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THE best value around?

Any better values around than the three enormous lamb chops on a kebob, perfectly grilled, with a too much rice/bread side, yogurt suace, and side salad (OK, I always throw away the "eh" salad, still) for $8.99 at Food Factory College Park? It feeds one, two or three people, depending on appetite.

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  1. It is perhaps not as huge, but Viet Royal in Eden Center has a generous portion of Vietnamese steak (possibly called shaky beef) on their lunch specials menu. It comes with soup and your choice of garden roll or cha gio for $6.95 or $7.95.

    Be warned, their lunch specials menu mostly has Chinese-style dishes---I guess it is what the lunch special crowd wants.

    1. Speaking of Vietnamese, it's hard to beat a $2 or $2.50 banh mi sandwich.

      For something more dinner-y, I'd say a four-way Cincinnati chili at Hard Times Cafe, about eight bucks.

      1. "For something more dinner-y, I'd say a four-way Cincinnati chili at Hard Times Cafe, about eight bucks."

        Too bad they closed their Columbia location. Love me some four (or five) way Cincy.

        1. Lunch buffet at the Mem Sahib adjacent to the Lexington market.

          1. For quality, quantity, variety, and sheer nap-forcing stuff-yourself-ability, it is hard to beat a good Indian buffet for lunch. Minerva ($8.95) has always been my favorite in NoVA, up in the greater CP area I like Udupi Palace ($7.99 last time I went).

            Other favorites for a very filling lunch under 10 bucks:
            * Half w/ Everything at El Pollo Rico (arlington)
            * Goat taco, chorizo taco, pork taco, and laroco papusa at Taqueria El Charrito Caminante
            * Texas wet 5-way chili mac at Hard Times. I didn't know I was only supposed to eat it at dinner! This is my standard hangover lunch. I'm not a fan of their attempt at Cincinnati-style. The texas is more or less just wet taco meat but it works with the chili mac.

            * For dinner, when I'm getting toward the end of a paycheck I will head to happy hour @ mccormick and schmick's in reston for a $1.95 half pound cheeseburger with fries, and $1.95 steamed mussels, though you do of course have to put up with the yuppie happy hour bar scene there. I just get there as early as I can, secure as remote a spot as possible, and put in ear plugs.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Lowbar

              Any other good happy hour spots for a Fri. evening (I'm assuming there are none on the weekend)? Will be staying by the Dupont/Farrugut stops. Or perhaps one by Cleveland Park? Thanks.

              1. re: Joanie

                I don't really do the social side of happy hour, I just take advantage of the cheap eats...but I believe there are some other threads on here which go into happy hours. i think one of them referenced a consolidated list available online somewhere. Can't find it now though...it was within the last week...

            2. El-Chaparral Meat Market
              2719 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA
              across the street from Whole Foods

              They sell saltenas at the counter - 2 for $5. These are buttery pastery shells filled with chicken, beef, vegetables, and spices. Grab a drink from the case and you will have quite the satisfying lunch for under $7.

              There is a picture on this web site of what a saltena looks like along with a list of sample ingredients:


              1. Doesn't Food Factory have an all you can eat policy at lunch for about the same price you mention? Get the lamb, get the chick peas, get the spinach, get the bread, repeat as needed. :) Most of the food is excellent, there.

                Udupi Palace is cheaper and probably healthier and their all you can eat buffet will leave you just as stuffed with a greater variety of flavors.

                My favorite value spot for a *fast* lunch is Phil & Kimmy's Chinese place in CP on Knox, I think. (next to the 7-11, across from the WAWA). It is a DUMP made worse by the smelly parking lot, but for $5 you get white rice, and a choice of 3 items from their buffet to fill a styrofoam container and all of the water you can drink. The salted pepper fish is good (but very salty). Green beans and egg plant dishes are also good. If anything looks like it might have bones, it probably will have lots of bone, so avoid those dishes. From the CP metro, you can walk there, eat and walk back in less than an hour.

                1 Reply
                1. re: zorn

                  Yes, they do. I would still maintain that the three lamb chops is a better "value" even though the quantity is less because the quality is so high. Theirs taste better than the lamb chops you get a fancier places at four times the price

                2. In terms of "value" meaning a "good deal" as opposed to merely "inexpensive," I would throw out the $15 Provencal Seafood Stew for lunch at BlackSalt, which really must rank up theere as one of the best values around.


                  This easily rivals any seafood stew or bouillabaisse I've had at other restaurants for closer to $30 (albeit those were dinner prices). At lunch today, each piece was cooked to perfection. Add an iced tea to that total and you can leave with an outstanding and filling lunch for about $20.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: dcs

                    I presume it's better than the one he offers at Blacks -- that was really wretched.

                    1. re: Teddybear

                      I've never been to Black's, but perusing the descriptions in 2 menus online reveals that the Black's version appears distinctly different than the BlackSalt version.



                      The Black's version has gotten good reviews in some circles:


                      What about it disappointed you?

                      1. re: Teddybear

                        Posted my reply in the wrong place and they won't let me fix it! So suffice it to say the fish had been cooked the day before or at least that is how it tasted.

                        1. re: Teddybear

                          Ouch. Nothing worse than rubbery shellfish.

                    2. I think the Dim Sum lunch buffet at Lucky Three is a steal at $9.99 ($1 extra for the clams).

                      1. Granted I had it for lunch and I have to believe it's better at dinner. But the fish I had was no doubt cooked the day before -- I felt like I hadn't taken Kitchen Confidential seriously enough.

                        1. Yechon has a Kalbi Bento Box lunch for something like $14.00. @ ribs worth of Kalbi and then a tray piled high with good stuff. I could barely eat it all and I am a pretty good eater!