four vicodin.

  • Truffle tasting menu at Galileo’s Laboratorio a few years back. (Don’t confuse this with an endorsement of the current — extremely mediocre at first impression) incarnation of Galileo III).

  • it’s not fancy or trendy but every meal I have at Dino is great.

    • it is excellent – a while back, it wasn’t as good, but every time I go, I leave happy and with wonderful food memories. It’s a great restaurant.

  • The best meal I’ve ever had was a dozen fresh oysters on the half shell at the Maine Avenue Fish Market.

  • I highly recommend Sei and Oya. And if you’re looking for something a bit different, I’d definitely give Eola a try. My entire birthday meal there was fantastic…from the amuse bouche of pig’s heart to their stilton ice cream for dessert…the entire meal was amazing! Great, intimate environment, as well.

  • I’d have to say every single meal I have at Rasika. It’s just so good. The service is excellent, the menu changes often enough, and it’s probably my favorite place in DC.

  • I love Social in columbia heights–they have a wonderful mushroom with goat cheese plate that is delicious!It is a laid back feeling with good plates to share and good wine.

    I also love cork, delicious avocado on toasted bread with olive oil and crushed pistachios.

    • Huge supporter of Social, but thoroughly bummed out by every meal I’ve eaten there. Fish tacos were virtually inedible (tortilla’s were cold and had the texture of having been refrigerated for too long… where the tortilla starts to fall apart and get mealy) and the guac tasted bland and like it had been scraped straight out of plastic bag. VERY disappointing.

  • DC Coast BABY!! Best Swordfish

  • I love Cashions! Make sure you get the sweetbreads.

  • The tasting menu at Restaurant Eve was fantastic. By far my most memorable meal was at The Inn at Little’s like theater.

  • This isn’t fancy or trendy, but my favorite meal I’ve had in DC was Father’s Day Brunch at Old Ebbitt Grill last year. Great food, great service, great day.

  • Komi. Probably the best meal I’ve had anywhere.

  • Cityzen in the Mandarin Oriental.

    • +1 and if you dine at the bar you can get 3 courses of amazing food for $50 which sounds exhorbitant until you taste it. Best high end dining bargin in the city.

    • i agree. wife and i got the vegetarian tasting menu with wine pairing one anniversary. it just blew me the hell away. utterly perfect and fantastic.

      we’ll do the bar option the next time we go.

  • Citronelle

  • minibar was already mentioned, but that was probably the most tasty, interesting and memorable meals I have ever had (also the most expensive). Definitely something you should do once if you can.

    I also second Marrakesh at Mt Vernon Square. As far as making Dinner an event, that is probably the best place. Food is great and its a fun experience.

    It is currently closed, but Vegetate was my favorite restaurant and a great place for a more laid back but amazing meal. Hopefully they re open one of these days.

  • Central. The service is impeccable and the food is outstanding (without breaking the bank).

  • If money is no object, Komi. Equally memorable but less expensive, Cashion’s. Before it sucked, Creme’s short ribs were my favorite dish in town. I have heard very good things about Ripple in Cleveland Park, so I’ll be going there for my birthday!

  • Et Voila in the Palisades. I have always had great experiences there. It is my comfort food without the grease and large portions, oh and no mama’s meatloaf. You can easily get a great dinning experience for two, below $100. My wife and I went the very first day it opened, and have been going back ever since. I don’t like/let people eat off of my plate but at Et Voila I make the exception because I want to try my group’s food too!!

  • Out of curiousity, PoP, what made Obelisk your most memorable? Food? Guests? Atmosphere?
    For me I’d say Kinkade’s was most memorable (as it was one of the last meals I had in DC with my mom). Marcel’s was the best tasting meal.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Combination of all the above. Plus Italian is my favorite.

      • In that case, I’d recommend Bibiana or Acqua al 2.

      • Acqua al 2 still has a huge problem with service and communication between the kitchen and servers. I’ve been three times, and have had far too many issues with some appetizers coming an hour before they came for others, wrong dishes coming out, asking for the check four times, and if you eat inside the music is unbearably loud and dreadful. Food is superb, if you actually get it within three hours. The cheesecake is the best I’ve ever had.

        • I eat there a lot – more than I should, but it’s way too close to my house and the CHAMPS office, where I work a lot of the time – and I agree, the service is spotty as hell. But the nights when it’s on, it’s awesome. But hoo boy – when it’s bad, it’s awful. I like to eat at the bar, and I waited for 20 minutes to get a hello from the bartender one night.

          That said, I know that they’re really working on this and last Saturday night, the night of the Fear/Sanity Rally, I went with a group of friends and it was awesome. Our waitress was both attentive and absolutely hilarious and she totally rolled with our punchy, loud, boisterous mood.

          I will keep going back because the food is incredible and the geography suits me, but the service is really spotty still. I’d be pissed if I came across time and hit them on a bad night. Even the pumpkin farfalle and blueberry filet aren’t worth it on a night that the service is in the toilet.

      • Bibiana is great if Italian is your thing.

  • TO me the best meal is simple, average cost and served in a pleasant environment.

    Beau Thai on R Street get the Seafood Rice. It will burn your mouth out but that is the best part!

    Luna Cafe on P street start with the Luna Moons they are out of this world

    Pasha Grill on 17th Street try the mixed grill with fries, ask for extra Pita and Tzatziki

    Dupont Italian Kitchen on 17th street try the Chicken Parm and ask for a Cesar side salad instead of linguine

    Trio’s Restaurant on 17th street the Calamari is the best in the city then go for a Bacon Swiss Mushroom Burger or Fettuccine Carbonara

    Finally the Rib Pitt on 14th street for slap your momma good bbq try a platter or jr meal, either is too big for one person, pulled pork, beef or pork ribs and the sliced beef are all great, side suggestions greens and mac n cheese add a touch of salt to taste since it is all take out anyway

    That should hold you for a month or two, enjoy!

    • I second Luna. They have the best pizza in DC. Their sauce is spicy and sweet. And Beau Thai is awesome as well.

  • Restaurant Nora on New Years Eve 2005. And Komi, by god.

  • Every time my parents are in town we make sure to have a special meal at Brasserie Beck. The service is wonderful, the food superb!

  • Komi is always an experience and the atmosphere is so warm that it’s perfect for fall evenings. Chef Monis works some magic, and if it’s available, get the suckling pig – divine!
    20 bites @ Poste was also a lot of fun – sitting at the bar actually becomes very intimate, and the service was incredible. The wine pairings were spot on too.

    Enjoy and happy early birthday!

  • Palena’s. The restaurant part in back not the bar.

    • +1
      Love the Dining Room (back) of Palena. Great food, great service. Dinner for 2 w/ drinks usually about $250.

      Also, they have the best Manhattan in the city. I think it is the Italian cherries they use.

  • For me the best places to get an excellent meal without breaking the bank are Zaytinya and Dino – both always excellent.

    As for the really great restaurants – I hardly ever blow that much on a meal, but the place I really want to try is Citronelle. And also the new upscale version of Sushi Taro.

    • Personally, I wasn’t as impressed with the new upscale Sushi Taro as I was with the old pre-rehab version (though it may have been because I was hungry and could only afford about 12 ounces of their upscale-priced food).

  • minibar by far. better than komi. Also just went to Cityzen this week and thought that was amazing too.

  • I LOVED Hook, but I’m a big (sustainable) seafood fan. Their Arctic Char was heaven on a plate, and the desert melted in my mouth.

    Brunch at Tabbard Inn is always a good time.

    I’m a huge fan of Bistro du Coin, especially their mussels.

  • Birch and Barley.

  • Most memorable – Thai X-ing especially now with the chef’s menu and can’t beat BYO

    Best deal – hispanic food market at Euclid and Columbia, the taco stand 2 down from the back corner across from city bikes serves ceviche tostadas for $4.50 – tell me where else in the city you can get that.

  • The food at DC Coast is pretty great, but the atmosphere is stuffy.
    The atmosphere at Zaytinya is great, especially if you can sit up on the mezzanine, but the food is only so-so.

    I’ve had really enjoyable meals at Poste in the Hotel Monaco, Oyamel, and Montmartre in Eastern Market.

    • I just went to Oyamel for the first time for my birthday last week. Appreciated it because I got to experience a lot of flavor combinations I hadn’t had before, like cerviche with rose and vanilla and sea salt!

  • +1000 on Et Voila. Wish I had discovered that place earlier. Mussels on par with B. Beck without the noise and downtown parking challenges. -1000 on Hook. Horribly overpriced and oversalted fish. I’ve had better from Trader Joe’s.

  • Been here 5 years and still haven’t had a meal that really blew me away.

    • Plus one hmm. It seems like you can get blown away for 120-150 bucks a head for a full meal (Komi, Citronelle, etc.), but at that price, you’d BETTER be blown away. What D.C. desperately needs is several more places with entrees priced in the 25-40 dollar range that are still consistently spectacular, so you can get out of there with a tab of around 120-150 bucks for a COUPLE (even that is a special occasion price for most, but a lot cheaper than Komi, et. al.). It can be done at that price point, just not sure why it doesn’t happen here.

      • I do a lot of home cooking and while I don’t mind paying for something I can make at home, I do expect good service and a pleasant atmosphere in return. I haven’t had any luck finding a place that has it all (though I’ll admit I haven’t tried any of the 100+/meal places). Many of the restaurants others have mentioned are so noisy it’s a struggle to make conversation with the person across the table– not my idea of a positive dining experience.

  • Selam at 1524 U St. Amazing Eritrean food (like Ethiopian but better) served by the nicest family you’ll ever meet. I go every year for my birthday.

  • Komi, Palena, Corduroy.

  • Acadiana; Siroc a close second for their homemade pasta.

    • Siroc’s pasta is amazing, but I don’t think the rest of the restaurant lives up to the special occasion billing.

  • mini bar is great, except you need to make a reservation a good 2 months in advance… but on the similar note, Cafe Atlantico sunday brunch, the latin dim-sum, still stands as one of my personal favorite meals…

  • No one has mentioned Marcel’s in Foggy Bottom, which I thought was really fantastic, although a bit stuffier / more formal than I typicaly prefer. Probably the tastiest overall meal I’ve eaten in D.C., very course was stellar. I have yet to spring for Komi, Citronelle, Minibar or Volt, which seem to be the big four (the last being in Fredericksburg) for local foodies.

    Otherwise, hard to pick out one truly memorable meal, although I’ve always had consistently good experiences at Rasika and Sushi Ko, and Corduroy generally has excellent food, and I much prefer the setting since they moved to Convention Center area. For bang for the buck, I’ll go with Bar Pilar, best fairly cheap meal in the area in my view.

  • Annual Oyster Riot at Old Ebbit Grill – all you can eat oysters – usually at least 40 varieties – and all you can drink wine. If you are a hard-core oyster fan (can easily eat 50+) it is heaven. Whatever the opposite of PTSD is – you will have it for days after.

  • the short ribs at the source are phenomenal. i’ve also had memorable meals at citronelle, cafe atlantico, and zaytinya.

  • Corduroy. Everything at Corduroy.

  • Bistro Italiano. Best pizza outside of Italy. Their pasta dishes are top notch and priced right too.

  • Brasserie Beck, Central, Ray’s the Steaks

    • Ditto on Ray’s the Steaks. The bar menu at Ray’s the classics in silver spring is probably the best value in the area and they have the hell burger there.

  • Most enjoyable meal probably Brasserie Beck for atmosphere, beer, and pretty good food. The new Kushi Izakaya is pretty yummy and my best sushi recently. Best sushi ever was at Sushi Taro but Sushi Ko is more consistently good. Really like the Oval room.

    • Also, I think the restaurant scene generally is overpriced and overrated in DC. Every place thinks they are a 4-5 star and gladly charge those prices while few actually measure up. I have enjoyed the renaissance in the DC restaurant scene but just think that it needs more places that are priced closer to their true quality.

  • Singapore noodles at Li Ho Food. A nice hole in the wall, cash only, devoid of pretense and “foodies”.

  • Black Salt…eat in the more casual bar area. definitely the most memorable meal i’ve ever had in DC.

    but my all time fave restaurant in DC is still Zaytinya. has been consistently delicious and great every time i’ve been there.

  • Rasika, Ris was great and wonderful service! Birch and Barley boozy brunch!

  • I’m with others; there’s a reason you have to make reservations months in advance to get in to Minibar. I also like several other options mentioned (Citronelle, Acqua al 2, Komi, Rasika).

    My two favorites that haven’t been mentioned yet are Plume and, for a less expensive, but still delicious option, The Chesapeake Room.

    • While I love their pizza, the service is just awful – the last four times we’ve ordered from there they either haven’t put our order in or got it completely wrong when we come to pick it up. I’ve moved on to Pete’s-a-pizza and red rocks.

  • Sticky Rice, Dino, Birch and Barley, Hank’s, Meridian, Rice,

    • I just got around to trying Sticky Rice. Their mock chicken was tasty, but my dining partner and I both felt they went overboard with the sauce. Since the difference between a good stir-fry and a crappy stir-fry depends almost enitrely on the chef’s ability to not drown it, I wasn’t impressed.

      Rice is great though! My favorite Thai place. I like that they get a little creative with the menu (without going down the “Asian Fusion” path, which is usually not good), and that they have a full page of seasonal offerings.

      • Sticky Rice SUX! The service. The wannabe Richmond white trash food. The wannabe stuck panasian waitresses. And the hipster karyoke(especially that). Epic fail.

        • Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the service. Everyone seemed kind of spaced out and detached. Not personable at all.

      • i love sticky rice to death, but not even close to the best dc has. its just a fun place to go with fun food.
        i went for lunch a few weeks ago and it took about 2 hours for no explicable reasons. just lots of i’m sorry from the waitress.

  • Oya and Central are two of my favorites. Capital Grille is also pretty outstanding (especially after two or three stoli-dolees.)

  • Holy moly, PoP readers are a fancy crowd! Komi? Minibar? Maybe in 20 years! For now, it’s all about pizza: Bismarck at Posto, Edge of the Woods at Pete’s, Margherita at 2Amys, La Capra at Moroni Bros, and the Yalie at Ping Pong. Now I’m hungry.

    • I walked into Komi once, but their menu really did not look that great (price points aside). Should I give it another try?

  • Definitely NOT Bibiana!

  • Dinner- Rasika
    Brunch- Tabard Inn

    Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

  • Most momorable: Komi (for food and personal reasons)
    Really good every time: Dino, Palena, Central, Potenza, SEI, Rice
    New favorite: Kushi (I would definitely recommend this for a birthday dinner)

  • How has Blue Duck Tavern not been mentioned?! BDT, Rasika and 2941 (even though it’s in VA).

  • Most memorable: Rasika (it has been getting a lot of recent mentions in the Express; Haven’t been for over a year)

    Newer memories: Cafe Atlantico

  • Burrito Man on K at McPherson. Black & tan with mango salsa baby….!

  • Wow – I’ve eaten at many/most of these…faves Volt, Komi, Rest. Eve, Rasika, Central, Zaytina. Also try Cava (Barracks Row), Majestic Cafe (Alexandria) – there are so many great places in this area now, you’ll have a hard time deciding!! Happy Birthday –

  • kiki

    My vote is also for Komi. My bf’s client got us a gift certificate there and I’ve never been the same sense. And this is coming from a girl who ate at City Zen. The atmosphere, the attention to detail and the fact every part of the meal was something completely new to my taste buds. I only want to eat here for the rest of my life.

  • Market to Market at Poste. Very cool (also very pricey).

  • Huh, I went to Rasika once and remember the food being kind of heavy and not memorable. Maybe it’s because I’m used to fresh homemade Indian food? It’s getting so many votes of approval I think I’ll have to try it again!

    • i found it to be very fresh and light. and also not exactly traditional, which, in my mind, makes it more fun.

      their baigan bharta was the best i’ve ever had. and their yogurt marinated salmon is amazing.

  • Obelisk. Many of these places are great, especially Kinkead’s, Palena, and Poste. But, I think the best food experience is in fact Obelisk. It is a food experience, without feeling pretentious, and it’s a lot more intimate that some place like Zatinya. The burger at Ray’s the Steaks in Marshall Heights was incredible, though…

  • pcat

    There is nothing like Minibar. It is amazing! Sushi Taro has better sushi than I’ve had in SF, so that’s saying quite a lot. Citronelle is also amazing. 701 has a fabulous pre-theater deal — $30 for 3 courses until 6:45 PM.

  • The Source is consistently great and is fancy enough for a nice night out, but not nearly as expensive as Komi/CityZen/Citronelle.

    Art & Soul is also surprisingly great and not too expensive.

  • Lighthouse Tofu

    -Kimchi Beef XXXXX Spicy
    -Dumpling pan fried
    -Squid Noodle

    Its a weekly must for me!

    • SouthwestDC

      I live near Lighthouse Tofu; didn’t even know it existed until recently, when I was playing with the Urban Spoon app on my phone. Do you know if it has a decent selection of vegetarian options? One would think so with the name, but I’ve found that most Korean restaurants don’t.

  • There was a long time where I would have, like other posters, agreed that you couldn’t have a “great” meal in DC without breaking the bank. I’ve changed my tune over the last couple of years:

    Asia Nora (RIP): the best tuna tartare and wonderful mains.

    Dr. Granville Moore’s on H St NE: outstanding mussels, great atmosphere, excellent beer selection, not too pricey

    Pho 14: Just went there again last night… seriously comforting food on a cold day and ridiculously cheap (app and pho for 2 rings up at right around $20)

    Taqueria DF: I still go there, and it’s still good, but it used to be off the charts amazing. A carnitas burrito with green salsa circa 2007 was the highlight of my DC foodie experience.

    Greek Deli (19th St.): the lines are out the door at lunch time for a reason.

  • Central. Hands down.

    And Bistro Bis got no love. I’ve had two of the top ten best meals of my life here.

  • Great thread.

    I have much love for Cityzen, Central, and Vidalia. I have had wonderful meals at Inn at Little Washington and Citronelle. I have eaten at many of the finest restaurants on the East, West, and Lake Michigan coasts. But I’m not only fancy-pants: I love a good burger, half-smoke, slice, or taco.

    Still, if I could re-live just one meal before I shuffle off this mortal coil, it would be my second dinner at Komi. Multiple mezzathakia brought tears to my eyes, and the goat main dish remains a stunner. If you can get past the $$$ (and that’s no mean feat), Komi delivers the most perfect, emotionally satisfying dinner in town.

  • Brunch at Tabard Inn and dinner at Ris – always dependable with amazing food and service. Can’t be beat!

  • cityzen was by far the best meal i’ve ever had in dc.
    or really, just about anywhere.

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