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"great food at lunch prices"

I saw this phrase in a post by Keith E (thanks, Keith) and realized that I'd love your suggestions for terrific food in the DC area that is available at lunch prices for a Friday or Sat. lunch. I am still paying for kids' college tuition hence the need for frugality . So what will I pay for a terrific lunch? Probably $30. or so (30 without wine or other alcohol).

Some criteria:
**No sushi or Ethiopian (I get lots of great Ethiopian at home)--virtually anything else is fine
**Must be accessible via the Metro/walking (I have no car)
**Not in the 'burbs (just takes too long to get there via Metro)

Some places I already plan to eat at:
Rasika, one place with good Southern food (not sure yet which one), and ???


Rasika Restaurant
633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

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  1. For the Friday lunch, CF Folks. Order from the specials menu and sit at the counter if you can.

    1. Three mezze at Zaytinya.
      Several small plates at Oyamel.
      Same for Jaleo
      A lovely pizza at Pizza Paradiso with a craft beer (Dupont or Georgetown)
      Chicken plus sides at Nando's
      Menu del serra at Dino (I think it's under $30, but you can certainly eat well at Dino for under $30).
      Roast chicken at Palena (Cleveland Park)
      Burger at Ray's (while it is not in DC proper the metro ride/walk is really easy).
      Steak frites at Bistrot du Coin or Bistro Cacao
      Ba Bay near Eastern Market.
      Red Rocks Pizza in Columbus Heights.
      Bar Pilar (when it's not super crowded)
      Ghana Cafe in Logan Circle.

      Have fun.

      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

      701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

      Bar Pilar
      1833 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

      Red Rock Cafe
      385 Muddy Branch Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

      Bistro Cacao
      320 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002

      1. pizza at pizza paradiso or 2 Amys

        1. Great lists so far. I would add Zola Wine and Kitchen, which no one other than me seems to mention but it's great and inexpensive but NOT OPEN SATURDAYS.

          Zola Wine and Kitchen
          505 9th St NW, Washington D.C., DC 20004

          9 Replies
          1. re: KeithW

            Thanks, everyone. I've added all of these to my "possibles" list.

            Would you have additional suggestions for restaurants where I can get more "dinner-like" menu choices (eg more elegant than sandwiches and pizza) at lunch time for lunch prices?

            1. re: soccermom13

              Most CF Folks specials are more than sandwiches. Currently it's not overly inspiring, but they usually step it up:


              Manyh of dcandohio's recs are above sandwich grade. Probably add Hank's Oyster Bar to the list.

              Hank's Oyster Bar
              1026 King St Ste 1, Alexandria, VA 22314

              1. re: soccermom13

                Are you willing to pay $30 per person (exluding alcohol)? If so, there is probably a long list of places -- I guess when I originally replied I didn't realize that your spending limit was that high. If that is the case, I would suggest any of the Passion Food restaurants, especially Ten Penh and Ceiba (since I have been to both of of those). (I have also been to DC Coast but I prefer the others.)

                You could also get a good lunch at Central Michel Richard for less than $30.

                701 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005

                Ten Penh
                1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

                1. re: KeithW

                  Yes, I'm willing to pay $30 for lunch (I'll be solo) excluding alcohol. I am trying to do the "eat dinner at lunchtime" thing to be frugal.

                  Dennis and Keith---thanks for the additional tips.

                  Keith---What would you order at Central Michel Richard?

                  Central Michel Richard
                  1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004

                  1. re: soccermom13

                    I can't recommend anything specific at Central, sorry, I was only there once a couple of years ago.

                    1. re: soccermom13

                      Standouts at Central: fried chicken, burger, steak tartare, faux gras. There are probably others, but these really stick in my mind.

                      1. re: soccermom13

                        I loved the corned beef sandwich, faux gras and burger at Central. I have heard raves about the lobster burger as well, but haven't tried it yet.

                        1. re: soccermom13

                          I third the burger. Beef, is the one I got.

                          1. re: kallisti

                            Yeah, I should have clarified (I forgot that there are multiple burgers there)--the beef burger is fantastic. I haven't had the chicken or lobster burgers, and I was underwhelmed by the tuna burger.

                  2. zola wine and kitchen
                    sandwiches from cowgirl creamery

                    1. I think most of the responses to your query missed your point, which I understand to mean "Where can I get a luxurious, indulgent, first-class dining experience--the type typically associated with dinner at a premiere restaurant, which I currently can not afford, or choose not to--but without sacrificing quality, style or service, and enjoy it during the day at (their significantly lower) lunch prices?"

                      My first answer would be Adour.

                      My second answer would be to choose the most luxurious restaurant at which you have aspired to dine, provided they serve lunch, and book a table for one o'clock (at one o'clock, you have avoided the crushing rush, but are still in the thick of things, for what it;s worth)--hotel restaurants are better since their service typically does not begin to lag at that time, at which time you will have the restaurant practically to yourself, save a few truly important deal-makers, and a most gracious and generous staff in attendance.

                      In this way, you will have a dining experience and the most carefully and scrupiously of prepared dishes, equal to or more likely superior to, what you would experience at dinner for 30-50% less than at dinner.

                      Even better, you can retire from your sumptuous feast to the lounge and enjoy your own private calm from center stage as the increasing hurry-scurry of "Important DC" hustles to establish itself around you.

                      Again, Adour would be my first choice for the sheer old world elegance (it is the Astors' place after all, at least originally), followed by J&G Steakhouse, for the Central Park South-like experience after the meal of enjoying a post-prandial while overlooking from above the pulsing heart of history as it is made.

                      J&G Steakhouse
                      515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Michael Landrum

                        Adour does not have a lunch menu posted on their web site. Do you know prices and what sort of options they have?

                      2. I should add, that being an incipient (and delayed neophyte) near-obsessive of 149's, Montegarappas and Watermens, that Plume would certainly serve your purpose beautifully.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Michael Landrum

                          I know this is off the point - but when is Rays: The Catch opening?

                          1. re: Michael Landrum

                            Thanks for these suggestions. All are now on my list of possibilities. Planning a trip is a significant part of the fun!

                            1. re: soccermom13

                              701 was having a really good lunch special, I don't know how long it continues, but it definitely was fine dining with a price within your range.

                              Too bad Blacksalt is so darn far from any metro...

                              You might check to see if Vidalia is having any lunch specials for your Southern fine dining fix, maybe you could make it for RW? Some places are extending RW too. You might keep an eye on Metrocurean.com in the Deals section of DC Dining.

                              1990 M Street, Washington, DC 20036

                          2. Oya has a M-F lunch prix fixe for $19 and Zaytinya has one for $21.

                            701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: justaddwater

                              More great ideas---YOU GUYS RULE! Thank you.

                              p.s. Is DC Dining part of a weekly news paper, such as City Pages or other weekly?

                              1. re: soccermom13

                                Washingtonian.com is a good source, so it the Washingtonpost.com, but the deals are normally on Washingtonian or Metrocurean.

                                Also have you signed up for LivingSocial.com or Groupon.com? Sometimes they have some pretty nice restaurants.

                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                  washingtonian Jan issue is the top 100 restaurants in DC area

                            2. Charlie Palmer has a great prix fixe lunch. Probably about a 10 minute walk from Union Station.