When I was in college, friends and I would go to restaurants to find their 'menu weakness': the one dish that is way underpriced and provided a great value to eat well for very little money.
Sometimes this would be an appetizer that ate like a main dish. They are getting harder and harder to find these days, especially in DC.
Lyon Hall in Arlington has my favorite at the moment. Listed as a side dish, their 'kraut garnie' is an Alsatian classic and is as good as food gets. Such a glorious mixture of flavors. There may be no such thing as the 'ideal version' of this dish - with saurkraut, potato, bacon, and sausage- but this might come under consideration. Add the warm pretzels (they serve enough for two people) and you have an entire, filling meal.
IF you are dining for two, all you'd have to do is add the ridiculously delicious pickled vegetables. This is a hearty, copious dish of crunchy vegetables at the perfect texture. Astonishing stuff.
Kraut Garnie, $8
Pickled Vegetables, $6 ($3 happy hour, until 7pm)
Soft Pretzels, $9 ($5 happy hour, until 7pm)
So dinner for 2, before 7pm, $16 to eat some really fantastic food.
Do you have any others 'menu weaknesses' that you'd like to share?
Arucola's roast chicken ($13, on the pizza menu, not listed with the $20-30 entrees) is an obvious hidden weakness.
The pickles (including beans) are free at the bar at Dino during happy hour, add a happy hour priced cocktail and an appetizer and you've got a full meal for not much.
The soup and half grilled cheese of the day at Blue 44 is usually awesome, and $11.
these ideas here are more along the line of "good deals" --->
leek american bistro -- happy hour. half priced beer and wine, and:
Pulled Pork Biscuits Leek’s own Carolina pulled pork, green chili biscuits, homemade apple jam (reduced price from regular $9, i don't recall exact amount),
Ahi Tuna Tartare -- ginger-chili mayo, spring onion, seaweed salad $7 (my favorite).
we like leek…good food, nice people.
union jack's AYCE fish fry fridays… fried fish (haddock) $11. or planked salmon (similar price). we went to one in ballston mall.
got a crisp-fried fish craving? go…
eat! almost everyone in our area was having the fish.
cowboy cafe in arlington has a very good burger -- and it is half-priced on tuesdays.
$3 happy hour menu (i like the nachos) at mister day's in arlington on wednesdays. $3 drafts. on mondays, their special is prime rib for $16. well worth it.
OK, so if we're doing "good deals," I have to throw out a mention to Cava Mezze's happy hour (I've only been to the Capitol Hill location). Between the food & drink specials, we walked away very happy & satisfied for about $40 for 2. Might not sound great, but we did have 3 glasses of wine each, so....
I'm a big fan of Willow in Ballston, but their entrees are too pricey(many in the $30+ range). However, if you sit in the bar area which has regular tables/chairs, they have a Nosh menu where each of the small plates, excluding the flatbreads, costs from $4 to $14. I can stuff myself on the nosh menu for $25. This is compared with getting a pricy appetizer/entree combo in the main dining room where I am out $45-$50.
Steve, this is a great idea for a thread. I suspect some people might keep their favorites hidden, but I hope some will be shared.
Down in Rehoboth Beach, there's a very popular place called Big Fish Grill on Route 1. Always packed. Food is good, plentiful, fairly priced. We go there every summer, and I have not ordered an entree in years. The reason is their salads are huge. For example, the "Wedge" with tomato, bacon, and gorgonzola is all of $5.95, and is absolutely meal sized. If you weren't sure you'd get filled up, you could splurge on a side for $3.
I love that place!