HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


Inexpensive wonderful meals at Dupont Circle?


I'm a former chef and grad student attending the American Anthropological Association conference this week in DC. I'm staying at the Hotel Palomar, and have a microscopic budget.

Does anyone have suggestions of places to go for good, really cheap food that is in walking distance? I'm afraid cab fare is out of the question, and I can't function or think on fast food.

Any help would be gratefully appreciated. I like and will try anything, and love pork with an unseemly passion.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Moby Dick's- it is med- really good. I recommend the Kubideh or chicken kabobs. Around 7-8 per person and nothing fancy but delish!

    1. You are in a pretty good area for decent food on a budget. First of all for lunch certainly check out CF Folks. They have a great crab cake sandwich (among other things) that is probably the best in the city. They also have a website you can check out for their daily specials that seem like they are all over the board but are actually very good. www.cffolksrestaurant.com

      Right across the street from Hotel Palomar are some pretty good restaurants. Mark and Orlando's has good food and if you dine upstairs I think most dishes are $15 and under. Sakana has great sushi at an affordable price (also across the street). Try out the Sakana Tempura roll...it's to die for.

      Another good breakfast or lunch option is SoHo Coffeehouse across from the hotel. Try their pulled chicken salad wrap. They are not kidding when they say it's the best in the world.

      Zorba's has good Greek cuisine on the cheap. If you are looking for a good burger (but not that great fries) check out Five Guys.

      You can get fairly cheap French cuisine at Bistro Du Coin in Dupont. Pretty good but can be a tad noisy and over crowded at times. Pizza Paradiso is near you for pretty good pizza.

      A few streets away is the new Hudson. I find thier menu very affordable. Entrees are usually around $15-$25. Their risotto is fairly cheap and you can order the 1/2 portion, that's more then enough to eat since it's rich and delicious. Pair that with their incredible Parker House rolls and you will have a satisfying meal.

      Mai Thai has good Thai food and the prices are reasonable.

      If you walk up towards Adams Morgan you can find lots of cheaps eats at Amsterdam Falafal, So's Your Mom, The Diner, and M'Dawgs.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Elyssa

        Zorba's has a pretty nice skewered pork pita thing if I recall correctly.

        1. re: taryn

          I really like Zorba's for that area on the cheap too.

      2. I was just there at the Palomar last week. Pizzeria Paradiso is good, it's quite small so you can also do takeout pizza in about 10 minutes. The small pizza pictured was $11. Also don't forget Teaism (North side of R St. NW between Connecticut and 21st Streets). They are open for breakfast also. Delish curried lentil soup. Mark and Orlando's looked fairly reasonably priced, but not microscopically cheap. The Thai restaurant across the Street (Sala Thai) has discounted appetizers during happy hour.

        Pizzeria Paradiso - Dupont Circle
        2029 P St NW Ste 102, Washington, DC 20036

        5 Replies
          1. re: cleveland park

            What's your experience at Sala Thai for future reference? I didn't eat there myself, just saw the posted specials, but it's been recommended to me by others. Thai wasn't at the top of my list because I've got a favorite here in Long Beach that others can rarely match.

            1. re: mlgb

              Sala Thai isn't horrible. It's not great but its certainly not horrible.

              But I think there is better thai food to be found in the area at Mai Thai, Thai Chef (also serves sushi. They have a yummy salmon dish), and Regent Thai. All 3 of these restaurants are pretty affordable (and Mai Thai and Regent have great drinks). They are not like $7 type places but you can certainly get out for $25 or under if you are dining alone and avoid alcohol.

              1. re: Elyssa

                I've been to the one in Arlington and the one in Cleveland Park and I apologize for not getting into detail because I've never had anything even passable (not even the fried rice) and Sala Thai hasn't delivered. But I'm glad that it's not as bad as I think it is, I unfortunately haven't had the pleasure of enjoying anything eadible from there.

                1. re: cleveland park

                  I think the locations vary in quality. Haven't been to the DuPont one in a long time, but I actually thought it was nice -- unlike one or two others I've tried. But I think Elyssa's probably right, that there are so many Thai choices in that area.

        1. Thank you all so much...this is very helpful. I'm going to print your suggestions out and take them along.


          1 Reply
          1. re: faegood

            Make sure to report back and let us know what you liked :)

          2. I would go to Five Guys for cheap and delicious burgers and fries, Baja Fresh for tacos and a great free salsa bar, Potbelly for quite a good $4 sandwich, and check out the new "Meditalian" place Aioli, right down P Street from your hotel. Oh and Naan and Beyond also has good and cheap Indian food, on P Street as well.

            1. Not sure if you've already left so this is too late, but for some more two cents:

              On the grad student budget (I've been there), even some of the wonderful recs here might seem too expensive to you. Best budget bets that have been recommended already are probably Moby Dick's (which is one of my favorite places in that neighborhood, actually), Teaism, Soho Coffee and, yeah, Five Guys (where you can fill up on free peanuts).

              I'll also throw in Malysia Kopitiam on M St between Conn and 19th and maybe you'd like Sign of the Whale (pub food) on the same block.

              None of this is going to help with the pork craving, I suspect.

              Not sure if this would be helpful, but you might like to know that you're also near a Trader Joe's (perhaps stock up on cheap snacks for the room), on 23rd (I think) between M and N.

              The Brickseller is around the corner from your hotel, if you'd like do some participant-observation of beer drinking.

              Also, isn't the conference itself up in Woodley Park at the Marriott? (I know someone else who's going). If so, that puts you in range of other good places in Cleveland Park and Adams Morgan. Amsterdam Felafal, that someone else mentioned, for example, definitely fits the grad student budget and there are other places around there. And you might check Open City, which is right by that Marriott.

              9 Replies
              1. re: mselectra

                Actually, realizing you said no way to fast food, you're going to want to ignore all the Five Guys recommendations!

                1. re: mselectra

                  You're right, mselectra, some of those recs were too pricey for me. I'm afraid my food budget truly is microscopic. However, I'm excited to hear about the Trader Joe's. I need to check and see if there's refrigeration in my room.

                  1. re: faegood

                    There is also a Whole Foods not to far away which has a great salad bar, sushi restaurant, sandwich stand and prepared foods.

                    1. re: faegood

                      Hmm you might also want to put Luna Grill on your list it is a very good deal I think the most expensive entree is $15, but they have a lot that are less and lots of sandwiches too. They have a website if you google, a lot of their entrees are around $10 with a side and some are less.

                      Zorba's is very cheap, I think they have an online menu too.

                      And Regent Thai you can get out of for a lot less than $25 most of their entrees are around $10.

                      Also their is Lariol Plaza which is mexican and is has entrees from like $8-15. Big portions.

                      Also at the top of Adam's Morgan there are some Mexican/Salvadorian/Peruvian places that are good and cheap I can't remember any names, but I have eaten at two that were good one was on one side of the street running on the top of Adam's Morgan and one was on the corner of the other....

                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        For the Peruvian etc. places ktmoomau is suggesting -- walk up Connecticut and veer right onto Columbia and just keep walking, you'll start seeing places that fit your budget. Turn right on 18th and you're in the heart of Adams Morgan. Keep going up Columbia another block or two after 18th, and you'll find more cheap places, including Taqueria Pepitos, which is really good, tacos for a couple dollars each (pork!)

                      2. re: faegood

                        At the Palomar be sure to take advantage of the free apples that they keep hidden away in the workout room on the second floor, and the evening snack (5-6) of olives, cracker bread and wine.

                        1. re: faegood

                          I think I may have been off by one block telling you where the Trader Joe's is, so do double check the address. Also, if you're in town Sunday morning, you could check the DuPont famers market. Also might like to know about the Marvelous Market just north (?) of DuPont Circle.

                          You might like to know that on weekend nights the 98 bus only costs 25cents -- it goes from Woodley Park metro over to Adams Morgan and then out U St. This route takes you by lots of inexpensive places to eat, including ones recommended here.

                          It isn't hard to get from DuPont or Woodley Park over to U St where you can get great Ethiopian food, for an inexpensive meal. In general, I think you'll find cheaper food over there. From DuPont Circle, walk up New Hampshire and then turn right on U (it's a pretty walk). Just a thought.

                          I was also thinking happy hours could be helpful, and others know that way better than me -- like the Heritage India suggestion.

                          Also, just one more thing that's not what you asked -- but if you do have time to get away from the conference during the day, think about getting down to Eastern Market. I'm pretty sure you'd like breakfast or lunch at Market Lunch there, and that you'll appreciate the place as a former chef -- but it's not open every day (closed Mondays?)

                          Will be interested in how it goes, or if you find anything else cheap and good in the neighborhood.

                          1. re: faegood

                            The Trader Joe's is actually on 25th Street, between M Streeet and Pennsylvania Avenue.

                            1. re: faegood

                              If you like middle eastern i just remember a really good one: Skewers which is at 16th & P street near Dupont (on the other side of the circle from your hotel but a nice walk). Their food -- which i think is lebanese -- is delicious and very reasonable. You can get a "light" plate with schwarma or a kabob and a couple sides like hummus and fetoosh with decent pita bread for about $10. Mint tea is yummy too. Service is good and they have a cute little balcony to eat on if the weather is good.

                          2. Your best options are Teaism on R St, just west of Connecticut ave for light Japanese meals (counter service) , Pizzeria Paradiso for the Atomica pizza, Heritage India for the Street Hawker menu - all items about $5. I'll second Moby Dick.

                            1. These have already been mentioned, but I'd like to second the following: Teaism (I love their chicken sausage/raita/naan for breakfast and their salty oat cookies), Malaysia Kopitiam (best Singapore noodles in town), Amsterdam Falafel and M'Dawg in Adams Morgan -- both of which are great and dirt cheap. I would still recommend Five Guys -- which is LOCAL fast food, as opposed to fast food -- they make a very respectable burger. Have a good visit and report back!

                              1. I may get yelled at here, but I think that Moby Dick is overrated. Their kabobs have always been underseasoned and boring.

                                Try the House of Kabob on M St. (right next to Camelot) for a much tastier version of the same thing. I still contend that their chicken kabob is consistently the best I've ever had.

                                Heading to CF Folks to dine off of their specials menu is an absolute must.

                                One place that I haven't seen mentioned is the Atrium Cafe on Connecticut Ave. -- in the basement of same building as Morton's. (I think it's right next to the Farragut North metro station.) This place has the best sandwiches in the area. Freshly hand-cut turkey, ham, and roast beef on toasted rye bread with whole grain mustard, cheese, and pickles. That and a soda for about 8 bucks will treat you right.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: aburkavage

                                  I kind of have to agree with you. I've only tried Moby Dick's once but the pita I had was waaay to chewy and not soft at all. I always figured it I went back I would just get something without the pita. I'll have to try House of Kabobs though.

                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                    Cous Cous Cafe on M and 20th is pretty good. The lamb cous cous is good and at 7.99 you will be very full, plus free hot mint tea

                                2. Dear chowhounds,

                                  Thank you all so much. Although my extremely overbooked schedule kept me from trying many of these, I DID have some lovely tempura and sashimi at Sakana, and a ROCKING bacon cheeseburger and spicy fries at Five Guys.

                                  I probably wouldn't have tried either of these on my own, so thanks.

                                  And also...I ended up passing on all your tips to another anthropologist at the conference, so I'm sure more of them got used.


                                  1. I just had a falafel sandwich from the Dupont Moby Dick and it was divine. I've also been thinking about their hummus and pita (warm! fresh! Soft and not too chewy, in my experience) for days, and finally gave in. Getting the falafel was just an excuse to go there and get the hummus and pita really. Delicious. I must have mentioned 5 times to my coworkers how good the falafel was. Falafel sandwich, $6, hummus $3.50, pita $1.50. Their menu is on their website, mobysonline.com.