July 11, 2013 | by Jonathan Howard
A bite on a budget
Ben's Chili Bowl, gay news, Washington Blade

Half Smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Not every meal out in D.C. has to be pricey. There are many reasonably priced restaurants that serve good food and plenty of fine dining restaurants that have specials. Here are just some of the “cheap eats” available in the District right now.

If you’re looking for an eatery that offers a variety of cheap entrees, check out Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St., N.W.) where you can get the restaurant’s signature half smokes for a mere $5.70 or Ben’s quarter pound beef chili cheeseburger for $5.80. If you aren’t in the mood for Ben’s, try Good Stuff Eatery (303 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.) where you can have a variety of salads, sandwiches and burgers for under $10. You can also dine at Oohhs and Aahhs (1005 U St., N.W.), which has consistently won the Cheap Eats Award and the Best Macaroni and Cheese Award from Washingtonian magazine.

Two of my personal favorites are Stoney’s Bar and Grill (1433 P St., N.W.) where you can get the delicious (but not necessarily nutritious) fried egg-topped “One-Eyed Burger” for just $10.95. Or, you can venture up to Adams Morgan and grab some comfort food, like the grilled cheese, for as little as $7 at The Diner (2453 18th St., N.W.).

Happy hour menus are not just drinks anymore. Lots of District restaurants are offering happy hour food specials to accompany the drinks. Urbana (2121 P St., N.W.) not only offers $4 Peroni and $6 Absolut mixed drinks, but also $8 pizzas and a dozen raw shore oysters for $12. Happy hour is available from 4-7 p.m.

NoPA Kitchen + Bar (800 F St., N.W.) offers 20 percent off all wines by the glass and signature cocktails like the Salty Dog with High West Vodka and the 800 F & Tonic with Bluecoat gin between 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In the Latin Lounge at Zengo (781 7th St., N.W.) from 5-8 p.m. on weekdays, patrons can enjoy $5 beverages and a variety of small plates priced between $5-8, like the Papaya Salad and the Thai Chicken empanada.

If you’re looking for a cheap or all-inclusive brunch, the options are endless in the District and brunch is a great way to start any weekend. Twist, in the Carlyle Suites Hotel (1731 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.) offers an unlimited buffet, including an omelet bar and bottomless mimosas for just $30 per person.

If you’re planning on spending a day at the Vida Pool this summer, you can save some money to put toward that membership by brunching at Local 16 (1602 U St., N.W.). They offer patrons one entrée and unlimited mimosas for $16.

El Centro D.F. (1819 14th St., N.W.) serves an all-you-can-eat Mexican brunch on weekends from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. for $35 per person. You can enjoy an endless selection of items from the brunch menu such as shrimp ceviche, Picadillo empanadas, and Mexican French Toast.

Banana Café’s (500 8th St., S.E.) tapas menu offers a range of Cuban, Mexican and Puerto Rican fare starting at just $3.75 and the piano bar still hosts one of the city’s liveliest happy hours.

Thaitanic II (3462 14th St., N.W.) has a delicious menu of appetizers under $10, including chicken satay and fresh mussels and dinner entrees start at just $10.95.

The Bombay Club (815 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) offers an elegant brunch including seven rotating Indian dishes for just $20.95 per person.

On Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30-2:30, Zaytinya (701 9th St., N.W.) serves a brunch of various mezzes reflecting the diversity of classical and contemporary Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine. Each is priced between $7.50-$8.50.

The 90-seat Izakaya Daikaya (705 6th St., N.W.) just introduced a brunch of small plates highlighting classics with a Japanese twist. Featured dishes include chicken and waffles with red bean taiyaka and wasabi butter maple syrup and “lox and onigiri.” Prices range from $8-12.

If you’re looking for a lunch deal, there are plenty available. Bryan Voltaggio’s new standout restaurant Range (5335 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) offers a three-course lunch menu for $30. The lunch includes delicious dishes like the kale Caesar salad, the hanging tender and dessert.

RIS (2275 L St., N.W.) offers a “power hour” lunch for $15 at the bar from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Art and Soul (415 New Jersey Ave., N.W.) offers a $25 power hour lunch and Graffiato (707 6th St., N.W.) also offers a $20 bar lunch.

701 Restaurant (701 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) offers a $15 lunch special at the bar from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekdays. Dishes available include gnocchi with spring vegetables, the rapini sandwich and the 701 burger.

If you’re headed out to the theater and want to enjoy a meal before the show, there are several options available. Posto (1515 14th St., N.W.), adjacent to Studio Theatre, offers a three-course pre-theater menu from opening to 6:30 p.m. priced at just $29.

Rasika (633 D St., N.W.) has a three-course pre-theater menu available until 6:30 p.m. This menu features entrees such as the chicken makhani and the lamb nihari.

Both Azur and 701 Restaurant have great deals on pre-theater meals as well.

Some other great events and cheap eats available this summer include Street Food Fridays at Del Campo (777 I St., N.W.). Chef Abisu will be offering one or more South American Street Food favorites for takeout from the patio for $18.

At Pearl Dive Oyster Palace (1612 14th St., N.W.), Monday is “oyster mania” from 4 p.m. to close. All hot oyster appetizers are $6 and raw oysters on the half shell are half-price.

Ripple (3417 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) offers the grilled cheese bar. Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley and her team make made-to-order grilled cheese for $7.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to venture out of the city limits, Jaleo Bethesda has Monday Night Flights, a series of wine tastings, for $25 per person. Volt in Frederick, Md., also has a brand new a la carte patio menu.

There are so many great options available all around Washington with plates starting around $6 and some unlimited meals for just $35. Great food at a great price is a reality in the District.

1 Comment
  • The writer forgot to mention any of the places to eat in either the Senate or House office buildings. The best is the South Side Buffet in the Dirksen Senate offfice building. A lunch buffet is only 16 bucks and no tax. I have often start eating at 11:30AM when it opens and don’t stop eating until 1:00PM. The food is excellent.

    And you often get to see famous people. I once dropped a cherry tomato on Senator Lamar Alexander’s shoe. (By accident of course)

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