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D.C. with kids (cheap but good eats)

Going to be in D.C. for 3 nights in August. We're staying near the White House and will be doing all the touristy sites so the kids can see the nations capital. Now ofcourse, we need to eat. I'm not looking to break the bank as feeding 5 people breakfast, lunch and dinner can get expensive. We want to go to D.C. and eat what people in D.C. eat. As long as it's not some chain food garbage.

The kids have been raised well and are not picky. They love to try new stuff, especially if they saw it on some food TV show. They like food trucks, ethnic food esp. Asian, sandwiches, ect.

So really the main concern is whats some fun/exciting food for everyone that won't break the bank. Food on the go really, since we will be doing the sites.

One night I'd like to have a sit down family dinner. Any suggestions?

DC area only as I'm parking the car for 3 days and will just use public transportation and my feet to get around.

Thanks in advance

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  1. Bombay Club for Indian is near the White House
    Jaleo in Penn Quarter for tapas (Navy Archives Metro).

    1. Nando's Peri-Peri is a counter service chain from South Africa with the DC area as it's only locations in the US. Spicy Mozambiquan chicken. Get the quarter dark at the spiciest level (or a family can order a whole chicken), plus get the mushy peas and the fries with prinnaise sauce.

      DC-3 for excellent fancy hot dogs. The Seoul hot dog features both bulgogi and kimchee and is utterly fantastic. The Tuscan Sonoran and the Jersey Ripper are two other good choices. Counter Service, very cheap. Across the street the Sweet Lobby dessert shop has excellent and unusual eclairs (shaped like flying saucers) but they run out of these early. Or better yet walk off those calories five blocks away at Good Stuff Eatery for the toasted marshmallow milkshake. Unreal.

      Panas Empanadas on P St. Counter service fancy empanadas. The ones with cheese tend to do better.

      Take Eat Easy, go for the cheviot, one of the best sandwiches you'll find anywhere, the cubano is also excellent.

      SIt down at Locolat for savory Belgian waffles (garlic, pesto, etc) with toppings like escargot, flammande, chicken and mushrooms, crab, etc.

      Or go for the mole sauces at Casa Oaxaca with the enmolados (black) pork ribs (green) and the skirt steak (red).

      Miso ramen at Daikaya is super cheap and delicious. Turnover here is quick, so don't let the crowds put you off.

      1. Assuming you spend time at the Air&Space museum, weekdays there's a whole collection of food trucks a block south of the Independence Ave exit.

        4 Replies
        1. re: DanielK

          The food trucks set up near Metro Center (convenient to your hotel, sounds like) and around Farragut Sq (also might be convenient to your hotel), as well as around the L'Enfant metro station as DanielK points out. They're there weekdays lunch time only. Food Truck Fiesta collects daily tweets to tell you which truck is where every day. Oh, I see rHairing linked to that below....

          1. re: DanielK

            oh Daniel - but one has to choose those trucks on Independence with care. if they offer hot dogs, pizza, egg rolls, etc AND t-shirts, you might not be so happy within the hour.

            maker75 - there've been tons of similar queries in recent months with better answers than I can offer. I don't want to be the 'searchit' jerk, but you'll find more answers than you'll know what to do with.

            but I will say: cool adventurous kids? give Ethiopian a shot. and for that I WILL say 'searchit' as we all have our favorites and some are more casual than others.

            1. re: hill food

              Food trucks in DC are always hit and miss, but I'm not referring to the dirty water hot dog trucks on Independence.

              A whole bunch of trucks congregate at 6th and Maryland, a block south of the museum, in front of the L'Enfant Metro entrance.

              1. re: DanielK

                ahh that stretch - that is different.

                yet some dirty water dogs are OK - it's when they branch out into other stuff...

          2. Thanks for all the replies so far. They will come in handy

              1. Not cheap, but fun and worthwhile - the food court at the National Museum of the American Indian. Survival tip - go EARLY before the crowds get there. This gives you time to survey the various stations to decide what you want and also a good chance at finding space for five at a table. Lots of interesting foods from all over the Americas. Chance to try new things.

                Also - if you happen to be up near the southern end of Dupont Circle (and Nando's, which I also recommend is also at the southern end of Dupont Circle), Julia's Empanadas is really good and cheap.

                Sit-down with family - well, moules frites are hugely popular here. It isn't near your hotel but cabs here are fairly cheap - try Granville Moore's. Cafe du Parc, which is in the Willard - right by the White House - also gets good marks for its moule frites.
                Also St. Arnold's Mussel Bar on Jefferson Place (southern end of Dupont Circle) or Cleveland Park.

                The new "big deal" here is DGS Deli. Purports to be an updated, upscale NY Jewish Deli. I haven't tried it but it gets great reviews. Also in Dupont Circle.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Second Mitsitam at the National Museum of the American Indian. The food was really good quality and the selection was diverse.

                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    I'm glad I posted here. So many good replies. My kids are obsessed with empanadas so Julia's for sure. We do plan to go to the American Indian Museum so that's a great tip. Food courts are best for a family. We only need a table for 4 though. Dad can just stand up (me)
                    Never had Moules Frites or even heard of it, but that just makes me want to try it so we'll check that out for sure.

                    1. re: themaker75

                      Mitsitam is expensive, crowded, and not very good, but at least you don't have to go out of your way.

                      Julia's empanadas are most notable for not actually being bad - not sure if they have a location with seating (don't expect a bathroom), but they sure are cheap.

                      Moules frites are a pot of mussels served along side a portion of fries just like steak frites is a steak with french fries. So by all means good to order if you like mussels.

                      1. re: themaker75

                        In the downtown area, I like Nando's Peri Peri for dining with kids. It's a chain but the quality is good and the prices not to bad. I also like Chinatown Express, a real hole int he wall, but only for their hand pulled noodles so if you kids are not into noodles in soup or bbq meats, skip it. Cheap.

                        If you take them to the Zoo, there are two good kid friendly choices: Firefly and Dino. One is a stop south of the zoo and Dino is a stop north but walkable. Dino has a great kid's menu {nephew and niece approved} where are charged by their age {they lose money on my 9 year old Nephew who eats like I do and pays $9}. For the adults a cocktail and one of the best burgers in town are the cheapest way to go. At Firely, kids can make their own cookies. Both places treat kids dining with respect serving And the zoo is pretty great these days.

                      2. re: Just Visiting

                        DGS is deserving of the accolades, and perhaps the frenzy has died down by now so it's not such a madhouse.

                      3. During the week, the crab cake sandwich at Market Lunch inside Eastern Market can't be beat. Get a side of fries and a Birch Beer and it tops out at about $8-9. Also, across the street is Tortilla Café (casual Salvadorian) that was featured on Diners, Drive in and Dives and has great cheap papusas, tacos, and sandwiches.

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