OK, I'm a Chicago hound who may be moving to D.C. in the near future. I've been to D.C. a few times, and liked it, but have always looked at the city as a visitor. Now I have to consider finding somewhere to live. Here's my question (to keep it chow-centric), which neighborhoods are the best for good, cheap dining and nightlife (easliy walkable and/or transit accessible). I'm a fan of cheap ethnic restaurants (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, etc.), dive bars, music clubs. Not interested in Georgetown. Would prefer somewhere with reasonable rents (if such a place exists in D.C.). Would consider a near suburb if there is transit access. Any advice would be appreciated because I'm relatively clueless. What are the "cool" and/or most livable D.C. neighborhoods? Also, links to apartment locator sites would be helpful.
P.S. What exactly is an English basement? I've never heard of this before.