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Inexpensive and Informal In DC


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Hi! I have an upcoming business trip to DC and would love some suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The challenge I seem to be faced with when I visit is finding places that are really casual and aren't horridly expensive while still offering good food. You know, holes-in-the-wall, street stands, diners, places to get a cheap pizza or a good sandwich. Everytime I ask the concierge for suggestions for a VERY CASUAL place I end up being seated by the bathrooms because I'm underdressed and don't have a $200 blow-out and a $400 purse. :biggrin:

I have one "nice/expensive" dinner planned (Obelisk) but am looking to fill out the few meals I'll have free with good places instead of eating at the hotel. I'll be stuck in the hotel for quite a few meals, but should have at least 2-3 days to visit other places. I'm staying near the Farragut North metro stop. I have no problem taking the Metro or walking, so it doesn't have to be in the neighborhood, though breakfast places close to the hotel would be great. Healthy would be another plus, particularly at breakfast, but not 100% necessary. Like, a place that serves organic pancakes with locally-farmed blueberries or something.

I'll have access to this thread til 5/13. Appreciate any suggestions you may have! Thanks!

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Well, I think it's great you've got the right spirit and are ready to adventure a bit! So, I think Capitol Hill/Eastern Market would be a fun place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Market Lunch at Eastern Market is known 'round town and well beyond for thier "bluebucks"; blueberry buckwheat pancakes, and crabcake sandwiches. If you love blueberry pancakes, and want to combine that with an authentic DC experience, you might enjoy eating at the communal table inside, or enjoy the day on a picnic table outdoors. I've met folks from all over while waiting in line! Breakfast/Lunch is Tues-Sat, and is very, very popular on Sats. Get there early, around 8 when they just open to avoid about a 30 min. wait. It's worth it tho :wink:

Up the block are Monmartre, a French Bistro and Murky Coffee, perhaps the best barristas in the city and Sonoma, a wonderful wine bar and restaurant which serves up great charcutrie, grilled meats, pastas and other small plates. This a little further away, but not far.

Since you're on the Red Line of the Metro, it is a short ride to the zoo area of Cleveland Park. There you have Dino for Italian which is priced right and is very popular, and the Cafe at Palena. Palena's burger is among the most touted if not deemed the best by most.

ETA: Restaurant Kolumbia has a $9 weekday lunch in the bar/lounge too! Accessable from both the Farragut stations too.

Edited by monavano (log)
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Go to one of the Ethiopian restaurants in the 9th and U Street corridor. Etete or Dukem are both very good and won't cost an arm and a leg. Dino in Cleveland Park has very good Italian food and a great and well priced wine list as well as lots of wine by the glass. The Palena Cafe (the front of Palena) is excellent and reasonably priced. You can eat reasonably moderately at Jaleo (tapas) Malaysia Kopitiam (18th and M) (Malaysian/Indonesian food) is quite good and inexpensive, Oohhs & Aahhs (U St) is great for Soul Food.

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Hi!  I have an upcoming business trip to DC and would love some suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The challenge I seem to be faced with when I visit is finding places that are really casual and aren't horridly expensive while still offering good food.  You know, holes-in-the-wall, street stands, diners, places to get a cheap pizza or a good sandwich.  Everytime I ask the concierge for suggestions for a VERY CASUAL place I end up being seated by the bathrooms because I'm underdressed and don't have a $200 blow-out and a $400 purse.  :biggrin:

I have one "nice/expensive" dinner planned (Obelisk) but am looking to fill out the few meals I'll have free with good places instead of eating at the hotel.  I'll be stuck in the hotel for quite a few meals, but should have at least 2-3 days to visit other places.  I'm staying near the Farragut North metro stop.  I have no problem taking the Metro or walking, so it doesn't have to be in the neighborhood, though breakfast places close to the hotel would be great.  Healthy would be another plus, particularly at breakfast, but not 100% necessary.  Like, a place that serves organic pancakes with locally-farmed blueberries or something.

I'll have access to this thread til 5/13.  Appreciate any suggestions you may have!  Thanks!

What do you consider inexpensive and informal? Right now we are crawling bistros of varying quality and expense, for example,; inexpensive by DC standards, but not exactly cheap. And you can go to two of the best restaurants in town, Palena and Marcel's and eat exceptional darn bar food and maybe sneak one item from the regular menu into your order if you don't have to count your nickels too closely. Likewise Pesce, just across the street from Obelisk, is a relaxed, mid-priced fish place that only locals know.

Someone already mentioned Ethiopian; I'll throw out my favorite-of-the-week, Abiti, on 9th between T and U. We have Thai and Salvadoran in profusion, as well.

I'm not as keen on 2 Amy's pizza as the rest of the world, but I love their small plates -- rustic Italian snacks, home-cured meats, excellent cheeses. If you go, go early or late at hunt for a seat at the bar (you can get the pizza there, too) and watch the small plates being assembled.

You should also check the Washingtonian Magazine Washingtonian Magazine website for their "100 Best" -- which includes a couple of inexpensive spots -- "Cheap Eats" and "Dirt Cheap Eats." A lot of the stuff is the deepest 'burbs, but there are a few places in town.

Speaking of which, on a nice night you can get an outdoor seat at Zorba's Cafe 20th and Q (just footsteps from Dupont Circle), order up a gyro or something, drink cheap wine that won't actually kill you and have one of the best people-watching spots in the city, for dirt cheap.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Well, I think it's great you've got the right spirit and are ready to adventure a bit! So, I think Capitol Hill/Eastern Market would be a fun place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Market Lunch at  Eastern Market is known 'round town and well beyond for thier "bluebucks"; blueberry buckwheat pancakes, and crabcake sandwiches. If you love blueberry pancakes, and want to combine that with an authentic DC experience, you might enjoy eating at the communal table inside, or enjoy the day on a picnic table outdoors. I've met folks from all over while waiting in line! Breakfast/Lunch is Tues-Sat, and is very, very popular on Sats. Get there early, around 8 when they just open to avoid about a 30 min. wait. It's worth it tho :wink:

Up the block are Monmartre, a French Bistro and Murky Coffee, perhaps the best barristas in the city and Sonoma, a wonderful wine bar and restaurant which serves up great charcutrie, grilled meats, pastas and other small plates. This a little further away, but not far.

Since you're on the Red Line of the Metro, it is a short ride to the zoo area of Cleveland Park. There you have Dino for Italian which is priced right and is very popular, and the Cafe at Palena. Palena's burger is among the most touted if not deemed the best by most.

ETA: Restaurant Kolumbia has a $9 weekday lunch in the bar/lounge too! Accessable from both the Farragut stations too.

I'm really sad to say that last night there was a major fire at Easton Market. Major. So far, reports say that it can be saved, but all the vendors, inside and out, have lost thier businesses for the forseeable future. How sad.

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....  I end up being seated by the bathrooms because I'm underdressed and don't have a $200 blow-out .....

Color me ignorant but what's a "$200 blow-out"?

Agree with 2 Amy's. Near the erstwhile Eastern Market is Mangialardo's, a very good hoagie shop. It's Mon-Fri only, I think at 13th and Penn SE. Get the G-Man on a hard roll.

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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....  I end up being seated by the bathrooms because I'm underdressed and don't have a $200 blow-out .....

Color me ignorant but what's a "$200 blow-out"?

Agree with 2 Amy's. Near the erstwhile Eastern Market is Mangialardo's, a very good hoagie shop. It's Mon-Fri only, I think at 13th and Penn SE. Get the G-Man on a hard roll.

Thanks,

Kevin

A blowout is when women go to a salon just to have their hair professionally blow-dried so it's really, really smooth, soft and glossy, and often much straighter than normal. It takes a lot more skill, time and detail than most people can do at home. You usually get a blowout with a haircut, but in bigger cities, women go to salons JUST for a blowout, not related to a cut, so their hair will look nice. A good blowout can last for several days if you don't work out and take care of how you sleep on it.

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I don't know if you're dining alone or with company, but the bar at Brasserie Beck , which just opened last week, seems like it would be a great spot for solo dining (and the restaurant not bad for a group), especially if you have a craving for good Belgian beer. It's not particularly inexpensive, but the serving are quite hearty; a single main course or two apps will likely appease many an appetite, particularly if washed back by a bitter Belgian brew. I would not attempt the place at anything approaching peak dining hours (6:30-8:30) without a reservation, as it seems to have been jammed since the doors open. But the doors stay open continuously (IIRC) from 11 or 11:30 AM to 12:30 AM and it's walking distance from your hotel, so you could probably plot an off-hour arrival for bar or table with the cooperation of the very helpful hostess(es).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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You might also try Alberto’s (21st and P, NW) for pizza. It's good and it's cheap. Lots of folks go to Zorba’s Cafe for big meals at a reasonable price. But don't be looking for atmosphere, just big portions without breaking the wallet. 3rd & Eats (500 C St NW) makes great carved sandwiches and they aren't expensive. La Granja D’oro in Adams Morgan makes a very good roast chicken that is cheap.

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Luna Grill is very near Farragut North and it's cheap; looks like they've got a fair number of breakfast options from $5-8. If you need lunch on the run in that area there's a Julia's Empanadas there too, on Connecticut Ave. Nowhere to sit inside but they usually have a couple tables on the sidewalk if it's not raining. I usually get whatever their vegetarian empanada is for the day. I think for a savory empanada, dessert empanada (pear w/almond, so good), and drink, it's $6.

The bar lunch at Restaurant Kolumbia is a really good deal for $9, definitely try to fit it in.

A half-hour stroll or quick hop on the 42 bus will bring you to Adams Morgan, where you can get breakfast at The Diner, standard diner fare. Also, breakfast (bagels, pastries) or sandwiches at a deli called So's Your Mom. Cash only, great people. The Farragut North area is all businesses and office buildings, so if you want to take a quick trip into a DC neighborhood that's more residential and interesting, Adams Morgan is right up the road.

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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Hi all! I wanted to thank you for your great suggestions. It was a hectic trip but I did manage to hit a few of your suggestions.

The first night in DC, we went to Dukem for Ethiopian. We weren't crazy about the Ethiopian wines, too sweet/weird for us. We thought the food was very good, I just find I'm not a fan of this kind of food in general. It's kind of like Indian food to me - lots of sauces and spices and lots of GI troubles later. But it was a great choice as it was indeed very casual and we enjoyed the atmosphere a lot, and the prices were great, we got a lot of food in the combination platter. This was my 2nd time trying Ethiopian and I think it's just not for me, but I would definitely recommend the restaurant.

We had to work all day and night the next day in preparation for our meeting, so my dining companion went out and picked up three small pizzas from Matchbox. This was a great recommendation and we absolutely chowed down on all three til almost nothing was left. We got one with sausage, onion, portobellas and red pepper, another with chicken, pesto, artichokes and roma tomatoes and the last one your basic pepperoni and mushroom. They were all outstanding, I wish we had a pizza place this good and with these kinds of toppings near where I live (Cleveland).

I was stuck eating hotel food nearly the rest of the trip/all other meals with the exception of grabbing a couple of suprisingly delicious sandwiches at Potbelly (we don't even have that in Cleveland). Finally when my meeting was done on Thursday, even though I was exhausted, I made us struggle out to keep our reservation at Obelisk, which was suggested by a foodie friend of mine. It was outstanding. A very tiny place (36 covers I think?) and the service and food were great and the prices can't be beat. 5 course prix-fixe for $60. There was so much good food here I can't remember everythig we had, but they had artisanal cheeses, house-cured meats, the food just kept coming and coming and it was all wonderful. I finally got to try Wagyu beef as my entree, which was divine, and companion had grouper, which was excellent. I particularly remember one of the desserts we got was a dense chocolate cake surrounded by a mint sauce. The mint in the sauce was so fresh, I felt like I was a rabbit eating it right out of the garden. Amazing. And it was very casual and informal, everyone from suits to jeans was there and everyone was enjoying it immensely.

I just wanted to thank everyone again for their suggestions and report back on how great it went.

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A place where Potbelly doesn't exist?  I'm moving to Cleveland.  :rolleyes:

Hee. While we do have a lot of good restaurants here, the one thing we're really lacking in is good, inexpensive places to grab a quick lunch. Every day my co-workers and I find ourselves going over the same maybe 4 or 5 choices, it gets really boring. And none of them are super choices either. They're just the ONLY choices.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm traveling with a group of approximately 75 high school orchestra students to D.C.

We are planning on flying into Reagan National and staying at a metro-accessible hotel in the Arlington area. From there, we hope to see the sights of our capital and have some fun for a few days.

I would be most grateful for any recommendations for dining options, suitable for such a group, and accessible from the metro, as we will rely upon the metro for our primary transportation around town.

Since they are students, we will have a limited budget for food (lunches and dinners, hotel will provide breakfast). I am not familiar with the D.C. area, so any other advice or comments regarding this trip will be welcome (including hotel recommendations, if you have any!).

I'm hoping that we don't have to live on cheap pizza for four days. . . .

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A lot of good suggestions in this topic. I hesitate to suggest these as they are, at one level, loathsome, but there are food courts in Union Station (near the Capitol Building); the The Old Post Office Pavilion (near some of the Smithsonian); the National Press Club (14th and F, Near the White House) and the Regan Building (14th and Constitution, near the White House, Lincoln Memorial etc).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Well, near the Capitol, there's Ann Cashion's new place, Taqueria Nacionale. It's good, fast, cheap, and conveniently located on Capitol Hill in The Hall of States (where, if you are lucky or unlucky, depending on your point of view, there is a pretty good chance that you can see some Fox News "personalities" as Fox News and CSpan are in the same building-as are the Teamsters who are, in reality, Fox News's landlords :wacko: ) right across from Union Station or the Capitol, depending on your point of view. Go get some lunch and take a seat in the shade or by a nearby fountain and enjoy the sights while noshing on some swell tacos with a homemade drink.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I'm traveling with a group of approximately 75 high school orchestra students to D.C.

We are planning on flying into Reagan National and staying at a metro-accessible hotel in the Arlington area.  From there, we hope to see the sights of our capital and have some fun for a few days.

I would be most grateful for any recommendations for dining options, suitable for such a group, and accessible from the metro, as we will rely upon the metro for our primary transportation around town. 

Since they are students, we will have a limited budget for food (lunches and dinners, hotel will provide breakfast).  I am not familiar with the D.C. area, so any other advice or comments regarding this trip will be welcome (including hotel recommendations, if you have any!).

I'm hoping that we don't have to live on cheap pizza for four days. . . .

When my 17 yr old niece visits she likes 3 places not high cuisine but teen food...

Malibu Steak House it's in Falls Church VA (I believe it's reasonably close to the train but you should check)

Philip's Seafood House - it's in DC and accessible by Metro with a short walk to Jefferson Memorial from there and the other sites as well!

Cici's Pizza they are a chain with all you can eat pizza and salad bar and dessert very inexpensive there is one in Fairfax Rockville in MD about 6 or less blocks from the Metro there.

If you google them you'll find that theyll have low prices for the food you get.

Edited by Anonymouze (log)

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Well, near the Capitol, there's Ann Cashion's new place, Taqueria Nacionale. It's good, fast, cheap, and conveniently located on Capitol Hill in The Hall of States (where, if you are lucky or unlucky, depending on your point of view, there is a pretty good chance that you can see some Fox News "personalities" as Fox News and CSpan are in the same building-as are the Teamsters who are, in reality, Fox News's landlords :wacko: ) right across from Union Station or the Capitol, depending on your point of view. Go get some lunch and take a seat in the shade or by a nearby fountain and enjoy the sights while noshing on some swell tacos with a homemade drink.

What Mayhaw implied but didn't say outright is that Ann Cashion is one of the best chefs in the city, so the chance to get hold of some of her cooking at a low price is one to be seized if at all possible.

Another though is to let the kids run loose in the Adam's-Morgan neighborhood -- probably an interesting 15 minute walk from the Dupont Circle metro stop. and let them choose among the falafel shop, the "gourmet" hot dogs, the pupuseria, Indian, Ethiopian.... the big slice pizza place and so on. This neighborhood also offers adults, if they are inclined, a vast array of options as well, (including the excellent Cashion's Eat Place) and, if your timing is right, the chance to have a beer at a sidewalk cafe.

I'm not sure where you're coming in from or how much time you and the kids will have for "fun" as opposed to playing music and doing "educational" stuff, but my teenagers love hanging out in Adams-Morgan which, despite the best effort of high-income yuppies to make it boring (and obnoxious partyers to make it unlivable, but that's another story) retains a strong mix of used music stores, funky clothing shops, and a generally hip attitude.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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