The first night we were there, we fell into a long nap after driving 8 hours and woke up around 9 p.m. absolutely starving. I had done some restaurant research and we went to Hank’s Oyster Bar and Grill for fried oyster dinner. Seafood is a real treat for us, as we live in the land-locked MidWest. Oh boy, this was delicious! I am not usually a fan of fried food, but the oysters were so plump and perfectly cooked, they were divine. The cole slaw was not mayonnaise based, which is my preference, more a tangy oil and vinegar dressing, but very good nonetheless. A definite recommendation if you are in the mood for good seafood. I understand we were pretty lucky in that we got there at 9 p.m. and just sauntered right in. It is very packed during normal dinner hours.
We stayed in DuPont Circle area - We asked the concierge about buses, and took the #42 bus running to within 3 blocks of the FBI building. We found our new BFF, Paul Bakery, where we had breakfast of quiche, fruit, delicious coffee and bought some Palmiers for later. Breakfast for 2 was $26 with snacks for later, not exactly cheap but definitely tasty. Paul is also located near the Archives Metro, which makes it very conveniently located to a lot of the museum on Pennsylvania Ave. and the upper part of the Mall.
After breakfast, on to the National Gallery of Art, East & West. DD and I both love Impressionist art, and we focused on the beautiful azalea display in the rotunda as well as all the Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, etc. In hindsight, this would have been a better place to have lunch than the Air & Space Musuem, but we didn’t know that at the time. In fact, the food trucks offering hot dogs and churros would probably also have been a better choice. The only choices available at the A&S were McDonald’s and Donato’s Pizza. I chose a cesar salad with chicken and DD had chicken nuggets. It was $20 for a truly regrettable lunch. Don’t make our mistake, go elsewhere.
For dinner Friday evening, we chose Bistro la Bonne on U Street where we both had steak and frites ($17 seemed a good price for this). We had 7:30 p.m. dinner reservations and got a little worried when not many people were in the restaurant. DC must be a late dining town, because by the time we left it was packed. DD had a lobster bisque starter that she said was OK, not terrific. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was my dessert – an apple strudel. I guess I pictured a warm, puff pastry apple strudel and this was a very modern deconstruction, not to my taste. DD had a mocha chocolate confection, which was finger licking good indeed.
Saturday we chose to visit the Newseum and International Spy Musuem. We began our breakfast again at Paul, it was so tasty and just so darn convenient to where we were going. DD had a turkey sandwich on baguette and I had the leek tart. Again, $26 for breakfast for 2. Lunch at the Newseum was slightly better than the previous days’ A&S museum. The Newseum offered a cafeteria with both cold and hot lunch options. Perhaps we chose badly, but we weren’t impressed with the quality of the food and the $25 price tag for lunch for 2 seemed excessive.
After the Spy museum, we made an hour long stop at the National Portrait Gallery across the street and then we walked a couple of blocks over to Bistro d’Oc, across from Ford’s Theatre, another restaurant I found on Yelp. Our theme for the trip was French bistro food and seafood, both treats for us. DD started her meal with a bowl of lobster/crab bisque, garnished with a coconut ginger crème, and me with a traditional onion soup. The steamed mussels in white wine were outstanding and the delicious French Fries tasted like they had been fried in lard (yum yum!). I had an order of ris de veau (veal sweetbreads) in puff pastry, something no one would offer in my hometown. We shared a chocolate dacquoise cake. DD took pictures of the food, which I think the restaurant people thought meant we were food critics and they kept asking us if we were happy with the food and comped our dessert! While we felt this was superior to Bistro La Bonne the previous evening, even there we would return again. French food isn’t something offered in our Midwestern city and we really enjoyed both evenings.
On Sunday we began with our third breakfast at Paul, being certain to again order some snack supplies for later. After finishing the Newseum, we visited the National Museum of Natural History. The place was packed and when it came time for lunch, we decided upon the Sculpture Garden next door. Too bad the weather was not cooperative, it would have been a lovely setting to eat outside. This was the best lunch of the 3 days we toured the museums. My turkey with brie sandwich and cranberry relish was far superior to the Mickey Ds offered at the Air & Space museum. It was also more expensive than the previous 2 days, but only slightly so, far superior in taste.
Dinner Sunday night was my fault. I had not planned everything, thinking we could be spontaneous and it just didn’t work out. DD wanted Italian food, which is tricky because she doesn’t eat tomatoes. We called a few places (Otello and a couple others in DuPont Circle), she wasn’t satisfied with their offering. We finally went to Bertucci’s near DuPont Circle and both of us walked away with bad dinners. We don’t have Bertuccis near us, but I know it is a chain similar to Olive Garden. That they were practically empty at 8:00 on a Sunday night should have been a sign. I had the chicken marsala which tasted like rubber and she had some kind of sampler plate. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
All in all, we found Washington, DC to be a good city for Chowhounds and certainly lots of information and choices about food. Yelp was our primary source for last minute planning and we looked at this site as well.