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Cheap places near National Harbor

My husband and I will be traveling from Louisiana to the Gaylord National Harbor in two weeks for a conference. We are trying to stick to a budget and I would really appreciate any tips/locations for some inexpensive places to eat in that area. I've been lurking on this site most of the morning and I see the general consensus is to go into Old Town Alexandria and I've been researching places there. Could anyone offer any other suggestions in the D.C. area? We are going to get a Metro pass (we won't have our car). I appreciate any advice ya'll are willing to share.

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  1. It would help to know how much you are willing to spend. "Inexpensive" means different things to different people. I assume you want to go places you can get to by Metro. What kind of food do you like/dislike?

    1 Reply
    1. re: woodleyparkhound

      We aren't too picky, willing to try new stuff in new places. I'm hoping to keep it under $20 a person, even lower would be better.

    2. Will you have access to a shuttle that can take you to Old Town and Metro stops?

      1. Ethiopian food is something DC does well and isn't found in many other places. My favorite place for this is Etete, which is very near the U St. Metro station on the green/yellow line. You can easily stay within budget there.

        1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

        2 Replies
        1. re: woodleyparkhound

          Ethiopian is something we have never tried, I will put that on our list of possibilities. We will have access to shuttles/Metro, etc. I decided I didn't want to attempt driving in D.C. since I'm from a small town in south Louisiana!! Driving in New Orleans is about adventrous as I can handle =)

          1. re: SuzzyQ32

            You are very wise not to drive here. I find it very difficult; drivers here are really aggressive. You will be much happier relying on Metro!

            You also might try Salvadorean food. DC has a very large Salvadorean population. I like El Rinconcito -- or, for Salvadorean in a better neighborhood, check out Tortilla Cafe, near the Eastern Market Metro on Capitol Hill.

        2. If you want a reasonably nice dinner near the National Harbor, try Birches. It's at the upper end of "inexpensive" but very good.

          In old town Alexandria, I enjoy La Tasca (there's also one in DC, I believe) -- it's tapas style, so you can control your meal cost pretty easily. 2 Amy's in DC is also very good and inexpensive. You could probably get in and out of the Palena Cafe in DC for ~$20/person.

          3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

          La Tasca
          Alexandria, VA, Alexandria, VA

          1. Please know that there is no metro at or near National Harbor. You have to get a water taxi or shuttle to someplace else (Old Town Alexandria) and then walk to a metro to get into DC. While this is feasible, it is time-consuming and tedious. If you don't have a whole day free, I would suggest staying in Old Town for meals. If you search on this board for "Old Town Alexandria" you should find lots of choices. By the time you figure in taxi fees, etc. you may find that getting out of National Harbor is expensive, regardless of the meal price.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dcandohio

              Very true. The water taxi into Alexandria is $16 per person round trip from Nat'l Harbor. That definitely will put a dent in the meal budget.

              1. re: AStern

                A regular taxi ride from National Harbor to Old Town would be about the same amount of time/money. That's just the price of being in such an isolated location with little mass transit options.

            2. Thank ya'll for all the great tips! I thought there was a Metro stop at the Gaylord, but I must have read wrong. I think we will do a water taxi one day, I'd just like to experience it. Can ya'll tell me if that is like a ferry? I get extremely motion sick and have been known to get quite green even while traveling on a ferry. I really appreciate everyone's feedback =)

              3 Replies
              1. re: SuzzyQ32

                The water taxi is a 10 minute ride or so. Here's a photo, with Nat'l Harbor in the background.
                It's a very pleasant little ride, not rocky at all. I hope you can enjoy it.
                Once in Old Town, you can walk to many restaurants and indeed, you may just want to stay in the touristy area by the river just for the fun of it.
                I'd suggest:
                Pizza Paradiso
                Virtue Feed and Grain
                Overwood Bar and Grill
                Fontaine Grille and Creperie
                Jackson 20
                Pita House

                In particular, look up these places and look for nightly specials, happy hour deals and small plates. That'll be your best bet for staying within your budget.

                220 N Lee St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                Pita House
                407 Cameron St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                Jackson 20
                480 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                1. re: SuzzyQ32

                  And theres no Metro stop at the Gaylord as you note but the NH1 bus picks hotel guests up at the corner and takes you to Branch Avenue which will take you straight into DC by train.


                2. Hey SuzzyQ32,
                  I saw your post and was wondering if the confrence you are attending is the Connections by Harland Financial. I am also from Louisiana and my husband and I will be traveling to National Harbor and staying at the Gaylord in a couple of weeks as well. Your post is exactly the same questions I was wanting to ask so thank you!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Kimbalina

                    Kimbalina, I will be attending the National Association of Drug Court Professionals conference starting on July 17. I went to D. C. a long time ago and my husband has never been so we are really looking forward to it. What part of LA are you from?

                    1. re: SuzzyQ32

                      I am from Baton Rouge. We are in the same boat - I visited DC as a child, and my husband has never been. We are also very excited and are trying to fit in as much site seeing as we can manage around my confrence. We will have our 15 month old son with us so that will slow us down a little bit, but he has already been with us to 3 other confrences so he is a pretty good traveler!

                      1. re: Kimbalina

                        We are practically neighbors! We are from Hammond. My husband is going to do some sight seeing while I'm in the conference but there will be some times that I sneak away and get in some tourist attractions with him!

                        1. re: SuzzyQ32

                          We are really excited and have been doing alot of internet searching for things to do, see, and eat that can all be done for reasonable prices. We just returned last Friday from Las Vegas were I was attending the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) annual conference. It just happend this year both conferences I attend are back to back so it is really putting a hard hit on our budget. Would you please email me when you return and let me know what things you find that are worth spening time and money on, and things that we could skip? That would awesome help!

                          Las Vegas Restaurant
                          7091 Security Blvd Ste 102, Windsor Mill, MD 21244

                          1. re: Kimbalina

                            I'd be happy to email you! We went to Vegas a couple of years ago for a family vacation and we did mostly free stuff, we ended up spending the majority of our budget on food. I have a feeling we are going to do the same thing in Washington. I found this link: http://washington.org/visiting/browse... and we have marked a few things we are planning on checking out. I'll let you know if they are worth it!

                  2. One more transportation thought - I live in OT alexandria and I see Gaylord shuttle buses all the time coming over to the King Street metro station. You might want to check availability of the shuttle bus athough I can see they'd want to keep you captive at National Harbor.

                    From the metro you can walk or take the free shuttle down King street to the restaurants mentioned earlier. Second Hanks, Majestic, Columbia Firehouse as fitting your bill. I also enjoy Pita House and Chadwicks down by the river. Haven't tried Virtue yet if you can get in, that could be fun.

                    Pita House
                    407 Cameron St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                    King Street Cafe
                    1018 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tcamp

                      Thanks ya'll, all the info has been really helpful. We will be there Saturday afternoon and have some free time before my conference on Sunday, so hopefully we can explore!

                    2. Wanted to add Fontaine Caffe & Creperie on S. Royal just off of King St. They also have a take out place next door and a food cart now, too! Check out Grape & Bean across the street.

                      Fontaine Caffe & Creperie
                      119 S Royal St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                      1. We were at Gaylord National Harbour about 3 weeks ago. There isn't a lot of options there as the "town" is about 5 blocks radius. Most of our meals were provided by the convention so it's mostly lunches I went to. We went to the new pizza place that just opened up near the Peeps store. It's very good, light and thin however a bit pricey. We went to Ketchup, what a disaster but they do offer half price burgers on Monday. Potbelly Sandwiches was okay, kinda like Quizno but their shakes were fantastic. Surprisingly, the National Pasttime at Gaylord is quite good and not as expensive as I had thought it would be. Most entrees were under $20. The appies are pretty huge here.

                        If you want to save, there is a grocery market near the mini donut stand. A lot of organic food and pastries, not the best selection but at least you can grab items for breakfast instead of eating out every day.

                        1. If you go to Old Town, you already have a lot of good suggestions but I'd also add Eamonn's for fish and chips, and with the same owners, The Majestic and Restaurant Eve both have great lunch specials for under $15; Royal Pick at $13 for the Majestic and Lickety Split at $14 for RE.

                          Restaurant Eve
                          110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                          728 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314