So I'm coming down from Toronto for a week of gluttony and the occasional conference session. I was in DC for my first time last year and enjoyed my meals at Oohs and Aahs and Rasika (this was our big fancy meal of the trip), though I preferred the atmospheres of Busboys & Poets and the area around the Eastern Market the most. I already have a reservation with a friend for Toki Underground, and am looking to pick y'alls brains for other interesting low to mid-priced restaurants that I should try out (about half my meals will be by myself, and the other half will be with a friend who's also not rolling in the Benjamins, so the cheaper and the less formal, the better). I lean much more towards ethnic and hole in the wall than fine dining, but can pull myself together if necessary.
From my research, I know that I missed out on Ethiopian food last time. Of Ethiopic/Zenebech/Etete/Dukem, which one would you choose for someone who's had Ethiopian before, but wasn't particularly wowed by it? Which place do you think would change my opinion on the matter? Toronto has a terrible Thai scene, so I'm looking to satisfy some of those cravings - how would you rate Thai Square/Bangkok 54/Nava Thai/Ruan Thai? At Eden Center, are there any particular standout restaurants and dishes that I should try? If you had money for only one pricier meal (~$30-40/person incl.), where would it be? Jaleo/Zatinya/Le Diplomate/Blue Duck Tavern/Birch & Barley/Estadio?
During the daytime, the conference I'm attending is centred around the Woodley Park-Zoo to Dupont Circle Metro Station corridor. I've read that there's a Crispy and Juicy location further north on the red line, and that Afghan Grill and Lebanese Taverna are both good informal lunch options?
My list of other places to try include Teaism, El Pollo Rico, Moby Dick, Granville Moores, 2 Amy's, and Sibarita. What am I missing that I most definitely should eat at?
Looking forward to your responses. Thanks a lot!