Pros: Great location, awesome food, inexpensive meal, clean
Cons: VERY busy during lunch, expensive alcoholic beverages
The Bottom Line: My pick for best Chinese restaurant in DC.
Being from New York, I am a BIG Chinese Food person. It took me four years to find a really good Chinese Restaurant in Washington, DC until my sister, who has always been the trendy type, brought me to Charlie Chiang's during my senior year in college. Located right by The George Washington University on I Street in the NW quadrant of DC, Charlie Chiang's is a great place to go for a date, on a business lunch, with your family or with some friends.
While the front of the building is pretty ordinary and doesn't exactly invite you in for a meal, the inside is decorated in simple chinese elegance combined with the "yuppydom" that is DC. A few Chinese paintings hang on the walls with some Chinese figurines and other decorations standing about to give the Asian flare to the restaurant. Otherwise, the linens covering the tables and the small groupings of flowers as the centerpieces would suggest any other restaurant in the DC area.
When you walk in, your hosts will greet you warmly. If you're going for lunch, be prepared to wait. Charlie Chiang's does most of their business during lunchtime. It's not known as a dinner restaurant, so the restaurant is pretty vacant, even on a weekend night. If you're looking for a quiet dinner stop for a date on the weekend, this is the place to go.
If you're looking for a good Chinese meal, Charlie Chiang's is the place to go. For less than $20 per person you will get a non-alcoholic beverage, soup and entree. There is a lot on the menu, including pork, seafood, beef, lamb and chicken. Among the common entrees, including Sweet & Sour Pork and Wonton Soup, you can find a little less common Chinese dishes, such as Shia Chia Lamb and Asparagus & Crabmeat Soup. I'm a traditionalist, so I stick with what I know I like: General Tso's Chicken, Lo Mein, Sweet & Sour Pork, Wanton Soup... you get the idea. It appears as though the traditional dishes are the ones for under $10 per serving. Each serving is definitely big enough to share.
I like Charlie Chiang's because you can have your dinner family-style. I like having a bunch of different foods to choose from when I eat Chinese food rather than a plate of, say, Beef & Broccoli. The service is very fast... Almost so fast that you feel you are being rushed out the door. It would be nice if the service slowed down a little for the evening meal rather than the efficient rush of lunch.
It would also be nice if the combination meals offered to carry-out and delivery customers between the hours of 11:30am and 9:30pm would be offered in the dining room. Delivery, by the way, is available to a limited area. (Don't worry, GW students-- you can get it!) Delivery, just like the service in the dining room, is very fast. You must have a minimum order of $15 to get delivery, though.
Charlie Chiang's is NOT the restaurant you want to go to if you drink a lot of alcohol with your meal. The alcoholic beverage prices are exorbitant. Have dinner here, then head to The Red Lion or some other pub for drinks.
I have been back to DC on many occasions, and I always make it a point to have a meal at Charlie Chiang's. The food is terrific, and inexpensive as compared to other DC restaurants. The service is quick, and the food is brought to you piping hot. It's a traditional Chinese Restaurant setting, and I'm sure you will be pleased by it. Charlie Chiang's information:
1912 Eye Street, NW Washington DC 20006
Open 7 Days A Week Monday - Thursday 11:30am - 10:30pm
Friday 11:30am - 11pm Saturday 12:00pm - 11:00 pm
Sunday & Holidays 12:00pm - 10pm
Tel: (202) 293-6000 Fax: (202) 659-8793
Free Delivery (Limited Area & Min. $15.00)
Kid Friendliness: No Vegetarian Friendly: Yes Notes, Tips or Menu Recommendations Sweet & Sour Pork, Vegetable Lo Mein, Wonton Soup... Watch your bar bill, as the alcohol is very expensive Best Suited For: Business