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Five Places to Dine Out Without the Wait (Hopefully)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com

We’ve all been there: Saturday night, group of friends, 14th and U Street area… 17th Street — hungry and looking for a good night out.

After several minutes of suggesting, bantering and countering each others’ ideas, the group finally decides on a place highly recommended by The Post, Thrillist and City Eats.

"Borderstan" "U and 14th Street NW"

There are some places where you can avoid the lines in the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

You stroll into the restaurant, scope out the bar scene and head to the hostess stand with all the confidence in the world… only to hear the three most dreaded words in a restaurant junkie’s vocabulary: Two hour wait.

What? You’ve got to be kidding me. Two hours? (But I’ve already been chewing this 11-hour-old gum in a desperate attempt to not eat my own hand!)

If there’s one thing the Borderstan area is not short of, it’s a plethora of quality up-and-coming restaurants — a characteristic that is both a blessing and a curse for the strip’s hungry and culinary curious patrons. Thankfully, you can still grab a delicious meal in the area, without a two hour wait — or even a wait at all!

Here are a few places where we’ve dined and recommend you try the next time you are looking for a quick bite and a brew before hitting up a night on the town. Of course, I cannot guarantee there won’t be a snag in your plans — they are all good places.

Ulah Bistro (1214 U Street NW): This American bistro serves the classic fare, from bar-type appetizers to homemade pizzas, sandwiches and entrees. The two-level restaurant (with patio seating), is consistently full, yet rarely has a wait. The good food, diverse menu, dynamic drink specials and reasonable prices keep this U Street eatery a go-to when CafĂ© Saint-Ex or Bus Boys and Poets turn you away. Check out Aparna’s review, Ulah-lah: Bistro Classics in the Neighborhood.

Judy Restaurant (2212 14th Street NW): Yes, El Centro is just down the street, but that doesn’t stop neighbors from frequenting Restaurant Judy at 14th and W Streets NW (just up a few blocks!).  Trust us, the four-block walk is worth the effort. If you live in the area, chances are you’ve walked by this Latin/Salvadoran hole-in-the-wall several times without even noticing the no-frills façade. Traditional fare, cold beers, good prices. Enough said, but check out Luis’ review, Judy Restaurant Delivers Authentic Food at Good Prices.

Agora (1527 17th Street NW): Nestled a few blocks away from U Street, Agora offers Mediterranean-fusion foods and cocktails at economical prices. The next time Masa 14′s rooftop is a mess, try a combination of Agora’s spreads, mezes and flatbreads (with a glass of wine) and call it a night! See what Sarah had to say about Agora: Sunday in the Mediterranean at Agora.

Coppi’s Organic Restaurant (1414 U Street NW): The name says it all. This neighborhood cafĂ© offers the freshest local, organic ingredients, cooked with old-time Italian recipes. From antipastos to pizzas and entrees, you are sure to tickle your Tuscan taste buds here. And, yes, Coppi’s is staying open during the construction of the Louis at the southwest corner of 14th and U NW.

Taylor Gourmet (1908 14th Street NW): When in doubt, grab a sub. I am not sure when that became a frequently recited phrase in my vocabulary, but it totally does the trick. The boys behind Taylor Gourmet are keeping more than just The president happy– The food joint’s extensive menu keeps DC residents coming back for more. And the fact that it’s open until 3:30 am (yes, you read that correctly), makes this locally owned sub stop the fancy (and more delicious) Jumbo Slice of 14th Street. Don’t believe me? Read Ashley’s Why I Love Taylor Gourmet (A Very Biased Review).

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  • One Photo A Day - Luis Gomez


4 Responses to “Five Places to Dine Out Without the Wait (Hopefully)”

  1. num num says:

    For affordable, delicious food without the wait I go to Regent Thai on 18th between T and U. It’s a mystery to me why this place isn’t always packed… I’ve often showed up at prime time with a large group (8–12 people) and experienced little or no wait. If you go do yourself a favor and try the Chu Chee Pla on the specials page — fish sticks for the gods. The sizzling beef is also yummy. And the vegetarian menu is also great with tasty Pad Thai Jae and a seaweed soup like nowhere else.

  2. Joel says:

    Yes, we’ve all experienced this. Up to 2hr waits. Yet, incredibly, we have people pushing a liquor license moratorium for 14th & U, claiming “we don’t need any more restaurants or bars.” And this despite the fact we already have a 50% cap on licenses for the area, which hasn’t even been hit yet. If you oppose a moratorium, pls sign the petition begun by former U Street Neighborhood Assoc president Bryan Martin Firvida. We don’t need to bring the Hank’s Oyster Bar type fights to 14th & U. The petition: http://chn.ge/InYIsl

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