9.26.2005

City Tips for a New Resident

When moving to a new city, it takes a while to find the local hangouts and learn about the hidden gems. (I thought Filomena was one of D.C.'s nicest restaurant when I moved here five years ago.) An NYC transplant and Metrocurean reader recently wrote with a list of things he's seeking in the District, and I thought Metrocurean and its readers could extend a warm D.C. welcome and help him out. Below are a few of his requests, followed by my suggestions. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.

Green markets?
Some of the city's best markets are run by FreshFarm Markets, whose mission is to build and strengthen the local food movement in the Chesapeake region. Their markets include the year-round Dupont market (Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.), the Penn Quarter market (Thursdays, 3-7 p.m., ending Nov. 17), and the new Foggy Bottom market (Wednesdays, 3-7 p.m., ending Oct. 26). The markets are producer-only, meaning the people who grew the food are the ones selling it to you. And Eastern Market's farmers line (weekends 8 a.m.-6 p.m.) is of course one of D.C.'s favorite spots for fresh veggies and flowers. The indoor South Hall Market (pictured) is a great spot to buy meats and cheeses.

Taco trucks?
Would you settle for a burrito hole-in-the-wall? The Well Dressed Burrito may be one of the city's most well-hidden restaurants. Located in a nondescript alley off 19th Street (look for the penguin sign), this popular lunch take-out spot is only open from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. In addition to burritos, they serve enchiladas, quesadillas and salads.

Really good cocktails?
Lucky for us, D.C. has some extremely talented bartenders, mixing up some very creative cocktails as well as quality classics. I'd direct a city newcomer to the bars at Firefly, IndeBleu, Oya, Palena and Restaurant Eve for well-made and always interesting choices. Derek Brown, who made his reputation manning the bar at Palena, is now at Firefly, helping concoct seasonal drinks. Todd Thrasher, Eve's sommelier, has attracted all kinds of attention with his mixology skills, including making his own tonic water. And though they're very pricey, Oya's infused rum cocktails, like the grilled pina colada and cilantro daiquiri, are out of this world.

Best cheese plate not in a hotel restaurant?
Dino and Sonoma, both newcomers, do a nice job with cheese plates, as do Komi and Palena. The no hotel restaurants stipulation rules out CityZen, Bistro Bis, Citronelle and the Inn at Little Washington (with its rolling cow cheese cart), all known for great cheese courses.

Reasonably priced and authentic French food?
Capitol Hill's Montmartre and Dupont's Bistro du Coin are my votes for this category. The former is a friendly, cheerful little spot with hearty French cooking; the latter is a raucous nonstop party where the lights are too bright and the food is no-frills authentic.

A nice place to have a glass of wine and sit outside?
A few ideas: the courtyard at the Tabard Inn, L'Enfant's prime people-watching patio, Tabaq's rooftop and the patio at Sette.

Best bartender to know?
See the above names in the cocktail discussion. I'd add to that the guys at U Street's Saloon. Also check out the Post's bartender of the month feature.

Good ethnic food markets?
You'll find a few Asian markets in Chinatown, but for the best selection, Northern Virginia is the place to be. The Super H Mart (10780 Lee Highway) is a local favorite. Also check out this list.

Your suggestions?

26 comments:

dclounger said...

I was never impressed with Well Dressed Burrito, I always thought it was too bland--though, the spy-like experience of dipping into that alley and into that (mostly) unmarked door is pretty alluring. I think there's a taco truck along K street during lunch time, though (around Farragut Square?). I'd recommend skipping the mexican requirement and heading to Pollo Rico, in arlington, for some peruvian chicken instead.

Keep up the great work with the site!

Sarah R. said...

I'd like to add a suggestion for reasonably priced French food. Head for L'Enfant at the corner of 18th & U St for a friendly indoor/outdoor atmosphere, excellent crepes and a fabulous Belgian beer happy hour on Tuesdays.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the only Asian grocery store/market in Chinatown (and DC)Dan Hua (sp?)closed down recently. There is a for lease sign on the building it occupied. So now, the only way to get my Korean food supplies is the burbs. Grand Market in Germantown, MD rocks.

Amanda said...

Great tips, all. Keep 'em coming.

I've heard great things about Pollo Rico but never made it out there. And I'll second L'Enfant for French food, though the selection is slim. I love going for a dessert of champagne and crepes.

Kriston said...

Ethiopian, natch. I'm partial to Dukem but feel pretty confident about most of Little Addis Ababa's options.

Brunch is another key category. I'd steer newcomers clear of St Ex now that the newer chef has implemented a fairly non-brunchy menu. (The fried green tomato sandwich is nice, but scallops in the early afternoon?) Duke City's brunch is quite good, lending itself toward the savory side. The New Orleans Cafe in Adams Morgan offers several novel Acadian takes on the poached egg with hollandaise.

Anonymous said...

Can we get a few more brunch recommendations (beyond the typical Perry's, Tabard, waterfront, ect)? I second Kriston's point on St Ex after having brunch there this past Sundahy (too rushed of an experience/short menu).

Chris said...

Gotta make sure that newcomers skip the mexican dishes in the local Salvadoran (mexican-sounding) restaurants. They just put those on the menu to get newbies in the door. Stick with the Slavadoran tasties like papousas (yum).

Amanda said...

I agree about Saint-Ex's brunch menu. All I ever get is french toast.

A few other noteworthy brunches: Montmartre, Cashion's, Firefly and Meze. U St.'s Mocha Hut has great waffles if they can get their service together. Hank's and Tabaq are two I'd like to try soon. And if you ever have a chance to do brunch at the Ritz, I highly recommend it. You can make multiple meals out of sitting there gorging yourself. (Not that that's in good taste, but hey, if ya like to eat...)

Anonymous said...

La Fourchette in Adam's Morgan has a fantastic and underrated brunch.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow NYC transplant, I'm always looking for a good brunch in DC. Tabaq has an awesome brunch with great variety and price points aren't bad. Also yummy is Colorado Kitchen with the homemade donuts. Jackie's in Silver Spring is pleasing (on Sunday a.m only) if you want to make the trek. Also, I'm not sure why, but SO many people are obsessed with Lauriol Plaza for brunch. I live right across the street and it's always packed with those craving expensive and mediocre food. Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

There's a GREAT taco truck on the corner of 16th and Columbia in Adams Morgan.

sarah r. said...

One more brunch suggestion -- Rosemary's Thyme Bistro at 18th & S. They have a large brunch menu, many of which are traditional items with a Mediterranian flair.

Chris said...

I'll add to the brunch list here. Think about JoJo on U St. Its a samll brunch menu, but it is also some of the best eggs I've had. They have a jazz band playing and the owner is very friendly.

Support the local small businesses!

Anonymous said...

Harry's Tap Room in Clarendon does a great brunch - on Saturdays and Sundays. For a few more bucks, you can also try the jazz brunch at Georgia Brown's and Bistro Bis - both are good, but a little more pricey.

The folks at Tallula in Clarendon are making some interesting cocktails and have an impressive selection of wines by the glass.

I would also echo Rosemary's Thyme Bistro as a great spot for a glass of wine - they have specials for happy hour.

Anonymous said...

There are other good farmers' markets. Mt Pleasant on Saturdays 9-1, (Mt Pleasant Street, Lamont and 17th, Arlington Farmers' Market Saturdays 8-12 on Courthouse Rd and Takoma Park Sundays 12-2pm in the center of Takoma Park, Maryland. All are excellent.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any suggestions about a good place to get crabs around here?

New from NYC said...

Thanks for all the great tips, this gives me lots to explore. I've had mixed luck with Salvadoran food in the Dupont area, but I've found that if you order smart at Lauriol you can get a good meal together (Chicken w/Peruvian sauce).

The only other question I have is where to find specialty shops like Italian grocers or cheese mongers. Tips appreciated!

Amanda said...

Check out the Italian Store and Cheesetique and get ready for Cowgirl next spring.

Amanda said...

Another thought for Italian groceries: Litteri's.

Amanda said...

For the anonymous commenter looking for crabs: do you mean to cook yourself or eat at a restaurant? For the former, head to the Maine Ave. seafood wharf for all the crabs you could hope for. You can buy them live or cooked. For the latter, I like Jimmy Cantler's in Annapolis and closer to home, the Quarter Deck, the Dancing Crab and Bethesda Crab House are all very divey spots for cracking crabs.

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