One of the restaurant lounges in the Kimpton Hotel chain, this small, hip lounge offers great burgers and a terrific array of hearty appetizers. You could actually order a few appetizers and feed the whole family. Every day there's a happy hour from 5 until 7
Happy hour is always a special time at the Kimpton Hotels. For guests, there's a wine reception every night; for outsiders, three of the hotels — Hotel Helix, Hotel Rouge, and Hotel Topaz — hold a great happy hour from 5
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café & Grill
This is a good restaurant, and it's located in one of the late-night bookstores and cybercafes in town (with a free fifteen-minute e-mail check available). The menu is pages long, featuring a variety of dishes from vegetable chili to lamb chops to quesadillas, with a wide selection of beers. Saturday and Sunday brunch (served all day) is very popular here and runs $14.50 to $16.95. Dinner entrees go from $11.75 to 16.75, lunch $8.25 to $10.75. Breakfast is $5.95 to $9.75. It has a “Sharezies” menu — pick three entrées for $18. Major credit cards are accepted. A caution is that the ambiance (the menus and promo posters) tend to be a bit risque — check the Web site.
With so much to do and see in the city, you don't want to be walking through the streets looking for a good or affordable place to eat when the museum closes. So it's a good idea to plan your meals in conjunction with your sightseeing, and if the place is highly recommended, make a reservation just in case.
Great pizza with lots of options for toppings is only part of the attraction of Luigi's, a restaurant that has been in existence since 1943. Great pasta is offered here, too — including cheese ravioli, lasagna, and manicotti. Dinners run from $10.75 to $17.95. Kids can order sides or split dishes. Major credit cards are accepted.
Mark's at Mark and Orlando's
Here's a story to tell back home: a restaurant with a split personality. Downstairs is the formal dining room, upstairs the kid's dorm … well, not really that bad. If it's haute cuisine (but with one foot on the ground) and starched linens and entrées for $18–$24 you crave, downstairs is the place. If the kids want cheeseburgers (albeit on a brioche) and wings, step up to Mark's, where no entrée is more than $9, and the atmosphere is definitely relaxed. The food is great on both floors.
This might be a stretch for kids, but this wonderful Asian restaurant serves a wide selection of personal potted teas, ice creams (green tea and ginger are first-rate), and meals, including Japanese bento boxes, kebobs, curries, salads, and even a buffalo burger. Most meals are under $6 to $12. Breakfast runs $1.95 to $9, and there's an afternoon tea for $20. Most credit cards are accepted. There are two more branches, both of which also serve dinner: one at 2009 R Street NW, 202-667-3827, and another at 400 8th Street NW, 202-638-6010.
Another of the restaurant-bars in the Kimpton Hotel chain, Topaz Bar offers a pan-Asian appetizer spread that can serve as a meal (half-price every day between 5 and 7
This inexpensive Greek restaurant is located on Dupont Circle's main drag. It features a wonderful selection of fast Greek food, from dips to fried cheese to a souvlaki plate and baklava for dessert. Entrees run $7.95 to 10.50; all sandwiches are less than $7. Some credit cards are accepted.Moderate Options
Buca di Beppo
Family-style, large portions of Southern Italian cuisine are this restaurant chain's claim to fame, which was designed to resemble a 1950s supper club. Platters of pasta, oversize pizza, and standards such as chicken cacciatore are featured on the menu. Entrees run $13.95 to $33.95, but they are meant to be shared. Most major credit cards are accepted.
Although hotel restaurants are a good bet for breakfast, show your kids some real Americana and wolf down a real American breakfast at the Waffle House downtown, where you can sit at a counter and order a filling meal of eggs and bacon, or pancakes, waffles, and even steak and eggs, all for under a ten-spot, bub.
This pleasant, inexpensive Mediterranean restaurant (Turkish cuisine via Europe) has an outdoor patio and features a terrific appetizer plate of fried cheese, salad, and dolmathes (stuffed grape leaf rolls); their spinach pie is so good, even the kids might like it. Entrees run $9.50 to $10.50. For $24, you can get a mixed grill plate to feed the whole family. Most major credit cards are accepted.
Not only has Kimpton made waves with its hip and creative approach to hostelry, but its in-house restaurants have set the pace as well. The Urbana reflects the upscale and contemporary flavor of its parent hotel, The Palomar. The cuisine is Mediterranean-inspired, with pastas, pizza, meats, and seafood to satisfy your whims and the kids' pickiness, all at really reasonable prices. Dinners run $8 to $30, lunches a bit cheaper. The clan will love to watch the chefs prepare their meal in the exhibition kitchen.