Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Feb 15, 2011 12:03 PM

Washington DC. need some food suggestions! nothing too $$$

Vacationing in Washington DC this weekend, need some food suggestions! nothing too $$$

We will be staying in the Capitol / Georgetown Section and have a Vehicle (but wouldn't mind taking the metro either)

My Fiancé and I are Foodies, we love food from every background and we hear Washington DC has some places worth tasting.

We like to eat where the "locals" would eat, and not the "tourist traps" or chains

And...if you know of any Bars / Breweries that have a large International Beer List + Microbrews, we would love to hear about that as well!

So, if you know of anything in Washington D.C that is not too pricey, please tell us! (Breakfast, lunch, and Dinner)

Thanks Everyone... GOOD EATS :-)

Already planning on going to Ben's Chili Bowl!

Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. More info would be helpful. How much do you want to spend per person? Will you be traveling by Metro? What areas of town will you be in?

    My first thought is Etete for great Ethiopian (U St. Metro - Green Line).

    1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

    1 Reply
    1. re: woodleyparkhound

      We will be staying near the Capitol and Georgetown, but we have a vehicle and open to Metro. We would like to stay in DC and not head to Baltimore or anywhere else.

      We are looking to spend up to $30/ person. We will be in town for 4 days, so don't want to rack up the Bill on one place.


    2. I'll take two at once - Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown. Has to be the one in Georgetown and not Dupont because they have the bierria downstairs. There are bigger lists in the city, but it's very well-chosen. Excellent pizza.

      But for the best beer list, you have to go to Churchkey. 50 beers on tap, 5 cask ales, thousands by the bottle. Go in the afternoon, and you'll get friendly and knowledgeable bartenders who will be more than happy to talk about the beer with you. The flatbreads are pretty good. I hear good things about the brat burger. Their tater tots, although, you know, tater tots, are the best and creamiest renditions I have had. And they make a secret off-menu sandwich floating around in some thread around here - fried chicken on some kind of doughnut bun? Do a search. Anyway, the food at Churchkey, Birch and Barley's upstairs lounge, is reasonably priced. $15 flatbreads, sandwiches, etc. Not cheap, but not fine dining. I'm sure the charcuterie offerings are quite good also, when they have them.

      I also like El Rinconcito - el Salvadoran. Good papusas, tamales, anything in a bowl with broth.

      That's all I've got until I know what area of the city you're staying in and if you're dependent on metro access or will have a car.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Raids

        Great, Thank you! we will definitely put these on the list.

        We will be staying in the Capitol + Georgetown Area, and we have a vehicle, but wouldn't mind the metro either.

        We are coming from the NYC, and we love the kinds of places that you described.


        1. re: Audiofairy

          Oh great. NYC. Now everyone will tell me off for recommending a pizza joint. ;-)

          I have only been to Ethiopic and not Etete, but I do some people prefer the former over the latter so it's probably worth looking into. Plus, Ethiopic is on the way to H St NE, my favorite neighborhood to take people out in lately, although most people would probably be afraid to walk it.

          Spike Mendohlson's places are on the hill - Good Stuff Eatery for burgers and shakes and We, the Pizza. Isn't Seventh Hill Pizza over there too? And Ted's Bulletin? Haven't been to the latter two, but I've heard good things.

          Also, a little pricier than the other things I've suggested, but worth checking out is Againn off Metro Center (11th & K) - authentic Irish gastropub, $15 lunch, $25 dinner entrees or thereabouts. Great if small bar, also - great charcuterie and oysters. Country pork pate. Yum. Bartender makes great cocktails, too.

          1. re: Raids

            Thanks for the suggestions, these sound like our kind of places!

            We like to eat where the "locals" would eat, and not the "tourist traps" or chains

            Even coming from NYC, we still enjoy a nice slice of pizza pie! :-)

            And if there is ONE place that you would go to if your were only in the area once, thats what we like to find.

            Thanks again for all of your suggestions and tips!

            1. re: Audiofairy

              Got it. For beer, definitely Churchkey. For food, charcuterie at Againn and tapas at Jaleo. Just remembered - they have a great happy hour and it runs through the weekends. Penn Quarter - one of the first tapas bars in the country. I think it starts at 4pm. If you can drop $15 on a cocktail, the Jose Andres gin and tonic will not disappoint, I swear it. I like the quail, but it's not on the happy hour menu. Still, if everything else is, you can swing one thing for regular price, right? :-)

              I'll shut up and let everyone else get a word in - also, there are definitely more than a few threads like this, specifically for New Yorkers, so search around.

              One last thing: people will tell you Ben's sucks and to not go there and it's just for tourists. There is *some* truth to that. I personally would still go, but someone else might have a better recommendation for a half-smoke, and they might very well be worth listening to.

            2. re: Raids

              Hi Raids,
              You wrote "Ethiopic is on the way to H St NE, my favorite neighborhood to take people out in lately, although most people would probably be afraid to walk it."
              Couple of questions--
              **Where exactly is your "favorite neighborhood to take people out in"?
              **I''m a woman and I'll be walking alone. Will it be safe for me to walk there during the day? (I tend to be fearless about exploring when I'm traveling, but my daughter, who was an intern in DC a few years back, is urging caution...)
              **I'll check for threads on Ethiopic, but what are a couple of your favorite dishes there?

              Thank you.

              1. re: soccermom13

                Atlas District on H St NE. Regarding walking to Ethiopic, the street is terribly torn up because of construction right now, and I think the sidewalk is also, so I might take a cab. I was technically speaking of walking from Ethiopic on 4th to the bars closer to 8th-12th. I'd walk that strip in the middle of the day, sure, but I can't really give you advice on that one way or the other. Maybe someone who lives in the neighborhood can help? It's certainly more developed than it would have been when your daughter was here, although it still *looks* a little dreary in spots - closed store fronts, abandoned buildings, etc.

                I haven't heard anything bad about anything at Ethiopic, but I get the vegetarian platter - forget the exact name for it. It's definitely meant to be shared between at least two people.

                1. re: Raids

                  Thank you so much. My daughter's caution is probably based on out-of-date knowledge, bc she also told me that walking from Eastern Market to Port Levi's Cafe (Levi's Port Cafe?) was not a good idea, but I asked about this in another Chowhound thread and got a thumbs up, so I'm gonna do it.

                  1. re: soccermom13

                    Also, by the way, you would be 100% fine walking from the red line metro stop at Union Station to 4 St NE. And don't forget to check out Toyland at H & 5th. I think zooming in and H & 4th NE and tracking east on Google Maps with the satellite function is pretty representative....fine wine store, check-cashing place, check-cashing place, storage facility, check-cashing place...and then right about 11-12th St it picks up again - Sticky Rice, Granville Moore's, etc.

                    But, I mean, it's not classic DC or anything - Dupont, Capitol Hill, those are much more classic neighborhoods to visit. I love it for the nightlife.

          2. re: Raids


            OP said nothing too touristy, but then again, he and his fiance are vacationing.

            Tortialla Cafe is close to the capitol building at N.C. Ave at 7TH St SE across from the old market.

          3. You've gotten a bunch of great recommendations from Raids. I completely agree on Churchkey for beer. I don't think anything else in town can touch it - but huge lines form there. Go early if you can. I love Againn, especially for the "potted pork" and the cocktail with a hot pepper in it. Jaleo is wonderful too for tapas.

            I haven't been to Ethiopic yet, but I've heard good things. I strongly recommend that you go to at least one Ethiopian place while you are here, as it is something that DC does particularly well. There are several threads on this topic. Etete is my favorite; I also like Queen Makeda and Dukem. Etete looks more like a conventional restaurant. Queen Makeda is like eating in someone's living room and Dukem is like eating in a music venue.

            About Ben's... it has become a tourist trap since Obama ate there. I think it has a cool sense of history about it. I would never tell someone to not go near it, but keep in mind you are not going there for high quality food. And it is really cheap, I have to give them that.

            Now that I know you will be near Capitol Hill, you must go to Eastern Market! There, among many other wonderful things, you will find the best half smokes in town. Get the hot with natural casing. These are sold ready to eat indoors at the market for a mere $2.00. They have mustard, etc. there to add yourself. Market Lunch does a great breakfast on Sat. morning, but arrive early to beat the crowds. It's typical to stand in line 30 mins. while waiting for your "brick" or "bluebucks". Check out Peregrine Espresso for the best coffee in town - you'll pass it on your way to the market.

            I love the milkshakes at Good Stuff Eatery. The black and white is my favorite, but the toasted marshmallow is the favorite of many others. Their burgers are perfectly fine - especially when you substitute the homemade sriracha mayo for their usual sauce. But the shakes are the main reason to go. We The Pizza has OK pizza (I wouldn't recommend it for a New Yorker though!) but I love their sodas, especially the sour cherry.

            Ted's Bulletin is good for American classics and alcoholic milkshakes in a fun atmosphere. Further down is Levi's Port Cafe, which is said to have great soul food -- I haven't been though. I've also heard lots of good things about Cava on 8th St. SE -- staying within budget would be a bit harder there, but not impossible.

            Enjoy DC!

            1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

            Queen Makeda
            1917 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

            Good Stuff Eatery
            303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

            Market Lunch
            225 7th St SE Ste 12, Washington, DC 20003

            Ted's Bulletin
            505 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

            1 Reply
            1. re: woodleyparkhound

              Thanks so much! we will be putting these on the list as well!

              This is so helpful!

              If you ever come to NYC and need some suggestions, just let me know! :-)

            2. I'm going to focus on lunch places.

              I highly recommend that you go to Ray's Hell Burger even though it means crossing the river and going into Arlington. Skip Ben's Chili Bowl if you have to. Ben's U Street neighborhood is more representative of DC, but food-wise at Ray's you'll be getting great food that is just as "local". (And Pres Obama went there too -- twice.) *Ray's is also open for dinner.*

              Locals near 19th & M have been going to C.F. Folks for years. It is a small diner in a no-frills environment, complete with a lunch counter, but if you order off the daily specials you get very good food at very reasonable prices. I have always ignored the printed menu and ordered off the specials which can be found below -- they change daily and the Web page updates each morning. CF Folks is lunch only and they are not always open -- see Web for schedule.

              I seem to be the only one who recommends Zola Wine and Kitchen but I like it a lot even though I have only gotten there once. I wouldn't go far out of my way to get to it, but if you're even close to the neighborhood you can get a great lunch at a great price. Click on the pics on the Web site to get a sense of what it's like, because I like the atmosphere as well as the food. It is lunch-only.

              Ray's Hell Burger
              1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

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

              1. Cheap and interesting is not really D.C.'s strong point. But:

                - ChurchKey is amazing but can get obnoxiously crowded. If you can't get there early, their downstairs restaurant, Birch & Barley, offers all-day brunch until 8 p.m. on Sundays. Entrees are about $13-16 and you get the same beer selection.

                - Another vote for Ray's Hell Burger. Best burger in the DC Metro area. I prefer the "Too" location a couple doors down, which has table service and is less of a free-for-all. Also, get off at the Courthouse station and not Rosslyn. And don't go during peak dinner or lunch times.

                - Restaurant Eve (Alexandria, VA) has a great lunch deal at the bar: any two items off a set menu for $15 or so (I believe they raised the price recently). You may end up ordering something else at regular price, but it's a great way to sample their dishes without spending $100-200 pp in their bistro or tasting room. There's a trolley that can take you there from metro. Get their early; the bar area is not large.

                - Zaytinya and Jaleo are nice spots if you like to share and don't try and explore the entire menu. Small plates add up quick, but with smart ordering (and happy hour discounts) you can get out of there without breaking $30 pp.

                - I would skip any pizza places in D.C., as they are not worth a detour for a New Yorker.

                Restaurant Eve
                110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                Ray's Hell Burger
                1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

                701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001