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Dec 30, 2010 03:07 PM

What's the best 'cheap eat' you ever had in DC?

I'm fairly new to the DC area and looking for some good cheap eateries. Any suggestions?

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    1. MrCheapEats,

      There are potentially a hundred+ responses to this. Can you narrow your definitions a bit? Do you mean in DC only or the DC area -- if the latter, how far outside DC? About what cost per person is under your "Cheap Eats" threshold? Any types of restaurants or cuisines you want to especially include/exclude?

      I'm trying to be helpful.

      15 Replies
      1. re: KeithW

        Specific cuisines to include/exclude = none
        DC area = circumference approximately no further than Rockville/Bethesda/Alexandria
        Cheap eat = under $15 per person, preferably not to exceed $10/person.

        No need to list the hundreds, just a few give a few 'gotta try' suggestions that come to mind.
        Thank you for your suggestions.

        1. re: MrCheapEats

          OK, listing only ones I have been to, and not organized in any order, but excluding MD because I am pretty much exclusively in DC and VA:

          Rays Hell Burger
          Five Guys Burgers and Fries (chain)
          Vace Italian Deli
          Italian Store
          Taqueria Nationale
          CF Folks -- order from the daily specials ($15)
          Moby Dick House of Kebab
          Rocklands Barbeque
          Hard Times Cafe (for the chili)
          2 Amys -- (been a while since I've been there) ($15)

          Plus you will definitely want to get to a Peruvian Chicken place and a Vietnamese Pho place, but my go-to locations for those are outside your geographic zone.

          No doubt many others could provide a different list with other good options.

          Italian Store
          3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

          Moby Dick's
          721 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231

          3315 Connecticut Avenue NW, DC 20008

          1. re: KeithW

            Nice list.

            For this time of the morning and for the geographic area, I'd have to add TECC first - especially for the chorizo (I know - you goat lovers).

            I'd also add La Union (Thanks Steve). And Caribbean Grill (not C. Breeze) in North Arlington.

            Really so many more than this - I mean the recent Mario's/Al's/Weenie Beenie thread, for instance. Then there's saltena's and the like. Then Ethiopian. Then hidden places like the pizza place on Walter Reed just North of Col. Pike. Then there's the Thai places on Columbia Pike, and then there's (within the OP's radius), well, Wheaton.

            So - OP - just buckle up, tune in, and enjoy the ride, okay?

            And if this for an article, I want credit for that last line.

            La Union Restaurant
            5517 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205

            The Caribbean Grill
            5183 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

            1. re: Dennis S

              Dennis S - can you name the hidden pizza place on walter reed?

              1. re: kellyc96

                I was just past it the other day, but the name doesn't stick. It's about 3 doors North of Columbia Pike on the East side of the street. It's a thinner crust, sort of in the Greek style of pie. It's something like Pizza Pantry or such.

                1. re: Dennis S

                  Yes, the name is Pizza Pantry. Been there forever, though I don't know if the pizza is still the same. A biscuit-style crust, think Pillsbury. Not far off from in style from an old place in Rockville called Gentleman Jim's (long gone) or a downgrade version of Ledo's (recently moved) near U. of Md.

                  Ledo Restaurant
                  4509 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740

                2. re: kellyc96

                  Went by the other day, and its name is "Sicilian," and it's listed as "Sicilian Pizza."

              2. re: KeithW

                I guess everyone considers "cheap" different;y and it's relative. I don't really think 2 Amy's is--if it's only pizza.

                1. re: spinachandchocolate

                  I do not think you have dined at 2 Amy's. They offer much more than pizza.

                  Two Amys
                  3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

                  1. re: spinachandchocolate

                    I believe if two people split a margherita, suppli, polpettini and the deviled eggs at 2 Amys, you'll spend about $15 per person, cheap enough to be considered part of this thread according to the OP. If you stick to the margherita, then it will be less. Either way, a great place to eat.

                    Though it is always cheaper to eat counter service, which is why Puputella in Arlington is such a valuable Chowhound commodity. The arancino is fantastic, very rich, and only $3.50. One is not a whole meal, but two are too many, so better to split a couple and split a buffalo milk mozzarella pizza.

                    1. re: Steve

                      On my first and so far only visit to Pupatella, I got an arancino and a "Real Margherita" pizza (buffalo mozz). That rice ball was almost a killer, but I persevered and "forced down" the wonderful pizza.

                      5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

                      1. re: Bob W

                        Bob - I got both of those as well as the artichoke pizza. The artichoke was good but didn't shine in front of the Real Margherita - just as good as the pizza I had in Italy!

                  2. re: KeithW

                    Keith's list is pretty good. I'd add Pupatella for pizza and Pho Hot in Annadale.

                    Pho Hot Restaurant
                    7442 Little River Tpke, Annandale, VA 22003

                    5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

                  3. re: MrCheapEats

                    also Naan and Beyond @ 17th & L NW

                    1. re: MrCheapEats

                      Some of my favorite cheap eat spots are Taylor's Gourmet, California Tortilla, Nan and Beyond, CF Folk's Restaurant, and So's Your Mom.

                      So's Your Mom
                      1831 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

                  4. Well, the Republicans seem to have eaten the Democrats for lunch last month. (Since turnabout is fair play, I expect the Democrats to return the favor in 2012.) Not exactly cheap eats, though: campaign spending is reported to have approached $4 billion for the last cycle.

                    Lest I run afoul of the ever-vigilant Chowhound censors, here is a cheap-eats fave of mine (also anointed by Washingtonian Magazine): 2 Amy's in Upper Northwest. The Neapolitan pizzas are very good, but check out the small plates too.

                    1. I would agree that you need to better define. With that being said, I immediately thought pho. We have so many good pho joints in NoVA.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rHairing

                        OK now that more responses have been made, Tutto Benne in Ballston does Bolivian on the weekends at lunch. I have tried a few different saltenas in the area and it's still my fave. If you venture to Vienna/Oakton area....Skorpios for gyros or roasted chicken, Plaka for the gyro with pork, Tigris or Rose for kabobs, Pure Pasty Company, Italian Gourmet...

                      2. I <3 Chinatown Express, on 6th by H NW for dumplings (steamed pork and leek) and the pork/wonton noodle soup, and everything else. You can definitely get out of there for under $10 a person or $15 if you're feeling reeeeally hungry.

                        If you order just an entree, you can get out of Mandalay in Silver Spring for around $10/pp with tip, depending on which one you order. Definitely under $15. I like the V13 with peppers and onions; tofu in coconut and tomato curry with rice.

                        It's not in the direction of Rockville/Bethesda, but within the radius is La Fondita, in Hyattsville. This is a small Mexican place that is a converted little house on Decatur, off of Rt 1. I always get the tacos, usually al pastor, which they do with pineapple. I find them to be delicious, and you can get two for under $5. They also have wonderful lamb soup, but I usually get my tacos to go, and soup isn't as much of a to go meal.

                        A couple months ago, I was introduced to Taylor gourmet, a sandwich place with I think three locations around the area (H St. NE, K St. NW, and Bethesda). A 6" sub there is ... $7? $8? Less than $10, at any rate. The 9th St. Italian is one of the most popular, and for good reason.

                        Also along the H St. NE corridor is Dangerously Delicious Pies. Their original shop is in Baltimore, and I know there've been people posting lately saying they're not impressed with the Baltimore location, but I find the DC one really .... well, delicious. Depending on what you order and how hungry you are, you can get out of there for under $10 if you order one slice of pie (~$7 I think?), but I find that if you order a savory pie and they give you a salad, that's enough for me unless I'm starving. Savory pie winner for me is the SMOG -- steak, mushroom, onion, and gruyere, and sweet pie winner is the Baltimore Bomb -- a chess pie with chocolate shortbread cookie in it, I believe.

                        I second Peruvian chicken and Pho. The chicken place I go to most often, cause it's near work, is in College Park, but there's a Don Pollo (I think) in Bethesda, and I don't know where ones are in the city. Try to find one where they have plantains (oh, plantains, how I love you). Unfortunately, same for Pho - normal place is in College Park (Pho 88), and I wouldn't know where to go in the city. I like the eye of round, and the Vietnamese coffee is delicious if you drink coffee (it's chicory flavored coffee, like at Cafe Du Monde, with sweetened condensed milk).

                        The last place I'll mention is Teaism. There are three locations, one in Dupont, one on Pennsylvania... (I think?) and one at Gallery Place. It's definitely possible to go over $10 or $15 there (Bento box, tea, cookie, etc etc) but if you don't order everything in sight, also definitely possible to stay under the limit. My favorites there are the hand roll bento, the tuna bento, the chai, the chocolate salty oat cookie, and the tea-cured salmon and cilantro scrambled eggs for breakfast on weekends. Note that the dupont location only has the tuna bento on fridays.


                        Happy eating!

                        2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: kallisti

                          What chicken place do you go to in College Park? I like Pollo Fiesta in Riverdale. Half a chicken and two sides are around $8.

                          I haven't been to La Fondita yet, but I've been meaning to check it out. I've passed it on my bike probably hundreds of times.

                          Check out Taqueria La Placita some time. It's in the "Little Mexico" part of Bladensburg. Great, cheap tacos there, including al pastor, which cooks on a spit. I'm pretty sure there are some other discussions here that mention it.

                          Taqueria La Placita
                          5020 Edmonston Rd, Hyattsville, MD 20781

                          1. re: 4X4

                            For some reason I never saw this reply, sorry. I go to Sardi's north of College Park on Rt 1. Mmmm 1/4 chicken dark with plantains and green beans. Soooo good.

                            1. re: kallisti

                              Oh yeah, I've been there. It's in Beltsville. Lately when I've gone the long lines have led me to go across the street to Pho 88.

                              Pho 88 Restaurant
                              232 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046

                              1. re: 4X4

                                There are definitely long lines at lunch unless you try to get there at like 11:45 (ie, before 12). We do hit up Pho 88 often as well.

                                Pho 88 Restaurant
                                232 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046