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Staying in Vienna, visiting DC, where to get healthy cheap eats?

Will be on a strict budget but don't want to eat burgers and fries every day. Our hotel is near the Dunn Loring Fairfax Metro stop but we'll be visiting museums during the day. Anyone have suggestions for healthy, delicious, but relatively inexpensive food? (I read the post on cheap eats in DC and we too are displaced Californians who miss the great cheap food we could get there.) A friend told us we ought to be able to find good Indian food--true? We're in the South right now and starved for good Mexican, Chinese, Mediterranean--but a good salad or sandwich would be fine too.

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  1. check out busboys and poets as well as Taylor gourmet

    1. Not in DC but if your hotel is near Dunn Loring Metro, you're close to quite a few good places to eat, down Gallows Rd less than a mile is: Four Sisters (Vietnamese, a good variety of prices/food). Pastry XPO (good coffee, nice bakery, good lunch specials). A little further is Great Wall (chinese grocery store w/ a buffet like cafe in the back, baked goods, roasted pig, duck, chicken, great variety of food), Uncle Liu's hot pot (though this can be pricey). There is also a Thai place there I haven't tried and a Five Guys, if you ever decide to go for the burgers. A little farther is Sweetwatern Tavern, good solid American food, good dinner salads. Across the street is Elephant Walks, another Vietnamese place. There's a deli, that's passable if you want a salad. You could easily do take out w/ baos from Great Wall, as well as drinks, and have a picnic on the mall. That would be the cheapest and easiest option in that area.

      3 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        What are baos?

        I've been looking up places on Urbanspoon and other sites and these sound good: Plaka Grill, Rose Kabob, Cenan's Bakery, and the Pure Pasty (okay, that's not in the healthy category, but we haven't had a meat pie or pasty in years). I guess Rose Kabob isn't cheap, but again, haven't had Persian in years.

        What do you think?

        1. re: Thanks4Food

          Plaka Grill is very good, esp. their signature Plaka Gyro and the Loukaniko.

          1. re: Thanks4Food

            A bao is a bun usually stuffed. Do you have a car? I've found Cenan's to be hit or miss but if you're looking for croissants and baked goods like that, it's probably the best in the area. They do have good sandwiches. I don't know about the other places. There is a persian place in Vienna that others have recommended. I can't think of the name but will post if I remember.

        2. My husband and I realize that we have lots of suggestions for Vienna now, but we'll mostly be out and about in DC and not in Vienna. Any similarly good/cheap eats around our two main destinations: the area around the Nat'l Gallery and the area around the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

          BTW, I only just now looked at a map to see where Vienna is from DC--had no idea it was so far out--sorry!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Thanks4Food

            There is always the Garden Cafe inside the NGA. Good Italian fare with a menu designed by Fabio Trabocci (of Fiola). http://www.nga.gov/dining

            1. re: dpan

              Have to thank you for your suggestion: we were tired from having already spent hours on our feet around DC and at the NGA and were going to leave to get something to eat--but when my husband saw the menu for the Garden Cafe he said, "Let's do it!" It was wonderful and probably the most civilized time we had on our trip. They were out of the recipe cards, but I really want the recipes for the main chicken dish and the dessert tart. (Won't tell you how many servings I had.)

              We got there at the perfect time too: we were seated immediately by the fountain, but by the time we left there was a long line just waiting to get in.

          2. Can I ask what your price range is? Yes, Vienna is far out but it's on the metro orange line which takes you right to the Mall.:) I live in Oakton and can vouch for everything mentioned in Vienna and Merrifield/ Dun Loring and would add in Oakton Tigris Grill, which has very limited seating..and Kobkun for Thai and in Merrifield Pho Cyclo next to Elephant Jump for a solid bowl of pho.. On the Mall you are limited to the museum food..which has vastly improved in the past ten years but limits you. If you are willing to walk, Teaism always works.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rHairing

              Elephant Jump---that's what I was thinking when I said Elephant Walk above. I was just traveling and ate at an Elephant Walk and have it in my head. I haven't tried Pho Cyclo--there is too much to try in that area but thanks for the rec. I'll have to pop in.

            2. If you have a car, drive to Myanmar gor Burmese food in Falls Church, VA. Get a ginger salad and a bowl of rice. WiIl set you back an entire $6 for a terrific meal. If you want to branch out from that, go for the tomato tofu. One of the best cheap eats in the area, and the entire menu is worth exploring.

              1. I second Teasim for lunch - it's just north of the Archives metro - near the National Gallery. Don't miss the salty oat cookie - either plain or chocolate - or get both and share them with someone!

                7 Replies
                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                  Oh man..that salty chocolate oat cookie! I had forgotten about it...I think I just drooled on my keyboard...

                  1. re: woodleyparkhound

                    Hey, is that the salty oat cookie that was featured several years ago on a Food Network program? Forget the name but it was all about start-up food businesses. I printed out the recipe for the salty oat cookie but it didn't do that much for me when I made it. But I'd be happy to try the original.

                    1. re: Thanks4Food

                      I don't know - I didn't see it or hear about it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the place that was featured. I've never known anyone not to be wowed by the one at Teaism. I was a purist for a long time - only ordering the plain one. Eventually, they were out of plain and I got the chocolate and LOVED it! It's not better necessarily, it's just different. I love them both.

                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                        Did a search and the show was called "Recipe for Success". It seems that the recipe was from DCist (?) and not Teaism, but I'm not clear on that. At any rate, I'll be sure to try one of both.

                        1. re: woodleyparkhound

                          I was not wowed -- I thought they should be called sugary oatmeal cookies.

                      2. re: woodleyparkhound

                        Wanted to let you know that we tried all THREE varieties (now there's a chunky chocolate and nut one) and they were great. But as much as I like chocolate, I really liked the original raisin oatmeal one the best. Thanks for the tip!

                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                          Glad you liked it! I haven't been there since they started the chunky chocolate and nut one - it sounds a bit OTT to me. Yes, the original one is fabulous; so glad you enjoyed it!

                      3. When you're downtown, for cheap Indian, I actually really like Merzi. It's kind of like a Chipotle for Indian food. I'm obsessed with their tamarind sauce: http://www.merzi.com/site/food

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: katecm

                          And since the topic includes Vienna, Aditi Bistro, also well described as "Chipotle for Indian food" appears to have gone dark. I ate there a couple of times and it was OK, probably better for lunch than dinner. I thought it was a good concept - pick your bread, pick your filling, and they make a wrap while you watch.

                          1. re: MikeR

                            I noticed when I drove by the other day that it has already become something else - Tamarind Something? I have no idea if it changed ownership or if they're reinventing it. I do like the Indian grocery store next door, though.

                            1. re: VaPaula

                              I just noticed last night that there was a new name up, though Tamarind doesn't ring a bell. I had a green light so I didn't get time to look too carefully. I suspect that it's the same people who have that whole string of Indian stores there, just trying a different concept, perhaps a regular sit-down restaurant again.

                              And there's another new (coming soon) Chinese restaurant in Vienna, next to Tara Thai, replacing Panjshir II.

                              1. re: MikeR

                                Just passed by a little while ago - it's Turmeric. I was close. ;-)

                                Thanks for the info - that space has been empty a LONG time. I hope it's good. The market for bad Chinese food in that area is saturated, I think.

                          2. re: katecm

                            We went there last Sunday (soaking wet from the rain) and to tell you the truth, I was ready to walk out because it didn't look very appealing on first glance. When you're cold and wet, you want something warm and comforting and this place looked kind of sterile--and the menu looked so sparse. But my husband wanted to try it so I gave in. But we really enjoyed it a lot: he had lamb on rice with all the veggies available; I had chicken on naan bread with only chick peas (mostly because I didn't understand about ordering and the guy serving me was incomprehensible). We both had the #2 sauce--was it a tikka masala? Anyway it was all great and we were heated up so much from the spiciness (esp those potato thingys) that we went next door to Pitagno and had the best gelato we've had since we vacationed in Italy 12 years ago. On our way to Merzi, I had said to my husband, "Too bad it's so cold out or I'd try the gelato." I was glad Merzi had warmed us up enough that the gelato was possible: the Baci made me very very happy. :-)

                          3. Amma's Indian Vegetarian on Maple Street (i.e., Virginia Route 123) in downtown Vienna is exceptionally good, really healthy, and CHEAP. I promise you'll like it!