Cheap Eats in DC: A Guide to Eating on a Budget

Starting the year off right with a fun collab – we asked 6 top foodstagrammers to talk about their favorite cheap eats in DC, and we’re beyond excited to share their picks with you guys.  Who says you need to spend a fortune to eat like royalty in the capital?  If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, bookmark this page to keep your tummy AND wallet happy.

1.  William Goldberg aka @thetufftruffle:  I like Bantam King, located just a few blocks from Capital One Arena, because it’s fun, easy, and exactly what I want. The food –fried chicken, dumplings, and ramen– is the best kind of comfort food, stuff I’m always in the mood for. The menu is concise, so there shouldn’t be much deliberation when ordering.  The space itself is one of the coolest in the city, too. I feel like I am discovering a hip, off-the-radar Tokyo ramen haunt every time I walk in. My favorite dish is actually not the ramen, however. And while the fried chicken plate is sensational, the prize for me has to go to their gyoza. These delicate chicken dumplings lie in a pool of fragrant hot chili oil — which I am not ashamed to admit that I have spooned into my mouth. With the most expensive ramen option coming in at $13.00, Bantam King is relatively cheap and most definitely worth its cost.

The best cheap restaurants in DC

2.  Danny Kim aka @DCFoodGang:  My best cheap eat in DC is FOR SURE China Boy in Chinatown DC.  Food is a liiittle greasy but that’s what you get when you go to a hole-in-the-wall spot for dank Chinese food. My favorite there is the Shrimp Rice Noodle Crepes and the Beef Chow Foon, but you can order anything on the menu and not go wrong – honestly. The restaurant is super tiny with a couple tables out so if you ever go, don’t expect to sit down. The reason why this place sparks wonders for me though is because rice noodles are just mouthgasmic for real. I dropped to the floor as soon as I made contact with it. Go get yours. #NotSponsored

SEE ALSO:  Top 5 Fast Casual Restaurants in DC

how to eat on a budget in DC

3.  Alex Vu aka @dcnomster:  Whenever I meet anyone asking for recommendations for the “best” food in the DC metro area, my go to has always been, and always will be, Eden Center.  Located in a nondescript strip mall in Falls Church, VA, it is a haven of Vietnamese culture, most notably in its high concentration of Vietnamese restaurants. While pho and banh mi are the stereotypical foods associated with Vietnamese cuisine, you’ll get the chance to delve a little bit deeper at Eden Center.

Most of the storefronts here are operated by Vietnamese families, so you know that the food prepared here will be exactly like what they serve in their own homes and not dumbed down in any aspect. If I had to pick two things people should look for when stopping by, I would highly recommend banh xeo, a crispy Vietnamese mung bean crepe filled with bean sprouts, pork and shrimp, and bun bo hue, aka pho’s spicier cousin with roots from Central Vietnam. As a born and bred son of two Vietnamese immigrants, I’m proud to say that this place has become like a second home to me. This is, hands down, no competition, one of the best culinary hidden treasures in the DMV.

SEE ALSO:  Etete: Ethiopian Cuisine at its Best

the best cheap eats in DC

4.  Caroline aka @thethriftyspoon: Sakerum is one of my favorite DC spots for high-quality sushi on a budget. During Sake Hour every day of the week, you can enjoy 8-piece rolls, along with small plates like bao buns, elotes, and grilled calamari for only $5. Sake Hour runs from 5:30 to 7:30 on weekdays and 3 to 6:30 on the weekend. And on Wednesdays, it’s all night! I highly recommend the salmon avocado roll and a seat on the rooftop for a fun, fresh, and affordable night out with friends.

5.  Lanna Nguyen aka @eatdrinkdc:  Hidden in plain sight and ironically located above another Thai restaurant, Baan Thai is an unassuming spot on 14th Street and one of my favorite places in the city to grab a meal. The menu is full of dishes you typically won’t find at other Thai spots because Northern Thai fare is the name of the game here. You’ll find everything from soups, curries, noodle dishes and more all packed with a spicy, funky, flavorful punch.  The restaurant is casual, approachable, inexpensive and straight up delicious; each time I come, I make it a point to try a new dish, but the spicy Khao Soi Gai is my absolute favorite.  This spot truly checks all of the boxes for me and is my go-to for any situation: parents visiting town, date night, a girlfriend dinner or after work happy hour – you can’t go wrong with Baan Thai.

budget friendly restaurants in DC
6.  Rachel Brotman aka @thecarboholic:  Chai Lattes, Biscuit Sammies, Crème Brulee French Toast… these are merely three reasons why A Baked Jointis my favorite breakfast/lunch spot in D.C! A Baked Joint is the sister store to Baked and Wired, a renown bakery in Georgetown, carrying many of the same tantalizing sweets while also offering extensive breakfast and lunch menus. All sandwiches are served on fresh bread baked in house each morning. I highly recommend the inventive Veggie #1, filled with roasted sweet potato, smoked eggplant puree, goat cheese, pepper agrodolce & crispy kale on focaccia, or the Smoked Salmon, featuring scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, fried capers and smoked salmon on a warm, open-faced baguette. Do not, however, forget coffee or dessert! You would be doing yourself a huge disservice to leave without a hefty, generously iced, slice of whatever cake flavor is being served that day!
cheap eats in DC
Alright Nomsters, that’s it for today!  We hope you enjoyed reading about the best cheap eats in DC.  We’ll be doing more collabs like this in the future so make sure you keep an eye out.  In fact, we have an exciting one coming up with DCFoodPorn so definitely check back.  Also, if you enjoyed this post, you may also really like “The Best Happy Hours in Baltimore,” so take a looksie.  ‘Til next time!
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1 Comment

  1. January 10, 2018 / 11:09 am

    Wow! Every recommendation sounds really good. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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