Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Jan 11, 2012 06:23 AM

Easy, cheap eats in DC - do they even exist?

One oddity about DC is the total lack of inexpensive, fast casual restaurants that are open for dinner. I work long hours, and if I get home late and don't want to cook, there seem to be almost no options for an inexpensive, decent looking dinner that isn't from McDonalds or a shady Chinese hole-in-the-wall that also serves chicken wings. Being from California, I'm accustomed to a wide variety of eateries at every price point, but I feel like in DC, while there's incredible fine dining, there's almost nothing mid-range.

Here's the few places that I know. Please let me know if you have any others to add to the list:


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Naan and Beyond is open until 9:00 p.m.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lori D

      Check out Tom Sietsema’s article in today's post cheap eats

      1. re: agarnett100

        Great article - it has a few places I've tried and loved (Shake Shack, Fast Gourmet, The Standard, & Ren's Ramen) and way more that I'd love to try except they are too far afield for me, which is always the problem with lists like these for those without a car.

        Socaldiner: what neighborhood(s) are you willing to consider? (I share your pain, by the way.)

    2. I work at Connecticut and T and have Bistro du Coin right across the street. I can get a tartiflette or a smoked mackerel salad for a reasonable price. If I walk to 18th St, I have Locolat for savory Belgian waffles. Up from there I have Casa Oaxaca for a good mole negro. Also a Peruvian restaurant, Las Cantreras, has resonable prices. If I am willing to walk further, I can go 4 blocks to Fast Gourmet for the chivito.

      I don't know exactly what you mean by 'shady Chinese' as The Great Wall on 14th has the absolutely best ma po tofu in the area. They also show excellent wok skills on the baby bok choy. Nothing fussy about the decor, but those dishes are aces.

      1. Meh, I've lamented this problem since moving here (from CA). Haven't really found much for good, cheap eats, except for Amsterdam Falafel and The Standard. Both places you can get a good, satisfying meal for under $10. Even my favorite, La Mexicana (which is outside the city), runs us (me and gf) about $25 or so. (Easily best value in the area though, and still my favorite place) I would maybe throw in Taylor Gourmet. I might add ShopHouse, but the only time I went, I was not satisfied and disliked the bread.

        I like Fast Gourmet, but at $13 for the Chivito (not including tax), I would not call that cheap (esp. for a sandwich). Even Shake Shack is $10 for a burger and fries, which is not filling either (at In N Out you can get that for half that price).

        I am at peace with it though.

        EDIT: Radius has a good pint and slice for $5 deal for happy hour (though I never make it to HH).

        1. Not sure where you work or live:

          Is Potato Valley open for dinner? I forget, it makes a great meal and is cheap.
          Thai from a number of places: Rice, Regent, etc.
          Luna (the one with a second location in Shirlington) at Dupont has good inexpensive dinners.
          Henry's Soul Food
          Oohs and Aahs soul food
          Levi's Port Cafe
          Taylor Gourmet
          Cafe Deluxe (chain but very solid one with interesting options)

          Just off the top of my head I will give it more thought when I can.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ktmoomau

            Potato Valley is only open for lunch M-F, which is a real shame.

          2. No, not really. Not like LA cheap. I had lunch at Bertha's Pier 52 Seafood in Long Beach today. Two of us each had a shrimp, fish and scallop platter with fries and coleslaw and a drink for under $20. For both of us. I'm talking of-the-boat fresh fish. Good luck finding anything like that in DC nowadays. As you've probably noticed, it takes money to live here.

            1 Reply
            1. re: flavrmeistr

              flavrmeistr - I miss the LBC used to go down to San Pedro with my father to get fresh fish from the fish market