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Inexpensive and Informal In DC


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Thank you everyone for these great recommendations. You have no idea how I dread these trips, knowing that we will be eating cheap pizza and fast food. NOT THIS TIME!!! Thank you and thank you again.

Amazingly, I checked out the Phillips Seafood website and they have a nice student seafood buffet special M-F for $20.99, inclusive. If we can do cheap eats the rest of the time, hopefully I can persuade the people in charge to include this one night. The metro website says that the closest station is L'Enfant Plaza station, do any of you know if this is reasonable walking distance to Phillips?

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Thank you everyone for these great recommendations.  You have no idea how I dread these trips, knowing that we will be eating cheap pizza and fast food.  NOT THIS TIME!!!  Thank you and thank you again.

Amazingly, I checked out the Phillips Seafood website and they have a nice student seafood buffet special M-F for $20.99, inclusive.  If we can do cheap eats the rest of the time, hopefully I can persuade the people in charge to include this one night.  The metro website says that the closest station is L'Enfant Plaza station, do any of you know if this is reasonable walking distance to Phillips?

Very close. Should be an easy walk.

Edited by Reignking (log)
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The closest station is probably Waterfront. That said, I would absolutely not make a special trip to Phillips. I had dinner there shortly after my high school graduation in 1984 and it was terrible. My (thankfully few) subsequent trips have not shown any improvement.

Adams Morgan is a good suggestion. And while Georgetown no longer has the funky, fascinating mix of cheapo boutiques and head shops (it was a different time :wink: ) that I remember from my own adolescence, it still offers amusing people-watching, some smaller shops with fun Chinese imports, DCs only punk clothing store (Commander Salamander) and some cheap eats like Five guys burgers, Georgetown Bagel Bakery, a felafel place that's been there forever (Charles might remember the name), and a few OK Vietnamese restaurants. The close-by Harborplace complex down on K Street doesn't have great food, but there's a little pizza joint that's OK - take your soda and slice, sit on the steps, and watch the goings-on out on the Potomac river. From there be sure to walk along the river to the Kennedy Center to check out a free performance on the Millenium Stage (6 PM daily), and the spectacular views from the roof terrace.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Sadly, though, Georgetown isn't accessible by metro.

I think Five Guys would be a perfect place to go...

I would recommend Old Town Alexandria, but its a loooong walk from the Metro to the river, and there's not too much right around the station.

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You have to be pretty out of shape not to be able to walk the 15 minutes from either Foggy Bottom or Roslyn to Georgetown. But if the kids are that out of shape you can take them to Dupont Circle (north exit) where there is also a Five Guys. And a Johnny Rockets. And a Subway. And a Buco de Beppo. (And way too many other places of little note)

Although I know how hard it is to get teenagers to eat anything "different", it nonetheless seems a shame to fly 75 kids all the way here from wherever they're coming from, trundle them around town and then cat-heard them on and off the subway (I spent a few months doing this for a living; it's a pain) just to have them eat the same junk they could get back home (my experiences with Five Guys have been uncompelling).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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it nonetheless seems a shame to fly 75 kids all the way here from wherever they're  coming from, trundle them around town and then cat-heard them on and off the subway (I spent a few months doing this for a living; it's a pain) just to have them eat the same junk they could get back home (my experiences with Five Guys have been uncompelling).

Thank you, Busboy, you have just expressed my thoughts exactly! I am on a campaign to reject the crap that is standard fare for these events and other events at school. Sitting on my desk is a nice thank you note from a student that I don't even know, which states:

"Thank you so much for the lunches you provided for the orchestra during our freshman orientation week. It is such a treat to have home prepared meals rather than pizza from Dominoes [sic]. We really appreicate all of the hard work and time you put into making delicious food for us."

And the irony is that I added up the cost of the foods that I served them during orientation and compared it to the cost of buying Domino's and it was actually less expensive (not including anything for my time, which I happily donated).

Actually, I'm trying to find a hotel that has kitchenettes (anyone familiar with Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City?) If that occurs, then I will make lunches for the kids (breakfast is free at this hotel) and use the cost savings to allow them to have better dinner options. It's really hard to find decent options when the budget is $5 for breakfast and lunch and $10 for dinner.

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just to have them eat the same junk they could get back home (my experiences with Five Guys have been uncompelling).

Meh. There's always one of the little darlings in every group that won't eat anything but a hamburger. And while my only Five Guys experience was decidedly so-so, I would still put it above Phillips. Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I couldn't disagree more about Five Guys; it is one of the few places that I'll get a hamburger that is up to par with what I could make.

Anyway, my first thought is on the fact that there are SEVENTY-FIVE kids, and that makes things extremely difficult. In fact, I'd say that rules out Five Guys -- they couldn't handle that many people.

Hey, Jose Andres' Jaleo is right in Crystal City...they could handle the group. Paella anyone? Crystal City isn't a destination, and empties out on weekends.

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Amazingly, I checked out the Phillips Seafood website and they have a nice student seafood buffet special M-F for $20.99, inclusive.

Please don't go to that horrible place. When I say "horrible", I mean "unspeakably horrible".
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just to have them eat the same junk they could get back home (my experiences with Five Guys have been uncompelling).

Meh. There's always one of the little darlings in every group that won't eat anything but a hamburger. And while my only Five Guys experience was decidedly so-so, I would still put it above Phillips.

You know, I'm so sick of that little whiner ruining it for everybody else. Let 'em go hungry just this once.

I couldn't disagree more about Five Guys; it is one of the few places that I'll get a hamburger that is up to par with what I could make.
If this is true, you may want to consult this topic. :wink:
Hey, Jose Andres' Jaleo is right in Crystal City...they could handle the group. Paella anyone? Crystal City isn't a destination, and empties out on weekends.

This is an excellent idea, especially if it can be arranged to have the group come in for an early dinner. Then take the kids on a night tour of the monuments -- much more fun than the daylight stuff, and you can make 'em walk off all their excess energy. And, according to the website, they have a private room. Both my kids were picky eaters, but they always found something to like at Jaleo.

Much better -- and cooler -- than Phillips, IMHO.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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IMO, Five Guys is a winner if, and only if, you're choosing between Five Guys and McDonald's or Fuddruckers. Still, given the age and size of your group, it will probably work for one meal.

Busboy's and hjshorter's suggestions are spot-on, especially about going to Adams Morgan for Amsterdam Falafel or that hot dog place whose name I can't summon up at the moment.

I wonder if Mama Ayesha's could take your group. The space is large.

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I'm guessing that you are doing standard tourist stuff like the museums. In that case, I highly, highly recommend the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. Great, healthy food. Not as cheap as the overpriced junk food available at the other museums, but still reasonable, especially in light of the quality. The trick is to schedule your lunch stop early, before it gets crowded. BEFORE you pick up trays, wander around to the different stations to decide what you want. You can see why this won't work once it gets busy. Then pick up your trays and enjoy!

Please avoid Phillips. It is absolutely dreadful. I wouldn't try Taqueria Nacionale with a big group like that UNLESS you call in advance so they can be prepared.

Cosi is a chain, but it has fresh food and the sandwiches are made on delicious, freshly baked flatbread. At a good price. They are all over town.

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GAH! Enough... he has 75 "TEENS" not foodies or gourmands. The reason I mentioned philips is the food is plenty and if you're a hungry teen you don't care what it is...really! My niece who is 17 likes it there and I saw lots of teens there last time I was there commenting on that they liked the view of the river and the food so with 75 teens there aren't many smallish storefronts you can take them to with a buffet of food. Maybe Cici's in Rockville but again he didn't want pizza-fare. Philip's is nothing to write home about but for hungry teens they won't complain there is enough variety for all of them and plenty of food. My niece loves indian food and other high-quality stuff mind you but she didn't puke up chunks or complain about Philip's either - so there is my two cents worth. :raz:

Stacey C-Anonymouze@aol.com

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  • 6 months later...

I'm bumping this thread back up because the trip is getting closer and we have more details finalized. And I still need help!!! Thanks to all of your good suggestions, I have been in contact with some of the restaurants suggested.

Bottom line is that we (group of 75 high school orchestra students and chaperones) will arrive in DC on Tuesday, April 1 and depart on Saturday, April 5. We will stay at the Americana Hotel, 1400 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Arlington, VA. The hotel is within walking distance of the Crystal City metro station and to save money, we will travel on the metrorail to and from the attractions.

Understanding that this is a group of 75 public high school students, basically on a shoe-string budget, I need some additional suggestions, especially with dinners. (We will likely be eating lunch at the various food courts suggested upthread).

I have contacted Jaleo and I'm waiting for a quote. Are there any other places that you folks recommend that are within walking distance from the hotel, or within walking distance from a reasonably close metro station? Cici's is also on the list (can't beat the price and they're giving us a private room).

I'm also considering ordering takeout (eating at the hotel) for one night - again, to save money. Any recommendations?

Here is the highlight of our trip: The Thursday, April 3rd performance, at 7:00 PM, of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony at the Kennedy Center. Any thoughts about an early meal for that evening would be great! I guess that the Foggy Bottom metro stop is closest to the Kennedy Center??

I'm sorry to be so cost-concious but the circumstances require it. That being said, I remain hopeful that I will not be subjected to all the Burger Kings and Pizzeria Uno's that were endured on the last trip! :wink:

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I'm also considering ordering takeout (eating at the hotel) for one night - again, to save money.  Any recommendations?

I have not eaten here but have wanted to, as other people have raved about it. They deliver to the zip code for your hotel:

http://www.cafepizzaiolo.com/index.html

Here is the highlight of our trip:  The Thursday, April 3rd performance, at 7:00 PM, of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony at the Kennedy Center.  Any thoughts about an early meal for that evening would be great!  I guess that the Foggy Bottom metro stop is closest to the Kennedy Center??

Yes, that is the closest metro stop. I cannot offhand think of cheap places to eat near there for a group. There's a TGIFridays, but that's probably not what you're looking for.

It's possible to walk to the Kennedy Center from there. It's not terribly far, but it would be a challenging hike for that many people. While you're hiking them around, is this too expensive?

http://www.oldglorybbq.com/menu/default.aspx

It's in Georgetown. I don't know where you're coming from to go to the Kennedy Center, but if Georgetown fits ahead of time, that would be one idea.

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I'm also considering ordering takeout (eating at the hotel) for one night - again, to save money.  Any recommendations?

I have not eaten here but have wanted to, as other people have raved about it. They deliver to the zip code for your hotel:

http://www.cafepizzaiolo.com/index.html

Here is the highlight of our trip:  The Thursday, April 3rd performance, at 7:00 PM, of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony at the Kennedy Center.  Any thoughts about an early meal for that evening would be great!  I guess that the Foggy Bottom metro stop is closest to the Kennedy Center??

Yes, that is the closest metro stop. I cannot offhand think of cheap places to eat near there for a group. There's a TGIFridays, but that's probably not what you're looking for.

It's possible to walk to the Kennedy Center from there. It's not terribly far, but it would be a challenging hike for that many people. While you're hiking them around, is this too expensive?

http://www.oldglorybbq.com/menu/default.aspx

It's in Georgetown. I don't know where you're coming from to go to the Kennedy Center, but if Georgetown fits ahead of time, that would be one idea.

Thanks for your suggestion - even though I'm trying to avoid pizza, I know that I will be overruled, so at least we'll have good pizza for a change. :raz:

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I thought I'd add that Eastern Marketoutlets are partially open now. We had lunch at Market Lunch last Saturday (well, brunch really as we arrived before noon and they were still on their breakfast menu -- a real bummer to me, having gotten up at 6 to workout for an hour and a half in anticipation of a bacon cheeseburger) -- $40 for 3 adults and 2 kids. There are LOTS of options around there (we love the pupusas at Salvadoran place, what's the name? anyone?). You're not planning on having everyone sit down at the same time in the same restaurant, right?

Oh, and as for the kids who will only eat hamburgers, sometimes they make brilliant career choices. Like the naval officer who served with my husband whose goal while on a Mediterranean deployment was to eat at McDonald's everywhere the ship went. Join the Navy and see the world, or just order a Big Mac. Sheesh.

Bridget Avila

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There are LOTS of options around there (we love the pupusas at Salvadoran place, what's the name? anyone?). You're not planning on having everyone sit down at the same time in the same restaurant, right?

That's Tortilla Cafe.

Accomodating 75 kids at one time anywhere is going to be challenging, but splitting them up would pose its own challenges.

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  • 1 year later...

*BUMP*

Mr. Duck will be in DC at a seminar in a couple of weeks, and since I'm between jobs, I'll be tagging along to do some sightseeing.

The seminar lasts four days. We'd love some recommendations for some cheap eats. By cheap, maybe $15-20/pp tops for dinner? We're staying in Springfield, and have a car, so getting around isn't really an issue.

We eat everything, and would like to sample the regional cuisine if possible. So far, I've come up with Southside 815. I'm also thinking Chinatown, or some Ethiopian food.

I'll be in downtown DC during the day, so lunch ideas are also welcome.

Thanks, everyone!

Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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*BUMP*

Mr. Duck will be in DC at a seminar in a couple of weeks, and since I'm between jobs, I'll be tagging along to do some sightseeing. 

The seminar lasts four days.  We'd love some recommendations for some cheap eats.  By cheap, about $20/pp tops for dinner.  We're staying in Springfield, and have a car, so getting around isn't really an issue. 

We eat everything, and would like to sample the regional cuisine if possible.  So far, I've come up with Southside 815.  I'm also thinking Chinatown, or some Ethiopian food. 

I'll be in downtown DC during the day, so lunch ideas are also welcome.

Thanks, everyone!

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Where are you coming from, and what don't you get to eat there?

You're staying in Springfield and coming into the city every day? Why is your husband's company so mean? That commute can be horrid, followed by the cost of parking....You should just let me rent you the basement and you'll be three subway stops away from everything.

$20 pp inclusive of tax, tip and alcohol is pretty low for a decent meal, but...

One of my personal favorite Museum hits is the Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art, both free and located right across the street from Proof, which offers one decent-sized course and glass of wine in the bar area for $12.50. It ain't as gourmet as the rest of their menu (the special isn't mentioned on their website), but it's a pretty, pretty civilized spot for a nosh and a sip, even if you're just getting a cheesesteak.

Proof is in Chinatown, which is pretty much a theme park rather than an an actual neighborhood. Most of the Chinese restaurants hang on due to tourists who don't know any better, but Full Key has its moments. Best bet: stuff you've never heard of. Oyster hot pots and the like -- don't blow your budget on the Lo Mein. Obscure tourist spot: Mary Surratt's boarding house, where Lincoln's assassination was plotted, at 604 H. Avoid the place where they make noodles in the window at all cost.

If you get up to the Hill, Tacqueria National is up by Union Station, on the Senate Side. Haven't been, but hear it's tasty.

Over towards Dupont Circle -- don't miss the very cool Textile Museum or the Phillips Collection, two more under-touristed local treasures -- Heritage India Dupont has a very attractive lunch special that should leave you quite satisfied and fall within your budget (I forget the details, but I came away quite stuffed and well pleased). You could also bring a sandwich to the calm environment of the Textile Museum's back yard. And, if you are sick of lunch specials and want cheap dinner, you can get decent Greek and dirt cheap vino at Zorba's, on 20th and Q and, if it's nice weather and you avoid rush hours (12:30-1:30 and 7-8:30), their patio has the best price/quality rate for people-watching in the city.

My new favorite Ethiopian place is Zenebach -- which some might find off-putting. If you or your husband is easily weirded out by foreigners hanging out in bad neighborhoods eating weird food, you can always hit Etete, which is the consensus favorite among boring people (and which we like, too). Advantage to Zenebech: just park on the sidewalk out front! (More on Zenebech and Erecilia's (below) here).

If you are the type of person who likes seeing cool houses built by rich people who have Faberge Eggs -- or the kind of person who likes zoos -- you should come to my neck of the woods, see Hillwood -- or the Zoo -- and walk up to Erecilia's for some fine Salvadoran food. Fine picnicking at Rock Creek Park or the Zoo, in which case you might want to hit Vace Italian Deli and Cleveland Park liquors (I always carry a cheap bread knife and a decent corkscrew in my touring backpack -- doesn't everyone?) on the rich side of the park/Zoo and wander downhill towards one or both destinations. If you were on Metro (beats the heck out of driving during the day), you'd take Cleveland Park to get to Vace, walk through the park, and take Columbia Heights to get back. Maybe a 40-minute walk if you went straight through without seeing those eggs.

Finally, Georgetown makes a great wander once you get off the main drag and see the grand old rowhouses. Then, since it's spring, go to Dumbarton Oaks for the astounding gardens and the really cool pre-Columbian and Egyptian Art. There is almost no good cheap food in Georgetown, so just bring that bread knife to Dean and DeLuca and hit their deli -- I'm sorry, charcuterie -- case and cheese counter. If you are buying wine, do not buy it there. Or, close to Dunbarton Oaks, hit The Griffin Market, for some excellent Italian. You can picnic in the park immediately next to Dumbarton Oaks.

See also this;

and this.

Sadly, mostly out of town, but worth clicking through.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I just may take you up on that, Busboy! (Mr. Duck wants to know if it's a finished basement.) :raz:

His seminar is at the Hyatt by Dulles. It was more his procrastination that we weren't able to get a room there. And it's more of a volunteer thing, so they ain't paying for it. The hotel in Springfield had the best rate we could find that didn't sound too skanky and has free parking and a shuttle to the Metro. According to their website it was 20 minutes to downtown DC, so it isn't that bad--when I lived in New York, my commute used to be much longer.

OK, on to the food...we're coming from Philly, and spend some time in New York, so we have good tacquerias, Italian, Vietnamese, and Chinese. (and I'm Chinese so I probably have heard of the stuff :laugh:) But that doesn't mean I'm against any of those.

Hmmm...Salvadorian food. Can't say I ever tried it. And it's right by the zoo, which is on my agenda. Gotta see the panda.

Thanks for all your input, Busboy! I haven't quite figured out the rest of my agenda, but I love your suggestions. I'll run them by the mister.

Heh, heh. My Swiss Army knife has a corkscrew attachment!

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Some how I think you should have known that you were Chines from previous posts, but at least I'm confident that you won't go for the General Tso's (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Don't expect anything near a 20-minute commute at anything near rush hour. You might consider the metro shuttle.

Aside from Ethiopian and Salvadoran, we're not a great ethnic food town, sadly. Little Italy (such as it was) was leveled in the 60s, the Asian community is all in the burbs and the Irish neighborhoods? Even in their prime, my people's communities weren't known for their restaurants (though I'm now reminded that the Irish Times on Capitol Hill serves a decent pint and the occasional corned beef sandwich). But Salvadoran can be fun and inexpensive.

The pandas, btw, are as far from the Salvadoran side of the zoo as they can possibly be, but it's all downhill. Until the end. PM if you're thinking of crossing Rock Creek and I'll buy you a pupusa.

And the basement is finished -- kind of. The TV's there anyhow, so how bad can it be? :laugh:

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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No, nothing wrong with the General, but it does have its own time and place in the food world.

We'll probably wind up going on a little splurge (nothing like Minibar, unfortunately), and keep it cheap the rest of the trip.

I've never had a papusa before, and they sound divine. What part of the zoo is it near? I guess I need to study my map beforehand. I'll let you know when I'm in the 'hood.

TV?! Mr. Duck is ready to cancel our hotel reservations. :laugh:

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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  • 10 months later...

My husband and I are heading to DC in August with my parents who are 90. We will be there for 3 days/ nights and, though I definitely want to pick one really good dinner place, I need suggestions for places to go for light lunches and more moderately priced dinners. Anything exotic won't work with my folks, so Italian, French, American, all good, Thai, Ethiopian, not so much. We are staying in Georgetown. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions!

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