arlington near the crystal city metro
There is Jaleo which I think could be under $30 per person. Especially for lunch. It is right by the metro.
You might search the board I am not too familliar with Crystal City, but there have been some long threads on it.
And you are only one metro stop away from Pentagon City which has Lebanese Taverna, a thai place I forget the name, and some other stuff.
Jaleo is good. And I know its a chain, but I've really enjoyed my meals at Ted's Montana Grill. It's a very eco-friendly business and the bison burgers are quite good. My favorite menu item is actually the meat loaf...very tasty with good sides.
For breakfast, there is some diner near the metro which is decent enough for breakfast items. It gets pretty busy on the weekends though, if I remember correctly. Can't remember the name, so maybe someone can help me out here.
This doesn't address directly your request, but I'll just point out that from Crystal City you can get on the metro's yellow line and pretty easily get into DC -- including to U St where you can get very inexpensive and wonderful food, most notably Ethiopian (a good meal for two for under $25 pretty easily) as well as other good stuff for more $. I understand this might not be helpful for you, but thought you should know, just in case you'll have time and inclination to head into the the city.
Doing a google map search there is also a McCormick and Schmick which is a chain yes, but not bad and I think it might be a little less pricey than Legal Seafoods.
There is also a corner bakery or au bon pain for breakfast if need be.
And Bebo is there which has good pizza although the service can be just awful, I have heard sitting at the bar means better service.
I forgot about Kabab Palace which is good.
I agree with Elyssa I like Ted's especially for a bison burger, or bison meatloaf.
There is also a King Street Blues there, I have never been to one of those anyone been? There is a good amount of stuff, search some threads, I am sure others will chime in. Yeah there are a lot of chains, but not too bad chains, and some other stuff.
I thought there was a decent thai place not to far from the metro, but I am of no help as I cannot for the life of me remember the name.
I wouldn't recommend King St. Blues -- lots of heavy, greasy food that isn't particularly good.
Jaleo (Spanish tapas) is solid, and Bebo's pizza is fantastic, but you have to grapple with the mystifyingly slow, incompetent service. Sitting at the bar should help a bit.
For Thai, there's Urban Thai on 23rd, I believe. Also in that area is Cafe Pizzaiolo (corner of 23rd and Eads -- pretty respectable thin-crust pies) and Kabob Palace. Just stay away from the slightly misleadingly named Crystal City Restaurant. There's more than food being served up there.
Elyssa, I'm racking my brain on the diner thing, but I don't think there's anyplace near the Crystal City or Pentagon City metros. Perhaps a little further afield?
I would agree with the suggestions for Jaleo and Bebo. You could easily go over $30 with liquor, but without you are in the green. Other than those two, nothing stands out in my mind that you could walk to -- and I live over here. If you want to take a long walk or a short cab to Pentagon Row, I would suggest the Asian Bistro or Lebanese Taverna. Just say no to the Creperie and Tapas places.
Whatever you do don't check out Crystal City Restaurant. Unless you like greasy food and girls in pasties dancing the pole. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)
LOL bigsky!! That's always my joke to my husband whenever we drive by that place - "Wanna go to Crystal City Restaurant?"
smarkle - unfortunately, a lot of what's around Crystal City and Pentagon City are chain restaurants; however, the other posters make some good recommendations. Make the short trek over to 23rd St. (Restaurant Row) for a variety of different restaurants, or take the metro one stop up to Pentagon City - I recommend Asia Bistro, Lebanese Taverna, and Thaiphoon (I've also heard that Saigon Saigon is good). I would also recommend making the slightly longer metro trip on the Blue Line down to King Street, which puts you right at the head of Old Town Alexandria. Lots of great food there for any budget. I recommend Taverna Cretekou for Greek, Austin Grill for Tex-Mex, Eammon's for excellent (and authentic) fish & chips, and Mai Thai (for, well, Thai).
thank you so much for all of the recommendations. I'm here for a conference and was just hoping to avoid long metro rides for every meal. actually looks like some good options right in the area. The comments on the Crystal City Restaurant are cracking me up ... and useful too (what a deceptive name)!
one question, if anyone knows, is the Afghan restaurant walkable from the Hyatt?
There is a whole strip of restaurants along 23rd street in crystal city, between S. Eads and S. Fern. The restaurants are cheaper there than along crystal drive and the food is much better. My favorites are Urban Thai which is towards the end of the strip (closer to S. Fern). The dinners run about 10-15 bucks. Another of my favorites is Bonsai Grill, a small sushi place just before Urban Thai. I can also recommend the Ethiopian place, Italian place, and Cafe Pizzaioli along the same side of the street. If your coming from the crystal city metro follow the underground until it ends at 23rd st (there are signs underground), take a right and cross over Jefferson Davis Hwy (Rt 1) and S. Eads. Its about a 10 minute walk from the Metro. All in all you will end up with a full belly and change in your pocket. Hope this helps!
Agree that 23d street is the place to go and I also recommend Thaiphoon. I strongly urge you to avoid at all costs Cafe Italia. It was the worst meal I've ever had. The place was decorated in the early 70s (cheap Tiffany lamps, cheap travel posters, red-and-white plastic tablecloths) and I think that may be when it was last cleaned. It is truly grim. The food was inedible and they screwed up the order...the pizza was worse than Domino's (undercooked, doughy, no flavor at all), the pasta was gluey and the sauces were disgusting. The chicken on my pasta was gray and cold. Even thinking about this meal turns my stomach.
OTOH, a lot of people like Cafe Pizzaiola. I haven't tried it yet so I can't say for sure.
Crystal City isn't that far from Shirlington and there are some very good places to eat in Shirlington if you want to venture (by cab or car). I've eaten at Jaleo's many times when I'm in Crystal City. It is always consistent.
There are some great restaurants in Old Town Alexandria also that you might want to take the Metro.
Sorry I can't think of names right at the moment, but you aren't far from better dining then Crystal City.
I am probably REALLY late on this post, but I want to reiterate the plug for the restaurants along Restaurant Row along 23rd Street (between Fern and Eads). It is less than a 10-minute walk from the metro and there are some GREAT food options!
Cafe Pizzaiolo for great sandwhiches, pizza, coffee, and Gelato! www.cafepizzaiolo.com
Crystal City Sports Pub for great american fare with a local, small-town pub feel.
Freddies Beach Bar and Restaurant for the best Sunday brunches around, fun entertainment, and a fun summer-time feel all year round
Tortoise & Hare Bar & Grill for fun bar, delicious and creative american food and entertainment
Many others including Portofinos (Italian), Caesars Diner, Urban Thai, and more!