Well, our trip was fabulous. We had great rooms at the Willard, and at a great price ($300 for TWO rooms--both suites with Pennsylvania Ave views of White House, Wash. monument, Lincoln Mem.) That location was terrific for walking everywhere. Wonderful service from the staff.
Being from San Francisco, I have always thought we had a wonderful city for tourists to visit. But in recent years things have deteriorated here so drastically, that I cannot in honesty recommend this as a good place for a vacation, even though we do have wonderful restaurants.
I will have no hesitation in recommending Washington DC as a terrific place for a vacation: it's clean, everyone was friendly, there is so much to do and see, and your restaurants are stunning!!!!!
I took all of your suggestions that you posted in response to my queries for restaurants for kids, Easter brunch and dinner, and here's where we ended up (unfortunately, we got too tired most evenings to go as far as Dupont Circle, so we had to forgo Johnny's Half Shell and all the other great suggestions in that area):
First night: Old Ebbitts, which was just fine at 10:45pm when our stomachs were still on SF time. Great crab and oysters.
Second day: took a chowhounder's suggestion and had Easter Brunch at Tony and Joe's. Probably our only disappointing meal of the week. $30 per person, including the kids, and the food was tired. Also it rained the entire time we were there.
Second evening: the Occidental, next door to the Willard. Nothing short of fabulous!! The braised lamb shank and the grilled fillet were better than we have ever had. And our boys ordered from the kids menu: huge perfectly done hamburger, and chicken tenders that only a chef of exceptional talent could make. The desserts were a perfect ending: apple pie and a warm carrot cake that put my husband into orbit.
Other restaurants we loved: Kinkead's, which was so over the top we thought we had died and gone to heaven. They gave us a great table upstairs, even though we were 20 minutes late ( we walked from the Willard when we realized the taxi would take so much longer than walking). Thanks for the suggestion on the fried clams. They were outstanding (we ordered a second dish we like them so much). The other appetizers (crab cakes, soups and salads) were so good we should have stopped there, but we kept going: lamb shank (again fabulous) and the breaded striped bass, very good. I can now appreciate why Jim Zurer likes this place so much. Thanks, Jim!
We went back to the Occidental again because it was so good and so convenient. It did not disappoint: the entire staff remembered us, everyone from the waiter, the bartender, the host, and the chef even came out to chat during a quiet moment (this was around 5:45). He was very attentive to our boys. Again the food was exceptional.
We went to the Bread Line (thanks, again, Jim!) for breakfast and lunch. My boys and husband were so impressed that I knew exactly where to go for such great baguettes, donuts (!!) and tuna sandwiches. They were in heaven.
Now I know that you folks probably don't find yourselves near the museums at lunchtime, but we did most every day. Here's what we found: the Nat. Mus. of American Hist. has a wonderful ice cream/soda fountain/lunch cafe that is quite good. Only draw back is that is was noisy. The Supreme Court cafeteria was also very good with lots of healthy selections.
When we were stuck for a place to eat early one night prior to seeing Mamma Mia at the Nat. Theatre, we went to Jordan's (Michael's place). We only had time for appetizers in the bar, but what we had was just fine. However, the dining room was empty. It doesn't look like they are going to make a go of it.
Although Jim thought that AV Ristorante would be disappointing, the friends we were joining insisted on going, and we were surprisingly pleased. The white pizza was very tasty, as were the soft shell crabs. We thought that for the price it was a very good experience. It reminded me of all the places like it that we used to have in North Beach.
Once again, I would like to tell you all how helpful you were, and how much I appreciate your comments.
This website has just received lots of local publicity here in San Francisco as a great place to find out about SF restaurants, and we have a lot of good people posting on the SF site as well.
All the best, Chowhounders!