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DC Metro Center Lunch

Hi Chowhounds,

Some working professional friends and I all are centered arond the Metro Center, Chinatown, McPhereson area for the next few months and would like suggestions of great places to have a casual lunch. We're not expensing this (unfortunately!) so we'd like to keep costs down, quality up and only hit places with seating, if possible.

Thus far we've been to:

Devon and Blakely (delicious but limited seating)
Chop't (How many times can I eat this in one week?)
Mix't Greens (Slow slow lines, less options than chop't,but I like the real silverware)
Cheff Geoffs (Getting pricey but nice lunch specials)
M&S Grill (Yetch, I had TERRIBNLE fish tacos)
Cosi (I hate this place.. it all tastes the same)
Au Bon Pain (Limited to no seating, bland)
Ollies (Greasy, but delicious)
Pret a Manger (Colleague doesn't like refridgerator case sandwiches)

Any suggestions? We would be up for ridiculous steal lunch specials, and I have to have faith that SOMEWHERE in DC there is a cheap and delicious Chinese lunch!


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  1. I really like both the steamed dumplings and the "noodles in soup" at Chinatown Express on 6th St., near H. Each costs about $5.00 and either makes a meal.

    Taylor Gourmet has truly great sandwiches, but it may be a bit more of a walk than you want to do. It's at 485 K St. NW.

    I'm with your colleague on Pret a Manger - can't bring myself to try it for the same reason! And enough with the Cosi already!!

    4 Replies
    1. re: woodleyparkhound

      Agree with Chinatown express. The noodles in soup and the roasted meats are great and cheap. But stick with those items - don't get the noodles stir-fried (they end up swimming in grease). Also the condiments on the table are awesome, especially the green onion/vinegar one.

      1. re: scotcheroo

        Right, scotcheroo! I should have mentioned the condiments in my post. I use them liberally in the soup (I'm sure they have to top up the pots on the table after I leave!) I love the pickled garlic slices almost as much as the green one you mentioned. I had the noodles stir-fried once. Never again - yuck.

      2. re: woodleyparkhound

        Taylor Gourmet is worth the walk! Smellious, get the "Pattison Avenue" -- roast pork, broccoli rabe, and aged provolone.

        1. re: Bob W

          Second the Pattison Avenue. Tried several sandwiches and always come back to that one. I think the juiciness of the meat helps soften the otherwise dry sandwich bread. I was looking forward to the Cherry Street roast beef/brie/arugula sandwich, but found it disappointing. The flavor combination really didn't work for me. However, the fried risotto balls are oustanding: a cube of mozzarella surrounded by rice seasoned with parmesian and rolled in breadcrumbs and deepfried. The marinara on the side has the perfect tart tang to offset the richness of the risotto balls. It's as close to Roman street food as you're likely to find, and a steal at $4

        1. Teaism
          Asia Nine

          2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

          1 Reply
          1. re: mymomisthebestcook

            I haven't been to Asia Nine but it looks pretty delicious. It fries me that all over NYC you can walk into a Pan-Asian place and find the $10 lunch special with appetizer included, but in DC somehow its ONLY pretentious (and quite frankly crappy) sandwich shops.

            Has anyone had the Zengo lunch menu? I like the concept of the bento boxes and don't really know where else I could get something like this.

            My coworker isn't too fond of sushi etc., but I know she loves plank salmon!

            Zengo Restaurant
            781 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          2. Sushi Go Round has decent, fresh sushi. And since you pick what you want off the conveyer belt, you in control of portion/price.

            Port of Pireaus does decent gyros and other Greek standards. I'd recommend Urfa Tomato Kebab but they're carryout only. Irish Channel Inn does your usual pub grub and is relatively inexpensive.

            Of all the chain sandwich shops (Subway, Quiznos, Potbelly), the only one close to edible for me is Potbelly.

            Sushi Go Round
            705 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

            1. TenPenh
              Elephant & Castle
              The Shops (huge food court with seating and a variety of options)

              Elephant & Castle
              1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW Lbby 2, Washington, DC 20004

              1001 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20004

              1. zola wine and kitchen's cafe
                juice joint
                cowgirl creamery has fantastic sandwiches at lunch for take out. so good.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jeserf

                  Yup. Cowgirl. Amazing sandwiches, and great salads and dips too.

                  1. re: katecm

                    Cowgirl sandwiches, etc. are excellent indeed, but they have next to no seating. I think they have seats in the window for two groups of two. And they aren't cheap. I think the sandwiches, which aren't all that big, are about $8. But did I mention that they are really good? :-)

                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      but if the weather is nice, you can always take the Cowgirl fare over to the South steps of the Portrait Gallery.

                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                        I think for the quality, the sandwiches there are priced very well. There is no seating, but the sandwiches are excellent and worth taking with you to find a place to sit and enjoy.

                  2. Teaism is a good suggestion. When the weather isn't too hot I like Via Cucina (11th and E I think?). Haad Thai is pretty good too.

                    Also Potbelly is a chain, but not bad (on the Au Bon Pain/Cosi level, but perhaps slightly better). The indian food place in the old post office building isn't bad either, although convenience is a big reason I go there.

                    1. Other places to check out: California Tortilla, Clydes, Siroc (they have a surprisingly generous and affordable lunch menu), Vapiano, Taylor Gourmet (yum!), Matchbox, Busboys and Poets, Potato Valley (limited seating), and Legal's Seafood.

                      And btw I'm totally with your colleague. I hate refrigerated case sandwiches and therefore have never eaten at Pret a Manger. I have a thing about a) cold bread and b) wanting my sandwich made fresh...in front of me haha.

                      I also hear Proof has a good lunch deal at the bar, but I've never personally been.

                      1800 M St NW, Washington, DC

                      Taylor Gourmet
                      1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                      Potato Valley Cafe
                      614 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004

                      Siroc Restaurant
                      915 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Elyssa

                        I walk from Metro Center to Taylor Gourmet to help "justify" the chicken cutlet with prosciutto, but it's a great sandwich. I've got a love/hate with Pret but shrimp/cilantro wrap is pretty tasty as are the the brownies, gazpacho and a few other things.

                        Cowgirl sandwiches rarely disappoint. Potato Valley changed its name but seems to be the same. I save the Au Bon Pain on G until after 7 when I work late for the half off baked goods.

                        Often, tho, I end up at Chopped because they are steps away and the revolving specials are often solid (as are the Tropez and the harvest Cobb.)

                        Taylor Gourmet
                        1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                        Potato Valley Cafe
                        614 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004

                        1. re: repete

                          What did Potato Valley change their name to?

                          Potato Valley Cafe
                          614 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004

                          1. re: Elyssa

                            Hot Potato Cafe, I believe. Saw some of the same nice people working there tho ...

                      2. When it gets a little cooler check out Cafe Mozart at 1331 H St for hearty German specialties (wide array of wursts, etc). It's a funny little place with good food.

                        Cafe Mozart
                        1331 H St NW # 1, Washington, DC

                        1. In response to the OP:

                          Zola Kitchen and Wine is a great little lunch spot by Metro Center and they do have some seating (10-15 maybe?). The specials change daily so it stays interesting. Its a couple dollars more expensive than a salad at Chop't or a cold sandwich at Pret but it's great value b/c the ingredients are really quality.


                          1. Hi! I work in the McPherson area and live in Chinatown. Here are the places I go for lunch:

                            (1) Juice Joint on Vermont, just north of K. Awesome sandwiches. Great quality food. Tofu mayo, yes, but it's good, I swear.

                            (2) Old Ebbitt Express on 15th. It's behind old Ebbitt - walk past their door and into the lobby of the building they're in, look right.

                            (3) Thai Chili - in the Verizon center. Wholly decent thai food. Good soup.

                            (4) As mentioned - Taylor Gourmet on 4th. FYI, guys, they are moving my entire office of 500 people practically next door to Taylor Gourmet and Busboys so enjoy them as places you don't have to wait in line for an hour while you can. And I believe Taylor delivers.

                            (5) Great Wall Szechuan on 14th St. They deliver to my office. Try the ma la menu. And the lunch specials are cheap, as requested.

                            (6) El Rinconcito on 11th - El Salvadoran place. Great papusas.

                            (7) Cafe Phillipe on 14th - Really great salads and sandwiches - the turkey is, for real, a nice hunk of roasted turkey breast - the sandwiches are like the day after Thanksgiving.

                            (8) Loeb's on 15th - Huge deli sandwiches. I like the Radio City Music Hall. If anyone wants a tongue sandwich or pastrami, bring them here.

                            23 Replies
                            1. re: Raids

                              Do you know if Great Wall has a website or online menu? I think I like in their delivery route but can't find much online. I usually get Chinese delivery from Sichuan Pavilion...but want to check out Great Wall because I hear great things.

                              Also what do you like to get there?

                              1. re: Elyssa

                                Probably the thread that was just posted will have better recs than I do, but I like to get the ma la kung pao, the dumplings (either ma la or the regular pot stickers, depending on whether I really want to layer on the heat), and the noodle dishes, although they have their off days. The hot and sour soup is always perfectly (for me, very) hot and sour. Generally I ordered something different nearly every time I ordered from there, and it was nearly always pretty good.

                                If I can be honest, Sichuan Pavilion is probably better for everything not on GW's ma la menu, so I'd stick with them unless you want something off that particular menu. And, alas, I could never find that part of the menu online - menupages doesn't have it - they have the old menu - and GW doesn't have a web page. You'll probably have to swing by and pick one up, or just order stuff from the thread and a menu will show up with your order. They also have lightning fast delivery, FYI.

                                1. re: Raids

                                  I couldn't stomach GW. We got take out from there at my old job and I truly could not eat it. The amount of oil was sickening.

                                  1. re: Jeserf

                                    I have only eaten at Great Wall once - I got dan-dan noodles and as Jeserf said, "The amount of oil was sickening." I'll give them a second shot though, based on these recommendations.

                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                      kudos for giving it another go - you're braver than I! I just couldn't do it and I live pretty close to there. If you do go, report back if it was any better when you went back.

                                      1. re: Jeserf

                                        The very last time I ordered a noodle dish they were also drowned in oil. It was definitely an off day. It really does depend. Maybe you could actually request less oil? The dumplings and the hot and sour soup never have an off day.

                                        1. re: Raids

                                          I could, but I don't eat pork so a lot of what's on the menu there is wasted on me. I had ma pao tofu without the pork and it was inedible and it gets lost in translation when I told them so.

                                      2. re: woodleyparkhound

                                        Hmm. The noodles were indeed very oily - they basically consist of noodles mixed with oil, spices, ground pork, and peppercorns. If you want it less oily, maybe ask for a half-portion of sauce, or pour off some of it before you mix it up at your table? Szechuan food is pretty oily in my experience, so I was not upset by this.

                                        If you're looking for less oily, try the ma la chicken.

                                        1. re: hamster

                                          Yes, with Ma La dishes, often the chili-infused oil is indeed the sauce. If you don't want so much of the sauce, you can do as hamster suggests or just use a slotted spoon to serve yourself.

                                          1. re: scotcheroo

                                            Just to add:

                                            Some ma la dishes have no sauce; they are dry fried.

                                          2. re: hamster

                                            half amount of sauce is a good idea. I had take out there (never seen anyone sitting there but delivery drivers!). No chicken, but I'm sure they'd do tofu.

                                      3. re: Raids

                                        Sorry for my ignorance---but what is ma la exactly?

                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                          Numbing (ma, sichuan peppercorns) and hot (la, chili peppers). A wicked combination. The sichuan 'peppercorns' are not really pepper at all, but they tingle your mouth.

                                          1. re: Steve

                                            How about an update of this list? I am looking for something seasonal for lunch today if anyone has any ideas. I semi-wanted to walk to Equinox but that is just too far for lunch hour

                                            1. re: daves_32

                                              As an incentive Equinox currently has a great lunch deal! I think it changes weekly the exact ingredients and I can't remember the exact price but it's 3 courses for under $30 I believe.

                                              Other good lunch options in that area for lunch are Againn and Bibianna.

                                              1. re: daves_32

                                                I have a friend who works at Metro Center. He always checks the food truck site and picks accordingly.


                                                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                  The food trucks have crazy lines, especially on a nice day. Especially on a Friday!

                                                  1. re: daves_32

                                                    I will also add my go-to lunches. West Wing Cafe for a good sandwich, Devon and Blakely if I want to take a walk, and the Rolling Ficelle truck on Mondays. I had a curry chicken salad wrap a few weeks ago from Zola Wine and Kitchen. Even though that place has been consistent for me in the past, the chicken was the driest I have ever had on a sandwich.

                                                    1. re: daves_32

                                                      I had heard those food trucks started taking orders via text and cell to cut down on the wait. True?

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I think it depends on the truck. On Fridays though most of them are in Farragut.

                                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                                          let's get gnocchi sometime so I can pick your brain. you know EVERYTHING!

                                                          1. re: Elyssa

                                                            There are at least 6 at Franklin Square today. I just had lasagne from Basil Thyme.

                                                    2. re: daves_32

                                                      Le Pain Quotidien is a decent option for lunch-- over around 7th and G I think?