DC Restaurants

October 24, 2006

I have an issue with dining in this city. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of great restaurants, and I believe DC is an underrated dining town. But far too many restaurants, that in other towns would be considered nice neighborhood joints, charge 3-star prices and, more importantly, have 4-star priced wine lists. Put it this way – you can have $23 entrees or $40 bottles of wine, but not both. And don’t patronize me. Don’t put a single bottle of $28 wine on your wine list while every other bottle is $10 more expensive. Don’t make me be that guy.

 I like drinking, hence the URL of this site. I don’t drink to excess often, as least not what I considered excess in college (enough to have had a bartender in Charlottesville tell my friend we paid for his motorcycle collection). However, I do enjoy drinking, and I enjoy drinking with food. However, I am turned off recently by my inability to drink to the level I would like at most DC restaurants.

I’m calling this phenomenon the “second bottle ratio”, meaning the affordability of the second bottle without putting the bill for two dangerously close to the $150-200 level that you shrug off at the time and later feel deep regret over.

Here’s a few restaurants that meet the ratio:

  • Two Amys – near my old house by the Cathedral. Shame on you if you haven’t eaten there. First of all, since it’s pizza there’s a built-in upper limit on how much the food will cost. It’s an added bonus that the bottles start in the mid-$20’s.
  • Evening Star Cafe – right in Del Ray (don’t take your girlfriend to Del Ray if you don’t want her disappointed with where you live). Entrees solidly in the $15-25 range, but plenty of bottles in the $20’s. Together it’s not too bad.
  • Cafe Asia – I want to describe the food as middling, but somehow I always like it. Maybe it’s the mere $10 markup on the bottles of Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc. And sorry about this bulletpoint, I’ve always wanted to try writing in Zagatese.
  • Jose Andres’ restaurants – Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico, or Zaytinya. Cafe Atlantico is the most expensive on this list, but I give it a pass because on a very expensive and extensive wine list, he includes about 15 wines $35 or less. The other two have some reasonably priced wines, and it’s really hard to spend $50 a person on tapas.

Beyond that? I don’t know. I’m sure there are others. I left out, for example, basically every ethnic restaurant (although the specialty of ethnic restaurants seems to be serving terrible wine overly warm). But hey, at least it’s cheap! And there are always half-price wine nights at places like Cafe Deluxe.

 Then again, maybe I don’t appreciate good wine enough. But if you wouldn’t want to pay $15 a drink on other forms of alcohol, why would you want to pay that much or more for wine? Personally, I think it’s the same thing as buying a Humvee – dudes with cash and clear personality defects like dropping money on ultimately unsubstantial depreciating assets.


2 Responses to “DC Restaurants”

  1. catherine Says:

    have you tried dino’s? i think they pride themselves on having a really low markup on wine…the food is pretty good italian and generally reasonable.

  2. s Says:

    i haven’t. although i believe a friend of my aunt’s owns that place, so i should visit, although from what i’ve heard it’s doing just fine.

    it’s amazing how many decent restaurants cleveland park has, and yes it seems like it could support 5 or so more. i love cleveland park. nam viet, spices, indique, ardeo/bardeo, and palena that i’ve tried, and dino and lavandou that i have not.

    i forgot about the front bar lounge at palena, which is clearly the best deal in the city.

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