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good food in National Mall area


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good food in National Mall area

jerryc123 | Mar 24, 2009 10:46 PM

My wife and I will be visiting DC, for fun, next weekend April 3-5.
We will be staying at the Hilton Regency on New Jersey Ave, near Union Station and the Capital Building. We heard there was a homeless shelter nearby, but booked it anyway.
We do not have much of schedule planned yet, but want to visit Patomic (Potomac?) Park while the cherry trees are in bloom, and catch the Memorials, Monuments, White House, Mall, etc. Probably spend one day at one of the Smithsonian museums. There is a cherry blossom parade and Japanese Street Festival on/near Constitution & Pennsylvania Ave on Saturday, and we may do that.
We will not have a car so we need to rely on transit around this area.
My wife and I are terribly adventurous chow-hounds, and prefer good ethnic street food, gastro-pubs, tapas/small plates/dim sum, and specialty places - over fancy white linen venues, but we are open to anything. Our food choices generally dictate the rest of our trip! But, for this touristy "neighborhood" I am expecting the worst. Overpriced fancy restaurants catering to politicians, lobbyists, tourists and the like. It would be great if you have any suggestions.
Considering the over-booked nature, and amount of walking expected, sandwiches, snacks, and finger-food recommendations are also appreciated.
Less than $30 pp for breakfast & lunch would be nice but not mandatory. Dinner w drinks tab under $70 pp would be nice but not mandatory. We are on vacation.
An Ethiopian dinner IS mandatory, so any recommendations for a place in Little Ethiopia would be appreciated. I've read on other threads about Queen Makeda, Etete & Dukem. Any other ideas/opinions? Is this neighborhood safe at night? I do not know which neighborhoods are rough, so any insight there would be helpful.
Part of this married couple is ethnically Chinese, so a visit to Chinatown is always expected - as are noodle places and Chinese grocers who also sell porcelain tableware.
We are also big fans of Jose Andres, and my wife has been to Jaleo in Baltimore, so we may try and hit Zaytinya this time round.
Any thoughts?
Many, many thanks to you in advance.

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