Over on Serious Eats, I just spent a bit of time writing a long message about where people should eat when they’re coming to the DC area. I focussed mostly on budget eats in Arlington. Here’s a bit of what I wrote:
Others have covered the more upscale choices of restaurant, but if you’re looking for breakfast or lunch, or you’re on a budget, here are some places you might want to check out…
There are two middle-eastern places in Arlington that I like that you might want to give a try: The first one is called Ravi Kebab, on the corners of Glebe and Pershing — you’ll probably need a car to get there. (There are two locations, kitty corner from each other.) My wife and I really like the boneless kebabs there. The other is called The Food Factory, which is across the street from the Ballston Metro (cross the street, and walk past the chinese restaurant on the corner — turn right in the parking lot behind it, and the entrance is in there.)
I strongly suggest you try to hit a peruvian chicken place while you’re here. There are several to choose from. I like El Pollo Rico on North Kenmore in Arlington. There’s also Crisp and Juicy over on Lee Highway.
If you’ve been out partying late, late, and looking for a bite, there’s Bob & Edith’s on Columbia Pike, a local landmark that is open all night. The food isn’t really that great, but adaquate, and it’s been around forever, and is an ideal stop after the bars close.
If you’ll be in town for the weekend, and have a car, head up to Seven Corners on Route 50 for a place called Fortune. Arguably, the best dim sum brunch in the area. It opens at 11, and gets crowded fast — get there early to avoid the wait.
Although it’s a national chain, Smoothie King makes a great, quick breakfast, too. There’s one across the street from Ballston Mall, and there’s another one near Pentagon City Mall, too, in Pentagon Row.
If you’re midtown and looking for a fast, quick lunch, try Potbelly. There are a bunch of locations, all over, and they’re better than Subway.
Finally, if you’re going to be visiting the Smithsonian Museums, there’s not a lot of choices to eat. None of them are high dining, but if you are hitting a bunch of the museums and don’t want to take the time to leave the National Mall, these are your best choices… The best one is arguably the cafeteria at the Museum of the American Indian, on the Capitol side of the Mall. They offer a very diverse menu of authentic native american cuisine. There’s a food court under the Ronald Reagan World Trade Center on 14th, but it’s not much better than a shopping mall food court. There’s another cafeteria in the National Gallery East Wing, but again, the food isn’t all that great, nor inexpensive.