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The 25 Dollar Dinner Challenge

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to recommend a Chow Hound Worthy* meal @ a restaurant in the DMV area, that can feed 2 people (a couple if you wish) for 25 bucks.

25 bucks includes
- 2 entrees
- 2 drinks
- 15%** tip. (so you have about 21.74 to work with)

(Metro, Parking, Cab, Gasoline are neglible)

Bonus points if you can sneak in an appetizer or dessert.

All of you folks in long term relationships and marriages are encouraged to reply.

Thanks for playing,

*ie Manny and Olga's might not count, depending on how CH feels this week.
**WIA has dated many waitresses and always tips 20%

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  1. Chix on U St during happy hour

    1. Just wanted some clarity...this is $25 total, not $25/person correct?

      And drinks---define? Is this alchol? Is this soda? Is this water with a lime? :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Elyssa

        Total 25 bucks, otherwise it's not a challenge.

        By drink, I mean drinkable. I normally opt for Iced Tea, but you can go with Water and put that extra ~2.00 bucks to the meal.

      2. Lots of luck. Most places you couldn't buy two drinks for that unless they were tap water. I've had iced tea for $3 after tax, not including tip. Take drinks off the list and we might come up with something interesting.

        1. If your drinks are of the adult variety, I think there's not much that would qualify (maybe a 1/4 chicken and a beer at Nando's? Splitting a pizza at Ella's?). But if your drinks are of the soft variety, I think you could do this at Spices ($9 dinner entrees), Kanlaya (certainly at lunch where curries and noodle dishes are 8.95), Moby Dick, Levi's Port Cafe...

          1. Ravi Kabob

            Apps: 2 veggie samosas - $2.50
            Two Chicken kabobs - $18
            2 Sodas - $2
            + tax and a buck or so for the tip jar

            Lots of great chow worthy food and you'll have leftovers

            1 Reply
            1. re: Adam23

              You could even do the chicken or lamb karahi for two mmm, the lamb is especially good, and skip the apps and still make it, the portion is huge, and so good. Definitely good call.

              A lot of Thai places probably make the cut, at Regent you could get two Pad Prig King, or Curries, or Pad See Ew or etc, plus two soft drinks and make it.

            2. I think you can easily make a meal out of 3-4 plates on the "Hawker's Zone" menu at Heritage in Dupont Circle and make it under $25. No alcoholic drinks, but 2 sodas or waters and you should be fine.


              1. How about the bar area at Lia's, in Friendship Heights, for all-day happy hour Mondays and Wednesdays? Two different burgers (I recommend the Geoff's burger, with gorgonzola, tomatoes and mushrooms) are $5 and pizzas (thin crust, more than enough for one person's meal) are $8. If you want a beer or wine, they are on special (I think Italian beers are $2.95, a selection of wines for $5). If you don't want a cocktail, their apps are lovely, but consider saving room for gelato with nutella on top.

                1. Easy to do at Luna Grille in Shirlington. Several nice sammiches, the blue plate specials, etc. in the $8 range with $2 apiece for iced tea.

                  If you have breakfast for dinner, an egg plate will run about $4, and you can have a cup of soup for $2.50 each, so appetizers, entree and drinks.

                    1. My favorite deal in DC is happy hour + Tuesday night special at Radius Pizza in Mt. Pleasant. Fun little atmosphere, too! All night, the gourmet pies come with a free bottle of wine. From 5 - 7, happy hour consists of 1/2 price appetizers and beers --- they've got Newcastle! Best strategy: get there before 7, order a round of appetizers and beers, then at 7 order your pie and wine. Last time I went, I spent a grand total of $12, including tip.

                      The pizza is no 2 Amy's, but it's still pretty darn good --- next best thing for NY style, says the angsty New Yorker. Looks like prices have gone since I last went, but I bet you could still swing it under $25.


                      1. Ethiopian. The veg platter at Queen Makeda is around $11 and enough for two people. The other night we had that plus a meat dish, but only one beer, for around $30 before tip, three people, too much food. Completely delicious.

                        You can get Ethiopian pastries at the store next door after for dessert, or go for a shake at Ben's.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mselectra

                          Wow, am I that big of an eater or what? I had the veg. platter at Queen Makeda for lunch by myself and had no problem going out to dinner that evening. Just can't imagine that you'd have left over food with three people.

                          1. re: Rick

                            we actually also had a meat dish that time with three of us, can't remember which now. Usually the veg is enough for the two of us, though -- but we eat lots of the injera (including, often, the piece all the food came on), which I suspect really fills us up. I wonder if they serve less at lunch? I'm always impressed how generous those platters are, but it's not like I'm TOO stuffed afterwards :)

                            1. re: mselectra

                              I've only been there for lunch so that very may well be the case that the lunch size is smaller. I know it was $10 or less for lunch. Glad you didn't see my post as hostile as i was truly wondering how the heck I ate the whole veg. platter and didn't leave incredibly stuffed (not that I left hungry!)

                        2. Mandalay in Silver Spring. If you get two vegetarian entrees you can squeeze in an appetizer. Otherwise you could get two pork or chicken entrees. Gotta drink water, though.

                          Ethiopian is a good suggestion... lots of places where one combo platter can feed two. And I'm sure you can get two entrees and an appetizer for that at the Thai places around here but I don't know which count as Chowhound-worthy.

                          1. Ray’s Hell Burger

                            Two 10-ounce fresh ground char-grilled hamburgers. $13.90. Topped with all of the following: lettuce, tomato, sauteed mushrooms, grilled red onions, sauteed peppers, raw onion, charred jalapenos, tomatoes, and roasted garlic. No charge. Dill pickle spear, slice of watermelon and a half-cob of corn on the side. No charge.

                            Small pitcher of cold root beer on tap - $3.50

                            Total: $17.40 plus tax and tip.

                            1. Tarbouch- Schwarma, Gyro, 2 soft drinks, pita and hummus plus tip under $25. And now you can even sit outside.

                              Also Lost Dog Cafe- 2 sandwiches with fries, 2 soft drink (maybe beer depending on what you get) and tax tip for sure.

                              Also Carribean Grill- We get half chicken with 2 sides and soda for this, you might be able to get a whole chicken I couldn't find the menu online, we are normally good with just half.

                              You would be pretty close if you got three tacos, and would for sure make it with two burritos plus an app or side at Taqueria Poblano plus soft drinks, if you got burritos and no app you might be able to get beers.

                              1. hm....if you sat at the bar at Vinoteca and each had a $5 happy hour glass of wine, that would leave you $15 for 3 or so different very generous tapas to share. Last time i was there, the shrimp and grits at the bar was $5 and i believe a cheese plate was in that range as well.
                                The New Orleans place on 18th in adams morgan might meet the challenge too depending on what you got...and Skewers in lower dupont could easily do that. They have several plates for $10 and the mint tea is delicious. And since you didn' t say it HAD to be dinner, i would also suggest Aroma indian lunch buffet in shirlington. i can't remember if it includes a beverage or not with it but if not, maybe some hot tea or even ice water would work (and you need the latter to cool the spice....delicious though it is...)

                                1. Wow, great challenge! I nominate Malaysia Kopitiam (M and 19th), Pho 95 and the dinner buffet at India Grill. (both on Rovckville Pike at Wooton Pkwy).

                                  Malaysia Kopitiam
                                  1827 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036

                                  pho 95
                                  rockville, maryland, rockville, maryland

                                  India grill
                                  rockville, maryland, rockville, maryland

                                  1. Hi - I came to the discussion pretty late, but have been enjoying happy hour at Eat Bar in Arlington. Without alcoholic beverages, 2 people can definitely make a good meal by sharing the following:
                                    Mushroom ragout (yummm) - $5
                                    Steak Tartare - $5
                                    Half a hen - $8
                                    Optional (add cheese for $4 or a cupcake for $3.50)

                                    Going ever so slightly over budget, I'd add two $4 glasses of happy hour wine and bring the total to about $31 including tip.

                                    Lastly, items to skip - fried oysters (small, tough and over-breaded) and frites (not crisp enough and the homemade ketchup was more sweet than tomatoe-y). So far, everything else has been really good.


                                    1. raaga buffet at lunch, bailey's x-roads. 9.95 pp
                                      whitlow's on wilson monday 1/2 price burger night (ok, not an entree, but substantial....)
                                      fwiw, whitlow's also all sanwiches (except crabcake) before noon are 1/2 price.

                                      1. Kotobuki - 12 pieces of sushi ($12), two rolls ($7), water and green tea (free), one order mochi for desert (two portions, I believe, at $2.50 total) = $21.50

                                        1. Pete's New Haven Style Pizza right at the Columbia Heights metro runs a special every day from 4-6pm:
                                          A slice of their cheese or pepperoni pizza and a Peroni draft beer for $5.
                                          We shared a gelato for $4.50 and each had a $2 espresso for desert and left full and satisfied!
                                          Some might argue the "chowhoundness" of it and engage in the great pizza debate, but i found the pizza to be not too greasy and the atmosphere is really pleasant.

                                          PS- Thanks WIA- this has to be one of my favorite posts ever!

                                          1. Two of my favorites that certainly fit the bill: Kabob Palace (huge plate with kabob, rice, veggie (spinach or chickpeas), and fresh bread only costs about $9) and Taqueria Distrito Federal (three tacos for $6-7).

                                            1 Reply