Budget dining in DC?
I've been watching the board here for a few days and have seen some good ideas - but could use some help - I'm flying in 20th - 24th from San Antonio to meet my sister from Alabama [free trip except food] and am wondering about decent/good food at good prices around the normal tourist areas - we'll be doing Metro, memorials/Smithsonian thing and walking a lot! We're staying at the Gaylord and it looks pricey! Not likely to have computer access, so I plan to print off pages, maps/directions of ideas from here to take along. We'll likely splurge along the line but 4 days of splurging can get pricey!
The peruvian chicken is definitely on my list if someone can point me to a location and I'd love to introduce her to pho [seriously living in the country without a lot of access!]. Other ideas would be appetizers/salads and light meals. I really wanted to give Les Halles a try [cause I'm in a fantasy world where Anthony Bourdain actually WOULD be there....] but the older reviews I've read on here were not favorable and wondering if anyone had been back recently and found it improved.
I'm looking forward to visiting DC again, it's been a long time!
Don't leave DC for peruvian chicken when we've got Granja de Oro right here! Located on Columbia Rd. in Adams Morgan, between 18th and 19th streets. Can't miss it, the sign reads "THE ORIGINAL PERUVIAN ROTISSERIE CHICKEN." I haven't tried Pollo Rico, but I can vouch for Granja's deliciousness and I'd say it's a darned good enough reason to stay in the district.
You obviously haven't tried El Pollo Rico... There are threads after threads devoted just to it, even. I don't know if the Wheaton location is still there, I think you have to go to Virginia Square in Arlington to get it. Metro accessible, I forget the cross street from Fairfax, but it is on google maps.
Wheaton location is moving to new digs that are still under construction. But Wheaton still has some superb chicken places. My favorite is Pollo Sabroso on Ennalls which I preferred to EPR straight up before the latters fire and legal problems. PS also does a pretty mean Salvadoran Combo: Carne Asada and a small sausage (typically a little overcooked but really flavorful). The best sides are casiamentos and plantains. Forget about their pupusas. Good sopa di Res
Skip Les Halles. The one where Bourdain actually cooked is in NYC and it better then the one here. Plus the time I went to Les Halles, I found the service unbearably absent.
If you want delicious, affordable French cuisine, you should check out Bistro D'Oc. It's near Metro Center and only a few blocks away from Les Halles.
El Pollo Rico is my favorite Peruvian Chicken. I call it crack chicken---its absolutly addictive! :) Only problem is, its not in DC proper. The only times I've been, someone drove me there. Others might be able to help you with which location is metro accesible.
If you are on the Mall I would suggest grabbing lunch at the American Indian Museum. It's not necessarily cheap, especially for a lunch cafeteria, but the food is great and a lot of fun. You can choose items from the various American Indian regions across the US.
If you are here during the week, you might want to check out Taberna del Alberdero's tapas happy hour. Taberna is one of the pricier restaurants in town but their happy hour offers 1/2 off tapas and sangria. One of the best deals around. Plus the tapas are delicious! Just make sure to order everything before 7pm to get the deal.
Another tapas restaurant you might want to check out is Jaleo.
There are a lot of good restaurants in and around Gallery Place/Chinatown/Penn Quarter. Depending on what type of food you want, you can probably splurge in that area.
I also suggest heading over to U St. for dinner and drinks. I would check out Creme or St. Ex for dinner. I also hear great things about Marvin's. You could also grab a cheap meal, drinks, dessert, or coffee at Busboys and Poets.
Elyssa always has good advice -- but around U Street for cheap and good and what you're probably not going to get in Alabama, must try Ethiopian. Queen Makeda and Etete, across the street from each other on 9th just below U are what CHers like best (but not necessarily the favorites of Ethiopian cab drivers). Near the green line's U St metro stop.
Matchbox by Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro (DC) is very close to places you most likely will be touring (it is just 2 short blocks from the wonderful Portrait Gallery.) Matchbox is a popular, casual, upbeat place. I always order the deliciously satisfying mini-burgers w/ fried onion strings and the apple salad appetizer. Pizzas look good, too.
Peruvian Chicken is best at El Pollo Rico if you are taking Metro Virginia Square would be your closest stop.
For Pho, Pho 75 in Rosslyn on Wilson Blvd is the best near the city, it is accessible via the Rosslyn Metro.
There is a noodle place people like in Chinatown, it is probably on other tourist threads on here if you look back, something express, like Chinatown Express or something, I have never been, but people seem to like it.
For lunch if you are near the white house during lunch on a weekday, Breadline has good soups and sandwiches. In the newseum the have a wolfgang puck cafe and the downstairs isn't too pricey. Also the native american museum has a great cafe, Mitsam.
Anthony Bourdain was recently here you could go to places he went to instead they are probably tastier? I know he has been to Ben's Chili Bowl, a Jose Andres place (probably minibar which would not be cheap, but you could go to another). He was at PX. I am not sure where else he went, but I think it was in a thread about him.
I am sure people will add in lots of other things.