As a freshman or new student on campus, its probably pretty obvious the food choices are slim. After scoping out TDR and the Tavern, and walking through the tunnel while appreciating the convenience of the Eagle’s Nest and McDonald’s, the realization there isn’t much else hits hard.
Fortunately, since no one eats here for every meal, the city has far more options than the few choices on campus. Check out The Scene’s ideas for spicing up dining in the District without starving the pocketbook.
First, explore the area right around AU and AU’s Metro stop. Some places are within a quick walk, or AU’s shuttle system can take you there in a matter of minutes.
3201 New Mexico Ave., NW
A more moderately priced sit-down restaurant with all kinds of delicious traditional dishes, AU hosts many events here, such as last year’s Visions Festival entry drop off party. It’s also popular with locals in Glover Park, the neighborhood adjacent to AU’s campus.
3201 New Mexico Ave., NW
Balducci’s is a food lover’s dream. The most stupendous gourmet grocery store includes a deli, bakery and coffee counter. An AU ID gets a 10% discount on anything in the store. The best part? It’s a two minute walk from campus. As a result, however, don’t expect to dodge any AU profs or fellow students while shopping; they all frequent this place, too.
4515 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Contrary to popular belief, this south-of-the-border themed joint is not only a place for fraternities to host parties. It’s also a fairly decent Mexican restaurant. However, beware of catching a shuttle ride home after late night event is over. It’s not uncommon for an unsuspecting bystander to end up with vomit on their kicks since someone else can’t hold their liquor. And no one wants that.
4301 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Looking for burritos and only burritos (well, tacos, too)? Chipotle is the place, then. Located on Wisconsin Avenue, just south of the Tenley campus stop, dozens of students flock here daily. While it is technically fast food, there is most always a wait in a snaking line behind locals and AU students alike . Also keep in mind that, much like interns and Starbucks, Chipotle locations can be found on nearly every street corner in the District.
Legend has it that Georgetown residents refused to allow a Metro stop to be built there because it was feared property values would plummet if the neighborhood were so easily accessible to Metro-riding folk. Fact or fiction, the sad truth is that Georgetown remains non-Metro accessible to this very day. The quickest way to get near the main drag on M Street is to catch any of the 32, 34 or 36 routes Metro buses from Tenleytown, right in front of the Tenley campus.
2400 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Cuisine: Classy Indian
Located technically in Glover Park, or Upper Georgetown, this delectable Indian bistro is located near Calvert Street, a short Metrobus ride down Wisconsin Avenue. The swanky atmosphere and fancy server’s outfits will make diners feel like royalty. The mango lassis and naan bread are superb, and for big spenders, the $23 sampler platter - one for vegetarians and one for meat eaters - is to die for.
3033 M St., NW
Fino on M Street is one place to go for good Italian food at a moderate price. Food is accompanied with Italian pop covers of American hits for listening enjoyment, or sometimes with a live Italian singer.
News Caf? Italian Kitchen
3056 M St., NW
With its cozy atmosphere and reasonably priced food, Cucina Italiana works for both intimate dinners for two or casual meals with a group of friends. The dessert menu features chocolate covered strawberries, and the chef puts on a Sunday brunch complete with omelets, poached eggs and crepes.
Thomas Sweet Ice Cream
3214 P St., NW
Cuisine: Old-fashioned ice cream treats
Farther up Wisconsin from M Street is this old-fashioned ice cream shop. What it lacks in tie-died cow paintings and psychedelic flavor names, however, it makes up for in gigantic, chocolate-covered waffle cones and extra big scoops. Not surprisingly, the prices rise just as quickly as the mounds of vanilla chip in your order, but Thomas Sweet is conveniently open until midnight on weekdays for those who wander the streets of D.C. into the morning hours.
This little neighborhood is easily accessible by Metro, and has its own stop on the red line.
1900 Q St., NW
Cuisine: Fresh, trendy Asian and sushi
This aptly named “Asian diner” never disappoints with its fresh spring rolls and dumplings and crispy tempura. Serving a balance of larger noodle-based dishes and smaller tapas style selections (mix and match three or four to make a meal), it’s a cozy place to catch up with a friend or grab a quick, fresh bite after a long day in class or at work. The sushi selection is also notable.
Kramerbooks Afterwords Caf?
1517 Connecticut Ave., NW
Cuisine: American intellectual fuel
The legendary Kramerbooks bookstore - “serving lattes to the literati since 1976” - is a D.C. landmark that merits a visit of its own, but after perusing the shelves, stop into the Afterwords Caf?. Although slightly overpriced, the food is decent and the weekday hours extend into the early morning (a big plus for those late night cravings). The popular bar has free Internet access, and on the weekends the whole place is open 24 hours with live local music, to boot.
1712 Connecticut Ave., NW
Of all D.C.‘s Thai restaurants, Thai Chef’s quality is relatively dependable and its prices relatively low. The service isn’t always consistent (sometimes diners may wait forever even for water), but once orders are taken things progress smoothly. The Pad Thai is a house specialty.
2029 P St., NW
Cuisine: Pizza as the heavens above intended
Any local will tell you that great pizza in D.C. doesn’t readily exist. This gem, however, serves up, melt-in-your mouth, thin crusted pizzas just like ones in a real Italian pizzeria. The menu (pizza and antipasto only) and appetizers (a dish of olives brought to your table) are simple and authentic. There is also an M Street location in Georgetown.
EDITOR’S PICK: Teaism
2009 R St., NW
Cuisine: Asian fusion
This Asian fusion teahouse uses tea in many of its dishes and has three locations in the D.C. area, but the Dupont one is cozy and frequented by locals. No coffee here, folks; just lots of teas from all over the world (with some priced that way). Order a pot of Earl Gray with some homemade green tea shortbread cookies, a chicken bento box with a bowl of miso soup or a cup of spicy chai with jasmine cr?me brulee. The brunch menu is extremely popular - so popular, in fact, that those who don’t rise early enough on the weekends won’t make it before the homemade sourdough French toast or orange waffles are completely sold out. Seating is limited, so diners may have to to hang around waiting for a spot to down dishes like cilantro scrambled eggs or sticky rice.
Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream
1633 Connecticut Ave., NW
Cuisine: Homemade ... ice cream
For those who love being served delicious ice cream by the eccentric, balding, overweight man who churned it himself, don’t miss Larry’s. On busy nights Larry is known to shout across the counter at patrons who aren’t are moving through the line quickly enough. The green tea flavor is a must try.
Accessible via the Woodley Park-Adams Morgan Metro stop on the red line, Adams Morgan’s strip of 18th Street is packed with bars, clubs and restaurants of all ethnic persuasions. Here’s a small sampling:
2434 18th St., NW
D.C. has one of the largest Ethiopian populations in the United States, and one of the largest concentrations of amazingly tasty Ethiopian restaurants around. Meskerem offers reasonable prices, traditional one-plate, no-utensil eating and a hip, authentic atmosphere. And the food? Delicious. Go. Now.
2458 18th St., NW
The coffee is strong, the pie is delicious and breakfast is available 24 hours a day. Stop in next door to The Diner’s sister coffeehouse, Tryst, for a delicious caffeinated recharge and a slew of tasty desserts, like strawberries with Nutella. Mmm mmm good.
2425 18th St., NW
Adams Morgan is full of popular bars, so it’s no surprise that this place does such amazing business late into the night. It’s a no-frills counter where one orders their falafel of choice along with a heaping order of crispy “frites” (that’s french fries, for all you Americans). Customize your chickpea concoction, at the toppings bar, and take it to go or enjoy at a barstool looking out onto 18th Street. Word to the wise: two people can dine here deliciously for less than $15.
2471 18th St., NW
Cuisine: Vegan-friendly brunch
Asylum’s a happening bar for most of the week, but on Sundays it opens its doors as one of the most vegan-friendly dining spots in D.C. It has two completely different menus - one for meat lovers, and another for those who pass on the bacon, sausage and eggs. The huevos rancheros are excellent.
The U Street area has experienced a wealth of attention now that the city government has turned its eye toward gentrification. Hop the green line to the U Street-Cardozo/African American Civil War Memorial stop and enjoy the unique neighborhood culture, just a hop, skip and jump from both the 9:30 Club and the Black Cat.
2001 11th St., NW
Cuisine: Mediterranean delights
A nifty, cavern-esque basement where local jazz acts play on the weekends gives this funky dive its name, but the Mediterranean food keeps ‘em coming back for more. For those over 21, the bar is also known to have a spectacular selection of Belgian beers. Cheers!
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St., NW
Cuisine: Chili, nachos and milkshakes on the cheap
This classic dive has weathered neighborhood decline and revitalization to become one of D.C.‘s most popular eateries. The restaurant cooks its famous chili following the same secret recipe used since it opened in 1958. The place also floods with concert-goers after shows at the Black Cat and 9:30 club end, as well as local barflies once the house calls last call around 2:30 a.m., making it a hip place to end up (or to say you did).
1418 U St., NW
Cuisine: Achingly hip
If you’re comfortable around pretentious aspiring hipsters and don’t mind paying a bit more than you probably should for decent food in a cozy, candle-lit atmosphere while live music blares behind your conversation, then is this ever the place for you. Not a bad way to impress a first date, assuming they don’t think it’s too bourgeois.
From Tenleytown to U Street, D.C. has many options for college students looking for a quick bite to eat or exotic fare. For more dining ideas, visit http://washington.dc.diningguide.com.