Cheap eats near Union Station, National Mall, National Zoo and White House Area
We are bringing our 15 year old daughter to D.C. on the train from Tampa for Christmas and New Years. We are staying between Union Station and the Captial and looking for quick & inexpensive eatteries either close to our hotel or near the museums, monuments and main attractions - including the National Zoo. Pastries for quick or carryout breakfast, delis and fast food for lunch, pizza, Mexican, or casual dining for evening, maybe even a small grocery near hotel for sandwhich makings or juices. Possibly to Alexandria for fireworks on New Years and a casual restaurant or pizzaria in the area and near a metro stop.
I love Sorriso, and it's walking distance from the Zoo. Very accommodating staff, homey feel, delicious and inexpensive Italian food and pizza. Quality ingredients. It's also right next to the Cleveland Park Metro entrance.
3518 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Sorry, but if you're getting quick pizza by the zoo, you just have to go to Vace, a wonderful Italian market where you buy their excellent pizza by the slice. Find a place to camp out and nosh outside. I'll second Jaydreb's rec of Taqueria Nacionale for near Union Station. Just north of the mall, Teaism is a great place for a light Asian-inspired lunch. There's also the Spy City lunch cart, which sells excellent sliders from Zola, the upscale restaurant connected to the Spy Museum.
2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009
In Chinatown or Capitol Hill I like Matchbox for pizza and burgers, pretty reasonable. I also think Cava on Capitol Hill has pretty reasonable prices for fairly large tapas portions.
In the morning for pasteries there is a Le Pain Quotiden sp? on Capitol Hill and in Union Station there is an Au Bon Pain.
Up near the National Cathedral is cheap and pretty good tex mex at Cactus Cantina (I like the fajitas I think the chicken is normally nice and moist or the Pechuga de Pollo).
Zola wine kitchen has been having some $10 lunches. Cowgirl Creamery also has sandwiches and I also highly recommend Potato Valley for filling, but cheap good lunches.
In Alexandria Mai Thai right on the waterfront is very reasonable. I also really like the Pita House.
You could pick up some groceries at the Eastern Market, there is also a cheap mexican place right there which has one table, but is mainly carry out. Cafe Mozart, the Greek Deli and Breadline are all more weekday business hour places so I don't know if and when they are open but you might check them out too.
1200 19th St NW, Washington, DC
1120 19th St NW Frnt 1, Washington, DC 20036
1331 H St NW Ste A, Washington, DC 20005
Potato Valley Cafe
614 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004
3300 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
It is right next door, and I think it is pretty tasty too, although the waits can be out of this world.
Also across the street Cafe Deluxe is a chain, but I think they have really good food. Their seared tuna sandwich is really good. They also have nice salads and steak frites. And they have very reasonable prices.
3228 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
In Alexandria, Hard Times Cafe for great chili and cold beer (perfectly suitable for teens or kids as well). Its near the Metro and on the way to the waterfront. Stage Door Deli (also bw Metro and water) used to be good but have not been there for several years.
Right on the Hill, just South of the Capitol are 2 cute little places next door to each other that are pretty good. Very convenient because they are close to Capitol, Botanic Gardens, and not far from the Mall.
They are on 2nd St SE between S C St & S Independence Ave. 2 short blocks from Capitol South Metro station.
Le Bon Cafe, 210 2nd St SE-- coffee, pastries, dessert
Pete's Diner, 212 2nd St SE-- traditional dive diner