Fabulous on a Budget
I'm visiting DC for a long weekend mid-April, and was hoping for some dinner suggestions in the downtown area that won't break the bank.
I have a reservation at Jaleo, and plan to make one at Bistro Du Coin... I also have reservations for Sunday brunch at Cafe Atlantico.
Lunch options that I am considering: Buffet at the Garden Cafe, Saints Paradise Cafeteria/Oohs & Ahhs, Rasika, Teaism's, Matchbox, Loeb's...
Any other suggestions for great dinner places where entrees top off not much over $20?
Lunch suggestions are welcom too!
I love Oohs and Aahs, Rasika and Teaism. I would eliminate Loeb's from your list. A lot of people really like Matchbox for sliders and pizza, both of which I've had, but I don't get it - to me both are just OK but not worth going out of the way for. Also the place is LOUD and very crowded -- prices are reasonable though. A Turkish restaurant with a very nice atmosphere yet low prices is the Cafe Divan, on Wisconsin in Georgetown. www.cafedivan.com
More downtown proper, I love Brasserie Beck. www.beckdc.com I had mussels with veal and capers there that stands out as one of the best dishes I've had in this city. Mussels are $20 and it's a HUGE portion (comes with fries/sauces and great bread). I've also had the lentils/sausage appetizer there once as an entree and it plus the bread was enough food for dinner for me. Next to try is the potato gratin with pork belly ($12) which sounds delicious -- people on this board have written favorably about it They have a great Belgian beer list, but a small glass of their cheapest is $9, which is steep for me. Still, depending on your alcohol needs, it's possible to eat well there for under $30 all told, or under $20 for that matter.
Consider making a reservation for Central and take a look at the online menu to prepare. You can get a burger for $17 I think. The food is tremendous here. A real treat. You would probably want to axe Bistro du Coin if you go here, though. I've never been a big fan of Bistro du Coin, though it has many admirers.
Rasika is also particularly awesome, though $20 would be tough to do there. Maybe at lunchtime though...I think they also have some sort of pre fixe at dinner time, check their website.
For lunch: consider Taylor Gourmet for awesome sandwiches (Mount Vernon Square, near Chinatown; or H Street location though that's probably out of your way). If you're near Union Station, consider Taqueria Nacional. If you're near Farregut West (White House area), try Greek Deli for non-sit-down, or, as Steve said, G Street Foods or Breadline.
I agree w/ hamster about Bistro Du Coin. I used to like it, but in my opinion the food has taken a very bad turn lately. My wife and I went there last weekend and our food came out literally 5 minutes after ordering--not a great sign when you order a roast half chicken. I am sure everything was pre-prepared and then microwaved. My chicken looked (and tasted) like it had been sitting around for a long time, the fries were soggy and underdone, and my wife's tartine was rubbery and tasteless. Really disappointing. If anais_in_waiting doesn't want to break the bank, avoid Bistro Du Coin--my wife and I spent over 60 bucks and it wasn't worth a fraction of that.
I was at Bistro du Coin recently and had the tartiflette, a rarity to spot on a menu in the states. it cam out all hot and bubbly and generally better than what I had in the Savoie. The smoked mackerel salad doesn't get cooked on the spot and was really well done. A dish like the magret de canard is of course cooked well in advance and served slightly warm with a lot of sauce as I'd expect in a bustling French bistro. A bit sloppy and very delicious.