Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide – January 2009, 25th edition.

The Guide is also available in search-able, browse-able format.

A Note to Dining Guide Readers

Dear Readers,

I know that you who have been readers of my ethnic dining guide have also helped contribute content. I am very grateful for the time and trouble you have taken to send along information.

I just wanted to let you know I have a new book out which might interest you. It is called Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist.

It is a fun romp through many topics, including food. The book has a whole chapter on how to find a good restaurant, what to order, where in a city you can find the best food, and many related questions. I like to think that if you find the dining guide useful you will enjoy this book as well.

Tim Harford from The Financial Times describes the book as follows: Tyler Cowen is an economist, culture vulture, restaurant critic and the best blogger in the world. All roles are on display in Discover Your Inner Economist. It's charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps.

It also has a very nice blurb from Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt, of Freakonomics fame.

Anyway, if you have enjoyed my blogging, I would appreciate if you would pre-order my book. In return you would be helping me earn enough money to keep up the dining guide and the free blogging.

The Amazon link is here. The Barnes & Noble link is here.

Don't hesitate to recommend it your friends!

Again, thanks for reading me and I hope you enjoy my latest! Do please send me any further restaurant information you might have!

Regards,

Tyler

 

 

Special Introduction

I am pleased to report that the Food Page of The Washington Post wrote up this guide in the summer of 2001. Here is the article, The Lone Critic. Here is another article, Chasing the Perfect Meal, from the Fairfax Connection, the spring of 2004.

I wish to offer thanks to all those who offered dining suggestions and evaluations (keep them coming!).  This has made the guide better, and longer, than before.  It also means the guide has more unvisited places than before.  I hope to get to them soon!  Many thanks also to Doug Hanks, for his excellent article.

General remarks

Restaurants manifest the spirit of capitalist multiculturalism.  Entrepreneurship, international trade and migration, and cultural exchange all come together in these communal eateries.

In the last fifteen or so years, the Washington D.C. area has become a leader in ethnic restaurants.  We lag behind New York City and Los Angeles, but we vie with Chicago and the Bay Area for third place in the United States.  In some areas, such as Ethiopian cuisine, we are number one.

This guide is intended to help individuals enjoy good food, and keep my favorite places in business.  Effective consumer choice improves your eating and, in the long run, improves the quality of available restaurants. 

The better ethnic restaurants tend to have many of their kind in a given geographic area.  Single restaurant representations of a cuisine tend to disappoint.  Competition increases quality and lowers prices.  The presence of many restaurants of a kind in an area creates a pool of educated consumers, trained workers and chefs, and ingredient supplies - all manifestations of increasing returns to scale.

Many of the best ethnic restaurants on this list come from the well-represented cuisines.  This region is particularly strong in Salvadorean, Peruvian, Bolivian, Afghan, Ethiopian, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, and now Chinese cuisines.  And when it comes to the last few years, the rise in Chinese is the big local story.

The best ethnic restaurants are often found in suburban strip malls, where rents are lower and the degree of feasible experimentation is greater.  Small and cheap ethnic restaurants are often better than large ones.  Northern Virginia and Maryland are underrated; Adams-Morgan, although it has many fine places, is by no means the fount of ethnic food.  West Alexandria, Bailey's Crossroads, Wheaton, Chantilly, and Fairfax are underrated; Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria, and Bethesda are overrated.

After you have chosen a restaurant, you must order.  Ordering is often a more important decision than choosing the restaurant.  Keep in mind that restaurant staff can be unreliable; sometimes they will steer you towards something safe and uninteresting.  (Many Chinese still express amazement that many Westerners can eat with chopsticks, for instance.)

Some rules of thumb, none of which are absolute:

1.                   Avoid dishes that are "ingredients-intensive."  Raw ingredients in America - vegetables, butter, bread, meats, etc. - are below world standards.  Even most underdeveloped countries have better raw ingredients than we do, at least if you have a U.S. income to spend there, and often even if one doesn't.  Ordering the plain steak in Latin America may be a great idea, but it is usually a mistake in Northern Virginia.  Opt for dishes with sauces and complex mixes of ingredients.  Go for dishes that are "composition-intensive."

2.                   Appetizers often are better than main courses.  Meals composed of appetizers and side dishes alone can be very satisfying.  Thai and Lebanese restaurants provide the classic examples of this principle.

3.                   Avoid desserts.  Most ethnic restaurants in America, no matter how good, usually fall flat with the desserts.  Especially if the restaurant is Asian.

4.                   Order more than you plan to eat.  Keep in mind that you are ordering for variety, not for quantity.  You can always take the rest home.

Actually the best advice is to do exactly what I recommend under each particular heading.

Over the last few years I see two big trends. The first is that we now have plenty of places with first-rate Chinese food. Our region used to be pathetic in this category, now it is a leading light. So if you feel you donÕt really enjoy Chinese food so much, think again. Second, northern Virginia has taken a clear lead. Fifteen years ago Maryland had better ethnic food, but now we are ahead in Chinese, Indian, and most other areas as well, excepting of course the Caribbean.

Now to the restaurants.  But before proceeding, don't assume that it's always open (although it usually is), or even that it's still there.  Typically I have restricted my entries to what I regard as the best, or most interesting, examples of that cuisine in the area.

Remember, if you donÕt like these, you probably didnÕt follow my advice for what to order.  Or you are to blame in some other manner, I donÕt know which one, there are many possibilities.  The most likely are that you simply donÕt have very good taste, or perhaps you are not very bright.  Too bad.

Before giving you the encyclopedia, here is SOME PLACES YOU MUST TRY.   This feature focuses on places you might not already know, overlooking such notable (but known) restaurants as Panjshir, for Afghan food, DuangratÕs (Thai), or the Vietnamese places at Eden Center (how can you pick just one?). 

 

SOME PLACES YOU MUST TRY:

Thai X-ing, 515 Florida Ave., 202-332-4322, no lunch,

All take-out, but this place is becoming legendary. One table, four chairs. One guy cooks for you. You need to call in your order in advance. The drunken noodles and the curries are superb. The salmon is awesome, the larb too. Quirky dŽcor, mostly designed by the chef/owner. Here is one good review: http://www.intowner.com/fr/food/reviews/September2006.htm. Here is the menu: http://www.inshaw.com/blog/Thai%20X-ing.htm. Patrons are advised to call in advance to avoid long waits.

Hong Kong Palace, formerly Saigon Palace, 6387 E. Leesburg Pike, Seven Corners Center, Falls Church, 532-0940.  In the mall with Home Depot and Barnes and Noble, though both are down below on the other side of the mall.

This was the premier Cantonese place around, but now it is Sichuan, at least if you ask for the special Chinese menu. The lamb with cumin is excellent, the Dan Dan noodles are very good, the fish in the bowl with all the chiles is a knock-out, and they are putting in real spice. The place keeps on getting better. The beef with bamboo shoot is especially good, as are the Chengdu dumplings. The specials are superb. Right now the clientele is 100 pct. Chinese, a good sign. Currently the best Chinese place around.

Meaza, 5700 Columbia Pike, Falls Church, 703-820-2870, IÕm not sure about the number on Rt.7, it is what their card says but some people tell me it is wrong. In any case it is on Col. Pike just east of Rt.7 by Circuit City.

Excellent, excellent Ethiopian, maybe as good as the DC dumps. But itÕs a nice restaurant too. The fish tibs you canÕt get in other places. First-rate kitfo. Wide variety. A clear #1 Ethiopian for Virginia and yes it is pressing on the DC places too. Attached to a coffee shop, plus they have Ethiopian music on some nights. Definitely recommended, although perhaps I would prefer if the dinin*g room had more light.

RayÕs Hell-Burger, 1713 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-841-0001, open for lunch only on weekends, I believe 5 p.m. dinner on weekdays.
 
All they have is hamburgers and they donÕt even have a side of French fries (you can get potato chips or potato salad). ItÕs the best hamburger around by an order of magnitude. Yes, it is worth paying a $4 or $5 supplement for the specialty cheeses on the cheeseburger. I like the Epoisses best but the Amish cheddar is first-rate for traditionalists. The quality of the burger and the cheese here really just stunned me. By 12:15 on a Saturday the place is already chaos but somehow it seems to work. Order your burger at the counter and then be prepared to stand at a table (of sorts) and eat it. Not a place to sit and chat but who needs social pleasantries when the burger is so good?

 

Cuzco, formerly DesiÕs Chicken and Steak, 10801 Fairfax Boulevard, Fairfax, 703- 865- 8150.

 

Right now this is the best Peruvian place around. It looks terrible, as if itÕs trying to cater to the worst sort of American diner. But the chef canÕt help himself. The Lomo Saltado is first-rate, the soups excellent. The chicken is pretty good, though not #1. The rice and seafood dishes are quite good. Go, and go now. Many other restaurants in this space have gone under, it has not been a stable space since the old days of Pars. IÕve also heard that Emeril has visited this place, not sure if itÕs true.

 

Komi, 1509 17th Street, DC, 20-332-9200.
 
A mix of fine dining and Greek-American. The best place in DC right now, by far. $90 for a two and a half hour extravaganza. And yes it is much improved over the previous incarnation, in case you had tried that and found it wanting. Along with CityZen, this is right now DCÕs only truly excellent restaurant. I feel I could bring anyone here and impress them.
 
Han Gang Korean Cuisine, 7243 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, 703-256-7077.
 
This place offers a Ņfine dining experienceÓ in addition to serving Korean food. It costs more than the others, and has nice dŽcor and service, though it is still affordable compared to a typical non-Korean place. For beef dishes it is a clear first choice for all the Korean restaurants in this area. Get the $60 combination of meats; it is an order of magnitude better than any other Korean meat dish you can get around here. Truly yummy. Go even if you think you are tired of all the other beef dishes at the other Korean places. They also have the best local Jae Chap. I would say it is important to go here with a large or mid-sized group and get a spread. Their sauces are also the best around.

Bombay Indian, 11229 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, White Oak Shopping Center, 301-593-7222.

This place has gotten very good reviews and in fact it is now one of the premier Indian restaurants around. Very consistent with some Kashmiri inspirations. Rich spicing, though without being too hot. The bread with the cherries and nuts is one special dish you can get here but most of it is excellent. It's not near anything else you might visit, but worth the trip.
 

Passage to India, 4931 Cordell Ave., near Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, 301-656-3373. 

This gem is still underrated. This used to be a branch of Heritage India, but now it is run by the original founder. It offers unique Indian regional specialties. In fact only here in this area can you eat specialties of Bombay and Calcutta, among other parts of India. This place is more like a high-class Indian restaurant of India than anywhere else around. Highly recommended, and make sure you get the regional specialties. Check out www.passagetoindia.info.

Hai Duong Restaurant, 6795 Wilson Blvd., #7-9, 703-538-5289.
 
Again, on the inside corridor near Wilson Boulevard. This place is just first-rate. My favorite dish is the #31, Sizzling Fish Filet in Northern Style; you need to put all the pieces together on top of the chip for it to make sense. #10, Beef Underdone with Lime, is the best around and you should order this special dish if you donÕt already know it. The soups are very good as are the crushed rice dishes. Excellent atmosphere: Go, go, go.

Sichuan Village, 14005 Lee Jackson Highway (Rt.50), just east of Rt.28, Chantilly, 703-631-5888, same strip mall as Il Mee.

This place is from the titans that brought you the old Formosa CafŽ in Crystal City. The new place is much more Szechuan, although they have added many heinous dishes and a heinous buffet for some of their heinous customers. Ignore those downsides. The real Chinese food here is superb. Get the Ants on a Stick, Tofu and Fish Fillet inVery Hot Sauce, Cold PigÕs Maw with Ginger and Garlic, Chengdu Kung Pao Chicken, Braised Beef with Brown Sauce, Tea Smoked Duck, Steamed Pork Bun Han Style, and Dumplings ZhongÕs Style. And that is just a start.

Pho 75, 3103 Graham Road, Suite B, Falls Church, 204-1490, go early to avoid the line. Do not fear tripe and the other nasty bits. Learn to eat for crunch and texture.

Present Restaurant, 6678 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, (571) 233-500.
 
This is in the mall with J.V. Restaurant and MerchantsÕ Tire. The restaurant is finer in dŽcor than most Vietnamese places and you could even take a business client here. The menu has vague, flowery descriptions of the dishes, so if you know real Vietnamese food you may at first be a bit confused. DonÕt be. Right now this is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants around. The dishes are done in very classic style, with French influence. GET THE LARGE FISH, it is the best whole fish dish around.
 
Angeethi Indian Cuisine, 645 Elden St., Herndon, 703-796-1527.
 
Excellent all around, this is now one of the two or three best Indian places in the area. (Bombay Indian in Silver Spring is probably the current leader). The chat station, offered at lunch, is first-rate. Everything else is quite consistent and just generally tasty. I even enjoyed the Butter Chicken. Good breads. Good vindaloo and spinach and black lentils. What kind of Indian food is it? Most of all I would say it is like the Balti food you get in the UK and indeed they have a whole section of the menu devoted to Balti dishes.

EamonnÕs –A Dublin Chipper, 728 King St, Alexandria, (703) 299-8384

Have I ever told you what a fish and chips fanatic I am? I scoured New Zealand for a year, looking for the best fish and chips (and found it). I had amazing fish and chips, on the street in the townÕs central plaza, in Bergen, Norway. That was the highlight of my entire trip. So my standards are high. And IÕm pleased to report that I really enjoyed this place. The fish is very good, enough said. The mushy peas are first-rate. No, itÕs not as good as the best in Kiwiland but I remain shocked by the quality and I am happy to recommend it. NB: Tables can be hard to get, so go when the pressure is off.

Korean Traditional Cake and Porridge Restaurant, also called Dduck Sarang, 4231 Markham St., near ShineyÕs, 703-916-0006.
 
Currently the most innovative restaurant in Koreatown. Mostly they serve porridge, porridge, and porridge. You never knew Korean porridge could be so good and so comforting. My favorite is the tuna and vegetables porridge but they are very good across the board. Very good dumplings. The beef soup, as portrayed in their photo, is the best around. Very charming dŽcor. Definitely recommended.

Thai Square, 3217 Columbia Pike, just east of Glebe.

IÕve been going to this place quite a lot lately.  It is one of the three or four best Thai places around, and probably the one most popular with Thais.  Excellent atmosphere, lots of small Thai kids.  The best satay around, without a doubt.  The best green curry.  Very original pig's knuckle dish with fragrant spicing.  Highly recommended.  Not as fancy as Duangrat's but in some regards a more durable restaurant.

TeddyÕs Roti Shop, 7414 Georgia Ave., NW, 202-882-6488.
 
Any of the rotis with goat are superb, make sure they put some of the spicy sauce in it (you have to ask). Get the buss-up-shut. The pumpkin is first-rate. The soups are very good. The Ņshark and bakeÓ is a Trinidadian classic and it is pretty good here. The ŅBoiled ProvisionsÓ [sic] are only so-so. Ask about the fruit juices. This part of town used to be run down but now it is quite nice. This place is definitely recommended. For authenticity it gets an A+. And if you like a proprietor who is chatty and will tell you what to do, make that A++.

Viet Bistro, in Eden Center, Arlington, off Wilson Boulevard, near Rt.7, 703-538-7575. in the corner of the mall closest to the street, donÕt miss it.

Right now this is the best place in the Eden Center and indeed the best Vietnamese place around. Finer and fresher than Four Sisters. Get the baby clams, the caramel fish, the frogsÕ legs, the eel, anything with lemon grass, and the shaking beef. Consistently tasty and refined. Good for vegans and vegetarians also, first-rate tofu.

China Bistro/MamaÕs Dumplings, 755 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, 301-294-0808.

Order items 38 to 45, the dumplings. Dumplings. These are the best dumpling around, by an order of magnitude and yes I do know JoeÕs Noodle House. The other stuff here is only so-so.

China Star, Rt.236, Fairfax, in the same shopping center as KinkoÕs and Cinema Arts Theatre.

Great Szechuan if you know how to order properly.  Get the spicy dishes and the specialties of the house.  The Szechuan chili chicken has to be seen to be believed; get it on the bone. Get the sea bass with pine nuts and the crystal shrimp.  The dried fried green beans.  The Szechuan preserved fish. The Szechuan scallion fried fish, which goes well with the chicken with leeks. DonÕt forget the LionÕs Head in Hot Pot. Get the dishes you have never heard of.  Watch what everyone else is eating.  The daily specials usually are excellent.  The ordinary ŅChineseÓ dishes here are quite unexceptional, avoid them.  This can blow the roof off your mouth, they have four categories: normal, spicy, very spicy, and numbing.  That should be all you need to know.  For a fresh look at Chinese food, visit this place. I go back, and back, and back.

A&J Restaurant, 4316 Markham St., Annandale, 813-8181, just east of Beltway, or 1319 Rockville Pike, 301-251-7878.

Manchurian food and dim sum, one of the best places around.  Tasty, original, and very cheap.  I love the soups and dumplings.  The boiled peanuts and shredded bean curd are other favorites.  The smoked chicken has been especially good lately. But you canÕt go wrong here, just make sure you get lots of things, and with the median item price below three dollars, this is not hard to do.

Seoul Gool Dae Gee, 7220 Columbia Pike, Annandale, 703-256-5133

An A+ for the metallic dŽcor and the Korean pop culture strewn all over the walls. Visually speaking, this might be my favorite place on the list. ItÕs also one of the two or three best places for food. Ask them for their house specialty, a barbecue dish cooked with meat, vegetables, and octopus on top of your table. Very yummy. Good seafood pancake here as well.

JoeÕs Noodle House, 1488-C Rockville Pike, near Congressional Lane, Rockville, 301-881-5518.

Superb Szechuan food.  Many little items.  You order and they bring it to your crowded table.  As close to real Chinese food as you are going to get around here.  A very exciting place to visit, highly recommended.  Plus the best dumplings around.

El Tapatio, 4309 Kenilworth Ave., Bladensburg, 301-403-8882, open 10 to 10 every day, donÕt you love those hours?

This is a real Mexican place, treasure the thought.  In LA or Houston this restaurant would be only average, but that is still great in absolute terms.  Get the goat (Ņbirria del chivoÓ).  The best chile relleno around.  Very good tacos.  A lifesaver, the first Mexican place I can recommend

A Taste of Morocco, 3211 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington, 527-7468.  Opens for dinner at 5.

Primarily  ˆ la carte, very tasty, authentic, and very reasonably priced.  The crust on the Bistillah (a pie of chicken, almonds, raisins, cinnamon and sugar) is properly thin.  At a Moroccan place always get the Bistillah. Everything is good, but it is the Bistillah, and the Bistillah alone, that elevate this place to my favorites list. In case you donÕt know, imagine a yummy pie full of chicken, topped with cinnamon and sugar and totally sinful. It isnÕt even a dessert.

Pike Pizza, at the intersection of Columbia Pike and George Mason, probably that is Arlington, 703-521-3010.

First-rate Bolivian.  They do not, however, have pizza, despite the name.  The best Bolivian sausage around, too.  Amazing atmosphere.

Le Matin de Paris, 7326 Little River Turnpike, 703-914-0088, www.lematindeparis.net.  Excellent Korean baked goods and desserts, original throughout, and now my favorite place to hang out.

Chez Yonyon, 834 Chillum Rd., Hyattsville, 301-853-0404.

Haitian food, the fried pork is my favorite, the fish is good too.  You canÕt go wrong at Haitian restaurants, as long as you steer clear of the macaroni and cheese.  But the real question is not what you want, but rather what they have in that day.  This is not better than average Haitian food, but it doesnÕt have to be.  The rice and beans are always superb, mix in the spicy sauces.

Shamshiry, 8607 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, VA, 703-448-8883.  Off of Route 7, near the Dulles access road.  Not visible from any road.  Turn left at the right place, and head towards the back.  Near Oriental Regency, down a bit from United Airlines.

An excellent Persian place.  Kabobs only, which I usually find dry and unexciting, but this place is a winner.  Best rice in the area, very fragrant.  The Barberry Rice and Cherry Rice, with chicken or beef respectively, are highly worthwhile.  The Barberry Rice is wonderfully tangy and sour and the berries are luscious.  What kind of rice you order is the real decision here, not what kind of meat.  Ask for the beef medium rare, or even rare, if you order meat.  The salmon is my favorite, with Zereshk Polo, make sure you rub Maast Moosir (a kind of thick yogurt sauce) into the whole thing, liberally. Excellent people-watching also, if you are interested in the Persian upper-middle class.

Ruan Thai, 11407 Amherst Ave., Wheaton, 301-942-0075, not so far from Rt.29 and University Blvd.

My Thai restaurant of choice in Maryland.  Not just the usual stuff.  Fresh ingredients, and truly spicy.  When it comes to ordering, you canÕt go wrong.  This place is exactly what a Thai restaurant should aspire to be.

Horace & DickieÕs Seafood Carryout, 809 12th St. NE, Washington, 202-396-1083.  There is another branch on Martin Luther King Ave., somewhere.

The best fried fish in the area, a must.  Amazing atmosphere, take-out only, bad neighborhood, get the picture?  Fish, fish, fish.  ThatÕs all they have.  And it is fried, fried, fried.  You may not go often, due to the associated inconveniences, but a gem.  They also have great fries, collard greens, potato salad.  Crab cake surprisingly decent.  Go, go, go.

Thanh Son Tofu, 6793/A Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, just north of Dragon Star, Falls Church, 703-534-1202.

They serve one main dish, tofu.  ThatÕs right, just slabs of tofu, done three main ways.  Five for a dollar.  The best tofu around, period.  Tofu to die for.  Tofu.  Wonderful tofu.  The Vietnamese love this place.  By the way, youÕd better be in the mood for tofu. 

Fogo de Chao, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave., 202-347-4668, www.fogodechao.com, Saturday opens at 4:30, Sunday at 4:00.

A clear first choice for Brazilian right now. Churrascaria. All the meat you can eat. The quality is surprisingly high, and the salting is just right. From a chain based in Sao Paulo. Excellent salad bar. Not the real thing, but closer than I thought they would come. Dinner starts at $44.50, though, lunch starts at $24.50.

The Mandalay, 930 Bonifant St., near Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-585-0500.

The best Burmese place around.  Order many dishes and follow their lead.  A superb restaurant.  IÕve only been once, but I do not hesitate to put the place on my favorites list.

Queen of Sheba, 1503 9th St. a bit south of the 9th St. Ethiopian row.

Above-average Ethiopian food, even for the neighborhood. This is the restaurant that serves a peanut butter dish and a flax seed dish, so high marks for authenticity. That said, the various forms of the lentils are the thing to get here. Lots of lentils here, the novelty items are interesting but they wonÕt be the best part of your meal. Also get the Queen Kitfo, a superb dish.

Star Restaurant Banquet, 7203 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, 703-750-2450.

An authentic albeit underpopulated Afghan place, with a huge room for weddings and banquets. Their plans and their achievement seem totally out of scale. That said, it could be the best Afghan place to visit right now. Very good kadu, not too sweet. Their bready things are yummy, I quite liked the third appetizer, the pastry stuffed with leeks, add yogurt on top. The meats are not so tender but they are very tasty. How long can this place last? Should you be discouraged by the thought of entering a huge cavern and not even being greeted by a hostess? Who knows? Enjoy it while you can.

Those are some of my favorites, now to the longer list!

 

Afghan

Bamiyan, 5634 Leesburg Pike, 703-820-7880, just east of Borders.

 

One of the best Afghan places around, the kabobs are juicy and succulent. That being said, I have some complaints. The air conditioning is overdone. The dining room is huge and understaffed. I canÕt imagine trying to eat here at 8 p.m. on a Saturday evening. The appetizers all have strong minty tastes. This is better than going the sweet route, but a certain sameness creeps in. With some modest changes, this place could be very very good. Right now it hovers between good and very good.

Star Restaurant Banquet, 7203 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, 703-750-2450.

An authentic albeit underpopulated Afghan place, with a huge room for weddings and banquets. Their plans and their achievement seem totally out of scale. That said, it could be the best Afghan place to visit right now. Very good kadu, not too sweet. Their bready things are yummy, I quite liked the third appetizer, the pastry stuffed with leeks, add yogurt on top. The meats are not so tender but they are very tasty. How long can this place last? Should you be discouraged by the thought of entering a huge cavern and not even being greeted by a hostess? Who knows? Enjoy it while you can.

Panjshir, 924 Broad Street, Falls Church, 536-4566,

Panjshir II, 224 Maple Ave. West, 281-4183, both closed Sunday lunch.

The premier gourmet Afghan place.  The two branches are indistinguishable, as the food is cooked in the same kitchen.  The kebabs are good but boring, get the stews, but especially the side dishes.  The Kadu, the pumpkin, is a must.  One side order serving is usually not enough for two people, so get two.  This place offers many wonders.  I love the apple, prunes, and walnut combinations.  Saturday lunch is an excellent deal.  For dinner for two, order all of the side dishes, plus the Mantu.  The service is a bit slow, I think they do it on purpose, though for no good reason.

Afghan Restaurant, 2700 Jefferson Davis Highway, Alexandria, 548-0022.

Smaller menu, less fine, grittier, and more authentic.  A bit out of the way for me, but worth having in the repertoire.

Food Corner, 7031-A Little River Turnpike, 703-750-2185.

Very mom and pop.  Relatively authentic Afghan food, including vegetable dishes, kabobs also.  Excellent bread.  Greasy but good. Unfortunately, they took their best dishes, Aushak and Mantu, off the menu.

Kabob Corner, 10893 Main St., Fairfax, 703-219-2078.

An intriguing little mom nÕ pop Afghan restaurant. Not the very best kabobs but they have pumpkin, aushak, etc. I like going there.

Grill Kabob Express, 11213-J Lee Highway, off Rt.29, Fairfax, 703-569-7259.

 

I like their buffet better than their kabobs. Good chick peas, spinach, excellent bread, tasty rice, fresher vegetables than found on the other Afghan buffets. Not a perfect restaurant, but worth visiting if you live or work in the area. The kabobs are Ņgood enough,Ó but not competitive with my two or three favorites. The hamburger meat with the lentils, on the buffet, is my favorite.

Charcoal Kabob, 394 Elden St., Herndon, 703-435-2400.

Above average kabob place, with some Afghan dishes too.  Recommended.  This mall in Herndon, and the accompanying strip, is one of the best locales around for ethnic food.

Kabul Kabob House, 514A South Van Dorn St., West Alexandria, 703-751-1833.

Excellent Afghan food.  The kabobs are very good but I like the stews and mixed dishes best.  Fresh salads and good use of vegetables.  The best Afghan place, apart from Panjshir, for vegetables.  They donÕt always have pumpkin, though, which is the best Afghan dish.  Worth trying in any case.

Faryab Afghan Cuisine, 4917 Cordell Ave., between Norfolk and Old Georgetown, Bethesda, 301-951-3484.

Very good Afghan food, a bit slow on the service, but going is no mistake. I generally like the kadu, their fried dumplings and eggplant dishes are also quite good.

Halal Kabab House, 6245 Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, 703-354-1848.

Afghan kababs, in the mall with TemptAsian cafŽ, across from Tower, near Landmark Plaza. And for that reason I will, sadly, never go here.

Food Corner II, 7031 Brookfield Plaza, Springfield.

Afghan, perhaps a branch of Food Corner (see above), but they also have kept the rotisserie chicken from the Latin place that used to be here.  I have yet to go.

African

See under the specific African cuisines, such as Senegalese, Ghanaian, Nigerian, and Cameronian, as well as West African.  Not to mention Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Sudanese.  I hereby offer formal apology to all Eritreans for lumping them in with Ethiopian, but I simply cannot tell one cuisine from the other.

American

Mitsitam, in the National Museum of the American Indian, 4th St. and Independence, SW, 10-5 every day, sometimes very crowded.

They have five restaurants in one, many of them try to represent various Indian dishes. Well, sort of. You can get buffalo burgers, tamales, Northwest salmon, quinoa grain salad, corn on the cob, cranberries, pumpkin, cactus salad, tacos, and smoked turkey sandwich. IÕve yet to find a single dish that fully delivers, where else can you eat on the Mall? I give at an ŅAÓ for effort, at the very least.

Morton's, 8075 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, 883-0800, look for Tiffany's and Chili's, park, and walk to the west side of the mall.

A dominant restaurant.  Affordable at lunchtime, and makes a great buy.  It's hard to find better beef than this.  High quality on all fronts.  The chopped sirloin for lunch is an amazing bargain.  Dinner looks very expensive, but since the steaks feed at least two people, just order one.  There is also a branch in Georgetown.  At either branch, beware the cigar smokers.

RayÕs the Classics, 8606 Colesville Road, right across from AFI, Silver Spring, 301-588-7297.
 
Retro dining, chops, big plates of big stuff, like they used to serve in 1976. ItÕs pretty good for a change of pace. For me, this is what now counts as Ņexotic.Ó I like the spinach too but overall I canÕt claim this place is anything special.

 

Bailiwick Inn, Fairfax, 4023 Chain Bridge Rd., 691-2266, odd hours, reservations mandatory.

Believe it or not, this place is good, albeit not cheap.  Most people don't even know it is there. 

Hitching Post Restaurant, 200 Upshur St., near Rock Creek Church Road, NW, 202-726-1511.

A casual American restaurant. One reader recommends the friend chicken, white beans with neck meat, and the macaroni and cheese. Sietsema wrote a good review of it too.

Clyde's, Reston Town Center, plus branches near Tysons, in Georgetown, and in Chevy Chase.

When dining with the wimpy, I go to the Tysons one, which is across from Borders, back behind Rt.7 a bit and not visible from the road.  The bar scene here is unattractive, but the food is pretty good, reliable, and not overpriced.  Many will scorn this place, but it comes in handy.

Majestic CafŽ, 911 King St., Alexandria, 703-837-9117, closed Monday.

The place has a fun Art Deco feel, circa the 1940s, plus the seafood is surprisingly good. One of your better options in Old Town Alexandria.

ArtieÕs 3260 Old Lee Highway, near Rt.50, Fairfax, 7030273-7600.

Surprisingly good on all fronts, get the salmon salad with goat cheese added on top. The beef ribs, not available every night, are good as well. In fact they are the best beef ribs around. But beware the lines at this place, and you canÕt make a reservation in advance. One of the best places around for food sissies.

For American, see also Fine Dining, Barbecue, Seafood, Southern, Cajun, and Southwest.

Argentinean

Mar del Plata, 1410 14th St., NW, 202-234-2679.

A useful restaurant in a dining desert, near the Whole Foods.  Mostly seafood but get the pork chop.  Not cheap, but your options in this area are slim. Update: Some claim it has moved to Dupont Circle.

El Patio, 12303 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, 301-231-9225.

Washingtonian magazine praises this place to the skies, but not a word in its favor is convincing.  How can do really do this cuisine without first-rate beef, which no U.S. restaurant short of MortonÕs is going to have?

VictorÕs II, Rt.29, Falls Church, where Black-Eyed Pea used to be, near Mehak.

Bolivian as well, but the closest you will find to real parillada. You get an enormous plate, it is quite good but not for all tastes, be prepared for huge slabs and meat and innards. Recommended. It would almost make my favorites list, except I canÕt eat this stuff more than once a year.

Divino Lounge, 7345-B Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 240-497-0300.

Meat, I have yet to go.

Armenian

Arax CafŽ, also known as Coffee House and Ice Cream Parlor, Washington Blvd., in Westover, Arlington, across from the Hardware store.

Dining God Papan Devnani recommends this one. Most of the Armenian dishes are specials of the day.

Asian (Pan-Asian)

Nooshi, formerly Oodles Noodles, 1120 19th, just north of K St., NW.

A Pan-Asian place, which mixes cuisines, with an emphasis on noodles.  Yummy if sometimes just a bit too sweet.  When in doubt, order the peanut sauce.

CafŽ Mozu, Hotel Mandarin Oriental, ŅSet at the heart of the US capital between Maine and Maryland Avenues and 12th and 14th Streets, SW,Ó

Expensive, but the seafood is of high quality. Some of the sauces are a bit sweet. Probably the best Pan-Asian place around, but if I am in that hotel, and inclined to spend money, I am headed to CityZen.

Spices, 3333-A Connecticut Ave., near Ordway, 202-686-3833.

Pan-Asian food, owned by the Oodles Noodles people.  By now this stuff is passe rather than new or interesting.  If you like this place, it just means you havenÕt enjoyed the real Asian food to be had around here.  You are probably one of those carless people stuck in Washington D.C. 

CafŽ Asia, 1550 Wilson Boulevard, Rosslyn, 741-0870.

Now the place to go in Rosslyn (which isnÕt saying much).  Surprisingly good, and quite cheap.  Tasty and spicy Asian food of all varieties, most valuable to me here are the Indonesian dishes, which are very good and hard to find elsewhere in this area.  You might think that a Pan-Asian place wonÕt do most things well, but this place in fact does many dishes reasonably well.  Looks like a big cafeteria but the setting is nonetheless somehow attractive, and this has become a place to be seen, at least by Northern Virginia standards.

Oya, 777 Ninth St., NW, 202-393-1400

This is probably the most stunning-looking restaurant in all of DC. But the ŅfusionÓ cuisine is mediocre. Supposedly French/Asian but more bland than anything else. ItÕs OK, at best, but I canÕt recommend a trip other than for the dŽcor.

Raku, 7240 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-718-8680

More Japanese than anything else. I used to like the old incarnation, I have yet to go here.

Asia Nora, 2213 M St., 202-797-4860.

Too expensive relative to the competition, and not tastier.  Plus occasionally people have very bad experiences here.

Mantis, 1847 Columbia Rd., 202-667-2400.

Pan-Asian tapas, I have yet to go. Nor will I, they donÕt have a non-smoking section.

Big Bowl, Reston Town Center, 11915 Democracy Drive, Reston, 787-8852, usually open.

Half-Asian, half-American, for Reston tekkies, this place is popular and has its defenders.  Not for the purist, though.  Try the curries, and hope for the best.

Sweet Ginger, in Danor Plaza, 120B Branch Road, SE, near Maple Ave., Vienna, 703-319-3922.

Vienna goes Pan-Asian. Again, note that the Pan-Asian concept started off as a bold innovation, now it is usually an excuse to get a sugary and inauthentic version of the real thing. Go to Sichuan Village instead and get the pigÕs maw with ginger and garlic.

Bistro Asiatique, 4936 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-718-3400.

Has to be overpriced for what you get, I have yet to go.

Austrian

Cafe Tirolo, 4001 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, behind Tara Thai, closed weekends, 703-528-7809.

Formerly run by Austrian, it is now taken over by Koreans. The spaghetti has too much garlic. I canÕt recommend it any more.

Euro Bistro, 314 Elden St., at Herndon Parkway, 703-481-8158.

Austrian food, with some Thai (!) dishes.  Spaetzle.

LeopoldÕs Kafe and Konditorei, 3318 M St., 202-965-6005.

Might be OK for Georgetown. The specialty is pastries, they sometimes have Tafelspitz.

Barbecue

Texas Ribs and BBQ, 7701 Old Branch Ave., Clinton, MD, 301-877-0323.
 
I had high hopes going to this place, which many describe as the best BBQ around. On the plus side IÕll give it high marks for atmosphere and authenticity. It really is Texas-style barbecue and the beans and bread are pretty good too. The problem is that the meat isnÕt great. The ribs were downright mediocre. The brisket was better, OK I would say, but not good enough to drive around the Beltway for. Until I hear more entreaties, IÕm not going back. But I would continue to go if I lived next door.

Dixie Bones, 13440 Occoquan Rd., Woodbridge, 703-492-2205, south on Rt.123, half an hour south from Fairfax, right off 95.

Worth the trip, right now this is the best barbecue around. I like the ribs best. The side orders are excellent, and cooked with great care. Make sure you try the sauces on your meat. Everyone recommends their baked goods as well. This is outside my purview but they appear to be quite fresh.

WillardÕs, 4300 Chantilly Shopping Center, #1a, on Willard Rd. at the Dulles Expo Center, off Rt.28, not too far from Dulles Airport, 703-488-9970.

They have St. Louis ribs, Texas brisket, Kansas City burnt ends, North Carolina pulled pork, and Jamaican jerk chicken, among other dishes. No one of these is up to the original but at least it resembles pit barbecue. Real side dishes, too. Excellent characters come to eat at this place. Recommended.

KennyÕs BBQ Smokehouse, 732 Maryland Ave., NW, 202-547-4553.

This is really quite good North Carolina barbecue. Very much a Mom & Pop. Get the spicy sauce, which is in any case more tangy than spicy. Good collard greens. Right now the best barbecue place in DC, without a doubt.

Urban Bar-B-Que, 2007 Chapman Ave., Rockville, 240-290-4827.

Mostly take-out, they only have ten tables, always a good sign. They plan to expand, which I take to be a bad sign. The French fries are excellent. The sauces were not exactly to my taste. In any case this is a significant sign of progress. One of the best barbecue places around.

Capital BBQ, 707 H St., NW, 202-347-8396, www.capitalbbq.com.

Not as good as it used to be, no longer worth the visit.

Red, Hot, and Blue, 1600 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, 276-7427, several other branches including one near GMU, usually open.

Many people hate this restaurant.  Given the recent proliferation of barbecue in this area, there is no longer any reason to go. It defines generic, chain barbecue, and perhaps that is worth knowing, if only to see the contrast with the real thing.

Rocklands, 2418 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-333-2558.

If you are thinking of bringing your friend from Kansas City or Texas, donÕt. 

BubbaÕs Bar-B-Q, 7810-F Lee Highway, Falls Church, Merrifield Plaza, 703-560-8570, right by the Burmese place, closed Sunday.

The pork here is quite good, the staff can be rude. Get the pork and the fries.

Old Glory, 3139 M St., Georgetown, NW, 202-337-3406.

Recommended by a reader, but I hate Georgetown.

Bare Bones, 20260 Goldenrod Lane in the Hampton Inn, Germantown, 301-916-3700.

Ribs are the specialty, I have yet to go.

BBQ Country, 14215-X Centreville Sq., Centreville, 703-968-5896, there are four others around as well.

I have yet to go.

PierceÕs, in or near Williamsburg, off Rt.64.

Pulled pork, they still have an open pit, which is increasingly rare these days. It is not bad but I donÕt love it.

Jerk Pit, 8145-C Baltimore Ave., Rt.1, College Park, 301-441-4786.

Yes, jerk is a form of barbecue. The wings are recommended. Fridays they have oxtail stew. Service is slow, because they do it the right way. In recent times, however, they have been having problems with the fire and health authorities.

Belgian

Le Mannequin Pis, 18064 Georgia Ave., Olney, 301-570-4800, dinner only.

Yes, Belgian.  Gets rave reviews.  Belgian food is great in Belgium, but in Olney?  Everyone raves about the mussels and the beer.  Not cheap. I now hear it has a new owner, circa 2006, but the same cooks.

Belga CafŽ, 514 Eighth St., SE, 202-544-0100, the hours are currently in flux.

Of course Belgian food is grossly underrated. This is supposed to be the best place on Capitol Hill, I will bet it is.

Brasserie Beck, xxxxxx.

Bolivian

Annandale CafŽ, 133 E. Annandale Rd., between Hillwood Ave. and S Washington St, though to me it looks like it is on Hillwood, Falls Church, 703-237-7275.

I love this place, which right now is the best Bolivian food around, despite being a bit on the dark and dingy side. I canÕt imagine how they handle crowds and I suppose they donÕt. The Saturday peanut soup is the best around, lots of pasta in it. The meats are very fresh. The plates are large. The authenticity level is high. They also pretend to have a connection to Argentinian food but it really is mostly Bolivian. Right now this place is a first choice in its category.

Cecilia's, 2619 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 685-0790, usually open.

The main Bolivian place in the area, and a center for Bolivian social life.  Excellent food, I really like the Pork Fricasee.  The menu is not purely Bolivian (Mexican specialties are offered), but you should probably order Bolivian, even though everything looks good.  Music and dancing at night on weekends. 

The key to Andean restaurants in the U.S. is to avoid ordering a plain piece of meat; the quality of the meat will not be bad, but it will not be high enough to justify your choice.  Look instead for sauces, stews, soups, and concoctions.  Or a piece of meat with lots piled on top of it, especially chiles and green sauce.

Don Arturo's Restaurant, 2716 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington, 276-1050.

One of the ultimate mom n' pops.  Everything I have had here is excellent.  At first you will think the restaurant is empty but then you will observe many plates of food being brought to the back room.  That being said, you will never really know what is going on. I am fond of the silpancho here, (chilies and tomatoes and onion piled on meat, on top of a bed of potatoes), I like that so much I never get the chance to work through their menu.   Put lots of the spicy green sauce on top.

El Tutumaso, 3018 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, 703-531-1081.

 

A very authentic Bolivian restaurant with a more extensive menu than most. Excellent soups and consistent all around, although I never like the dishes which use hot dog slices. One of the two or three best Bolivian places for people watching and definitely worth a visit.

Casa Blanca, 5037 Columbia Pike, 703-280-1904, Falls Church, just east of BaileyÕs Crossroads.

Mostly a bakery but they have many Bolivian snacks. Eli Lehrer likes this place, I have yet to go.

VictorÕs Menu, 436 S. Washington St., 703-532-8878, victor_brujo@yahoo.com.

IÕve now been here three times, and great every time.  One of the best Bolivian places around, and probably the largest portions of any place listed on this guide. 

Llajaymanta, Arlington Boulevard, in Graham Center (at Graham), next to where Cha Gio used to be.

One of the most authentic Bolivian places around. The menu is in Spanish only. The waitresses donÕt speak any English. The soups and meats are very good. Great atmosphere too.

Pike Pizza, at the intersection of Columbia Pike and George Mason, probably that is Arlington, 703-521-3010.

First-rate Bolivian.  They do not, however, have pizza, despite the name.  The best Bolivian sausage around, too.  Amazing atmosphere.

LuzmilaÕs Cuisine, 809 W. Broad St., Falls Church, 703-237-0047.

Mom and pop Bolivian place, not up to Don ArturoÕs or the nearby VictorÕs, but good enough to enjoy and very friendly and fun.  Pablo Ayala tells me that their saltenas are very good.

Tutto Bene, Ballston, 501 N. Randolph St., just off Glebe Rd., across from the Harris Teeter, 522-1005.

Bolivian food on weekends, certainly good but not my first choice for Bolivian.  I actually prefer the Italian dishes here, it is an Italian restaurant most of the time, very tasty.  Tastes like the Italian food you get in South America, which is usually excellent, perhaps because it is especially rich.  The ravioli are my favorite.

Portales, now in Springfield/Franconia I am told, 6148 Franconia Road perhaps, this place used to be on Glebe Rd.

It always looked a little boring/ÓcontinentalÓ to me, but I have yet to visit the new locale.

My Bakery CafŽ, off Columbia Pike, after Blair Rd., and right before Full Kee.

Recommended for Bolivian pastries and breads. One Bolivian reader recommends the Ņapi, a purplish corn-based drink, served hot,Ó I may stick with jellyfish. The chicharron and mote are recommended as well.

Bosnian

Restaurant Cosmopolitan, N. Kings Highway, across from Huntington Metro Station.

I donÕt yet have exact information. Food in Bosnia is excellent, I am told this leans closer to the Austro-Hungarian direction (dollop of sour cream on the top) than to Turkish. I am also told you can find Bosnian food in Washington Grill, on Vermont Ave, just north of K St. They have fried veal sausages wrapped in bread and eaten with raw onions and a sauce called ivar, consisting of peppers and eggplant.

Brazilian

Fogo de Chao, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave., 202-347-4668, www.fogodechao.com, Saturday opens at 4:30, Sunday at 4:00.

A clear first choice for Brazilian right now. Churrascaria. All the meat you can eat. The quality is surprisingly high, and the salting is just right. From a chain based in Sao Paulo. Excellent salad bar. Not the real thing, but closer than I thought they would come. Dinner starts at $44.50, though, lunch starts at $24.50.

Chima Steak House, 8010 Towers Crescent Drive, Suite 100, Vienna, 703-595-7755.

The new Brazilian steak house, churrascaria, very stylish, draws a mod crowd of wealthy Latinos and sometimes Arabs. Lots of fun, not cheap, the lamb and the pork caked in cheese are the best. The salads could be improved. I like Fogo de Chao better, but because of proximity, and a Brazilian-loving daughter, IÕll end up going here yet again.

Malibu Grill, 5715 Columbia Pike, near Rt.7, Falls Church, 379-0587.

An attempt to recreate a Brazilian churrasqueria in Washington.  You pay one price, and they bring various grilled meats to your table until you plead for mercy.  They have feijoada as well, as part of the buffet.  Ultimately the meats bore me, once the novelty of the idea wears off. The originals in Brazil are among the world's best restaurants, and the grilled meats here simply can't compare.  Nonetheless this deserves a place in the repertoire, and those that have never gone should go.  Now I go and just eat the feijoada, making sure to pile on the oranges and collard greens and farinha from the salad buffet, that is the key to eating well here.  Lunch is a real bargain, the whole treatment for about seven dollars.

Greenfield, 1801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, 301-881-3397.

This famous Queens churrascaria now has a branch in Maryland.  The meats here are better than in the other Brazilian places of this area.  That being said, the salad bar is a disappointment.  Still worth the visit, however, especially if you donÕt know the concept.  And definitely construct your own feijoada from the salad bar, see directly above for instructions.

The Grill from Ipanema, they just changed the name, though, and redid the decor, 1858 Columbia Road, NW, 202-986-0757.

For my tastes, Brazil is one of the two or three best food countries in the world, so comparisons are tough.  But this is good enough to enjoy.  Get the Feijoada, a stewed mix of black beans, meats, sausage, collard greens, and the powdery farina.  Make sure you add in the orange slices.  A treat.  Some of the other dishes are mediocre.  This place stands or dies on its Feijoada.  It stands.

Brazil Market, 11425 Grandview Ave, Wheaton, 301 942 8412.

They have Brazilian sandwiches, snacks, canned goods, and fried yucca thingies. Not an amazing selection but if you are yearning for a touch of Brazil this does in fact supply it.

Bread

Breadline, 1751 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 202-822-8900.  Closed weekends and dinners, mainly a breakfast and lunch place.

Everyone loves this place, I have yet to go.  Supposed to have first-class ingredients, but at one-third the usual price.

Burmese

Burma Restaurant, 740 6th St., NW, 202-638-1280, located in Chinatown, not open weekend lunch.

I've had better Burmese in other countries (New Zealand and Taiwan), but most people think this is pretty good.  You won't regret going, but it is not much of a draw for me.  Burmese cuisine, as you would expect, lies somewhere between Indian and Thai.  The dishes are all based on good ideas, but I found the execution imperfect.  Maybe I should try it again.

Myanmar Restaurant, 7810-C Lee Highway, Falls Church, 703-289-0013.

Excellent if you order well. The place is hard to spot from the road, in Merrifield Park Plaza, I think, just west of the big cemeteries on Lee Highway, a bit east of Gallows.  Get the Ginger Salad, and more generally donÕt be afraid to go spicy. .

The Mandalay, 930 Bonifant St., near Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-585-0500.

The best Burmese place around.  Order many dishes and follow their lead.  A superb restaurant, note they have changed their location, it used to be near U. Maryland.

A Taste of Burma, 126 Edds Lane, Sterling, 703-444-8511.

This place is supposed to be very good. As usual, in a Burmese place try some of the salads. The Post recommends the Singapore noodles as well, and the noodles more generally.

Cajun

Acadiana, 901 New York Ave., NW, 202-393-1510, www.acadianrestaurant.com.

The new Jeff Tunks place. Everyone says too much butter, not enough chiles. I have not yet been, I am waiting for someone to pay my way.

RT's Restaurant, 3804 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 684-6010.

Good Cajun food.  Messy and relatively authentic, not as cheap as you might think.  I like the peppered shrimp here but overall it is in decline. 

New Orleans Bistro, 4907 Cordell Ave., 301-986-8833

I am told they serve Fried Green Tomatoes.

BardiaÕs New Orleans CafŽ, 2412 18th St., NW, 202-234-0420.

I have yet to go.

OkraÕs Louisiana Bistro, 9110 Center St., Manassas, 703-330-2729.

I have yet to go.

Cajun-Thai

Lex Cajun Grill, 2608 Connecticut Ave., 202-745-0015.

No, you didn't read the subject heading wrong.  This is a dual restaurant, rather than an attempt to mix.  A cute idea, but is there really any advantage in it?

Cameronian – see Nigerian

Caribbean, see also Haitian, Jamaican, Cuban, and Trinidadian, among other individual headings

Cafe Atlantico, reopened near Chinatown, on 8th St., between D and E, I believe the number is 405; previously the restaurant was in Adams-Morgan.  No weekend lunch.

The premier nouvelle Latin and Caribbean restaurant in this area.  Eclectic and wide-ranging.  Get the Cuitlacoche, a delicious Mexican corn fungus.  The Jamaican jerk chicken is good as well, as does the quail and the Brazilian dish.  But it has cycled chefs a number of times, so I am never sure what to expect. 

They also now have a Ņrestaurant within a restaurantÓ, called Minibar, 202-393-0812, I hear the place takes many chances, and doesnÕt always hit.

See also Caribbean Grill, listed under Cuban.  There are also some good Caribbean places on 18th St. in Adams-Morgan.

CafŽ Trope, 2100 P St., NW, 202-223-9335.

 

Caribbean food, cooked by a Gambian. It is right now one of the best places in Dupont Circle, though that isnÕt saying much. The best way to go here is to order vegetarian, including of course the spinach and the collard greens. The plantains by the way are the best of any area restaurant. The salads are good too. I sampled some of the meat and fish-based main courses. They werenÕt bad but I donÕt think on their own they give enough reason to come here.

Ortanique, 730 11th St., NW, opposite the Grand Hyatt, closed Sunday, 202-393-0975.

I have heard it is flawed, interesting, and overpriced.

Mango MikeÕs, 4580 Duke St., 703-370-3800.

I went once and was very disappointed.  Seemed more like a yuppie drinks place, for the sort of people who go on grisly Caribbean cruises.   

Tropics Restaurant, 13016 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown, 301-772-9300.

Washingtonian likes it, plus it sounds authentic, I have yet to go.

PierreÕs, 4926 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-652-7757.

Stewed oxtail, jerk pork loin with pumpkin gnocchi, etc. The City Paper published a somewhat snide review. I would not expect to find a genuine Caribbean place in this part of Bethesda, so I vote no.

Ginger Cove/Ginger Reef, 822 E St., NW, at 8th St., 202-248-6007, 202-248-7733, the two phone numbers are for the two separate places.

Ginger Reef is only for Friday and Saturday nights, get the picture? These are party places for yuppies to buy alcohol. Flights to Haiti are quite cheap those days, so why are you visiting these restaurants? If you must go, try the appetizers. The sad thing is, these people once ran Fish Wings nÕ Tings, in the good old days. They keep on reinventing the same restaurant, with successively higher prices and lower quality. 

Caribbean Palace, 7680 New Hampshire Ave., Takoma Park Shopping Center, 301-431-1563, right at University Blvd.

The place smells great, but I have never eaten there.  Take-out only - that's why.  Those who live closer should go.  See also under Jamaican and Haitian, for some other suggestions.

Also, there are several West Indian places along Georgia Ave., they tend to be clustered near the intersection with Rhode Island.  Most are open only for lunch, though, which makes it hard for me to get there. 

Caribbean Sea Seafood Restaurant, 6869 New Hampshire Ave., Takoma Park, 301-891-3497, closed Mondays. It is hard to see from New Hampshire but it is there, if you are coming from Univ. Blvd. it is on the left just a bit past East-West Highway, tucked away in a strip mall, removed from the street.
 
Lots of lobster, lots of conch, lots of shrimp and fish. This is neither a subtle restaurant nor a restaurant with many different tastes and flavors. But their best flavors are very good indeed. Their devil sauce is one of the best spicy sauces around. ItÕs not just hot it has real oomph in the soul. Good rice too. This is a very specialized restaurant but also a very good restaurant. High marks for atmosphere too, although note that the lobster is not cheap.

Starfish CafŽ, 539 8th St., SE, Washington.

A pallid version of Caribbean food, or so it would appear.  This place gets panned so often I canÕt bring myself to go.

Zanzibar on the Waterfront, 700 Water St., SW, Waterfront, 202-554-9100.

IÕve only had snacks here, but I liked it.  They sometimes have Haitian concerts, or African concerts, at night, or Zouk.  And yes, I know, Zanzibar is not in the Caribbean.

Island CafŽ, Beltway Plaza Mall, 6054 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, 301-345-0462.

Good roti, curries, other West Indian specialties.  It is in a wonderful shopping mall, great for people watching, I bet most of my readers have never been there.  One of the best mall restaurants on this list.

The Georgia Ave. rowÉright now you might try C+I JackieÕs One Stop, 3400 block, at Park, 202-882-7089, but the turnover is high. Usually there are a good half dozen or so Caribbean places along Georgia Ave., starting around Howard U., stretching up to Maryland.

Cheese steaks

AlÕs Steak House, 1504 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 703-836-9443.

I have friends from Philly who swear that good indeed great cheese steaks exist. IÕm still waiting for an existence proof. But if five of you write and tell me to try this place, I will. In any case this is supposed to be a good place for local character.

Chicken

See Peruvian, and also Colombian.

Pollo Campero, 5852 Columbia Pike, just west of the Best Buy at BaileyÕs Crossroads. Try also 11420 Georgia Ave., Wheaton, 301-942-6868, and 496 Elden St. Herndon.

Not Peruvian chicken, just plain fried chicken.  A Latin version of KFC but far superior.  The French fries and sides are excellent.  By 11:00 on weekends the crowds have arrived, sometimes parking is a real pain. Excellent for people-watching, recommended if you can stand the idea of eating fried chicken.

Chili

Hard Times Cafe, 1404 King St., Alexandria, 3028 Wilson Blvd, Clarendon, 1117 Nelson St., Rockville, 394 Elden St., Herndon, usually open.

Chili up to five different ways, Texas and Cincinnati style, tasty and cheap.  That being said, the tastes are blander than they used to be. Not up to the quality level in southern Ohio, but then again what is?  Purists will never be happy here.

Chinese

Hong Kong Palace, formerly Saigon Palace, 6387 E. Leesburg Pike, Seven Corners Center, Falls Church, 532-0940.  In the mall with Home Depot and Barnes and Noble, though both are down below on the other side of the mall.

This was the premier Cantonese place around, but now it is Sichuan, at least if you ask for the special Chinese menu. The lamb with cumin is excellent, the Dan Dan noodles are very good, the fish in the bowl with all the chiles is a knock-out, and they are putting in real spice. The place keeps on getting better. The beef with bamboo shoot is especially good, as are the Chengdu dumplings. The specials are superb. Right now the clientele is 100 pct. Chinese, a good sign. Currently the best Chinese place around.

BobÕs Noodle 66, now sometimes called BobÕs Bistro but not on the sign, 305 N. Washington St., Rockville, 301-315-6668, usually open, cash only.

Very good Chinese food, nor is it replicated by the other best Chinese places around. More Taiwanese than most local Chinese restaurants. The thick noodles are amazing. I loved the fish and the ginger casseroles. Get the oyster pancake as a starter. The last fish dish, lightly fried fish in a sweet and sour sauce, is excellent. Not to mention the tempura soft shell crab. They have duck blood too.

China Star, Rt.236, Fairfax, in the same shopping center as KinkoÕs and Cinema Arts Theatre.

Great Szechuan if you know how to order properly.  Get the spicy dishes and the specialties of the house.  The Szechuan chili chicken has to be seen to be believed; get it on the bone. Get the sea bass with pine nuts and the crystal shrimp.  The dried fried green beans.  The Szechuan preserved fish. The Szechuan scallion fried fish, which goes well with the chicken with leeks. DonÕt forget the LionÕs Head in Hot Pot. Get the dishes you have never heard of.  Watch what everyone else is eating.  The daily specials usually are excellent.  The ordinary ŅChineseÓ dishes here are quite unexceptional, avoid them.  This can blow the roof off your mouth, they have four categories: normal, spicy, very spicy, and numbing.  That should be all you need to know.  For a fresh look at Chinese food, visit this place. I go back, and back, and back.

BobÕs Noodle 66, now sometimes called BobÕs Bistro but not on the sign, 305 N. Washington St., Rockville, 301-315-6668, usually open, cash only.

Very good Chinese food, nor is it replicated by the other best Chinese places around. More Taiwanese than most local Chinese restaurants. The thick noodles are amazing. I loved the fish and the ginger casseroles. Get the oyster pancake as a starter. The last fish dish, lightly fried fish in a sweet and sour sauce, is excellent. Not to mention the tempura soft shell crab. They have duck blood too.

China Bistro/MamaÕs Dumplings, 755 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, 301-294-0808.

Order items 38 to 45, the dumplings. Dumplings. These are the best dumpling around, by an order of magnitude and yes I do know JoeÕs Noodle House. The other stuff here is only so-so.

BobÕs 88 Shabu Shabu, 316 N. Washington St., Rockville, 301-294-5888.

The Chinese consider 88, like 66, to be a lucky number, of course this is also the Bob of BobÕs Noodle 66, one of the best Chinese places around. Shabu refers to dipping your food into a boiling pot to cook it. In general I am opposed to this idea, rarely are the results very interesting. But this is a worthwhile restaurant. You must get your boiling mix to be Ņvery spicy,Ó then you must order the most complex combination of stuff possible to put into the mix (this will depend on how many people you have). The results are genuinely delicious. I thought the fish was especially good. I might add there is a second menu, small but similar to part of the 66 place, which taken alone would make this one of the best Chinese restaurants around. No matter which route you wish to go, this place is worth trying.

TemptAsian CafŽ, 6259 Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, 703-750-6801., just west of where 395 hits 236.

Peter Chang is gone, but it is still pretty good, though not as fine as in the past. Get the Dan Dan Noodles (it gets better as you dig in), the Scallion Chow Foon, the Dried, Minced Beef in Hot Pot, and the appetizer with fish and cilantro. After that go with the specials. Ignore the American menu. At least the service is now speedier with ChangÕs departure, but of course that is part of the problem.

Fu Mei, in that Chinese grocery store on Gallows, between 29 and 50 and right by Five Guys and Peking Village, 703-208-3388.

Fully authentic Chinese comfort food, the meats are quite good, the noodles too, the chow foon, all for Chinese tastes; the food lies in the direction of oily Cantonese, not sea cucumber. Definitely recommended, and an A+ for atmosphere. They have only a few tables, all the more reason to go.

Great Wall Sichuan House Restaurant, 1527 14th St., Washington, 202-797-8888, www.greatwallszechuanhouse.com, usually open.

Most of the food is the usual junk. Their nine ma-la dishes, posted on a small menu on the take-out window, are another story altogether. Get the bean sprouts and the double cooked pork. Quite authentic. TheyÕve got the whole numbing bit down pat. Very cheap. ThereÕs not a lot of variety here, but if you care about real Chinese food this is a place you must visit. Usually it is empty, but the proprietor tells me they have been around since 2002. Mostly they serve the neighborhood with take-out.

China Canteen, 808 Hungerford Drive, Suite E, Rockville, 301-424-1616.

A real Szechuan place, dating back several years. Why didnÕt more of you write me about it? Get some of the cold dishes. The Dan-Dan noodles are excellent. Otherwise get dishes that are not otherwise available in non-Szechuan restaurants. Not as good as the best of TemptAsian or China Star, but worth going to. Perhaps the most extensive Szechuan menu around.

Full KeeÕs, in Chinatown, 509 H St.., 202-371-2233.

The snow pea pod leaves here, or whatever they are called, are great.  As are the dumplings in the soup.  Some mediocre dishes, but if you order well this place is a knock-out.  Mostly Cantonese.  Written up by The New York Times as one of the most interesting places in DC.

Full KeeÕs, Rt.7, Falls Church, in the mall with Trader JoeÕs, across from the Borders, also accessible from Columbia Pike.

The DC place just opened a branch in VA.  So far better than the original, it is excellent Chinese food.  Be adventurous when you order.  Excellent lobster, dumplings, tofu dishes.  Critics laud the casseroles, and while I can see their merits, they donÕt give me much visceral enjoyment along the yummy dimension.

Seven Seas, 1776 E. Jefferson St., Rockville, 301-770-5020, usually open.

One of the very best Chinese for seafood.  You must ask for the Chinese menu, otherwise donÕt go.  Get the Crispy Fish Hunan Style.

The Oriental Regency, 8605 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, 827-9066, usually open, directly across from Shamshiry (see Persian), behind the American Cafe on Rt.7.

The chef has come and gone many times, so now you take your chances. But I have heard it is in an upswing again. They do have genuine Chinese items on the menu, like jellyfish.  Reasonable prices as well, although the decor and staff are a bit cold. 

Peking Gourmet Inn, 6029 Leesburg Pike, Baileys Crossroads, 671-8088.

An old hang-out for conservative Republicans, like George Bush Sr. and Norman Schwarzkopf.  Excellent Peking duck, no advance notice required.  The other dishes vary greatly, but if they use lots of garlic, or garlic sprouts, they are probably excellent.  I love the Peking Chicken Wings and the leek dumplings.  It often pays to go for the fatty and disgusting here, rather than the light and appetizing.  Just keep in mind that many dishes here are mediocre.  This is an old-style Chinese restaurant, in the sense that the help is surly and rude.  But the food does come in time, which is the important thing.

Fortune, in the Barnes and Noble Mall at Seven Corners, entrances from Rt.7 and Patrick Henry Drive, who knows what the address is? and Reston, 1428 North Point Village Center, 318-8898.

The most varied selection of Dim Sum in Northern Virginia, in terms of variety, but not actually my favorite.  Not fully consistent and now overpriced.  And the new quarters are simply too huge, more suitable for a Chinese wedding, which is in fact what they are used for.  By no means a bad restaurant, but I go to MarkÕs Duck House for dim sum.

House of Mandarin, 165 S.E. Glyndon St., Vienna, 703-281-9600.

This old standby was a boring Chinese restaurant for eleven years. Now they have a Chinese menu and it is much improved. Ask for the Chinese menu and ignore the rest. I expect this place will continue to improve, I will keep my eye on it. Small and homey, a nice Vienna institution.

Lucky Three, 5900 Leesburg Pike, Baileys Crossroads, 998-8888, formerly Fortune, then Maxim, now renamed but has it ever changed? 

Above average, but it is too close to my other favorites to get major air time.  A big dim sum place.

Miu Kee, Rt. 50, just east of Annnandale Rd.

Real Chinese food, for Chinese.  Family atmosphere, homey, comfortable.  I like the soy chicken on rice, and the pork on chowfoon, very soggy but yummy.  Not everything here is great, but none of it is bad, and the wise orderer can make a great meal.  Cheaper than most, too.

Shanghai Tea House, 2400 Wisconsin Ave., open every day, 202-338-3816.
 
Sietsma likes this place but it is only OK. It does have better dumplings than anywhere else I know in DC but in Annandale it would not make the top ten. I quite liked the tofu and cabbage dishes, yummy. Cramped quarters. I can easily imagine worse places to eat, but if this is what you look forward to for your Chinese food, I feel sorry for you.

 

Paul Kee, 11305-B Georgia Ave. Wheaton, 301.933.6886.

 

One of the best Cantonese places around, although you hardly ever hear of it. Excellent seafood. I like the scallops in pepper sauce, among other dishes. There are also the casseroles, and make sure you get some greens to round out the combination.

 

Hollywood East on the Boulevard, 2621 University Blvd. Wheaton, 240-290-9988.

 

Right now this is the best dim sum place around. They donÕt just churn out the usual stuff, they are consistently interesting and make the dim sum with care. At times you might be frustrated by the delays, but thatÕs part of the signal of quality. First-rate greens too. I might add that they make stuff in batches, and you should stick around for about two hours, and save up space in your stomach, rather than filling up right away. Go slow, slow, slow, and make an afternoon of it.

Lo's, 3075 Nutley St., Pan Am Shopping Center, Fairfax, but very close to Vienna Metro, 280-2897.

Suburban Chinese through and through, and will not satisfy those looking for the real thing.  But one of the best of its kind in the area.  Will consistently satisfy.  The Bird's Nest is especially good, as is the Lamb of Two Flavors.  It's hard to go wrong here, as long as you donÕt expect real Chinese food.

Jasmine Garden, 8106 Arlington Vlvd., Falls Church, 703-208-9989, actually on Gallows Rd. next to the 24-hour Safeway at Rt. 50.

I know what youÕre thinking.  ŅIÕve discovered so many wonderful new Chinese places in the last few years I donÕt need another one.Ó  Well, you are wrong.  This place looks too yuppy and draws a business crowd for lunch.  But many of the dishes on their Chinese menu – which you must ask for separately – are quite good.  Get the chicken with three peppers, and then experiment on the Chinese menu.  Their non-special dishes are above average, too.  The menu has some Thai and Japanese items as well. Plus they have a piano, with occasional performances of, get this, operatic arias. 

Mark's Duck House, 6184-A Arlington Blvd., Willston Center 1, Falls Church, 532-2125.  Hard to see from the road, on Rt. 50 just east of Rt.7, north side of the street, look for the CVS.  Usually opened.

A real Cantonese restaurant, replete with hanging ducks in the window and everything.  Get the crispy pork, and also some variant of the noodles.  I love the tofu as well.  I am less enamored of the duck and chicken, but this is an excellent restaurant, and very authentic, in the hands of a wise orderer.  It's also very cheap, so take advantage of the prices to order many items.  Great dim sum too.

Eat First, 609 H St., NW, 202-289-1703, usually open.

One of ChinatownÕs best, but you need to know what you are doing when ordering.  Certainly above average, good enough to really enjoy, but for me not up to suburban Chinese. 

Taipei-Tokyo Cafe, Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-881-8388, IÕve lost track of all their branches, which seem ridiculously close together.

Noodles and soups abound.  You order, and they bring the food to your table.  Not haute cuisine, but very tasty.  The accompanying Japanese place, under separate ownership, is also worthwhile.  Both are cheap, and both are recommended.  That being said, they are not keeping up with the upgrading of all the new competition.

Sichuan Village, 14005 Lee Jackson Highway (Rt.50), just east of Rt.28, Chantilly, 703-631-5888, same strip mall as Il Mee.

This place is from the titans that brought you the old Formosa CafŽ in Crystal City. The new place is much more Szechuan, although they have added many heinous dishes and a heinous buffet for some of their heinous customers. Ignore those downsides. The real Chinese food here is superb. Get the Ants on a Stick, Pork Beijing Style, Tofu and Fish Fillet inVery Hot Sauce, Chengdu Kung Pao Chicken, Braised Beef with Brown Sauce, Tea Smoked Duck, Steamed Pork Bun Han Style, and Dumplings ZhongÕs Style. And that is just a start.

A&J Restaurant, 4316 Markham St., Annandale, 813-8181, just east of Beltway, or 1319 Rockville Pike, 301-251-7878.

Manchurian food and dim sum, one of the best places around.  Tasty, original, and very cheap.  I love the soups and dumplings.  The boiled peanuts and shredded bean curd are other favorites.  The smoked chicken has been especially good lately. But you canÕt go wrong here, just make sure you get lots of things, and with the median item price below three dollars, this is not hard to do.

JoeÕs Noodle House, 1488-C Rockville Pike, near Congressional Lane, Rockville, 301-881-5518.

Excellent Szechuan food.  Many little items.  You order and they bring it to your crowded table.  Get as many different kinds of noodles as you can. The hot and sour fish is one of my favorite dishes here. An exciting place to visit, highly recommended. 

N.B. There are many excellent Chinese places in Wheaton and Rockville, but I donÕt know most of them.  LetÕs not forget the Chinese vegetarian places on Rockville Pike, one of them is Yuan Fu Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant, at 798 Rockville Pike, near Norbeck Rd., 301-762-5937.

Chinatown Express, 746 Sixth St., NW, 202-638-0424.

Maybe the best place in Chinatown right now.  Make sure you order the noodles.  Good soft-shelled crab.  Excellent dumplings.  Not as good as JoeÕs Noodle House, but if you are stuck in DC you will enjoy this place.  Small, and draws a crowd, so go early.

Vinh Kee, 3103-D Graham Rd., at Rt. 50, Falls Church, 703-645-0118.

Half of the way toward Vietnamese, actually.  A good Asian seafood restaurant, though it does not rival my favorites, such as Seven Seas, in my affections.  But it will be closer for many, and good enough to enjoy. Get the whole fish.

Hollywood East CafŽ, 2312 Price Ave., Wheaton, also 2621 University Blvd., 301-942-8282.  And their new second location is 2621 University Blvd., West, near Grandview Ave., Wheaton, 240-290-9988.

Everything here has real flavor, it is a real pleasure to eat their food.  DoesnÕt hit the peaks of the very best places, but stands above the typical Chinese restaurant.  Go for the daily specials.  And the whole fish is never a mistake in a good Chinese restaurant, donÕt worry about its high price, you are likely to die with a positive bequest in any case.

Tony ChengÕs Seafood Restaurant, H St., I believe between 6th and 7th, Chinatown, usually open.

It used to be you could have a good meal if you know how to order.  Get the oyster casserole and the scallops in wine sauce, plus other house specials.  But itÕs been getting worse and worse, so mostly just donÕt go.

Peking Village, 2962 Gallows Rd., between 50 and 29, Falls Church, 703-698-9220.

Two restaurants in one, a grisly fried Chinese buffet and a real Szechuan menu with absolutely no concessions to Western taste.  The latter is worth trying.  Not up to JoeÕs Noodle House or China Star, but a truly authentic restaurant where you donÕt expect to find such a place.  They donÕt hold back on the bodily organs and slime, etc., but you can get other things too. But keep in mind: the Chinese often eat for texture, not taste. Try the Dan Dan Noodles.

Far East Restaurant, 50550 Nicholson Lane, Rockville, 301-881-5552.

Quite good overall but the Kung Pao Chicken is the dish to get here, much more of a plum sauce dish than other kung paos.

Charlie ChiangÕs, 660 South Pickett St., off van Dorn, not so far from the Metro, West Alexandria, 703-751-8888.

They have rabbit on the menu, and a number of other interesting-looking Szechuan dishes.  DonÕt get stuck with the American menu.

Oriental East, 1290 East-West Highway, at Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, 301-608-0030.

The best orange beef around.  Overall a very good, above average Chinese restaurant.  There are so many good Chinese places around now, you might be tempted not to try this one, but it is worth a visit.

China Garden, Rosslyn, 1100 Wilson Blvd., 703-525-5317.

Supposed to be very good Cantonese food, popular with Chinese. I believe the menu is different on the weekends.

Hunan Number One, Arlington, just off Wilson Blvd. in Clarendon, open to 1:30 a.m. every night, 703-528-1177.

A fraction of this place is authentic Cantonese, the other part is trying to appeal to boring American diners. Sooner or later the place will have to choose. The salt baked chicken is excellent and you wonÕt otherwise find that dish around. A reader recommends the clams in black bean sauce, beware the dim sum.

MaiÕs Rest Inc., 6763 #9 Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, Falls Church, inside the mall, 703-237-2020, Tgfriday14@yahoo.com

The best crab place in the immediate area. Fresh. The proprietor likes to talk. Only crabs. Crabs, with ginger and scallions, tamarind sauce, plain, or salt and pepper. I like salt and pepper best. Recommended.

Cho cu Sai Gon, 6763 Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, #6D, inside the mall at the back, 703-538-2168.

An unknown and much underrated Cantonese restaurant. Good congee. Also get the salted and baked chicken. Fully authentic, try the noodles with ginger and scallion, I think this place is quite good. My favorite is the casserole with minced chicken and salt fish but there are many wonders here.

Chilean

La Caraque–a, 300 W. Broad St., Falls Church, 703-533-0076, where CafŽ Rose used to be in Falls Church City.

 

They serve Venezuelan, Bolivian, and Chilean dishes; the proprietors are Bolivians who lived for quite a while in Venezuela. Definitely above average. I loved the peanut soup (Sopa de Mani). Chilean sandwiches are hard to mimic in this country, so I didnÕt order one, but I saw two go past and they looked delicious. Even their Bolivian dishes are not exactly the standard. An original place, worth having in the repertoire and a nice homey atmosphere.

Chinese-Peruvian

Kam Po, 5884 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, 703-578-4017.

They have Chinese dishes and Peruvian dishes, with mutual influence running both ways.  Visitors to Lima will be familiar with the concept, the place is run by Chinese Peruvians.  An interesting novelty, and reasonably good, but it doesnÕt beat trying either cuisine pure up.

Colombian

Los Arrieros, 7926 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, but right at the DC border where the neighborhood turns dicey.

They have Mexican dishes also, I have not yet been.  IÕll go when you tell me to, otherwise not. I am still waiting. Washingtonian recommends the seafood soup.

Rumba CafŽ, 2443 18th St., Adams Morgan, 202-588-5501.
 
A mix of Colombian and Puerto Rican dishes, with some other Pan-Latin elements thrown in. I have yet to go. Lots of arepas. Lots of mofongos (mashed plantains and garlic). It looks interesting.

Crabs

ObryckiÕs, Baltimore, 410-732-6399, obryckis.com.  Somehow I lost the address.  Not open outside of the crab season, though, which varies.

Yes, thatÕs right, Baltimore.  This place blew me away, and I donÕt even like crabs, or rather didnÕt even like crabs until I was converted.  A memorable experience, though I received one report of decline. Also recommended by readers are FaidleyÕs (Lexington market), and The Edgewater Inn (in Edgewater, near Annapolis)

Sea Side Crab House, 6799 Wilson Blvd., #5, Falls Church, 703-241-CRAB, www.seaside-crabhouse.com

 

An excellent seafood house in Eden Center. The soft shell crab is some of the best around. The crawfish are served Cajun style, although not as spicy as you would get in southwest Louisiana. ItÕs small and not a great place to sit and chat, but absolutely worth having in the repertoire. Right now it is my go-to choice for crabs.

Fairfax Crab House, Rt.50, just a bit east of University Drive.

Formerly Captain JackÕs on Rt.29, a longstanding Fairfax County institution that was forced out by gentrification of its neighborhood.  How good is it?  YouÕre asking the wrong person.  The crab I love is Chili or Pepper Crab in Singapore.

MaiÕs Rest Inc., 6763 #9 Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, Falls Church, inside the mall, 703-237-2020, Tgfriday14@yahoo.com

The best crab place in the immediate area. Fresh. The proprietor likes to talk. Only crabs. Crabs, with ginger and scallions, tamarind sauce, plain, or salt and pepper. I like salt and pepper best. Recommended, noting that sometimes it closes for stretches of time. Call before going.

Cuban

Caribbean Grill, 5183 Lee Highway, Arlington, 241-8947, usually open. 

Mostly Cuban, also they serve some Jamaican items.  The grilled chicken is good, but I'm more inclined to order the beef (Ropa Vieja) or the Pork Fried Pieces (Masas de Puerco).  But the key to having a good time here is to neglect the entrees and order as many side dishes as possible.  Especially the beans, in their various manifestations.  Table space here is limited, but don't let that discourage you.  Cheap.

Cuban Corner Restaurant, 825 Hungerford Drive, near Ivy League Lane, Rockville, 301-279-0310, closed Sunday.

The best Cuban place around, as far as I can tell.  Excellent pork and sides.  The following is the rule of thumb on Cuban restaurants.  The rice and beans are bound to be worthwhile.  To have a great meal all you then need do is latch on to one other satisfactory dish.  And here that is very easy to do.  First-rate atmosphere, and I love the list of all the prominent Cubans on the wall, and the anti-Castro political propaganda.  Definitely recommended, and very good for people-watching as well.

Cuba de Ayer, 15446 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, 301-476-9622, closed Mondays.

A mom and pop, the Washington Post claims it is one of the best Cuban places around; it is a little out of the way for me.

BohioÕs Cuban Bistro, 1026 King St., Alexandria, 703-299-8886, closed Sunday lunch at 3 to 6 on most days.

Cuban restaurants around here donÕt tend to vary much, and the rice and beans is usually better than the main chicken and beef dishes. This place I have yet to try.

CubanoÕs, 1201 Fidler Lane, at Ramsey Ave., Silver Spring, 301-563-4020, 11-11 daily.

There is a flourish of new Cuban places in this area, though we do not yet have critical mass for any of them to be knockouts, as you might find in Florida or New Jersey.

Banana CafŽ and Piano Bar, 500 Eighth St., SE, just off Pennsylvania Ave., 202-543-5906.

Cuba, Spanish, and Puerto Rican dishes.  Not exactly a mom and pop, the place has a somewhat vile yuppie flavor.  The Puerto Rican dishes consist of mashed plantains, in various forms, with garlic.  The dishes vary greatly in quality.  The best ones are good enough to enjoy (try the Puerto Rican ones, if only for noveltyÕs sake), but not good enough to stand comparison with the real thing.  By all means go, especially if you live in the area (few good alternatives), but lower your expectations accordingly.

Yuca, 1800 M St., NW, 202-785-1177, closed Saturday lunch and Sunday.

Terrible hours, but again another new Cuban place.  Has to be one of the better places in the neighborhood.

Deli

Chutzpah, 12214 Fairfax Towne Center, Fairfax, 703-385-8883, closed Sunday dinner.

No, this isnÕt New York City, or even New Jersey, but this place is better than you think.

Celebrity Delly, LoehmannÕs Plaza, Rt. 50, Falls Church.

Not as good as Chutzpah, but above average for this area.

Dominican

Manna, 8640 Flower Avenue, Takoma Park, 20912, 301-589-9390, usually open.

Go here for mofongos (see under Puerto Rico for an explanation), fried pork and chicken, cuban sandwiches, and cow feet soup.  I haven't been here yet, but I have heard good reviews.

Eclectic

SBC CafŽ, 2501 McNair Farms Drive, at Centreville Rd., Herndon, 703-793-7388.

Here they have a little bit of everything, Tom Sietsema recommends the two-tone pepper soup.

A Taste of the World, 283 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon, 20170, not visible from the street, call for directions, 471-2017.

They have Indian, Thai, and Mexican dishes.  Better than it sounds.  A kind of home cooking, tastes different than what you get elsewhere, and very good.  Worth having in one's repertoire.

Ecuadorean

La Choza Grill, 8558 Lee Highway, Merrifield, 1/2 mile west of Gallows, 560-1192.

I like the Seco (lamb stew with rice and potatoes) as well.  They've added some Mexican dishes to the menu since I have been here last, which is probably a step backwards.  But it is still the same owner, and if you live in the immediate area, you will find yourself coming back here.

Egyptian

The Prince of Egypt, 3821-D S. George Mason Drive, Falls Church, 931-8200.

The sort of place a woman would never feel comfortable walking into alone.  Dark and smoky, full of men sitting around tables, with a vaguely pornographic or sinister feel to the whole thing.  I would like to go, but right now I canÕt take the smoke.  Maybe when it is empty.

Cairo CafŽ and Restaurant, 6244-H Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, 703-750-3551.

Genuinely good Egyptian food, cooked for area Muslims, if not always Egyptians.  The place to go if you wish to see people, including women, smoking hookahs (Middle Eastern water pipe, with your preferential flavored tobacco).  Nineteen flavors of hookah, including ŅCola.Ó  Small menu, authentic, and tasty.  Worth a visit.  They have a non-smoking section as well.

Alf Laylah Wa Laylah, 13975 Metro Tech Drive, Chantilly, 703-378-6677.

An excellent name, no? The owner is Palestinian, the chef is Turkish, how should I list this place? Mostly the food is ŅMiddle Eastern,Ó with many Lebanese dishes, but since they have hookah I will put it under the category ŅEgyptian.Ó

Pasha CafŽ, 3911 N. Lee Highway, Arlington, 703-528-1111.

This place has reopened, following a devastating fire. I have yet to visit the new incarnation but loved the old. Focus on the appetizers. Probably the best Egyptian place around.

Sphinx CafŽ, 137 Spring St., Herndon, Sunset Park industrial strip mall, 703-464-0001.

This is a good strip mall, so this place has potential. I have yet to go. Here is one review, http://www.observernews.com/stories/current/news/012805/sphinx.shtml, they have Persian and Lebanese dishes as well.

Reston Kabob, near the International Center on Sunrise Valley Drive, 11844 Sunrise Valley Dr # A, 703-390-9070 http://www.restonkabob.com/.

Maybe this is not even Egyptian, but they have kabobs, recommended by a reader.

Ethiopian

Meaza, 5700 Columbia Pike, Falls Church, 703-820-2870, IÕm not sure about the number on Rt.7, it is what their card says but some people tell me it is wrong. In any case it is on Col. Pike just east of Rt.7 by Circuit City.

Excellent, excellent Ethiopian, maybe as good as the DC dumps. But itÕs a nice restaurant too. The fish tibs you canÕt get in other places. First-rate kitfo. Wide variety. A clear #1 Ethiopian for Virginia and yes it is pressing on the DC places too. Attached to a coffee shop, plus they have Ethiopian music on some nights. Definitely recommended, although perhaps I would prefer if the dinin*g room had more light.

Zenebech Injera, 608 T St., NW, WDC, 202-667-4700. 

This restaurant with two tables is now the best Ethiopian place in Washington.  It is better than Adams-Morgan, better than the 9th St. row.  Especially if you don't mind hearing them grind up meat in the nearby back room.  Every dish is excellent and the flavors are simply more real.  Get the raw kitfo, and you do need to ask for it spicy otherwise they will notice your possibly pale face and dumb down the food accordingly.  Oddly this place is right next to Thai X-ing, which has only one table and is the best Asian restaurant in town.  DC is finally developing the right mix of high rent and low rent districts to support such entrepreneurial ventures.

Queen of Sheba, 1503 9th St. a bit south of the 9th St. Ethiopian row.

Above-average Ethiopian food, even for the neighborhood. This is the restaurant that serves a peanut butter dish and a flax seed dish, so high marks for authenticity. That said, the various forms of the lentils are the thing to get here. Lots of lentils here, the novelty items are interesting but they wonÕt be the best part of your meal. Also get the Queen Kitfo, a superb dish.

Abay Market, 3811-A S. George Mason Drive, Falls Church, 703-998-5322.

 

Now this is an interesting place. They have only three dishes: raw beef, and I do mean slabs (tere sega), not chopped kitfo, lamb soup, and slightly cooked kitfo (mostly raw). ThatÕs it. All come with bread, sauce, and spices. The lamb is pretty fatty, the soup is tasty. No doubt this is the best raw beef emporium for miles and miles around. It will disappoint those who seek side orders, vegetables, or indeed anything else. A+ for atmosphere. Ask for their assistance in eating the food. Recommended, but youÕd better know what you are looking for.

Ibex Restaurant, 3813 E and F South George Mason Drive, Falls Church, 703-379-3899, www.ibexrestaurant.com.

This new Ethiopian place is set in the ever-so-excellent strip mall on George Mason Drive. IÕve looked at the menu only (I had already eaten at Abay), it appeared well above-average in terms of offering diverse dishes, more than the Ethiopian-American usual.

Shashamene, 1909 9th St., 202-328-2223.

 

A new entry for the 9th St. Ethiopian row. The menu is narrower than most but quality is above average and the vegetarian sampler is especially noteworthy. If you are vegetarian and opting for the sampler, this may be your #1 bet in town. Not a palace but it has a ŅnicerÓ atmosphere than many of the other places in the area. First-rate kitfo as well.

Meskerem, 2434 18th St., NW, 202-462-4100.

The best known Ethiopian place in the area, but there is no longer any reason to go here.   

Ethiopian foods spreads out a variety of curries on a pancake-like bread called Injera.  You then eat it with your fingers.  But this is no mere novelty, it is an excellent cuisine.  My favorite dish is the Kitfo, raw beef doused with chilies and a kind of dry cottage cheese.  And don't forget the potato salad.

Washington is very strong in the area of Ethiopian food, so most of the places are recommended.  The less refined places tend to have spicier food, and I prefer those to Meskerem; you can pretty much pick one randomly.  But Meskerem is where most of us started.

Dukem Ethiopian Market, 1114 U St., south side of the street, looks like a Deli or a food mart.

Formerly the best Ethiopian food around, but their larger size has made them shakier (go to Rome for the very best.)  It remains good, but is no longer just mamaÕs home cooking. Get the Foul (pronounced "fool") for breakfast.  I love the fish too. Good tripe. 

Axum, 1936 9th St., 202-387-0765.

Another good pick on the 9th St. row.

Queen Makeda, 1917 9th St., 202-232-5665.

Matt Yglesias likes this one. They are well-known for their catering.

Etete, 1942 9th St., 202-232-7600.

By far the ŅnicestÓ and most upscale of the 9th St. places. This is where you should bring your mother. They also have a few pastas on the menu. Excellent vegetarian dishes.

Salome, 900 U St., 202-518-5493.

They are known for their home-made injera, or bread. Right now it is under reconstruction.

U Turn, 1942 11th St., 202-299-9882.

The Washington Post tells us that spicy beef is their Sunday special. I have yet to go.

Habesha Buffet, 1919 9th St., NW, www.habeshamarket.com.

Ethiopian buffet and also carry out and order off the menu, run by the brother of the woman who runs Sodere. Consistently good, and the tripe may be the best in town. The vegetables are quite fresh. A fun hang-out. Ultimately ŅbuffetÓ should be suited to Ethiopian food (tender foods cooked slowly, in spices, like Indian), I am curious whether this innovation prospers.

Awash, 18th St., a bit south of Meskerem.

Probably the best Ethiopian place in Adams-Morgan right now.  Addis Adaba is good too.

RohaÕs Ethiopian, U St., 202-462-1212.

Another good U St. place. It doesnÕt reign supreme, but going here is no mistake. I especially like their spiced yellow lentils. Good lamb tibs also.

Madjet, 1102 U St., NW, 202-265-4779.

An up-and-coming Ethiopian place on U St.. I like #9 best, the beef special, one of the best Ethiopian dishes in DC and not found in most other places. The Titanic Tibs is good too. High quality, although (because?) the menu is more limited than in most places.

Fasiledes, 3821-B S. George Mason Drive, 703-931-4141.

Good, but not the best Ethiopian place in Northern Virginia.  In one of the best malls for ethnic food, however, which counts for something. Go if you want to, but don't render a final judgment on Ethiopian food from these places.

Warka, 275 Sunset Drive, that funny industrial park in Herndon with all the ethnic food, 703-435-2166.

Herndon continues its rise in the world of ethnic food. How bad can this place be? An Ethiopian place in Herndon; The Washington Post review describes it as intriguing but inconsistent, with better meats than vegetables.

Zed's, 1201 28th St.., NW, 202-333-4710.

Not up to the others and it is long in decline.  The dry cottage cheese is worth ordering as a side dish.  Otherwise go to 9th St. or U St.

Langano Ethiopian Restaurant, 8305 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-563-6700.

Ethiopian food, for those who chose Maryland.  They have a lunch and weekend buffet.  Not the very best, but there is something to be said for the buffet feature if you are in a hurry.

Walia, 6840 New Hampshire Ave., Takoma Park, 301-270-4545.

Another Maryland Ethiopian restaurant, but at a higher level of squalor.  Let me know if you have been.

Filipino

Little Quiapo, 4807 1 St., Arlington, 528-3194.

Hard to find - there are eight 1 Sts. in Arlington, and this doesn't seem to be on any of them.  I once spent an hour looking for this place and finally had to give up.  Several months later I found it on my own.  It is located in the Forest Mall, where there is an Outback Steakhouse also.  Coming from the intersection of 7 and 50, go east on 50, turning left at Park, which is maybe your sixth (?) light.  You'll see the mall then.

Filipino food is best enjoyed when served in homes and at weddings.  Most Filipino restaurants I have been to (usually in Los Angeles) have been disappointing.  Oxtail in peanut sauce can be too fatty and only brings you so far.  The lumpia (a bit like spring rolls) are often good, but they're not that special either, at least not in America.  Milkfish is no treat in my book. 

In spite of all that, this place is pretty good.  I like the Adobo very much, and the small lumpia.  But beware when you order - even dedicated fans of ethnic food will not like much of what is on the menu.  Strong fish sauce - not the sweetened Vietnamese version - abounds.  High marks for atmosphere, by the way.  And one of the cheapest places on this list, which is saying something.

SamÕs II Karaoke & Restaurant, 11125 Georgia Ave., Wheaton, 301-942-0061.

I have yet to go.  The best Filipino food IÕve had in ages was last year, when a few of the Filipino GMU undergrads cooked some for sale in the GMU food court.  ThatÕs the way to go, cultivate Filipino friends, the best way to learn this exquisite and interesting and undervalued cuisine.

Fairfax Inn, 2946 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church, just off Seven Corners, located in a Medical Arts Building, 703-532-0616.

Mostly they serve burgers and the like. You have to ask for the Filipino menu at the counter. Real mom nÕ pop food, the milkfish is pretty good. They close at 7 p.m. evenings, 3 p.m. on Sundays, and also serve Filipino breakfast.

Kababayan, Smoketown Road Shopping Center, at Smoketown Road and Minnieville Road, near Glory Days Grill, Woodbridge, 703-580-0300.

The Filipino version of cafeteria line dining, or so I am told. They do Ņturo-turo,Ó or Ņpoint-point,Ó because the diner points to what he wants to eat.

Aling Pacing, 2311 Price Avenue, Wheaton, 301-933-7070, not always open for lunch on weekdays.

See the remarks above on Filipino food under Little Quiapo.  This one looks less appetizing, however, although it is easier to find. Oxtail and peanut sauce are often good Pilipino dishes, adobe too.

Manila CafŽ, 7020 Commerce St., Springfield, 703-644-5825.

I find this to be the most interesting Pilipino place around. The barbecued pig is excellent. But you must know exactly what you are doing here, or indeed in any Pilipino restaurant. Most of all, you need to understand how condiments are used in the cuisine. Otherwise you will be bored and disappointed. And there is no denying that the median dish here is not worth the trip. Consider also the specials, especially those that need to be ordered days in advance.

Karaoke Idol, 7151 Lee Highway, Falls Church.

I tried once and it was Filipio. Recommended by a reader is the lumpia, Pancit, the tocino, and longaniza. If you want to try the cuisine, this is one of the places to go, but I am not sure how much I enjoyed it.

Pampanguena, 16041 Frederick Road (Route 355), Gaithersburg, 240-631-2210.

I donÕt usually include the excellent Gaithersburg in this guide (just too far for me), but how many good Filipino places do we have? A Filipino reader says this is the best one around.

Fine Dining

DonÕt smirk, ALL FOOD IS ETHNIC FOOD!

Komi, 1509 17th Street, DC, 20-332-9200.
 
A mix of fine dining and Greek-American. The best place in DC right now, by far. $90 for a two and a half hour extravaganza. And yes it is much improved over the previous incarnation, in case you had tried that and found it wanting. Along with CityZen, this is right now DCÕs only truly excellent restaurant. I feel I could bring anyone here and impress them.
 
Blue Duck Tavern, 1201 24th St., Washington DC, NW, 202-419-6755.
 
By far the nicest eating space in the whole DC area, truly beautiful. It looks too immaculate to serve food in. Most of the food, however, is mediocre. I thought the Bratwurst was quite good and I had a very good appetizer, was it the herring? The visuals save this place and with wisdom you can have an OK meal too.
 
West End Bistro, 1190 22nd CafŽ, Washington, 202-974-4900.
 
I went once and had very good ham and very good cod, right after the new sous chef arrived. The other dishes I saw didnÕt impress me so much. It was very noisy and not cheap. I would go back, but at this point I am reluctant to recommend it.

 

The Source, the new Wolfgang Puck restaurant, across from the National Gallery, on 6th and Pennsylvania, in the modernist office building.

 

Was great at first but now hit or miss. In decline, take your chances. Get as many appetizers and small dishes as you can, that is also a cheaper way to eat plus you get more selection.

Central Michel Richard, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., 202-626-0015, hard to get reservations except at 5:30.

Pretty good at first but again in decline. Try the short ribs. Quality bistro food. Many people swear by the various kinds of burgers here. It pretends to be cheap, but three courses without wine ran me $70. Am I upset because I can get the same thing, more or less, in Buenos Aires, for $15? Should I worry that now the place is full of undiscriminating tourists? Ultimately this place doesnÕt do me much good.

Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia, 540-675-3800. 

You probably know all the blah-blah-blah. But right now it is in decline. So donÕt go. If you must, get the Veal with Sweetbreads. 

CityZen, 1330 Maryland Ave., in the Mandarin Occidental Hotel, 202-787-6868, dinner only, and not every day, closed Monday and Tuesday I believe.

For the first time since Jean-Louis (and I mean the mid to late 1980s, not the later version of the place), Washington has a first-rate place for fine dining. Yes, dinner costs more than $100 a pop, but now is your chance to go. Go, and go often, before it declines. The fixed-price menu changes every month, make sure you get the full treatment.

Taberna del Alabardero, 1776 I St., entrance on 18th St., 202-429-2200, opens at 6:00.

Very yummy.  They often have regional specialties cooked by visiting chefs.  A superior dining experience.  Not cheap, but the price is high for a good reason.  Good paella.  Stuffier than it needs to be, but often I feel this is the very best place in town right now.  It has shown a remarkably ability to reinvent itself when needed.

P.S. 7Õs, 777 Eye St., NW, 202-742-8550.

I ate here only once, following up on a review by (sic) USA Today. It was surprisingly good. Classy and understated, and not too trendy. Expensive, but not relative to the competition. The short ribs and beef were quite good. The chef used to work at Vidalia, and I believe the place has yet room to get better. Not CityZen, but IÕll go again.

Restaurant Eve, Alexandria.

Right now everybody loves this place.  I went once.  Every course was excellent, but somehow the whole seemed less than the sum of the parts.  I was in the "tasting menu" room.  The "Bacon, Cheese, and Egg" course was first-rate.  But for what I paid, I didn't come away with the same feeling of satisfaction I get from CityZen.  This is certainly a restaurant to be reckoned with, but I am not yet sure if I will go back.

Le Paradou, 678 Indiana Ave., NW, 202-347-6780.

This is Yannick CamÕs place. I am sure it is pretty good (the lamb chops have been recommended), but lately IÕve been going to Paris a few times a year. So why should I spend my dollars here? By the time I want to go, it will be gone or otherwise in decline.

KinkeadÕs, 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 202-296-7700,

For seafood, formerly the best bet in town, and maybe was the best place period, but has become unpredictable, maybe because Kinkead is putting his time into his new place in Virginia. 

D.C. Coast, 1401 K St., 202-216-5988,

Jeff TunkÕs place.  Get the chile relleno, tuna-filled pasta, and crabcake.  It used to be of the best places in town but now it is well past its peak.  The noise can be difficult to take, also.

Citronelle, 3000 M St., 202-625-2150.

IÕm no longer willing to stick my neck out and recommend this place.  Michel Richard is too frequently absent.  It can still be inspiring, but the prices are too high to be content with a Ņyou take your chancesÓ sort of recommendation. 

1789 Restaurant, 1226 36th St., near Prospect St., 202-965-1789, no lunch.

Georgetown standby, it has about the most boring looking menu you can imagine.  That being said, quality is uniformly excellent across the board.  In a nice old building, the room is charming in the sort of way that appeals to fireplace lovers.  Wealthy parents of Georgetown spoiled brats eat here. I canÕt complain about the quality, but I will only eat here if someone else is paying the bill.  Many will love it, and I enjoy it when I go, but it is not my thing.

Equinox, 818 Connecticut, 202-331-8118.

One of the better upscale places, but not good enough to excite me.  IÕve eaten here twice, the courses have a hit rate of about two-thirds, not cheap.  Surely it has its partisans but not at the top of my list.

Bistro Bis, 15 E St., Hotel George, 202-661-2700.

Not what it once was, so why go?

Ten Penh, 1001 Pennsylvania, Washington, NW, 202-393-4500.

Pan-Asian, sort of, and run by Jeff Tunks, a food god.  Can be excellent, but you take a big chance here for the price.  Most go away disappointed, your best bet is the lamb chops.  Most of the time it isnÕt good anymore.

Palena, 3529 Connecticut Ave., Washington, NW, 202-537-9250. 

Entrees at $40, though, expensive even for its kind.  I have yet to go, and donÕt feel compelled. The cafŽ is supposed to be quite good though.

Oceanaire, on F St.

Has first-rate seafood, one of my favorite places right now.  They do for fish what MortonÕs did for steaks.  That description might put you off, but you should try it anyway, it is really very good.  Noisy and draws a hideous crowd, but donÕt let that put you off.

MarcelÕs, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 202-296-1166, dinner only.

Belgian, mostly, more classic than nouvelle.  All the reviews are good, but hard to see it beating a trip to Europe.

Persimmon, 7003 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-9860.

IÕve yet to go, but Randy Kroszner likes it.

2941 Restaurant, 2941 Fairview Drive, Falls Church, 703-270-1500.

It was once very excellent, but now it is only in the Ņgood for the suburbsÓ category. Not cheap. The scallops and the foie gras are among the better entries. But the meals there now feel corporate rather than special. Many will love the view of the artificial lake outside, so go early. They also do Sunday brunch.  Now I go only when other people are paying. There is, however, yet again a new chef and it seems the place has been reinvented. Again. It might be good for a while.

L'Auberge Chez Francois does not merit my recommendation - an overrated restaurant, plus it burned down, they reopened a while back.

Fish -- See Seafood

Fondue

Bistro Bernoise, 5120 MacArthur Blvd., NW, 202-685-3939, fondue on Tuesday nights only, or other nights with advance notice.

I hate Fondue, I refuse to go.

French – see also Fine Dining

La Cote d'Or has fallen to pieces (now larger and moved around the corner), although perhaps you should try Bistro des Celestins, their new accompanying comfort food bistro (6876 Lee Highway, Arlington, 703-534-8059. 

Le Gaulois, 1106 King St., Alexandria, 739-9494.

Good classic French food, at reasonable, if not cheap, prices.  I always expect this place to be declining, but it never is.  Many will find this very satisfying.

La Chaumiere, 2813 M St., 202-338-1784.

Barkley Rosser loves this place. He recommends it as a Ņsolid, mid-price restaurant that specializes in Lyonnaise cuisine, and is favored by the older Georgetown crowdÉÓ

Bistro Francais, 3128 M St., NW, 202-338-3830, open quite late.

Surprisingly good French bistro food, and at reasonable prices.  Recommended, satisfies a real craving.  This place has kept standards for many years.

Rue 123, 4023 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax, 703-691-2266

 

Near Le Tire Bouchon and in the old Bailiwick Inn. Classic French, they go out of their way to be boring but the quality is high. I tried the beef tenderloin, the shrimp, and the sea bass. All were excellent, I liked the sea bass best. A good place to take clients or job market candidates, especially if others are paying. Not my kind of thing, but some people will love this place.

Recommended by a credible-sounding reader are Petits Plats in Woodley Park and Bistro DÕOc, across from FordÕs Theatre.  There is always La Colline as well, a classic stand-by.

German

There are no German places in this area worth eating at.  And yes I have tried CafŽ Berlin, and that Europa place up on Wisconsin.  Don't even think about it, as they say. 

Ghanaian

Ghana CafŽ, 2465 18th St., 202-387-3845, often closed for lunch.

Ghanian places are never bad, but this one is better than you think.  The Red Red (beans and plantains) is excellent, so is the peanut soup.  You canÕt go wrong here, recommended, donÕt be put off by the total lack of enthusiasm among the staff or the fact that Don Boudreaux doesnÕt like it.  One of the better African places around.

Akosombo, 613 K St., NW, closed Sunday, opens at 8 a.m. for breakfast, closes 8 p.m., donÕt go after 6 p.m. I would say.

IÕve heard they have spruced this place up a bit, but it remains a true mom and pop.  Some of the dishes are excellent, truly spicy and authentic, but donÕt bring your date here.  I like it, but this one is for the brave.  Great atmosphere, and a favorite with taxi drivers.  Note that the neighborhood requires some courage after dark, and perhaps even before dark as well.

Greek

Mykonos Grill, Rockville, 121 Congressional Lane, Rockville, near Rockville Pike, 301-770-5999.

Supposed to be good, but I've never been, formerly of K St. 

Athena Pallas, or is it Pallas Athena, 556 22nd St., S. Arlington, 703-521-3870, no Saturday lunch.

Again, supposed to be good but IÕve never had really convincing Greek food in this country outside of Queens.  I recommend Germany, of all places, for Greek food.

Athens Taverna, 1732 Connecticut Ave., NW, 202-667-9211.

Ditto.  But for DC eaters, a reader recommended a Greek Deli, KostaÕs, 19th between L and M, NW, to me, they close mid-afternoon.

Greek Taverna, 6828C Old Dominion Drive, McLean, 703-556-0788.

I used to think this was probably the best Greek place around, but lately I have heard it is in decline. 

Ambrosia, 1765 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-881-3636, there is now another one on 806 Hungerford.

Ditto.  I just canÕt bring myself to try these places, the arrogance of experience I suppose.

Athenian Plaka, Bethesda, 7833 Woodmont Ave., 301-986-1337.

Comes recommended by a reader, and by Washingtonian.  My sixth sense suggests that it is better than most of its kind, but it is not on my short list for a visit.

Others: A correspondent recommends the following:  YanniÕs (Connecticut, in Cleveland Park), Parthenon (Connecticut Ave., near the Avalon Theater), Taverna Greek Isles (Pennsylvania Ave., SE, near Capitol Hill), Mourayo (1732 Connecticut), and StoupseyÕs, a counter in the foodcourt in Farragut West.

Guatemalan

Corado's, 3217 Mt. Pleasant St., NW, 202-462-3332.

Yummy food, good atmosphere, and in DC's most Latin neighborhood.  A very good restaurant, with a surprisingly high quality of beef, given the low prices.  Don't let the police sirens throw you.

La Bamba Restaurant, 8241 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-589-3712.

More Pan-Latin than Guatemalan, though they have a few specifically Guatemalan dishes, such as ŅBeef Stew Guatemalan Style.Ó  Not my favorite, but if I lived next door I would go more than once.

Guyana

Caribbean Delight, 7811 Riggs Rd., University Blvd., Adelphi, 301-439-1270.

Goat, calaloo, curried kingfish, the usual things you have come to expect from a Guyanese restaurant.

Haitian

Chez Yonyon, 834 Chillum Rd., Hyattsville, 301-853-0404.

Haitian food, the fried pork is my favorite, the fish is good too.  You canÕt go wrong at Haitian restaurants, as long as you steer clear of the macaroni and cheese.  But the real question is not what you want, but rather what they have in that day.  This is not better than average Haitian food, but it doesnÕt have to be.  The rice and beans are always superb , mix in the spicy sauces.

Hamburgers

RayÕs Hell-Burger, 1713 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-841-0001, open for lunch only on weekends, I believe 5 p.m. dinner on weekdays.
 
All they have is hamburgers and they donÕt even have a side of French fries (you can get potato chips or potato salad). ItÕs the best hamburger around by an order of magnitude. Yes, it is worth paying a $4 or $5 supplement for the specialty cheeses on the cheeseburger. I like the Epoisses best but the Amish cheddar is first-rate for traditionalists. The quality of the burger and the cheese here really just stunned me. By 12:15 on a Saturday the place is already chaos but somehow it seems to work. Order your burger at the counter and then be prepared to stand at a table (of sorts) and eat it. Not a place to sit and chat but who needs social pleasantries when the burger is so good?

Five Guys, 4626 King St., Alexandria, 703-671-1606, several other branches too, including on N. Fayette St. in Alexandria and 654 Backlick Rd. in Springfield, and now one on Gallows Rd., right by the Multiplex and the Szechuan place set back in the strip mall.

Once the definitive local hamburger, now it is a chain of above average but varying quality.  And great albeit greasy french fries, makes you realize that most peopleÕs french fries taste like nothing.  No spa cuisine here.  Not for all tastes, but for what it is, the best around.  And dirt cheap. 

Elevation Burger, 442 Washington St., Falls Church, 703-237-4343.

Right now this is the second best burger around. The crowds can be daunting if you go at the wrong time, and the wait can be long. The staff tries and I suspect they will work out the kinks. They have burgers of ŅKobe beefÓ and vegan burgers. The French fries are quite good, though I find them tastier at Five Guys. Super cheap, and recommended.

Poste Modern Brasserie, 555 Eighth St., NW, 202-783-6060.

Kobe beef and sea salt, it must have some potential.

Honduran

Costa Del Sol, 4906 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-2561

They claim to be Honduran as well as Salvadorean and Mexican.  Maybe, but you would have to read Leibniz on the identity of indiscernibles to prove the point.  One of the few really ethnic places in Bethesda, plus it has above average pupusas.  I also like the black beans soup with onion.

PerlitaÕs, 147 Maple Ave., Vienna, 703-319-8500, opens at 9 a.m..

The boss is from El Salvador, but they have some items from Honduras, and also Peru and Mexico. Their most original dish is the Platillo Hondureno, with tomatillo sauce, beans rolled into the flat enchilada, original and quite good.

Indian

Bombay Indian, 11229 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, White Oak Shopping Center, 301-593-7222.

This place has gotten very good reviews and in fact it is now one of the premier Indian restaurants around. Very consistent with some Kashmiri inspirations. Rich spicing, though without being too hot. The bread with the cherries and nuts is one special dish you can get here but most of it is excellent. It's not near anything else you might visit, but worth the trip.
 
Angeethi Indian Cuisine, 645 Elden St., Herndon, 703-796-1527.

Excellent all around, this is now one of the two or three best Indian places in the area. (Bombay Indian in Silver Spring is probably the current leader). The chat station, offered at lunch, is first-rate. Everything else is quite consistent and just generally tasty. I even enjoyed the Butter Chicken. Good breads. Good vindaloo and spinach and black lentils. What kind of Indian food is it? Most of all I would say it is like the Balti food you get in the UK and indeed they have a whole section of the menu devoted to Balti dishes

Saravana Palace, 11725 Lee Highway, #A15, Fairfax, 703-218-4182, one light west of Fairfax WegmanÕs, turn into the strip mall, directions are here: http://www.saravanapalaceva.com/.

Formerly the best Indian place around, this place isnÕt any good any more. No point in going through the details.

Minerva, 10364 Lee Highway, Fairfax, 383-9200, plus a smaller branch in Herndon, 2443-GI Centreville Rd., 793-3223.  www.minervacuisine.com.

Buffet for lunchtime, weekend lunch is when you should go.  Real Indian food, north and south.  Truly spicy.  The best are the dishes that look weird or unusual.  Use the chutneys.  Use the curd rice as a base.  Experiment.  This place is very good but only if you know how to choose from the buffet properly.  The candied cauliflower, on weekends, is yummy.  Buffet spicier, and more interesting, on the weekends.  (Non-buffet) dinner is also excellent, though sometimes a bit slow. Opt for their unusual dosas and south Indian specialties. Great for people-watching, especially at lunch.

YouÕll notice they have some Chinese dishes, which mimic how Chinese food is served in India.  The peppered chicken is best.  Indians love these, they are evidence of how authentic the restaurant is, not the contrary.

Indique, 3512 Connecticut Ave., NW, 202-244-6600, open daily for lunch and dinner.

Nouvelle Indian, with nice dining quarters, but ultimately more Indian than nouvelle.  Get as many appetizers as possible, ten or twelve I would say.  Note: I have heard rumors of decline since they opened the branch, Indique Heights.

Indique Heights, 2 Wisconsin Circle, Chevy Chase, 301-656-4822.

From the people who brought you Indique. I used to love Indique, but the brand is being diluted. This one is pretty good, and certainly worth trying. The Fried Syrian Lamb is a very good dish or appetizer, especially if you donÕt mind strong cardamom. But I just donÕt feel the same excitement here as I did at Indique when it opened. The restaurant is defined by small plates, which is a good sign. I am told you should try the shallot potatoes. And it is a very nice place to sit, and the best restaurant in its immediate area. For me it is lacking that excitement factor, though I liked what I had.

Indebleu, 707 G St., right at MCI Center, 202-333-2538, not open for lunch it seems.

This new and trendy restaurant mixes French and Indian influences. First of all, note that the place has been ŅredefinedÓ since the two times I went. The new reviews are not stunning. But in the old days the dishes were good, some were excellent. The mushroom dosa was superb (it is or perhaps was a must-order). The veal tenderloin is recommended as well. That being said, the bill was very high and I didnÕt even stuff myself. The best way to go here is to sit in the lounge and order the bar food, they still will bring you the mushroom dosas, plus get the lollipop lamb tandoori.

Bombay Club, 815 Connecticut Ave., NW, Sunday brunch. 

Gourmet, expensive, the most refined Indian food in the area.  The new chief has revitalized this place and now it is much spicier and at least for the time being excellent. One of the best restaurants in Washington. DonÕt be put off by its previous boring tastes.

Bombay Curry Company, 3102 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 22305, 836-6363.

The food is excellent, the prices are cheap, and the menu is innovative.  I like the Kandai Chicken best, and then perhaps the lamb in spinach.  But it is hard to go wrong here.  Unlike most other Indian restaurants, they offer a unique product.  Go, and go often.

Bombay Tandoor, 8603 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, 703-734-2202.  Near the auto dealerships but off Rt.7, impossible to spot from the street, call for exact direction, not hard to get to.

An attempt to create an upscale Indian place for the nouveau richesse Indians who work in the software firms out near Dulles.  Better than average.  I like the tandoori and spinach best. For those who donÕt want the mom and pop atmosphere, but still want tasty and authentic food.  Recommended.

Hot Breads, next to Sichuan Village and Il Mee in Chantilly, 14027 Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway.

Indian breads and sandwiches, chicken tikka, not really a sit down place. Very mom and pop. Curry-filled pastries and Indian sweets. For a quick lunch, this place is quite good. They also have Indian soft drinks.

Rasika, 633 D St., NW, near MCI Center, 202-637-1222, www.rasikarestaurant.com.

 

Lately it has been in decline but it is still an above average Indian restaurant. The food here has real taste, much as you might find in India. Nice dŽcor. Many fine touches in the cooking. The best dish is the spinach (somewhat fried or frittered), with corn; better than it sounds. Also get the cauliflower. The way to go here is to order starters, chats, appetizers, etc. and avoid the good but less innovative main courses. Good okra. Going all-vegetarian here is not a mistake. Good prawns. Overall a strong entry into WashingtonÕs dining scene. Go lots and get lots.

Also for Indian, Cafe Taj, in McLean, on 1379 Beverly Blvd., is not bad

Indian City Grill, 9984 Main Street Center, Fairfax, 703-385-4800.

Opened in January 2009, from the folks who brought you ConnaughtÕs. It still tastes like ConnaughtÕs, though the new version is less upscale. It still tastes good, and I will go (itÕs right next to my workplace), but a lot has happened since now and then and this place is no longer the market leader it once was.   

Bombay Garden, 4008 University Drive, Fairfax, 703-383-1553.

Do I ever go here? Yes. It has different dishes and consistently offers chicken tikka on the buffet. Pretty good all around, recommended.

Bombay Bistro, 3570 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, 359-5810, also at 98 W. Montgomery Ave., Rockville, 301-762-8798.

A good restaurant with a wide-ranging menu.  The Fairfax branch opened late in 1995, and rivals Connaught's as the best restaurant in Fairfax.  They even have several kinds of dosas.  The lunch buffets are good and fresh.  There is also a main branch in Rockville, but I have never been there. 

Punjab Dhaba, 7263-F Arlington Blvd, Loehmann's Plaza, Falls Church, 698-5262.

The best tandoori, great breads, and excellent lentil dumplings.  The dosas (see South Indian, for a description of dosas) are no joke either.  Great atmosphere also, and cheaper than average.  The special Uttapam dish is great as well.  The counter food is good, though mixed, sometimes too salty.  And after you are done eating, you can go see an Indian movie in the Indian movie theater in the LoehmannÕs Plaza mall.  Some even have English subtitles, but donÕt worry if they donÕt. In any case, if you come here start with the Tandoori but note that it takes fifteen minutes because it is done properly fresh.

Supper Club of India, 13055 Worldgate Dr., Herndon, 703-736-0466.

My readers like the place.  It is more influenced by Persian ideas than are most Indian restaurants.  I have yet to go.

Delhi Dhaba, 2424 Wilson Boulevard, 524-0008, usually open.

The food simmers in front of you at the counter, and you order what you want.  Weekend buffet.  Very quick, very cheap, good atmosphere, good Indian videos and TV programs - this place fills a niche.  Not the finest, but I like it.

Sangham, 1211 N. Glebe Rd., at Washington Blvd., Arlington, 524-2728.

Above-average Indian, though more costly than many.  Has both North and South Indian dishes.  Draws a very white crowd.  Has many loyal fans.  I have no complaint with the place, but somehow I donÕt feel compelled to go back.

India Curry House, 3181 Wilson Blvd., right near Clarendon Metro, 703-527-3444.

This place became crowded right after opening, and it is easy to see why. High-quality Indian buffet food, at reasonable prices. I wish they had more regional dishes, and perhaps someday they will. IÕve yet to try from their regular menu. This place is right near my office in Arlington, and it has rapidly become a lunch favorite. My only complaint is that sometimes the line for the buffet gets too long.

Jaipur, 9401 Lee Highway, Unit 105, Circle Towers, Fairfax, 703-766-1111.

You would never expect to find a restaurant in this locale, attached to a condo building, but this place draws a surprisingly good crowd.  They put real spices in the food too.  Above average, and they offer a good buffet.

Tiffin, 1341 University Blvd. East, Langley Park, 301-434-9200.

A non-vegetarian spin-off of Udupi Palace (see below), and just a short bit further down the road, heading away from the Beltway.  Very good Indian food, and very authentic, these people know what they are doing.

Haandi, 1222 W. Broad St., Falls Church, 533-3501.  Also 4904 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-718-0121, www.haandi.com

They take no reservations, and some times the place fills up, though not as it used to.  I like their wok-cooked specialties and their salmon, but I find some of the portions a bit too small and the spicing a bit too weak.  This was once a prime option but now other places are passing it by.

Tandoori Nights, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, 703-248-8333.

Well, it was better than I had expected, given the neighborhood it sits in. Remember how Clarendon was once the epicenter of good ethnic dining? Well those days are long since gone. Avoid the Tandoori here. Some of the vegetable dishes are not bad. DonÕt think this substitutes for any of the real Indian places around. But some of you will be caught short in Clarendon, wondering where to go, and tempted to try this. What can I say? You should be in your car driving down to Minerva. But youÕre not. Boo-hoo. Give it a try, but donÕt complain to me if you go home disappointed. I will say that the dŽcor is nice.

Polo India Club, 1736 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-483-8705.

Excellent Indian food.  They have a thick yellow chicken curry, exactly the same as the chicken that used to be served at Katmandu, the now-defunct Nepalese place.  Order that. 

Raaga, 5872 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, just east of Duangrat's.

Indian food, from the folks who brought you Connaught's in Fairfax.  Certainly good, but lacks special dishes if you know the other places on this list.

Bombay CafŽ, 11213-E Lee Highway, Fairfax, 703-352-8282, near Jermantown Road.

Mom and pop, where they cook for you or you grab from simmering trays on the counter.  Not as good as my favorites, but still good enough that I look forward to eating here.

Heritage India, 2400 Wisconsin Ave., across from the Fresh Fields, 202-333-3120.   Plus now there is a Dupont Circle branch, 1337 Connecticut Ave., near N St., 202-331-1414, with a different menu.

Why donÕt they have an ethnic restaurant that adheres to mainstream restaurant standards of ingredients, presentation, and service?  ThatÕs Heritage India for you.  Extremely yummy, one of the best Indian places around.  Worth the trip into DC, even if youÕre happy with your local places in VA or MD.  Not as good as Indique, but still good enough.  IÕve heard mixed reviews about the new Dupont Circle outlet, which also offers Indian tapas.

Passage to India, 4931 Cordell Ave., near Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, 301-656-3373. 

This gem is still underrated. This used to be a branch of Heritage India, but now it is run by the original founder. It offers unique Indian regional specialties. In fact only here in this area can you eat specialties of Bombay and Calcutta, among other parts of India. This place is more like a high-class Indian restaurant of India than anywhere else around. Highly recommended, and make sure you get the regional specialties. Check out www.passagetoindia.info.

Aatish on the Hill, 609 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, D.C., 202-544-0931.

Some years ago Phyllis Richman asked why this place isnÕt better known.  I still wonder.  It is not perfect, but far better than the Capitol Hill competition.   Their specialty is lamb, especially Rogan Josh, real full-flavored lamb taste.  Above average Mango Lassi.  Not outrageously priced.

Taj of India, 2809 M St., NW, Georgetown, 202-965-4266.

I havenÕt eaten here yet.  One should always be suspicious of Georgetown ethnic restaurants, but my sixth sense tells me that the place is probably decent.

Aroma, 1919 Eye St., NW.

Foggy Bottom Indian stand-by.  Reliable.

Nirvana, 1810 K St., NW, 202-223-5043.

Excellent South Indian dishes and most Gujarati vegetarian dishes. It is from the people who once brought you SwagatÕs, near U. Maryland. Not everything on the buffet will be good, but the best dishes are superb and original, not what you find elsewhere in the area.  You will always feel that this place is not as good as it might have been, but anyone who likes Indian food should have this in their repertoire.

Delhi Club, 1135 N. Highland St., Arlington, 703-243-6522, right at Clarendon Metro.

Perhaps you thought we had so many good new Indian places that we donÕt need another one?  You were wrong.  The food here is excellent, quality ingredients, and somehow the feel and cooking differ from the other places on this list.  It reminds me of how Indian food often tastes in the UK.  I like the cardamom dishes best, and yes it is from the same people who do Bombay Curry Company in Alexandria.

Aditi Bistro, 405 Maple Ave. East, Vienna, 703-938-0100.

Run by the Aditi people, it has lots of wraps. Imagine trying to do Chipotle with Indian food. ItÕs OK, good enough if youÕre in the area, but not up to the best Indian places around.

South Indian:

Udupi Palace, 1329 University Boulevard East, Langley Park, 301-434-1531.

In slight decline but once a great place.  Southern Indian food in great profusion.  Goes well beyond the usual dosa places with an extensive selecton.  I recommend any kind of dosa, the Pesarat, the vegetable dishes, and the yogurt rice.  By the way, the Latino music shop next door has some good stuff that is not available in your local Tower.

Woodlands, 8046 New Hampshire Ave., at University Blvd., Langley Park, MD, 301-434-4202, also located in Fairfax, in the mall where Germantown Rd hits the K-Mart, just off of Rt. 29.

Finally Fairfax has top-rate dosas.  The Maryland branch has now overtaken Udupi with the Indian crowd, although the menus are almost the same.  Fairfax branch not quite as good but still excellent.  The kind of food is simply hard to beat.  Be grateful that you can get it at all. There is one lentils dish, with vegetables, comes with a side order of yogurt, it is my favorite here.

Saran Foods, 5151 N. Lee Highway, Arlington, 703-533-3600

Very cheap south Indian food, larger than usual selection of dosas. A hole in the wall, but worth a visit.

AmmaÕs Vegetarian Kitchen, Vienna, Chain Bridge Rd., just across from Outback Steakhouse, also in Georgetown, 3291 M St., 202-625-6625.

Strictly Indian, strictly vegetarian, mostly dosas.  Excellent channa (chickpeas). This place significantly ups the options for Vienna dining.  IÕve never tried the Georgetown branch.

Naan and Beyond, 513 23rd. St., Crystal City.

Above average Tandoori chicken, overall the place is less spicy than most.

Bombay, 11229 New Hampshire Ave., White Oak Shopping Center, Silver Spring, 301-593-7222.

This place has gotten good reviews.

Indonesian

Sabang, 2504 Ennalls Ave., Wheaton, MD, 301-942-7859, usually open.

This area has no first rate Indonesian place, but this is pretty good.  Mostly I save up my Indonesian urges for when I am in other places, most of all the Netherlands.  But if you are going to order Indonesian, no matter where you are, go for the Rijstafel (Ricetable), which offers a wide variety of dishes to two or more diners. 

Vietnam Imports, Broad St., Rt. 7, Falls Church City, right next to Panjshir, 703-867-9635, ask for Lilian.

Yes they cook Indonesian food, home cooking, the real thing, wrapped up you to reheat. The noodles and curries are wonderful. Worth going if this is what you crave. The ŅrestaurantÓ is simply a few tables in the back of the ethnic grocery, probably without proper license, etc. Mostly takeout. Recommended, but please donÕt expect this to be a real restaurant. For some dedicated readers it will satisfy the Indonesian craving.

Sarinah Satay House, 512A S. Van Dorn Street Alexandria, in the mall which also has SavioÕs (see Italian).

The same place that once was in Georgetown.  The former incarnation was good, not great.  Now itÕs worse. 

For Indonesian the best bet probably is CafŽ Asia, in Rosslyn, look under Asian.

East Chateau, 146 Maple Ave., Vienna, 703-255-2588.

Mostly Pan-Asian, with an emphasis on boring Chinese, but they have a few Indonesian dishes, plus I want to pad this section a bit.  A good change of pace for Vienna if you go Indonesian.

Irish

DonÕt worry, someday IÕll find one you want to eat at.  Just not soon, or in this universe. That being said, one savvy reader recommends The New Irish Pub (Molly MaguireÕs), on Washington Blvd., near Murky Coffee (formerly Common Grounds). The Washington Post recommends Irish Inn at Glen Echo, Macarthur Blvd. and Tulane Ave., Glen Echo, 301-229-6600, get the salmon with cabbage roll. There is also Finn MaccoolÕs Irish Publick House, 713 Eighth St., SE, 202-547-7100

Israeli

Israeli Grill, 4860 Boiling Brook Parkway, 301-468-0400, Rockville.

I am told this has good grill and deli and is fully kosher.

See also Kosher.

Italian

I Ricchi has become ordinary  Obelisk is good but a bit boring for my taste.  None of them beat what you can eat for $10 ($5, once they bring the lira back) in a good Trattoria in Parma or Torino.  Many people like Tosca, though, 1112 F St., near 12th, 202-367-1990, no weekend lunch.  For suburban areas, I find both Marco Polo and Buonarrati's of Vienna to be satisfying; I like the buffet at the former and the lasagna at the latter.  Joe's Pizza and Pasta, scattered branches, is tasty and cheap, but go with low expectations.  See also Tutto Bene, under Bolivian.  Off the beaten track, you might want to consider the following:

ArgiaÕs, 124 N. Washington St., Falls Church, 703-534-1033.

It looks artificial, but the food here is surprisingly good, a bit like what you would find in a good New Jersey Italian restaurant. Recommended, one of the best in a poor lot.

Pasta Mia, 1790 Columbia Road, NW, 202-328-9114, 6:30 to 10, Tuesday through Saturday.

This place is now all the rage. Every night there is a line at opening and they donÕt take reservations. It is supposed to be cheap and excellent pasta, of exactly the kind we usually donÕt have in this area. Cash only, and waiting in line can take up to an hour.

Bebo Trattoria da Roberto Donna, 2250-B Crystal Drive, Arlington (Crystal City), 703-412-5076.

Where Oyamel used to be. Good Italian home cooking, at least for the time being, but highly unreliable and iffy service. Relatively inexpensive, and get the simple dishes. As a bonus they are open Saturday lunch. IÕve also heard some people complain bitterly about the service, so I believe you are taking a chance here.

Savio's, 516 E & F Van Dorn St., 212-9651, slightly funny hours, I think.

This is one of Northern Virginia's premier strip malls for food.  Has excellent Thai, Japanese, Peruvian, Italian, and some good ethnic groceries.  Just south of Edsall, and a bit north of the Beltway ramps on van Dorn.  Despite the competition, Savio's will sometimes win out when I am in this mall.  I like the pastas here, especially the Rigatoni Carbonara, or the ones with spicy sausage.  The cook is from Tunisia, and does everything just a bit differently.

EspositoÕs, Rt. 50, just west of Fairfax Circle, on the south side of the street.

The kind of Italian place you would expect in New Jersey.  Indeed the owners are from New Jersey.  Some of the best pizza in the area, plus very good pasta.  Exactly the sort of place you would think that northern Virginia shouldnÕt have.

A La Lucia, 315 Madison St., Alexandria, 703-836-5123.

Highly recommended by Washingtonian magazine, I have yet to go.

That's Amore, 150 Branch Road, Vienna, 281-7777, usually open except for weekend lunch.

If the name doesn't scare you off, the people walking through the front door will.  But this is a fun place, and the food is not bad.  Beware the non-convex set: portions feed several and cost much, so it is uneconomical to go alone or with a single companion. 

PistoneÕs, right at Seven Corners.

Looks like it is still in the 1950s in here.  Not a perfect place in every way, but their salad bar is quite good and the rest is certainly acceptable.  Some really like it, but I only went once.

Pines of Naples, 3207 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-521-5039.

Quasi-Italian food, cooked by Pakistani and Brazilian owners.  Not for everyone, but draws a steady crowd of regulars.

Il Pinito, 5071 Nicholson Lane, Rockville, 301-881-0085.

Definitely recommended, the sort of place you are convinced this area does not have.  Cheap, tasty, fresh Italian food.  Nothing shocking, but delivers all around in a way that few Italian places here do.

Vace Italian Deli, 3315 Connecticut Ave., 202-363-1999.

One reader swears this is the best pizza around. He recommends it with spinach and proscuitto and red sauce.

Jamaican

Negril's, 7904 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-907-6800, also 2301-G Goergia Ave., NW, 18509 N. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg, and somewhere called Mitchellville, presumably in Maryland.

Curried stews, red beans, ox-tail, and rolled breads.  Cheap, and very tasty.  DonÕt be scared off by the branching, this place is great.

Rita's, Georgia Ave., NW, no street number, west side of the road, a few blocks north of Irving, just south of the intersection with Morton.  Closed Sunday.

Not for all tastes, but a real treat in my book.  Great goat curry, great atmosphere, very cheap.  The beans are especially good.  And they stock lots of grape soda. 

See also West Indian, and visit the cluster of places on Georgia Ave., near the intersection with Rhode Island, they appear worth a visit, for the brave that isÉ

Caribbean Feast Restaurant, 823 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, 301-315-2668, closed Sunday I believe.

A great name, and one of the best Jamaican places.  It doesnÕt give me the visceral thrill that Negril does, but it is worth having in the repertoire.  Very good chicken, lots of goat, and sides that would never pass the Atkins test.  Good atmosphere.

Tropicana, 7812 Georgia Ave., at the DC-Maryland border.

I have yet to go, but it looks promising.

Jerk Pit, 8145-C Baltimore Ave., Rt.1, College Park, 301-441-4786.

The wings are recommended. Fridays they have oxtail stew. Service is slow, because they do it the right way.

York Castle Tropical Ice Cream, 9324 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-589-1616.

Yes, they have soursop ice cream, among other flavorsÉworth a tryÉ

Japanese

Kotobuki, 4822 MacArthur Blvd., near U St., on the second floor, 202-625-9080.

The sushi is only a dollar a piece, yet the quality is supposed to be very high. IÕve been waiting for a price shake-out in the sushi market, and perhaps the time for that has come. I hear very good reports, but have not yet been. They are also Saturday lunch and Sunday dinner, they donÕt take reservations. A Beatles soundtrack plays all the time. Don't expect good service or comfortable seating, but right now this place is essential dining. The shumai and lobster sushi are especially good, in addition to the usual winners.

Blue Ocean, 9440 Main St., at Pickett Rd., Fairfax, 425-7555.

Attracts a largely Japanese clientele.  More than just the usual teriyaki dishes, also.  Worth having in the repertoire.

Matuba, 2915 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 521-2811, also 4918 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-652-7449.

Good sushi, though no longer dominant as it once was.  Now just another good place.

Makoto, 4822 MacArthur Blvd., NW, 202-298-6866, closed Monday.

Ten small courses, $35, only four tables.  A gem - one of Washington's best.  The closest you will get to real Japanese haute cuisine here.

Sushi-Ko, 2309 Wisconsin Ave., 202-333-4187, closed Monday.

One of the best sushi places around.  Not cheap, but you can afford to eat here, also.

Kaz Sushi Bistro, 1915 Eye St., near 20th, 202-530-5500.

A mix of Japanese and fusion, both the beef and the sushi can be very good.  It has much more variety than your typical Japanese place, you wonÕt get bored here even after a few visits.  Washington needs more of this kind of place.  Get the kobe beef. Lately, however, IÕve seen some signs of decline. It remains well above average, but beware.

Yuraku, 19773 Frederick Road, Germantown, MD, 301-515-7448. 

Recommended by a few of my correspondents, supposed to be very authentic and popular among Japanese.

Matsutake Corporation, 4121 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-351-8787, also in Worldgate Shopping Center, 13049 Worldgate Drive, Herndon, 703-787-3700, Crystal City, Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, 703-535-8848, Union Station, 50 Mass. Ave., WDC, and Washington Reagan National Airport, 703-417-0521.

One of the best of the sushi buffet places.  All you can eat sushi for lunch, and the sushi is reasonably good.  Some of the branches have teppanyaki as well.  Is it the single best sushi place around?  No.  Will it start you wondering why you ever order sushi aÕla carte?  Yes.

Tachibana, 6715 Lowell Ave., McLean, 847-1771, there is also a branch in Bethesda.

The best Japanese place in the suburbs.  Not at all cheap, but the quality justifies the prices.  Many entrees are in the $20 range.

Arigato, 13039 Fair Lakes Shopping Center, Fair Lakes, 449-8404, closed Monday, plus a branch in Fairfax, where Germantown Rd. hits Rt. 29.

Stylish and original, the best decor of any place on this list.  The cardboard chairs are the best part of it all.  Japanese food by Koreans, but still a good restaurant. To get there, take 66 West to #55B, straight off the exit, left at the first light, then a left at the second light, into the big shopping center, look between the Hechinger's and Toys R Us.  Get the cream cheese dumplings as a side.

Temari, 1043 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-340-7720.

Highly authentic, too authentic some would say.  Right next to a Japanese store and Japanese supermarket; patronized primarily by Japanese.  More a cafe than a restaurant.  If pork cutlet doused in ketchup is your thing, this is the place to go.  Here you will encounter the other side of Japanese food.

Akasaka, 514-C van Dorn St., 703-751-3133, hard to see from the street, in the same mall as SavioÕs, the Italian place.

Solid Japanese, especially useful in an area that doesnÕt have much first-rate Japanese food. But it is no longer above average, as it once was. Right now just OK.

Yama, 328 Maple Ave., Vienna, 242-7703.

Above-average sushi, and a good Vienna location. Good eel, a good place to know.

Tokyo Inn, Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurant, 6661 Backlick Rd., Springfield, 703-923-9800

I have yet to go, doesnÕt look like anything original but almost certainly a welcome addition to the growing Springfield dining scene, it appears clean and attractively presented.

Matsuri, 150 Elden St., Herndon, 703-707-0367.

In decline, used to be very good.

Also see Korean.  Many Korean places in this area serve Japanese food as well.

Kenyan

Safari Club, 4306 Georgia Avenue, 202-722-7701

One reader recommends the beef samosa, I have yet to go. Some sources indicate they have Afghan and South African dishes as well. The place is also a club, and it advertises music at night.

Korean

When the Koreans say spicy, they mean it, especially with the soups and hot pots.  Korean food has an aesthetic which is raw, cold, and bare.  I prize it highly.  The accompanying vegetables are always excellent.  The Kimchee (pickled cabbage with chilies) is an acquired taste, but that taste should definitely be acquired.

Beginners should try the Bul-Gogi.  I often order the Korean Pancake.  Bibim-Bansang (the spelling or transliteration may vary!) is a combination of rice, vegetables, beef, egg, and spicy brown sauce; it must be mixed together by the patron.  A Korean specialty, and one of the treats at any Korean place.  The seafood and bean pancakes are usually excellent as well.  Korean stews, however, can sometimes be too sharp, too soggy, and too full of bizarre kinds of seafood and tripe.  Some are excellent, but you should know what you are doing if you order one.

Korean restaurants in this area are remarkably consistent; there are few bad ones.  IÕm always looking for the perfect Bibim Bap, I will let you know when I find it, in the meantime I remain searching.

Korean B-B-Q Grill, 7215 Columbia Pike, Annandale, 703-894-0431, in that mall between 236 and Columbia Pike with the Giant.

The real name of the place is only in Korean; I donÕt think ŅKorean B-B-Q GrillÓ is the true name, but it is the only part of the sign in English. An excellent place for unusual meats. Get the goat, the pork neck, the pork belly, and the brisket. Make sure to use the sauces. The diversity of the Korean vegetables selection is above average. The ŅstandardÓ Korean dishes here are Ņgood enough,Ó but not reason to go.

Han Gang Korean Cuisine, 7243 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, 703-256-7077.
 
This place offers a Ņfine dining experienceÓ in addition to serving Korean food. It costs more than the others, and has nice dŽcor and service, though it is still affordable compared to a typical non-Korean place. For beef dishes it is a clear first choice for all the Korean restaurants in this area. Get the $60 combination of meats; it is an order of magnitude better than any other Korean meat dish you can get around here. Truly yummy. Go even if you think you are tired of all the other beef dishes at the other Korean places. They also have the best local Jae Chap. I would say it is important to go here with a large or mid-sized group and get a spread. Their sauces are also the best around.

Seoul Gool Dae Gee, 7220 Columbia Pike, Annandale, 703-256-5133

An A+ for the metallic dŽcor and the Korean pop culture strewn all over the walls. Visually speaking, this might be my favorite place on the list. ItÕs also one of the two or three best places for food. Ask them for their house specialty, a barbecue dish cooked with meat, vegetables, and octopus on top of your table. Very yummy. Good seafood pancake here as well.

Cheogajip Chicken, Lotte Plaza, near the deli in the supermarket, 3250 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax Circle, Fairfax, 703-273-4499, usually open.

Korean fried chicken comes to this area, finally.  Very moist and juicy and they cook it fresh, that means a 15-minute wait.  This isnÕt the very best Korean fried chicken IÕve had, but the idea is a phenomenon and it you havenÕt had it before, do give it a try.  It comes in regular, sweet, and spicy, so far IÕve only tried the sweet.

Korean Traditional Cake and Porridge Restaurant, also called Dduck Sarang, 4231 Markham St., near ShineyÕs, 703-916-0006.
 
Currently the most innovative restaurant in Koreatown. Mostly they serve porridge, porridge, and porridge. You never knew Korean porridge could be so good and so comforting. My favorite is the tuna and vegetables porridge but they are very good across the board. Very good dumplings. The beef soup, as portrayed in their photo, is the best around. Very charming dŽcor. Definitely recommended.



Tian Chinese Restaurant, Lotte Plaza, 3250 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax Circle, Fairfax, 703-246-9198.

Yes they call it Chinese but I file it under Korean.  ItÕs a Korean version of Chinese food, which to my palate is mostly Korean.  The attempts to feign Chinese food arenÕt the peak here.  I list this place for its steamed dumplings, which are just superb.  The menu may have other treasures as well, let me know.

Il Mee Buffet, 7031-4A Duke St., Annandale, just west of George Mason branch of Fairfax County library, 642-2100.  See also 14015 Lee Jackson Highway, Chantilly, 703-631-3400.

An excellent Korean restaurant with an amazing degree of choice.  Huge, note that all they have is a very large buffet, reasonably priced.  Everything is great and surprisingly fresh.  DonÕt worry if you hate buffets, as I do, drop your reluctance and go.  Everything here is fresh and outstanding.  Get the cold soups.  The kimchees.  Make sure you dip your grilled meats in the sauces.

Seoul Soondae, 4231-L Markham St., Annandale, 703-642-2220.

Great seafood pancake here, Korean food for Koreans who know the difference.  Gets crowded.  They also have one in Wheaton, 12203 Veirs Mill Road, 301-942-5200, equally good, pretty much the same thing, and Willicott City, 410-750-0006.

PADO Seafood Restaurant, 4231-E Markham St., Annandale, 703-256-3565.
An average Korean place, with sushi and some Japanese dishes. Average in Annandale is pretty good, but thereÕs always above-average right next door, so I donÕt think IÕll go back here.
 
Byol Nan Restaurant, 7118 Columbia Pike, Annandale, 703-64-3418
 
The interior is more stylish than the outside looks. It has the best and freshest vegetables of any Korean place around and also a varied list of Bibim-Bab, lots of Hot Pot Dishes, and Katsu. The non-vegetable items are slightly above average. Very much a Korean place for Koreans.

Chinese-Korean (sorry the business card is in Kangul only!), 2847 Gallows Rd, at Lee Highway, in the strip mall with the H Mart, 703-645-8787.

This place gives a good overview of Chinese-Korean food, a bit gooey, a bit sweet, and with liberal use of ketchup. I donÕt like the genre, but I donÕt want to put you off trying it. The staff is friendly and charming, plus they have some regular Korean dishes as well. For me it is a dominated asset, but if you never went it would be a shame.

Mandu, 1805 18th St., NW, 202-588-1540.

The District gets Korean food, reviews are bad, and I will never try this place. Shame on you for even thinking of going, youÕve got to get to Annandale.

Sam Woo, 1054 Rockville Pike, 301-424-0495.

I've been to dozens of Korean restaurants in my life, and never experienced a bad one.  This would be my second choice of the ones I know in Maryland, after Seoul Soondae on Veirs Mill Road.

Ju Mak Jib, further east on Rt. 236 than most of the Korean places, across from the Salvation Army store.

Hardly anyone comes here, but this is one of the best Korean places around. The goat dishes are especially recommended, donÕt forget to use the mustard sauce. You should get the bone marrow special as well.

Woo Lae Oak, 1500 S. Joyce St., Arlington, 521-3706.

The best of the mainstream Korean places, as opposed to the mom and pops.  You could even take a business client here.  Right near Pentagon City, also.  The best place to go for an introduction to Korean food, and the place with the best ingredients, though the overall feel of the restaurant is a bit sterile for my tastes.

Yechon, 4121 Hummer Rd., just off 236, Annandale, 703-914-4646, always open, 24 hours.

One of the best and most versatile Korean places, plus it has a festive atmosphere.  The grilled deluxe specials are excellent but everything is consistent.  The only drawback – many of the major dishes have to be ordered by both people.  They have sushi too, though not early in the morning for breakfast.

Yee Hwa, 10090 21st St., NW, near K St., 202-833-1244.

Finally DC gets a Korean place.  Living so close to Annandale I have no reason to go, but there are no bad Korean places around here.

Lotte Plaza, large Korean Mall in Fairfax.  On Old Lee Highway, near Fairfax Circle, and next to Artie's.

The center of Korean life in Fairfax.  A large Korean supermarket and a variety of small take-out Korean restaurants served by tables in a mall-like area.  Great food, and definitely number one for atmosphere.  A visit here is a must. I like the Bul-Gogi at the straight-up Korean restaurant, but there are many good dishes to have here.

Tofu Lighthouse Restaurant, or Vit Goel ToFu, 41121 Chatelain Rd., Suite 100, Annandale, 703-333-3436.

For Annandale, this place is not above average Korean.  In other words, it is really good.  Limited menu, this place has decided to specialize in tofu and barbecue dishes.

To Sok Jib, 7211 Columbia Pike, Annandale, no phone given.

Maybe the most mom and pop of all the Korean places in Annandale.  And the most radically Korean.  If you are looking for someplace to challenge your palate, try this one.  If you are looking for an introduction to Korean food, start elsewhere.  Very spicy.  Few Westerners will regard this as comfort food.  Nor does the staff speak decent English. Nor is there a menu in English.

Sorak Garden, 4308 Backlick Rd., at 236, 703-916-7600.

One of the most ambitious and most popular of the Korean places, their beef is especially yummy, broad selection as well.  Recommended.

Annan-Gol, 4215 Annandale Center Drive, 703-914-4600.

Better than average Korean, very cozy and cute too, get the spicy pork ribs. The marinated pork bellies are good also. Pork, pork, pork, if you go here.

Seoul House, 11272 James Swart Circle, Fairfax, 703-934-8250.

Korean food is never bad, and they have a useful lunch buffet.

Pokchangdong, 7601 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, 703-658-0508.

I have yet to go.

Po Jang Ma Cha, 7203 Columbia Pike, near the Giant, above the Small Arms Range of Annandale, 703-941-7020.

Koreans come here to drink and listen to the sounds of gunfire.

Jang Tuh, although their business card calls it ŅKyong Suk Yi.Ó 7271 Columbia Pike, Annandale, 703-642-8668.

The quaintest-looking place on this whole list, it is set in a little house with Korean characters on the outside. Right across from Korean B-B-Q, in the strip mall with the Giant in downtown Annandale. They specialize in noodles, are closed Sundays, and donÕt have a word of English on the menu. Recommended.

Palace Restaurant, 7131 Little River Turnpike, 703-256-9292.

Set back from the road a bit, this is the most expensive Korean place around. The Shabu with Lycium Fruit, for instance, is $36.95, it goes up to $39.95 if you want the Nok Yong with that. And can you believe it, $29.95 for Gop-Nak Jun Gol? Even the Dioscorea (yum!) Porridge runs $13.95. Can it be worth it? The place claims to serve ŅYhak-SunÓ cuisine, using Korean herbal medicine. The standard Korean meats are quite good here, though. Worth a visit, even if you donÕt buy into their theories about ginseng.

Seoul Gomtang, 8413 Old Courthouse Rd., 703-821-1110.

Their specialty is the beef soup.

Gom Ba Woo Restaurant, 7133-C Columbia Pike, Annandale, 703-642-1577.

In the mall with the Giant, between Rt.236 and Columbia Pike. Good dumplings, squid, seafood pancake, pork belly, the usual specialties. Good array of vegetables, and nice homey feel. Recommended.

Yett Gol, 12337-G Georgia Ave., Wheaton, 301-949-9060, and Woo Mi Garden, 2423 Hickerson, 301-933-0100.

Given how close to Annandale I live, I probably will never get to either one.  The chance of them being bad is small, however.

ChoÕs Garden, 9940 Lee Highway, Fairfax, half mile west on 50 from Fairfax Circle.

The best Korean option in Fairfax proper, plus a pretty good buffet at lunch, including sushi.

Seven Star Restaurant, 7133-A Columbia Pike, set in the Korean strip mall with the Giant, but in the back side of that mall, more easily spotted from Columbia Pike.

I have yet to go, but surely it is good.

Hee Been, 6231 Little River Turnpike, near Beauregard St., Alexandria, 703-941-3737.

Recently expanded and refurbished, I have yet to revisit. You canÕt go wrong here, though.

Korean Mini-Mall, 12814-C Braddock Rd., also 13814-B, 13860-B, Centreville, at Rt.29, technically it is called Old Centreville Crossing Shopping Center.

It has Cheogajip Chicken, 703-815-8744, Tae Hwa Won Restaurant, 793-266-4785, and Hahmji Bahk BBQ, 703-266-6681. The chicken place specializes in Korean Fried Chicken, fresh, along the lines of the Korean chain back home. I expect they are all excellent.

Kosher

MaxÕs Kosher Restaurant, Wheaton, 2311 W. University Blvd, north side, about two blocks east of Georgia Ave, 301-949-6297.

A central spot for Jewish and Kosher dining and shopping in the area.  Good falafel, I am told. See also Tel Aviv CafŽ under Israeli.

JCC CafŽ, 1529 16th St., NW, inside the D.C.Jewish Community Center, 202-387-3246.

Supposed to be good, run by a French-trained chef who has cooked for The White House.

Royal Dragon Kosher Chinese Restaurant, 4840 Boiling Brook Parkway, Rockville, 301-468-1922.

I have never gone.

SienaÕs Pizzeria, 11417 Woodglen Dr., Rockville, 301-770-7474. 

Unlikely that I will get here soon, since I donÕt trust pizza in this area, plus I have no reason to seek out a kosher version of it.

Pita Plus Kosher Deli, College Park, 4425 Lehigh Road, Corner of Baltimore Ave. and Knox Rd., 301-864-5150.

One reader recommends the lafah, not the pita bread.

Latin

Gua-Rapo, 2039 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Courthouse area.

Supposed to be Nuevo Latino.  Looks like a place for poseurs.  I refuse to go here.

CafŽ Salsa, 808 King St., near Columbus St., Alexandria, 703-684-4100.

Supposed to be best for tapas, not the main courses.

Agua Ardiente, 1250 24th St., NW, 202-833-8500.

Tapas and nouvelle Latin dishes, mostly of an Andean nature, and run by an Ecuadorean.  ItÕs not quite a fancy place, but well above an ethnic place, a Ņtweener,Ó you might say.  So maybe it wonÕt quite make anyone fully happy, but it is still one of the best Andean places around.  And unlike the other Andean places, it draws from the entire region.  And not all that expensive either, especially given the neighborhood it is in.  Strange red dŽcor.  On weekends, they have active Latin night life.  Recommended.

Ceiba, 701 14th St., 202-393-3983.

Pan-Latin, by Jeff Tunks of D.C. Coast and TenPenh fame.  Not cheap, and for me a bit unsatisfying given the price.  I think I went in with my expectations too high.  Many of the dishes are yummy but they donÕt all connect with me as the mom and pops do.  The skirt steak, however, is quite good. Overall this place has gotten better with time, not worse, and that is good to see for a change.

See also Caribbean.

Lebanese

Lebanese Taverna, on Washington St. (Blvd.?), in Arlington, not far from Falls Church, also on Connecticut Ave., NW., Woodley Park, and a new one on Pentagon Row, 703-415-8681.

Very tasty Lebanese food.  Draws an older, more traditional sort of Virginia crowd.  Don't let them put you off.  Good yogurt sauce, especially when pomegranates are involved.

Lebnan Zaman, 8411 Old Courthouse Rd., Vienna, 703-748-1400

A neglected place, surprisingly authentic given its Tysons location.  The dishes with yogurt sauce are great, and none of the others are bad.  Reasonable prices and good selection.  The atmosphere is Ņorder at the counter,Ó not fine dining.  They have hookah in the front parlor, if you want to get stoned.  Recommended, go soon in case they donÕt make it in the long run.

Neyla, 3206 N St., NW, 202-333-6353.

Readers have been recommending this place to me, Chug likes it too. I have yet to go. They are supposed to have good pita, among other dishes.

Layalina, 5216 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 525-1170.

Reasonably good food, but a bit overpriced to me, not a place I am enthusiastic about.  

Pita House, 407 Cameron St., Old Town, Alexandria, 703-684-1118.

One of my favorite places in Old Town, and one of the best Lebanese places around.  Very reliable, and will prove outstanding comfort food for many.  Get the dishes with the yogurt sauce, most of all, but you canÕt go wrong here.

Cedar CafŽ, 6409 Shiplett Blvd., Burke.

Recommended to me, I havenÕt yet been, a Lebanese person emailed me and said their Tabouleh was excellent.

Zaytinya, 701 9th St., NW, 202-638-0800.

Has received much attention and a few awards. It is uneven, but mostly excellent, much variety, and many of the dishes have genuinely new ideas.  Not just the same old stuff.   Lots of vegetarian.  Get the mezzes.  But two notes of caution.  First, the dining room is far too noisy and crowded, even on weekdays.  Second, the Ņbeautiful peopleÓ come here to eat and drink.

Mama AyeshaÕs, 1967 Calvert St., Washington, 202-232-5431.

Recommended by Washingtonian magazine, dates from the 1950s, I am suspicious.

Lebanese Butcher and Restaurant, 109 East Annandale Rd. at Annandale and Rt.29, Falls Church, 703-241-2012, usually open.

Superb mom and pop Lebanese place, maybe the best Lebanese place up and running right now.  Everything here tastes like real food, unlike so much of what you eat in this country. Perhaps the Lamb Ouzi is best.

Malaysian

Malaysia Kopitiam, 1827 M St., 202-833-6232.

You canÕt go wrong with Malaysian food, but once you know its peaks, all these places are disappointments. I love Malay and Malaysian food, but not in the U.S.  This place is OK, but best for those who donÕt know the real thing. ŅKopitiam,Ó by the way, means something akin to ŅcoffeehouseÓ in Malay. Real Malaysian and Singapore coffeehouses are quite a different breed, get their incredible toasts and snacks.

Penang, 1837 M St., 202-822-8770, also 4933 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 301-657-2878, Bethesda branch has better hours.

Pretty good, but not as good as the sister branch in New York City branch.  ItÕs still the best Malaysian youÕre likely to get this side of Asia, so count your blessings.  Some of it is too sweet for me and not spicy enough, but sometimes rigorous instructions can overcome this problem. 

Mandarin Inn, 3045 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 548-4052, 836-2300, usually open.

Mostly a Chinese place, but they have some Malay specialties as well.  Across the street from Bombay Curry Club.  Much more of a Mom and Pop than Straits of Malaya.  I went once, with mixed results.  I had a very good appetizer of chicken wrapped in bean curd, dipped into a sweet sauce.  The Beef Rendang had a good sauce, but the beef itself was dry and tasteless.  I am intrigued enough to go back, but the final verdict is not yet in.

Straits of Malaya, 1836 18th St., near T St., 202-483-1483.

This place closed in 1999, now it has reopened nearby, in the old home of Wazuri. See my remarks under Malaysia Kopitiam up at the top of this section.

PeteÕs Diner, near Capitol Hill.

They are supposed to have some Malaysian specials, see http://www.wamu.org/mc/crummy_petes.html.

Mexican

How can I get good Mexican food around here?  That is perhaps the most common query I receive.  It is getting better just about every month, we are not yet Houston, LA, or Chicago, but here are your best options:

El Tapatio, 4309 Kenilworth Ave., Bladensburg, 301-403-8882, open 10 to 10 every day, donÕt you love those hours?

This is a real Mexican place, treasure the thought.  In LA or Houston this restaurant would be only average, but that is still great in absolute terms.  Get the goat (Ņbirria del chivoÓ).  The best chile relleno around.  Very good tacos.  A lifesaver, despite its inconvenient location.  ItÕs right where the old ŅCielito LindoÓ used to be.

Tacqueria Tres Reyes, 5403 Kenilworth Ave., Riverdale, 301-779-6060.

On weekends they open at eight in the morning, as a good Mexican place should.  Fully authentic, the shrimp soup is wonderful.  Huaraches are tasty too.  Superb for atmosphere and people watching, even when the jukebox is a bit too loud.  Recommended.

La Flor de Puebla Bakery V, 6300 Kenilworth Ave., Riverdale, 301-699-8657.

A real Mexican bakery, lovely stuff.  I donÕt usually cover bakeries, but they also sell chile tamales for a dollar a piece.  Worth it every time, stop in if you are in the neighborhood.

La Sirenita, 4911 Edmonston Rd., just a bit off Kenilworth Ave., Hyattsville, 301-864-0188.

The best chile relleno around, and also the best beans. Excellent posole. I have yet to try the fried quail. The waitress recommends the Ņstripe soup.Ó They get an A+ for atmosphere, recommended.

Costa Alegre Restaurant, 5815 A Greenbelt Rd., near Branchville, could this be Riverdale? College Park? Hyattsville?, 301-474-2278.

I ate here with Jane Galt, who also liked it. Excellent tacos, and get the barbacoa and the beef cheeks, it is a good sign that they serve it. The guacamole was only average but I liked the place, very friendly and good atmosphere.

Tacqueria de Michoacan, 7422 Old Centreville Rd., Manassas, open for breakfast too.

This is real Mexican food served for Mexicans. Use the side condiments. Get the pozole (pork soup) on weekends. Very good barbacoa. No, this is not as good as first-rate tacquerias from out west. But there has been a rapid proliferation of real Mexican food in our area, and places like this are raising the bar. The hostess/owner also assures me it will get better. Oddly, they have inherited the barbecue pit from the now-defunct BenÕs; they are thinking about how they might best use it.

La Sandia, Tysons Corner Center, Level 1, by Barnes and Noble, 703-893-2222, www.modernmexican.com

The new Rick Sandoval place, it opened in May of 2008. I went during the first week and thought it was the best Mexican place around. ItÕs traditional Mexican rather than fusion but genuine and with high quality ingredients. The tortillas were excellent as is the guacamole and the queso fundido; make sure you use the sauce on the latter, and in a tortilla. I liked the chile relleno, the skirt steak tacos, and especially the carnitas. The chicken tamale was disappointing. The prices are entirely reasonable and in fact cheaper than the other restaurants in that lower level Tysons area. But alas Sandoval places donÕt stay great for long, so now it is only Ņpretty good.Ó Every now and then it shows some flashes of the former consistency.

Tacqueria Nacionale, behind JohnnyÕs Half Shell, 400 North Capitol St., NW, it closes at 3:30 and I am not sure if it is open weekends.

A lunch place, run by serious people, with real tacos, including fish tacos. I went once and thought it good but not worth all the attention. Plus itÕs hard to get a seat at lunchtime.

Super Tacos & Bakery, 1762 Columbia Road, NW, 202-232-7121.
 
Maybe the most authentic Mexican place in DC right now. They are really trying. Tacos and classic Mexican dishes of all sorts. It is a bakery and sandwich place as well; they have all the classic sandwiches you can get in Mexico City. They have huaraches too. Not perfect but pretty good. Excellent for snacking. Opens at 8 a.m. in the morning. A sign of progress. Lots of take out and some stools.

El Mariachi, 765C Rockville Pike, by Wootton Parkway, Rockville, 301-738-7177.

Many (not all) people love this place, and it is usually crowded.  I have yet to go.

Taco Jalisco, Rt.1, near Fort Belvoir.

A reader recommends this as a good hole-in-the-wall place. I have yet to go. I believe there are other worthwhile places nearby. Also recommended to me are El Charro, in Dale City, La Jaibita in Manassas, and El Puerto, in Alexandria. Caveat emptor, but do let me know what you think, I bet at least one of them is good.

Taco Rico, 4811 Edmonston Rd., Hyattsville, 301-779-8001.

Tacos for $2.00 a piece, including tongue and cheef, cueritos and carnitas. Huaraches of many different kinds. I have yet to eat here, but I canÕt wait. In a friendly Mexican neighborhood.

Los Tios, just down Mount Vernon Ave., from Taqueria Poblano, toward the Del Ray Artisans.

A credible-sounding reader says this is very good. It is run by Salvadoreans, but I would not rule out a visit on that basis. That is what culinary globalization is all about, no?

Oyamel, now reopened near Verizon Center, where Andale used to be, 7th and about D

The best attempt we have at fancy Mexican. Still often excellent, though the number of flaws is growing. The clientele is now downright gruesome. But get the stuffed peppers (including jaral), the fried potatoes in mole sauce, the tomato salad, the short ribs, the seared scallops, cochinita pibil tacos (barbecued, slowly simmered pork), and small dishes only, never get the main courses. The last time I went the fish tacos were mediocre and the cuitlacoche (corn fungus, that word is Nahuatl for Ņshit of the gods,Ó which is apt) was at best so-so. Expect decline, but it is still worth going, especially if you are a wise orderer.

Teocalli Tamale, 336 Elden St., Herndon, 703-904-9336.

A small place in Herndon where you order at the counter.  Vies with the Bladensburg places for the best Mexican food around.  Derived from a parent restaurant in Colorado.  You construct your own meal, much like Chipotle, but better.  Fish tacos, fresh ingredients, real sauces.  Not perfect, but right now it is utopian to hope for more.  Try it, if you can.  DonÕt expect a real sit-down meal, though, it is not that kind of place.  Ideal for snacking.

Casa Oaxaca, 2106 18th St., NW, 202-387-2272.

I am so desperate for Mexican food, of course I went. I had three dishes: the grasshopper tacos (quite good), three small enchiladas (only so-so, and the huitlacoche isnÕt subtle at all), and the ceviche (good fish but a little too citric). Overall it falls into the category of ŅI would go if someone else wanted to, but I wonÕt drag my friends here.Ó It may well be the second best Mexican place in DC, after Oyamel, but thatÕs still not good enough for me. Sorry.

Blanca's, 418 S. Washington St., Falls Church, Rt.29, 538-2466.

Actually an El Salvadorean restaurant, but they also have excellent Mexican food, the best in the area outside of Cielito Lindo in Bladensburg.  Get the bean burrito.  Don't go when you are in a hurry, however.  Any of the non-Mexican Latin places that try to make quasi-Mexican food will beat the pathetic American attempts at Mexican food found in this area.

Los Amigos, 1905 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 549-7008.  Opens for dinner at 6:00.

Not as popular as it once was, time is passing it by.  The Chile Rellenos are OK, but I donÕt go here any more.

Lauriol Plaza, 1835 18th St., NW, 202-387-0035, closed Mondays.

Formerly they provided good Mexican and Spanish dishes in Adams-Morgan, but now they are execrable.  And expensive.  A hangout, and a huge one at that, no longer a restaurant.  Not to mention the interminable waits to be seated.

Mixtec, 1792 Columbia Rd., NW, 202-332-1011. 

An old Washington standby, but still reliable.  Fairly genuine Tex-Mex food in crowded surroundings.  At least yummy.  Nor is it evil, unlike Lauriol Plaza.

Taqueria Poblano, 2400-B, Mount Vernon Ave., closed Tuesdays.  Plus a new branch at 2503A N. Harrison St., Arlington, 703-237-8250, right off of Rt.29 by the Harris Teeter, this branch open every day but closed 3-5 weekdays.

Taquerias have some of the best Mexican food in Houston, parts of L.A., or the southwestern side of Chicago.  This place was quite good when it opened but now it is in decline. It is too commercial and the branch is content to serve reheated, not totally freshly cooked food. It is not moving in a promising direction.

PicanteÕs! The Real Taco, 14511-B Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Chantilly Park Shopping Center, 703-222-2323, Chantilly.

Mom and pop Mexican, in Chantilly, once good, now in decline.

Taco Baja Grill, 6136 Arlington Blvd., Willston Center, 703-534-5434.

Occasionally they reheat bad food so beware.  Good atmosphere, though the possibility of leering men cannot be dismissed and indeed is to be expected. Overall it has been eclipsed by the competition.

Taco Pepitos Bakery, Adams-Morgan, Columbia Rd. somewhere.

Recommended on Chowhounds, I have yet to go.

Tia Queta, Bethesda.

I am told they have moles and real Mexican food, I am skeptical but will go to find out.

Guajillo, 1727 N. Wilson Blvd., Arlington, near Rosslyn, by the Citgo, in the strip mall, 703-807-0840, usually open.

It has received consistently good reviews.  If you donÕt know the real thing, you will be pretty happy here.  If you do know the real thing, you will know they are at least making a valiant effort.  A quasi-yuppie Mexican place, not a hole in the wall, the mole is probably their best dish.  The sauce is excellent though the chicken ends up a bit dry.  Check out the amates on the wall.

Rosa Mexicano, 575 Seventh St., NW, 202-783-5522.

I went once, and was not impressed. It is better than your local chicken fajitas, but much more expensive. It doesnÕt come close to what comes out of my own kitchen. The interior is nice, though, and some people will come here for the location and the singles scene. The real eater should head to Kenilworth Avenue.

Zengo DC, 781 7th St., NW, www.modernmexican.com.

Richard Sandoval and Placido Domingo own this place. Modern Mexican mixed in with Pan-Asian, once one of the best places in town but now in steady decline. The look is very stylish, and reminds the visitor of Manhattan or Mexico City. A hip crowd. The hamachi is good, also get the empanadas; donÕt say ŅI donÕt like empanadas, they are dull, crusty things.Ó Swallow each arepa in a single bite.

Toritos, 4936 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-6007.

An object lesson in everything that is wrong about Mexican food in the United States.

Matamoros, 2322 University Boulevard West, Wheaton, 301-949-2929.

Mexican food by non-Mexican Latins.  Above average for the area, but no great shakes overall.

Chipotle, numerous area locations.

OK, letÕs get the bad news out of the way up front. This is a chain.  Even worse, it is a chain owned by McDonaldÕs corporation, the fount of culinary evil.  That being said, it is pretty good.  Fresh and relatively authentic Mexican food, you tell them how to put together your meal.  The salsa is genuinely spicy.  The carnitas are the best meat. Not much choice, but you donÕt need it.  IÕd rather eat here than almost any other Mexican place on this list. 

El Boqueron Restaurant, 2311 Price Ave., Wheaton, 301-933-4900.

Another Mexican/El Salvadorean place.  I havenÕt eaten here, but it looks decent.

SamanthaÕs, 631 East University Boulevard, Silver Spring, 301-445-7300

Gives every sign of being a yummy, upscale version of a mom and pop restaurant.  There is only one catch: the food is bland and uninteresting.  Nor is it cheap, as Mexican food goes.  A disappointment.  A bit Pan-Latin, but not in any way to its advantage.

Pancho Villa, 910S. Main St., Culpeper, 540-825-5268, branches also in Stafford and Fredericksburg.

ThatÕs right *Culpeper*.  Many of the dishes here are only so-so, but they have the best chile rellenos in the area.  Get two of those.

El Charrito Caminante, 2710-A North Washington Blvd., Arlington, 703-351-1177.

Looks, smells, and feels like a real taqueria.  The goat tacos are first-rate, probably the best Mexican dish you can get in Virginia, at least outside of Oyamel. Next in line are the loroco pupusas, but many of the dishes here are no better than ordinary, noting that ŅordinaryÓ ainÕt so bad. N.B.: there is nowhere to sit inside, this place is mostly take-out. I also get the passion fruit juice to drink.

Mongolian

Tony Cheng's Mongolian Restaurant, 619 11 St., NW, 202-842-8669, usually open.

Grill and hot pot.  You choose your own stuff and cook it.  Good, and worth doing once, but it does not attain sufficient heights to bring one back.  Boring, plus you have to work at it.

BDÕs Mongolian BBQ, 7201 Wisconsin Ave., between Bethesda and Willow Lane, Bethesda, 301-657-1080.

I havenÕt been, mostly the concept just doesnÕt attain high enough heights.  The best Mongolian barbecue I had was in Taipei.

Moroccan

Marrakesh, 617 New York Ave., NW, 202-293-9393.

Fixed price meal, with many delicious courses.  The lamb in honey with almonds is a favorite, as is the Bistillah (chicken pie with cinnamon and sugar), and chicken with olives.  Needn't be done more than once a year, but must be done at least once in your life.  Be hungry when you go.  And try to avoid the belly dancing, if possible.  Excellent decor.

A Taste of Morocco, 3211 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington, 527-7468.  Opens for dinner at 5, no more lunch service.

Primarily  ˆ la carte, very tasty, authentic, and very reasonably priced.  The crust on the Bistillah (a pie of chicken, almonds, raisins, cinnamon and sugar) is properly thin.  At a Moroccan place always get the Bistillah. Everything is good, but it is the Bistillah, and the Bistillah alone, that elevate this place to my favorites list. In case you donÕt know, imagine a yummy pie full of chicken, topped with cinnamon and sugar and totally sinful. It isnÕt even a dessert.

A Taste of Morocco, City Place Mall, 8661 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, 301-588-4003, tasteofmorocco.net, usually open.

The Silver Spring branch of the well-known Arlington place by the same name. Right near AFI. Moroccan salads are never a mistake, plus there is the Bistillah.

Casablanca, 1504 King St., Alexandria, 549-6464, closed Sunday, dinner starts at 6:00.

I haven't yet been, and I wonder why I should ever visit somewhere in or near Old Town.

Exotic Marrakesh Casbah, 2309 Calvert St., NW, 202-234-4632.

Seems to be more ˆ la carte than fixed price Moroccan, but I haven't been.

Couscous CafŽ, 1195 20th St NW, 202) 689-1233.

The owner is Algerian but I am told they have many Moroccan dishes, including bastillah. I have yet to go.

New Zealand

CassatÕs, on 4536 Lee Highway, Arlington I believe, in the strip mall with Arrowine, (703) 527-3330.

The atmosphere is amazing reminiscent of a New Zealand cafŽ, including the art for sale. New Zealand has the worldÕs best seafood and this place does not, but it is still above average for the area. For me it has significant nostalgia value as well (I once lived in Wellington). Monday is fish and chips night, I have been meaning to try that. This place definitely has its fans, very homey in a nice way, gets crowded for lunch.

Nigerian

Erico, 1334 U St., NW, 202-518-9742.

I love Nigerian cuisine, but this place has been closed each time I have been by.  More a music place than a restaurant, I think.  I still see them advertising.  The place also has Senegalese and Cameronian dishes, a further plus.

Pakistani

Food Factory, 4221 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, 527-2279, usually open.  Turn left at North Stuart, coming from the west on 66, and park in the back. 

AARRRGHHH!!! It is now a bar and a hookah bar. It appeals to the crowd. They still have some good food, if you ask for it, but it is no longer the Food Factory we have come to know and love. DonÕt go.

LaÕJawab, 5151 Lee Highwa, Arlington, 703-532-4104.

Could this be the best Pakistani place around right now? The haleem is excellent and the wok dishes are very good too. Vegetables taste fresh. Recommended. If it takes them a little long to serve you, it is because they do everything the right way from scratch.

Ravi Kabob House, 305 N. Glebe Rd. Arlington, 703-522-6666, just north of Rt. 50.

The best kabob and Pakistani restaurant around.  The meat here is superb.  Plus the chicken and lamb karahi dishes are excellent, but donÕt believe them when they say it is enough for two people, it isnÕt.  A hole in the wall, mom and pop sort of place, but high quality all around and very authentic.

Halalco Supermarket, 155 Hillwood Ave., Falls Church, 703-532-3202.

Located inside a Pakistani supermarket, this place is so authentic it closed completely for the month of Ramadan. ItÕs probably the most authentic Pakistani place around, truly spicy, a bit oily, they serve organs too. Not my #1 Pakistani place but I will go a third time and maybe yet again. It is recommended for those who want to go the nth degree, not for those who seek mainstream ethnic food. It is best to go during peak hours when the buffet is most fresh. There is lots of Islamic material in the supermarket, it is a very religious place, the people are very friendly.

Tabeer, 1401 University Boulevard, International Mall, upper level, Langley Park, 301-434-2121.

The menu resembles that of the old Food Factory.  Whenever I am in the neighborhood, I cannot resist going to Udupi Palace or Woodlands (see Indian).

Mayur Kebab House, 1108 K St., NW, 202-637-9770.

A good kabob place, especially for DC.

Kabob Palace, 2315 S. Eads St., near Jefferson Davis Highway, Crystal City, 703-486-3535.

Tasty all around, plus there is Punjab Kabob next door, which I have yet to visit.

Village Kabob, 3013 Annandale Rt., at Rt.50, Falls Church, 703-536-3002.

Much better than it used to be, now I like it. It may get better yet.

Mehran Restaurant, 2138 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 202-342-0056.

Very mom and pop, pretty spicy, very yummy.  Nothing more than the usual Pakistani selections, but I can be pretty happy with that.  A good alternative in a part of town that doesnÕt have much hard-core ethnic food.

Merrifield Kabob, 8428 Lee Highway, Fairfax, 703-204-4400.

 

More of a dump than you would expect, given the location. The core influence here is Pakistani, and shady characters smoke hookay during the off-hours. This kind of food is almost always good enough to enjoy, but so far this place doesnÕt compete with Ravi or my other favorites of similar ilk. Go for locational reasons, that makes sense, a special trip not.

Aabshar Kabob & Sweets, 6550 Backlick Rd., Springfield, 703-866-1155.

Very authentic, but in this case that means the food is too oily.  Can be tasty, but not for the novice.  They have haleem virtually all the time, a plus, but anything fried simply isnÕt that good.

Skewers, 9736 Traville Gateway Dr., Rockville, 301-279-6999.

Supposed to be an above-average kabobs place.

Shahi Kabob House, 724 Pien St., Herndon, in the older part of Herndon.

An avid reader recommends the Chicken Karahi there.

Palestinian

Jerusalem Restaurant and Catering, 3405 Payen St. (right on Rt.7), Mount of Olives Center, 8666 Lessburg Pike, BaileyÕs Crossroads, 703-379-4200.

Good Middle Eastern food, get item #6 if you want something especially Palestinian, the red onions are delicious.

Persian

Shamshiry, 8607 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, VA, 703-448-8883.  Off of Route 7, near the Dulles access road.  Not visible from any road.  Turn left at the American Cafe, and head towards the back.  Near Oriental Regency, down a bit from United Airlines.

An excellent Persian place.  Kabobs only, which I usually find dry and unexciting, but this place is a winner.  Best rice in the area, very fragrant.  The Barberry Rice and Cherry Rice, with chicken or beef respectively, are highly worthwhile.  The Barberry Rice is wonderfully tangy and sour and the berries are luscious.  What kind of rice you order is the real decision here, not what kind of meat.  Ask for the beef medium rare, or even rare, if you order meat.  The salmon is my favorite, with Zereshk Polo, make sure you rub Maast Moosir (a kind of thick yogurt sauce) into the whole thing, liberally. Excellent people-watching also, if you are interested in the Persian upper-middle class.

Yas Bakery, and Gourmet Groceries, 131 A West Maple Avenue, 703-242-2800, across from MagruderÕs, not easily visible from the street.

 

I donÕt usually cover ethnic groceries, but they bake their own bread and it is #1 in the whole area. First you grab a number, then you wait, sometimes up to fifteen minutes if there is a crowd. It comes out fresh, piping hot, absolutely delicious. Worth a visit, and yes you will come back. It doubles as northern VirginiaÕs best grocery.

 

Rose Restaurant, 126 W. Maple Ave., Vienna, 703-255-9696.

 

Yes this is from the folks who brought you the old CafŽ Rose, in Falls Church. The new incarnation is brighter, quicker, and has a broader menu. The eggplant appetizer is first-rate, the yogurt dipping sauce for the bread excellent. The two stews are both good, the best kabob is the lamb, one of the best kabobs around right now, very juicy. Very low prices, in terms of value-added this is a real winner. The velvet paintings on the wall only add to the atmosphere.

Bread & Kabob, 3407 Payne St., Bailey's Crossroad, just off Rt.7, north side, east of Peking Gourmet Inn, 845-2900, usually open.  They just opened one in Vienna too.

My favorite here is the Dizi.  Dizi is "traditional Iranian lamb stew with beans, chick-peas, onion, potato, tomato, garlic, dried lime, rolled oat and spices cooked overnight and served in the same pot."  One of those meals where the consumer contributes to the production process, using what appear to be instruments of dental torture.  The kabobs, while good, do not stand up to the competition elsewhere.

Open Friday and Saturday nights until 5:00 a.m.; they also serve Kalle-Pacheh and Haleem at those times.

AmooÕs House of Kabob, 6271-A Old Dominion Drive, near Kirby, McLean, 703-242-1709.

The menu is very limited, only kabobs, the key is to get the Zereshk Polo, the barberry rice.  Ideally with the tandoori chicken.  Excellent atmosphere, reasonable prices, the real thing all the way.  It is not yummier than Shamshiry, but is a viable alternative, and is arguably more authentic.

Moby Dick House of Kabob, 6854 Old Dominion Road, McLean, VA, 448-8448, also branches in Georgetown (Wisconsin Ave. south of M), Bethesda, and Fairfax (12154 West Ox Road, the mall with Tower Records and the UA theatre, 352-6226).

Good kebabs, tasty food, and the best ethnic place in McLean.  But simply not the best kabobs place, the meat here somehow has just a bit less taste.  The bottom line is they manage to make it in McLean, ultimately not a good sign.  Still, going here is better than eating American-style fast food.

Duke Kabab, 6301 Little River Turnpike, Suite 140, Alexandria, 256-0009, across from the street from the Alexandria Tower Records.

Above average kebabs.  More truly ethnic than Moby Dick, and a more Persian atmosphere.

Mediterranean Piano Bar, formerly Pars Famous Kabob and Steak, 10810 Lee Highway, Fairfax, 273-3508.

This has been the major Persian place in Fairfax.  But the place keeps getting worse. Now they have descended totally in the worst aspects of NoVa corniness. The lunch buffet was once excellent, but is it even Persian any more? Things will have to get worse before they have any chance of getting better.

Mirage Kabob and Sweets CafŽ, 5916 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, 703-845-1600.

In the former home of Samadi Sweets, they have kept the savory desserts.  I like this place, it is mostly kabobs but one stew or koresh each day.  Good zereshk polo, when they have it.

Kabob Bazaar, 3133 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, 703-522-8999, just across from Clarendon Metro.

The best ground beef kabob around, period.  The daily stews are great, too.  DoesnÕt look like much, but this place is excellent.  Addictive.  And donÕt be afraid to get the ground beef  kabob, which in most other places is just boring.   Here it could be the best dish.  With the barberry rice, if they have it that day, they usually do on Thursdays or Fridays.

SamÕs Restaurant and CafŽ, 765 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 20852 - (301) 424-1600.

Stews, kabobs, lamb shank, special rice dishes. Sounds pretty good, I have yet to go, one reader claims they make the best gelato in the DC area.

Peruvian

Cuzco, formerly DesiÕs Chicken and Steak, 10801 Fairfax Boulevard, Fairfax, 703- 865- 8150.

 

Right now this is the best Peruvian place around. It looks terrible, as if itÕs trying to cater to the worst sort of American diner. But the chef canÕt help himself. The Lomo Saltado is first-rate, the soups excellent. The chicken is pretty good, though not #1. The rice and seafood dishes are quite good. Go, and go now. Many other restaurants in this space have gone under, it has not been a stable space since the old days of Pars. IÕve also heard that Emeril has visited this place, not sure if itÕs true.

Lima, 1401 K St., NW, 202-789-2800

The new hip place, and the best ceviche in town. Not cheap and hard to get in on Friday and Saturday. Parts of the dŽcor are stunningly attractive, while other parts resemble a bad high school cafeteria. Friendly service. I thought the short ribs were excellent, plus of course the ceviche. I recommend focusing on the appetizers. I donÕt feel I need to go here often, and I suspect that not all the menu items (of course I picked the best ones) are good. But it is definitely a place worth trying. IÕll add that at least half the menu items are not ŅPeruvian,Ó in the classic sense, but the same could be said for the hot spots in Lima, Peru. This place is aptly named.

Ceviche, 921 Ellsworth Dr., Silver Spring, (301) 608-0081, in the pedestrian part of Silver Spring.

 

I went here with about seven people and sampled many dishes. I thought the rice was quite good, the ceviche pretty good. They have lots of Peruvian dishes you canÕt find elsewhere. All a good recipe, but somehow I ended up a bit underwhelmed. I wouldnÕt mind going back, but IÕm not pushing to either. ItÕs in Ņthat partÓ of Silver Spring and appeals almost exclusively to yuppies. ItÕs missing a certain edge. ItÕs still pretty good, though, and never to go is probably a mistake. Not super cheap like some ethnic places, but cheaper than most other places for yuppies.

El Majahual Chim-Pun Callao Restaurant, 3815-B S. George Mason Drive, Falls Church, VA, 703-845-9501.  Off Rt.7, just east of Skyline Mall, or take the confusing Seminary Road from Alexandria.  Open any time you would care to go.

This restaurant's name has something to do with soccer, it seems.  Many Peruvian wonders here.  Papa Huancaina makes for a nice appetizer - potatoes covered with a spicy cheese sauce.  The Ceviche is very good.  Among the mains, Seco is lamb stew with beans.  Lomo Saltado is the dish I use to gauge any Peruvian restaurant - salty beef, olive oil, tomatoes, and french fries all mixed together.  Don't worry, the French Fries are supposed to be soggy.  It's best here.  The Italian-sounding dishes are less interesting.  Same with some of the steaks (see the remarks under "Bolivian" on this point).  Go for the dishes that mix ingredients.

The restaurant also serves good El Salvadorean food; I like the Taquito appetizer.  Plus the usual E.S. assortments.  The mini-mall also deserves a full walk, both front and back sides.  This is what Northern Virginia is all about, and what makes living here tolerable.  You'll find ethnic groceries for Filipino, Ethiopian, Indian, Afghan, and Vietnamese foods. 

Majestic Rosa Nautica, 2922 Annandale Road, Falls Church.

The dining hall is huge, indeed cavernous and the waitresses are skimpily clad. Drunk Peruvians watch soccer on huge screens. I had to wait a long time before being served. The fish in my pescado saltado was falling apart. They have music at night, and on a few web sites are listed as providing Ņadult entertainment.Ó (Not when I was there.) Dance lessons too.

Are these auspicious signs or not? Well, the kitchen does ŅgetÓ the fundamental essence of Peruvian seafood and they do serve it fresh. IÕll go back, but when IÕm in a patient mood. So far I give this one a thumbs up, but I canÕt imagine how they can afford to pay for so much space.

Wild Chicken, 11039 Lee Highway, Fairfax, West Fair Shopping Center, in the rear, this is the hardest place to find in this whole guide, it is simply behind the big buildings facing the main street.

They have Peruvian chicken, a 7 on a scale of one to ten. On Monday there is Lomo Saltado, Tuesday has Aji de Gallina, and Friday has Seco de Carne (beef stew with cilantro). Those dishes are quite good, and occasionally on offer other days as well. An intriguing mom nÕ pop, and certainly worth trying at least once. They also offer unusual (and tasty) Latino ice creams, seasonally. ItÕs still getting better, too.

Edy's Chicken and Steak, Las Brasas, Leesburg Pike, Bailey's Crossroads, on the north side of Route 7, just east of Chesapeake Plaza, where the old Borders used to be; 820-5509.

In fancy new digs, at first the quality declined but now it has recovered.  That being said, the waits for chicken are now sometimes interminable, once it took a solid 35 minutes.  One is reminded of Yogi BerraÕs old adage: ŅNobody goes there anymore, itÕs too crowded.Ó  Still, I love this place.  And an A plus for atmosphere and good general fun.  Oh, get the chicken, not the steak.  For yucca fries, I think the best is Brasa Roja, in Fairfax, or the place in Willston Plaza, on Rt. 50, the yucca here is actually substandard.

The Chicken Place, 5519 Leesburg Pike, BaileyÕs Crossroads, where the old EdyÕs used to be.

They have one of the tastiest chickens, a place to go if you are tired of the large crowds at EdyÕs, you can eat here with no sacrifice in quality, plus the chicken comes more quickly.

Another good Peruvian chicken place is Pollo Inka, in a Herndon mini-mall, 656 Elden St., 703-481-9090.   A correspondent recommends Pollo Real, again in Herndon, Elden St. at Herndon Parkway.

El Pollo Rico, 932 Kenmore St., Arlington, 703-522-3220, near the GMU Law School, they have moved from the old location.

You have to admire any restaurant that has only one item on the menu.  One of the best chicken places.  Maybe the best chicken.  And certainly the best fries.  But no yucca.  On the negative side, the portions are smaller than in many places, and it doesnÕt always come piping hot.  Great for people-watching.

La Granja de Oro, 2920 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, 534-5511, 5519.

The place to go for Peruvian mixed grill, including beef heart, tripe, calf liver, etc.  The other items are adequate, though not the very best around.  Not on a major strip, so most people don't know about it.  Not so far from either Rt.7 or 236.  Live music on some evenings.  IÕve heard there is a good branch in Washington, also.

By the way, don't drink Inka Kola, no matter how many locals you see ordering it.  It's like boiled, sweetened, liquefied bubble gum.

Costa Verde, 946 North Jackson St., Arlington, 522-6976, near GMU Metro campus, across from the gas station, usually open.

A good Peruvian place that has gotten better with time.  Very good ceviche de pescado and very good seafood, my favorite is the Pescado Saltado but most dishes are excellent.  Recommended.  Use lots of the green sauce.

Peruvian Chicken and Steak, 6198 Arlington Boulevard, 237-7704.

Yet another chicken place, yet another good chicken place.  In Willston shopping center strip mall.  They have interesting fruit juices, too.

Chicken House and Family Kitchen, 6007 Lessburg Pike, in Culmore Shopping Center, 703-379-1255.

The most stripped down chicken place you can imagine, barely deserves to be called a restaurant.  Not above average, but not below average either.  The immediate area has stiff competition, but occasionally I end up here.

Crisp and Juicy, multiple outlets, including one on Rt.7, just a bit east of Rt.66.

Many of my readers like these places, I have yet to go.

El Chalan, 1924 Eye St., NW, 202-293-2765

Peruvian food for the World Bank crowd, basically.  Not an extensive menu but it does draw on several parts of Peru, including Ariquepena.  Acts like a real restaurant, differs from the other Peruvian places listed here.  Worth visiting, order the lamb in beer sauce and the chicken in peanut and onion sauce.

RiveraÕs Restaurant, 6552 Backlick Rd., Springfield, 703-451-5343

Has pupusas as well, selection of standard Peruvian dishes, very small, definitely a mom and pop, I have yet to try it.

El Pulgarcito del Callao, 11333 Elkin St., Wheaton, 301-942-5395.

Peruvian, El Salvadorean, and Mexican dishes, but Peruvian at its core.  I have yet to try it.

Pio-Pio, 3360 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, 703-465-5200.

Good rotisserie chicken, and look for the chicken standing outside the front, waving a large placard.

Las Canteras, 2307 18th St., lower Adams-Morgan, 202-265-1780.

A Peruvian place designed to appeal to yuppies. I walked by, looked at it, looked at the menu, and was thoroughly unimpressed. A friend of mine with impeccable taste tried it and didnÕt like it. I wonÕt go unless I start hearing it is great.

Pizza

Right now my favorite in town in Matchbox, near the Verizon Center, but almost always a crowd and a wait. Excellent pizza, good food, recommended. See also EspositoÕs, under Italian, the owners are from Elizabeth, New Jersey.  City Paper says that 2 Amys, 3715 Macomb St., 202-885-5700, is the best around, their reporter sounded like he knew what he was talking about.  Pizzeria Paradiso, 2029 P St., is considered the best DC pizza by many, now also at 3282 M St..  CoppiÕs, 1414 U St., comes recommended.  Chris Coyne, who is from New Jersey, says Atlantis on Rt.7, near 395, is the best he has found.  Two old places are Ledo in Adelphi, and MarioÕs Pizza in Arlington, both about fifty years old. If youÕre really desperate, drive to New Haven, Connecticut, the best pizza in the U.S.  Chile and Sweden are strong pizza countries, too.

Portuguese

Tavira, 8401 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-652-8684.

HereÕs my theory of Portuguese food: go to the Ironbound section of Newark, otherwise forget it, at least outside of Portugal and Fall River, Massachusetts.  This place gets good reviews, but I expect it to struggle. And at $17.95 an entrŽe, why bother unless it is truly fine? Let me know if you go and find out.

A Caravela, 4615 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-537-3200, closed Sunday and Saturday lunch.

Salt cod, in many different manifestations.  A new place, I have yet to go.

CarmelloÕs & Little Portugal, 9108 Center St., Old Town Manassas, 703-368-5522, no weekend lunch.

They have Italian food also, and it is expensive. I have yet to go.

Puerto Rican

Cancun, 11260 Georgia Ave., Wheaton, 301-949-9838. 

Mostly a Mexican and El Salvadorean restaurant, but they serve some Puerto Rican specialties on weekends.  Sleeveless shirts are not allowed, that kind of place.  Alas, no mofongos, however, which means not enough garlic for my taste. 

See also Banana CafŽ, under Cuban, they have some Puerto Rican dishes.

Raw food

Everlasting Life, 2928 Georgia Ave., 202-232-1700, or Delights of the Garden, 2616 Georgia Ave., NW.

Thanks to Bill Cowley for the pointers. IÕve yet to go to either, perhaps I have the Modigliani-Miller theorem in mind.

Russian

Russia House, 790 Station St., Herndon, 787-8880.

I drove to this place once, but it looked boring and overpriced.  So, I reoptimized and opted for Peruvian chicken in a nearby strip mall, I think it was called Pollo Inka. 

See also under Serbian.

Russia House, 1800 Connecticut Ave., near Florida, 202-234-9433, closed Sunday.

Some claim it is excellent, I need to check it out. I love good Russian food, despite its unavailability in Russia.  The best places I know are in Helsinki. 

Salvadorean

Atlacatl, 4701 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 920-3680, usually open.

In decline, and no longer the best El Salvadorean in the area.  The herb pupusas are still good, though.  If youÕve never had this kind of food before, still good enough to be a revelation.  Nice funky dŽcor, too.

Restaurante El Salvador, 4805 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-521-3225,

One of the best Salvadorean places, in a universe of dozens.  Juicy pupusas, nice atmosphere.  Also get the corn tamales, tamale de elote.  When going to an El Salvadorean restaurant, always order the pupusas.  Always order the pupusas.  Always order the pupusas.  A Pupusa, for the uninitiated, is a Salvadorean "pancake," made of corn-based bread, stuffed with meat, cheese, or both.  Make sure you put lots of spicy cabbage on the top (called ŅcurtidoÓ).  The cheapest good meal around, also.  They have some Peruvian dishes, too.

El Zunzal, 917 W. Broad St., 532-9372, also 5900 Columbia Pike, Falls Church, 379-5100.

A good place for El Salvadorean food, and more accessible to non-Salvadoreans than most, without selling out on the quality side.  There is no doubt what you should order here: two mixed pupusas, one corn tamale, and perhaps a side order of beans.  That makes for a great five dollar meal. Some of the other menu items are good here as well, but I am never really tempted to deviate from the above.

Sarita's, 102 E. Fairfax St., Falls  Church, 533-9448.

Authentic, to say the least.  Plus you can find SaritaÕs II in the Culmore Shopping Center on Rt. 7, BaileyÕs Crossroads.  A good rule of thumb is the following: just about every El Salvadorean place in the area is worthwhile if you order well.  Which means getting the pupusas.  In SaritaÕs II they dress the waitresses to maximize the number of leering male customers, so beware if you go.

El Buen Gusto Restaurant, 10012 Main St., Fairfax, 703-218-3489.

Surprisingly good, their tacos are excellent and fairly authentic.  No one there speaks English.  Limited menu.  Very good chicharron (fried pork) with yucca.  Worth a visit. 

Las Placitas, 517 8th St., SE, 202-543-3700, no weekend lunch.

Overpriced Salvadorean food, with real napkins and tablecloths.  Pretends to be a real restaurant.  For that reason, the only Salvadorean place many people would go to.  The food is still good enough to justify the price, just realize youÕre paying twice what you have to.  Good for those stuck near Capitol Hill.

El Golfo, 8739 Flower Ave., near Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring, 3-1-608-2122.

It is hard to review all of these Salvadorean restaurants, and say something new about each one, donÕt you think?

Chirilagua, a neighborhood in Alexandria/Arlandria, at Mount Vernon Avenue and West Glebe Road.

Did you know that 350,000 Salvadoreans live in this area?  IÕve decided that when it comes to El Salvadorean restaurants, there is no point in simply listing more of them.  The key is to find out which dishes you like, not which restaurants you like.

Scandinavian and Slavic

Domku, 821 Upshur St., NW, 202-722-7475, closed Mondays.

Mustard, pickled fish, meatballs, sandwiches, etc. I have yet to go, Thomas Head liked it.

Scottish

Royal Mile Pub, in Wheaton, but IÕm not going to give you the address or phone number.

LetÕs hope they can fit as many Indians into that country as possible, as quickly as possible.

The Flying Scotsman, 233 Second St., NW, 202-783-3848.

I have yet to go, but I have heard they serve haggis. Unfortunately (fortunately?), I hate haggis. The Post refers to this place as a Ņsnuggery,Ó where ŅTime is not of the essence.Ó Get the picture?

Seafood

EamonnÕs –A Dublin Chipper, 728 King St, Alexandria, (703) 299-8384

Have I ever told you what a fish and chips fanatic I am? I scoured New Zealand for a year, looking for the best fish and chips (and found it). I had amazing fish and chips, on the street in the townÕs central plaza, in Bergen, Norway. That was the highlight of my entire trip. So my standards are high. And IÕm pleased to report that I really enjoyed this place. The fish is very good, enough said. The mushy peas are first-rate. No, itÕs not as good as the best in Kiwiland but I remain shocked by the quality and I am happy to recommend it. NB: Tables can be hard to get, so go when the pressure is off.

Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1201 F St., NW, 202-347-2277.

Art deco interior, excellent quality seafood, the best seafood around.  Not cheap, but better than the equally high-priced competition.  DonÕt be put off by the trappings, or by the vile nature of most of the other customers.  Worth trying, even if you think it is not for you.

Hook, 3241 M St NW, 202-625-4488.

There is actually a good restaurant in Georgetown! Really. Most of all the quality of the calamari shocked me. It is very hard to find good calamari in the United States but this place nails it. The Pollock was first-rate, though too undercooked for just about anyone but me. Not everything is stellar and the delights of this place do not come cheaply. But it is genuinely a good (albeit inconsistent) restaurant. If youÕve been wondering Ņwhy canÕt we have more good seafood restaurants in DC?Ó, this is one crack in the prior faade. The crowd is not yet totally touristy and obnoxious (circa 2007) though I predict this place will be ruined by mid-2008. WeÕll see, but in the meantime worth a visit if you know how to order well or can get an honest waiter to tell you what is good.

Black Salt, 4883 MacArthur Blvd., NW, near U St., 202-342-9101, closed Monday.

Fancy seafood, this place gets very good reviews. I went once and was not overwhelmed.

HankÕs Oyster Bar, 1624 Q St., NW, 202-462-4265.

Overrated. Warning you off places like this is exactly what this guide is good for. I wanted it to be good, I really did. It is just not that good, sorry. Many people love it though.

Crisfield's, 8012 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-589-1306.

Just off Georgia Ave.  Plain fish of high quality.  The Art Deco architecture and atmosphere is stunning.  Is this 1953 or what?  Great clock.  Order the Flounder stuffed with crabmeat.  Don't expect so much from the salads or soups, however.  Not cheap, but a treat.  The accompanying visit to Silver Spring is an object lesson in how Maryland and Virginia differ.  A great place to bring visitors who want to see something they will remember.

Legal Sea Foods, Tysons II, Vienna, also at National Airport and K St.

Good seafood, and tasty, but why go here?  The whole point of this guide is to avoid places like this.  Not cheap, and set in a shopping mall. 

JohnnyÕs Half Shell, THEY HAVE MOVED CHECK THE ADDRESS., 202-296-2021, closed Sunday.

Supposed to be the best DC place for crabs, clams, and the like.

McCormick and SchmickÕs, Branches at Tysons, Reston, and K St.

In the Legal Seafood mode, but tries to be sexier at the same time.  Better, though, at times comes close to fine dining despite the generic nature of the product.  The fish is simply very tasty.  This place will definitely make you happy, subject to the price caveat.  Not up to Oceanaire, though.

Horace & DickieÕs Seafood Carryout, 809 12th St. NE, Washington, 202-396-1083.  There is another branch on Martin Luther King Ave., somewhere.

The best fried fish in the area, a must.  Amazing atmosphere, take-out only, bad neighborhood, get the picture?  Fish, fish, fish.  ThatÕs all they have.  And it is fried, fried, fried.  You may not go often, due to the associated inconveniences, but a gem.  They also have great fries, collard greens, potato salad.  Crab cake surprisingly decent.  Go, go, go.

Coastal Flats, 11901Grand Commons Avenue, Fairfax , (571) 522-6300, there is one in the new Tysons Corner extension as well.

A chain-looking seafood place, but it is packing them in regularly. The fish is surprisingly good and consistent in quality. The food here is anti-interesting, but sometimes I eat here before going to the movies and itÕs never bad. An OK alternative if you have to go bland and mainstream.

SoBe Seafood Co., 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, 703-528-0033.

In the trendy part of Arlington, which usually spells death for food. The Washington Post says it is Ņpretty good, not great.Ó Some of the dishes have a vaguely Caribbean tinge.

Senegalese – see Nigerian

Serbian

The Serbian Crown, near historic Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls, VA, 703-759-4150.

I have not yet been.  They also claim to have Russian and French dishes.  The image of Great Falls conjures up blandness in my mind, though.

Singaporean

Singapore Bistro, 1134 19th St., 202-659-2660. 

Arguably this could go under Pan-Asian, but since they call it Singapore BistroÉthe sushi is supposed to be good. But it is nothing like going to Singapore, where an incredible meal can be had for $1.50 in the hawker centers. Tiong Bahru is the best place to eat there, take a cab.

Somalian

CafŽ Nema, 1334 U St., NW, Washington, 202-667-3215.

Somalian, Middle Eastern, North African, and Italian dishes. Here is their menu, http://www.cafenema.com/cuisine.html, hard to classify. You could call it ŅInternational.Ó

Soul food – see Southern and also Barbecue

Southern (see also Barbecue)

Georgia Brown's, 950 15th St., NW, 202-393-4499.  On the west side of the park, at the place where there appear to be two 15th Sts.

A visit here will almost make you think you that America is an integrated nation.  Here is where the black upper and middle class hangs out.  Great atmosphere, and sometimes excellent food.  Make sure you get some grits.  The place has slipped from its early days, but I have had some excellent meals here, usually at Sunday brunch.  Sometimes the music is too loud.  In any case worth a visit.

Vidalia, 1990 M St., NW, 202-659-1990, closed Sunday. 

Nouvelle Southern food, extremely tasty and creative, can be one of WashingtonÕs best restaurants.  One meal I had here was superb, and the other was mediocre.  You are taking your chances.  Order the Pecan Pie for dessert.  Expensive.  Lots of World Bank and IMF types go here, in search of what is to them exotic.  ItÕs reinvented itself a few times, so caveat emptor, letÕs hope someone else is paying the bill.

Flavors Soulfood, 3420 Carlyn Hill Dr., Falls Church, 703-379-4411.

I am fond of this place.  The sides are good.  I get the trout, candied yams, and mashed potatoes.  More soul food than barbecue, but recommended, and first-rate atmosphere.

Hodges Carry-Out, 616 New York Ave., NW, near the Convention Center, 202-628-0606.

Supposed to have good collard greens, fried chicken, sandwiches, etc. This place has been there for more than one hundred years, really.

Vantage Point, 1900 N. Fort Myer Drive (Holiday Inn), Rosslyn, Arlington, 527-4814. 

The Washingtonian magazine describes the offerings as "Southern Coastal," and cites crab cakes and peanut-roasted pork tenderloin.  Sounds too hotel for me to go unless you tell me otherwise.

Brown Sugar, 928 U St., NW, 202-462-2370.

It looks intriguing but I donÕt yet have any real information.

Southside 815, 815 S. Washington St., Alexandria, 836-6222.

Biscuits, grits, mashed potatoes, etc.  I have yet to go. I am told they have some New Orleans dishes as well, such as PoÕ Boy with fries and slaw.

Soul Vegetarian Restaurant & Exodus Carry-Out, 2606 Georgia Ave., NW, 202-328-7685.

Huh? All-vegan, no lard, excellent food, lousy service. At least that is what I hear.

Southwest

Anita's, several branches, the main one is on Rt. 123 in Vienna, often they are open quite late.

Once an excellent restaurant, now merely a good restaurant, sometimes a mediocre one.  An attempt to mimic the food from New Mexico.  Go spicy here, if you can.  I like the Mr. T's special, spicy pork with potatoes.  Quick, convenient, and sometimes hits the spot.  Still has a place in my repertoire, whether it deserves it or not.  And the atmosphere is total, classic Vienna Virginia.  A good hang-out.  The breakfast specials look intriguing, but I have never tried them.

Santa Fe CafŽ, 1500 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, 703-276-0361, http://www.santafecafe-arlington.com/index.htm

It looks too yuppie to me but at least one of my readers like it. He says that it is better in the evening, which also has a different menu and a different chef.

Spanish

Taberna del Alabardero, 1776 I St., entrance on 18th St., 202-429-2200, opens at 6:00.

Very yummy.  They often have regional specialties cooked by visiting chefs.  A superior dining experience.  Not cheap, but the price is high for a good reason.  Good paella.  Stuffier than it needs to be, but this is one of the two or three best places in town right now.  It has shown a remarkably ability to reinvent itself when needed. It is also one of the best Spanish restaurants outside of Spain. You need to know this place, although you must be adventurous in your ordering.

Jaleo, 480 7th St., NW, 202-628-7949.  Plus a new branch in Bethesda, Woodmont at Elm St., 301-913-0003.

Near the MCI Center, and trendy.  Spanish tapas, some of which are quite innovative.  Not every dish here is a total winner, but still a worthy part of the repertoire, especially if you know how to order.  Many claim this is not up to previous glories, and maybe they are right, but still it can be enjoyed. 

La Tasca, right across from the MCI Center, 722 Seventh St., also a branch in Arlington, near Whole Foods, 2900 Wilson Blvd., 703-812-9120.

I like the cheese plate, and a few dishes, but most of the tapas are mediocre. A place where yuppies go to drink.

Churreria Madrid, 2505 Champlain St., NW, 202-483-4441.

I have yet to go.

Canvas Tapas, 1836 18th St., NW; 202-797-4930.

Their caramelized tapas come recommended, but I am skeptical.  Looks like a place for poseurs.

Sol de Espana, 838-C Rockville Pike, Rockville, 240-314-0202.

A new Spanish place, from the former managers of Andalucia, in Bethesda. In other words, they had to lower their rent, so they reinvented their place. The core problem is that our Taberna is one of the best Spanish restaurants in the world outside of Spain. So why visit the others? But if you do, get the shellfish.

El Manantial, 12050-A North Shore Drive, near Wiehle Ave., Reston, 703-742-6466.

A bit of Spanish, but arguably Pan-European as well. Not this regionÕs comparative strength.

Corner Bistro, 6706 Old Dominion Drive, in McLean, next to Le Petit Mistral.

Supposed to be a tapas place, I have yet to go.  It cannot help but elevate the quality of McLean dining options.

El Pueblo, 9550 Old Keene Mill Road, Burke Town Plaza, Burke, 703-455-4401.

It doesnÕt have to be real Spanish food, it only has to be ŅSpanish food by the standards of Burke.Ó  They have Mexican dishes as well.

JulitaÕs Restaurant: A Spanish Flavor, 6521 Riggs Rd., just a bit away from University Blvd., West Hyatsville, MD 20782. Phone: 301-559-0958

I have yet to go.  Supposedly it has Spanish and Caribbean food, drop me a line if you have been there, the place does not appear to fit the usual categories.

Sudanese

Al-Khartoum Restaurant, 1782 Florida Ave., NW, 202-986-5031.

Oilier than it needs to be, and not a huge menu.  But where else are you going to get Sudanese food?  The tastes are unique and also pretty good, start with the fava beans and the okra.  Draws a cool crowd.

Taiwanese

See Chinese, especially BobÕs Noodle House in Rockville.

Thai

Thai X-ing, 515 Florida Ave., 202-332-4322, no lunch,

All take-out, but this place is becoming legendary. One table, four chairs. One guy cooks for you. You need to call in your order in advance. The drunken noodles and the curries are superb. The salmon is awesome, the larb too. Quirky dŽcor, mostly designed by the chef/owner. Here is one good review: http://www.intowner.com/fr/food/reviews/September2006.htm. Here is the menu: http://www.inshaw.com/blog/Thai%20X-ing.htm. Patrons are advised to call in advance to avoid long waits.

Thai Square, 3217 Columbia Pike, just east of Glebe.

IÕve been going to this place quite a lot lately.  It is one of the three or four best Thai places around, and probably the one most popular with Thais.  Excellent atmosphere, lots of small Thai kids.  The best satay around, without a doubt.  The best green curry.  Very original pig's knuckle dish with fragrant spicing.  Very highly recommended.  Not as fancy as Duangrat's but in some regards a more durable restaurant.

Duangrat's, 5878 Leesburg Pike, Bailey's Crossroads, 820-5775, usually open.

Gourmet Thai at reasonable prices.  The ruling mainstream Thai restaurant in this area.  There is another branch of the same restaurant, with a slightly different menu, right next door, called Rabieng's.  Has more modern decor than Duangrat's, but fewer offerings, although I am told you can still order off the Duangrat's menu.  It used to be that every dish here was great, then for a while it turned spottier.  Now it has been reinvigorated.  It remains not fully consistent but the best dishes are better than ever and the menu is more innovative than ever before.  The weekend ŅThai tapasÓ are especially fun.  Go, and go often. 

Suporn, 2304 Price Ave., Wheaton, 301-946-7613.

One of the best Thai places around, it has real bite.  Thai food is going the way of Chinese food, where most restaurants have the same menu and same taste.  Not this one.  Most of the dishes sound ordinary but donÕt be put off by that.

Ruan Thai, 11407 Amherst Ave., Wheaton, 301-942-0075, not so far from Rt.29 and University Blvd.

My Thai restaurant of choice in Maryland.  Not just the usual stuff.  Fresh ingredients, and truly spicy.  When it comes to ordering, you canÕt go wrong.  This place is exactly what a Thai restaurant should aspire to be.

Cee Fine Thai Dining, 9901 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax, 703-293-9898.

Above average Thai, good mee krob, more whitebread atmosphere than most, slightly more expensive than average. This is a good place to bring people who expect the restaurant to be Ņnice,Ó although it canÕt compare to Thai Square, much less Thai X-Ing.

Pilin, 116 West Broad St., Falls Church, 241-5850.

On Rt.7, a tiny bit west of Rt. 29.  No surprises, but it delivers.  Better than Tara Thai on Maple Ave. in Vienna.  In any Thai place I recommend the Mee Grob. 

There is a separate branch of this restaurant in the mall on Rt. 7 where Tower Records is located.  The other branch is more of a lunch place, and not as good as Pilin, but it is certainly good enough to go to and enjoy.  Cheaper and quicker as well.  The place also has some Vietnamese specialties, which are good as well.

Born, 144 Maple Ave., Vienna, 703-255-5800, closed 3 to 5 weekdays.

I dislike most suburban Thai these days.  It is too sweet and too trendy.  This place is different.  ItÕs not as good as my favorites, but itÕs well above average.  They are still trying to give the food strong and genuine tastes.  It is not as spicy as I would like, but I can go here with a clear conscience.  A good alternative if you are looking to eat Thai near Vienna, though donÕt go expecting Thai X-ing or Columbia Pike.

Dusit, 2404 University Boulevard West, Wheaton, 301-949-4140.

Wheaton is an ethnic food center, and here is one of its Thai places.  There are many Thai places in Maryland, and as far as I can tell, they are all excellent.

Ghin Na Ree, 2509 N. Harrison St. and Lee Highway, Arlington, 536-1643, closed Monday lunch.

A classic mom and pop.  They even let the small child have one of the tables for her toys and crayons.  Charming decor, and one of the most authentic Thai places around.  Is this the best Thai place in the area?  No.  Is it worth going anyway?  Yes.  Spicy.

Chaba Thai Restaurant, 2972 Gallows Road, Falls Church, 703-205-2430.

Right near the Multiplex and thus it has a convenient location for many moviegoers. But it is not above average. The watercress salad is one good dish to get, but the net value added of this place is probably locational only.

Benjarong, 855-C Rockville Pike, Wintergreen Shopping Center, Rockville, 301-424-5533, closed Sunday lunch.

A very good Thai place, somewhat more expensive than most but also nicer than average and better than average.

Cattleya Restaurant, 3981 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax, 703-934-8880.

A good Thai restaurant, mom and pop in orientation, very friendly.  I like best here the beef curries (not usually my favorite dish, I might add), I recommend a visit.  WeÕre now at to the point where Fairfax proper has better dining than does Arlington!

Neisha, Culmore Center, on Rt.7, BaileyÕs Crossroads.

Mom and pop Thai, with yuppie pretensions at the fringes.  Tasty, cheap, but for me somehow not satisfying.  The flavors are a little too sweet for my taste.  Has started drawing some customers away from DuangratÕs.

Po Siam, 3807 Mount Vernon Avenue, 703-548-3925.

Not as good as it used to be, but a Thai place is never bad.

Rincome Thai Cuisine, 3030 Columbia Pike, 703-979-0144, rincomethai.com.

Lately it has been too sugary.  That being said, I will take the sugary Mee Krob.  Attached to a hotel.  One drawback: you have to take an elevator up to the second floor for the bathrooms. But not up to the other Thai places on the same road in the same area. By the way, a reader recommends Bangkok 54 across the street.

Manee Thai, 2500 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-920-2030.

An excellent Thai place, in the Columbia Pike Thai row.

Luang Thai, Herndon, recommended by a correspondent, on Baron Cameron/Elden St., in the Virginia Power Building, across from an Outback (Ņsomewhat,Ó writes Rick Gonzalez), hidden from the street.

Hidden from street, that is usually a good sign. 

Khun Ya, 328 Elden St., Herndon, 703-742-8881.

Good Thai place, rounds out the Herndon ethnic offerings nicely.

Bangkok Blues, 926 W. Broad St., Falls Church, 534-0095.

The former home of a Laotian place, same patrons.  Good Thai food, but not at the very top, compared to the competition.  I love the blues videos they show, but at the same time it comes off as a bit of affectation too.  There is live music as well.

Pad Thai, 11199-E Lee Highway, in front of Expo Design Center, 703-591-2525.

For the most part, I am bored with Thai food, except when I have the seafood at DuangratÕs.  But this place is refreshing, nothing radical but everything tastes as if one is approaching Thai food anew.  Recommended, especially for those stuck in Fairfax.  Also very reasonably priced.

Thai Seafood and Grill, The romance Restaurant, 2732 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD, 301-932-4388.

IÕve given up adding random Thai places to this list. There are too many of them, and too few are unique. But an avid reader recommends this one, plus Wheaton and environs is probably the best neighborhood for Thai restaurants. I bet this one is worth a try.

Thai Smile, Crystal City, 561 23rd St., between Fern and Eads, a reader tells me it is great.

There are many other Thai places, more than I can try or list. 

Sakoontra, 12300-C Price Club Plaza, is this still Fairfax?, 703-818-8886.

I went here once, and enjoyed the fried watercress salad. The rest was fine but I thought only average. A number of readers have sent positive reports, but I donÕt yet get it.

Tibetan

See Nepalese.

Trinidadian

The Islander Caribbean Restaurant and Lounge, 1201 U St., NW, 202-234-4971. 

Original, good prices, truly spicy, terminally slow, and I am never sure whether I find it tasty.  While I love the culture of Trinidad, is their food really so good?  It combines Indian and Jamaican spices, and wraps the whole thing into a big bread called a Roti.  I always wonder what the bread adds.  Your opinion on this one is welcome.  I need to be talked into trying it again.

TeddyÕs Roti Shop, 7414 Georgia Ave., NW, 202-882-6488.
 
Any of the rotis with goat are superb, make sure they put some of the spicy sauce in it (you have to ask). Get the buss-up-shut. The pumpkin is first-rate. The soups are very good. The Ņshark and bakeÓ is a Trinidadian classic and it is pretty good here. The ŅBoiled ProvisionsÓ [sic] are only so-so. Ask about the fruit juices. This part of town used to be run down but now it is quite nice. This place is definitely recommended. For authenticity it gets an A+. And if you like a proprietor who is chatty and will tell you what to do, make that A++.

Tunisian

Fairouz Mediterranean CafŽ, 3815-A S. George Mason Drive, 703-845-7929.

 

A mix of Tunisian and Lebanese dishes, I have yet to go. They have okra on the menu, foul, chopped liver, stuffed quail, and lots of kabob platters.

Turkish

Nizam's, 523 Maple Ave., Vienna, 938-8948.

Doner Kebab on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  A full-priced restaurant, and old-fashioned in style, but the food is good.  A Vienna institution, pretending to be a real fancy restaurant.  I like the ravioli in yogurt sauce. 

Kazan, 6813 Redmond Drive, McLean, 734-1960, closed Sunday.

Receives less publicity than Nizam's, but better in my opinion.  Closer to real Turkish food.  One of the first oases in the dining drought known as McLean.

Temel, 3232 Old Pickett Rd., Fairfax, 703-352-5477

Mainly Turkish, but has some Greek and Israeli dishes as well, pizza also.  Very tasty, fancier than you expect it to be, not as cheap as most other ethnic places.  The worst thing is that the service is terminally slow, and without apology.  Even at lunch a 45 minute wait to be served is not unusual.  Draws a very mainstream crowd and doesnÕt have much of an ethnic feel, despite the menu.

Simit & Kabob, 9558 Main St., Fairfax, Turnpike Shopping Center, 703-426-1901

They havenÕt learned how to treat customers like customers.  And they seem more comfortable serving boxed crackers from Turkey, or canned olives, than warm food.  Nor are portions huge.  That being said, they get the essentials of the taste right, and that is exactly what most other restaurants fail to do.  So itÕs worth going, at least if you have your priorities straight.

AtillaÕs Restaurant, 2705 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-920-6524, 8100.

Turkish food, tied to an ethnic grocery, doner kebab on Fridays and Saturdays.

CafŽ Divan, 1834 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-338-1747, opens 7 a.m. on weekends.

Good but not spectacular.  Does fill a gap in DC Dining, by giving the town a real Turkish place.  But too bland and not adventurous enough.  Still, good enough to enjoy.

Meyhane, 633 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, 202-544-4753.

I have yet to visit, and donÕt expect to soon, I am happy enough with my local alternatives. 

Bistro Med, 3288 M St., NW, Washington, DC, 202-333-2333.

Turkish food in Georgetown, eggplant and lamb are the specialties.

Meze, 2437 18th St., near Columbia Rd., 202-797-0017

Middle Eastern appetizers, broadly Turkish and also Lebanese, main courses at your peril.

Levante, 7262 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-657-2441, also 1320 19th St., Dupont Circle.

Some of the dishes here are OK, but if you like this place you are reading the wrong food guide.  Ethnic food for yuppies with bad taste.  LetÕs hope thatÕs not you.

Vegetarian

Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant, 2531 Chain Bridge Road, 319-3888, just a bit south of Nutley Rd.

Many vegetarian dishes, good quality ingredients, but I find each dish combines too many ingredients.  Many vegetarians love this place, though.  If you want it really spicy, speak up, don't just say "spicy" or they will treat you like a wimp.

For real vegetarian food, see Indian and South Indian.

Venezuelan

La Caraque–a, 300 W. Broad St., Falls Church, 703-533-0076, where CafŽ Rose used to be in Falls Church City.

 

They serve Venezuelan, Bolivian, and Chilean dishes; the proprietors are Bolivians who lived for quite a while in Venezuela. Definitely above average. I loved the peanut soup (Sopa de Mani). Chilean sandwiches are hard to mimic in this country, so I didnÕt order one, but I saw two go past and they looked delicious. Even their Bolivian dishes are not exactly the standard. An original place, worth having in the repertoire and a nice homey atmosphere.

Vietnamese

Viet Bistro, in Eden Center, Arlington, off Wilson Boulevard, near Rt.7, 703-538-7575. in the corner of the mall closest to the street, donÕt miss it.

Right now this is the best place in the Eden Center and indeed the best Vietnamese place around. Finer and fresher than Four Sisters. Get the baby clams, the caramel fish, the frogsÕ legs, the eel, anything with lemon grass, and the shaking beef. Consistently tasty and refined. Good for vegans and vegetarians also, first-rate tofu.

Present Restaurant, 6678 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, (571) 233-500.
 
This is in the mall with J.V. Restaurant and MerchantsÕ Tire. The restaurant is finer in dŽcor than most Vietnamese places and you could even take a business client here. The menu has vague, flowery descriptions of the dishes, so if you know real Vietnamese food you may at first be a bit confused. DonÕt be. Right now this is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants around. The dishes are done in very classic style, with French influence. GET THE LARGE FISH, it is the best whole fish dish around.
CafŽ Metro: Asian Fusion and Wine Bar, 6795 Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, Falls Church, in the mall it is very close to Wilson Boulevard, west end of the mall, by the smaller entrance from the main road, the sign for the restaurant is hard to spot.
 
I had one meal here and I was blown away. The lemon grass tofu and the tamarind soft shell crab (be sure to dip it in the pepper sauce) were among the best dishes IÕve had in Eden Center, ever. The noodles and dumplings were above average, though I would not say spectacular. It is mostly Vietnamese with some Thai influence and a few Korean dishes on the menu. It tries to be a ŅniceÓ restaurant in a weird way and the music is too loud. Right now nobody else is going. Their menu is going to expand soon and I predict further evolution for this place.
 
Banh Cuon Saigon, 6795 Wilson Blvd., #54, 703-534-4482, open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., on one sign the name of the place is given as ŅSajgon.Ó
 
This small eatery is inside what has rapidly become the best corridor of Eden Center, namely the new inside corridor which is quite close to Wilson Blvd. itself. The shrimp soup, given as one of the specialties, is first-rate here and it has a richer and different taste from other local Vietnamese soups. It is a very fine dish. Very good crushed rice dishes as well.

Viet Royale, In Eden Center, Arlington, off Wilson Boulevard, near Rt.7.  This center is the center of Vietnamese and Asian life in northern Virginia.  Excellent stores as well.  I suspect no one goes to the Eden Center just once. 

Avoid anything that sounds like Chinese food, the standard advice in a Vietnamese restaurant.  The lobster is excellent, for one thing.  On weekdays, order the Bo 7 Mon - Seven Courses of Beef.  Not as intimidating as it sounds.  Fish in caramel sauce is one idea. Vietnamese pancake. Sweet and sour soup. You get the idea.

Sea Side Crab House, 6799 Wilson Blvd., #5, Falls Church, 703-241-CRAB, www.seaside-crabhouse.com

 

An excellent seafood house in Eden Center. The soft shell crab is some of the best around. The crawfish are served Cajun style, although not as spicy as you would get in southwest Louisiana. ItÕs small and not a great place to sit and chat, but absolutely worth having in the repertoire. Right now it is my go-to choice for crabs.

If you go on a Saturday, you must arrive before noon to get a decent parking spot in this mall. All the restaurants are open by 11, so this is not a problem.

Nhu Lan, 6763 Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, Falls Church, on the interior, a very small place, 703-532-9009.

 

Vietnamese subs, banh mi they are called. Some involve mayonnaise, carrots, pickled carrots, radishes, and fresh cilantro. Not my cup of tea – especially the mayo -- but some swear by it. If you are like me, perhaps try the pork meatballs.

Song Hau, Eden Center, 703-241-1880. 

IÕve yet to try it but it must be excellent to survive in this mall.

Huong Viet, 6785 Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, Falls Church, 703-538-7110.

Opens at 10 a.m. and is full by noon in the Eden Center. Get the picture? All the Vietnamese staples, definitely recommended.

Cho Cu Saigon, inside the mini-mall, 6763-6D Wilson Blvd., Falls Church, 703-538-2168..  Get the roast pork there. You might call this Cantonese but it is a Vietnamese vision of Cantonese food. Duck and seafood as well, recommended.

Thanh Son Tofu, 6793/A Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, just north of Dragon Star, Falls Church, 703-534-1202.

They serve one main dish, tofu.  ThatÕs right, just slabs of tofu, done three main ways.  Five for a dollar.  The best tofu around, period.  Tofu to die for.  Tofu.  Wonderful tofu.  The Vietnamese love this place.  By the way, youÕd better be in the mood for tofu. 

Kim Ngan, 6757 Wilson Blvd., Eden Center, inside the row of stores to the right of the mall, a small place, 703-538-2474, closed Wednesdays.

Excellent pho but more notably has some of the areaÕs best Ņcrushed riceÓ dishes. They have numerous good noodle and small dishes and pork chop dishes here, a fun restaurant, good for when youÕre not in the mood for the Eden Center standbys.

Saigon House, 7235 Arlington Blvd., #2, LoehmannÕs Plaza, Falls Church, 560-8180.

Yet another very good Vietnamese place.  Best for their big seafood combo dinners, for up to ten people, even including some jellyfish but the non-squeamish will like it too.  When you go inside, you will be surprised how large this place is.

Nam-Viet, 1127 N. Hudson St., Arlington, 522-7110. Maybe the best Vietnamese place in Clarendon, currently.  Clarendon, however, is no longer the areaÕs center for Vietnamese food, Falls Church is, especially in and around the Eden Center.  My favorite here is the caramel pork in ginger sauce.

MinhÕs Restaurant, 2500 Wilson Blvd., at Cleveland St., Arlington, 703-525-2828

Along with Nam-Viet, one of the better Vietnamese places in Clarendon.  More yuppie than most, a deliberate attempt at outreach. For me, this is ultimately a turn-off; although the food here is reasonably good, it is a little more expensive than it need be.

Green Papaya, 4922 Elm St., near Woodmont Ave.,, Bethesda, 301-654-8986.

The Maryland equivalent of MinhÕs. Good enough if you live too far from Eden Center, but frankly I feel sorry for you. Ten years ago Maryland had better ethnic food than Virginia, now the reverse is clearly true.

Vietnam-Georgetown Restaurant, 2934 M St., NW, 202-337-4536.

DonÕt go.

Viet House, 9966 Main St., Fairfax, 703-691-0090.

I donÕt list most of the soup places, which are uniformly good, this one has lunch dishes too, a good place especially for Fairfax.

Pho Cyclo, 8102 Arlington Blvd., really on Gallows Rd. next to the 24-hour CVS, Falls Church, 703-573-2210.

Not just Pho.  Excellent lemon grass chicken.

Vietnamese soups

For Vietnamese soups, try any number of local Pho places, first choice is Pho 75, 3103 Graham Road, Suite B, Falls Church, 204-1490, go early to avoid the line. Then try Eden Center, but the one in Culmore Shopping Center, Bailey Crossroads is also quite good. I frequent the one on Main Street (236) in Fairfax, just a bit east of Robert Road, on the left side, it is close to my work.  I have been told that the original branch of Pho 75 has reopened, on Wilson Boulevard, up the hill from Rosslyn in a small strip shopping center, on the right, past the fire station.  A reader recommends Pho 495, 7215 Commerce St., Springfield, 703-451-9495, www.pho495.com.

The soups will be fragrant, filling, very cheap, and often intriguing.  Beef, mint, bean sprouts, brisket, tripe, chilies, and lemon, are among the ingredients that are in the soup already or can be mixed in.  Vietnamese fast food.  Blows McDonalds away.  Should be a staple for us all.  Why isn't it?

West African

See also Ghanian, Nigerian, Senegalese, Cameronian.

Roger Miller Restaurant, 941 Bonifant St. , Silver Spring, 301-650-2495.

I love the name.  It is probably the best general African restaurant around right now, although it is not the best we have had in the last ten years.  The chef is from Cameroon, but you will find dishes from Senegal, Nigeria, and Ghana as well.

Bukom, 2442 18th St., NW, 202-265-4600, closed Sunday lunch.

More generic West African than Ghanaian, but since Bukom is an area in Accra, the capital of Ghana, I believe this is a Ghanaian restaurant of sorts.  I find the curries here to be very yummy.  Recommended, and they have very good music almost every night of the week.  See also West African.

Congress African Restaurant, 6834 New Hampshire Ave., either Hyattsville or College Park, I suspect.

This place looks like a total dump and when I drove by it was closed.  A report would be welcomeÉit appears to have promiseÉ

Izora, 1115 East-West Highway, 301-495-2960.

Or is this place Caribbean? Should it go under Nigerian? East-West Highway is prime territory for undiscovered spicy food, let me know if you visit this place.

CafŽ Mawonaj, 624 T St., between 6th and 7th, 202-332-4480.

It features Ņvegan and vegetarian specialties,Ó otherwise I am clueless until I make my visit. It is described as Ņhip,Ó if you research it on Google.

And now here are two reviews from Jeff Bryan, who works at AID:

Sumah's
1727 Seventh St. NW (near 7th and R, Howard U metro stop)
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-462-7309
ÓDown-home West African (Sierra Leonean and Guinean) cooking including house-made ginger beer, rice akras, pepper soup, peanut butter soup, potato leaf, crain-crain, tola, fufu, eba, fried fish, plantain, okra, couscous, cassava leaf stew, and moreÓ.  The owner, Sumah, is very friendly and welcoming.  In addition, the best African CD shop in town is in the same restaurant, so pick up a CD while youÕre there.  They used to have a sign by the door that said Ņno political discussionsÓ, but unfortunately itÕs been gone for a few years.  Easily as good as Ghana CafŽ, friendlier and cheaper too. 

Chez Aunty Liby
6115 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC
ÓThis is one of the few restaurants specializing in Senegambian dishes such as mafe'(peanut sauce), Thibou Dien and chicken yassaÓ.  Aunty Liby is usually in the dining area to greet you with a ŅBonsoirÓ when you walk in.  The dŽcor is straight out of Dakar, as is the food.  ItÕs friendly and fun.Ó Now back to TCÉ 

Rainbow, 312 E. Diamond Ave., Gaithersburg, 301-947-0099, open daily 11-9.

I donÕt usually cover the dining paradise that we call Gaithersburg, but West African places are hard to find.  I have yet to go.  The cooks are from Ghana and Sierra Leone.

West Indian

IÕve now put these under Caribbean.

 

 

Happy eating, and stay tuned for future editions!

Try also www.food-plan.org, and the Chowhounds site, and www.washingtoncitypaper.com/restaurants.  Better not to visit the Virginia Department of Health site, http://www.healthspace.ca/vdh, though it does have useful information on names and addresses of many of my favorites.

Address comments and suggestions to Tyler Cowen, Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, tcowen@gmu.edu