Food. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. But living in a city with such dynamite food options can be heavy hitting on the bank account. And while DC might be the home of the heinously overpriced cupcake and Michelin star restaurants that could do you in, there are still, believe it or not, deals to be had in the District. Here are some places in the city where you can please your taste buds without emptying your savings account.
In NYC, bagels are a dime a dozen…and at Buffalo and Bergen, you can pretend you’re thriving in the Big Apple. Big, filling, NYC-worthy bagels here are only $1.25 – with all of the traditional flavors plus some specials such as pumpernickel everything, French toast, rye, and more. You can even dress up your carbs and stay under budget, with a bagel topped with flavored cream cheese coming in at under $5 and a egg and cheese bagel sandwich costing you $5.50. For a real splurge (that still doesn’t make you feel guilty), you can get some of the shop’s original sandwiches for under $10. What qualifies? Think the “I’d rather be in Capri,” which features local tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, homegrown basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar or “The bandito,” consisting of carnitas-style pulled pork, pickled peppers, avocado, and manchego cheese.
You don’t have to dive deep into your pockets to get something worth munching on in this hip but relaxed DC gem. While it’s good for a craft cocktail (or two), this place can also be perfect for a casual bite that slides in under the radar of your budget. Potstickers (6-8) pieces will run you $5, skewers will run you a little less, and some satisfying comfort foods like soup and steamed bao will only cost you a little over a dollar. Compliments to whoever made this possible, that’s for sure! Opens at 5 PM everyday.
Once called “…one of downtown’s delectable secrets” by The Washington Post, this Mexican mecca is somewhat of a beacon for downtowners looking to fuel up without feeling shameful about not packing their lunch. Tucked down an alley nearby Dupont Circle, this place has thrived off of word of mouth for a reason. Grab a pant splitting sized burrito for $5.95, and even throw on some guac for an extra dollar. If you’re really hungry, make it a platter – meaning you get rice, beans and a salad for only another $1.50. While burritos are only one option on the menu, it’s pretty hard to spend $10 here and not leave more than satisfied. Finishing an “El Gordo” is a feat unto itself…godspeed.
Eating on the cheap doesn’t have to mean you’re eating poorly. Beefsteak is proof that you can dine affordably and healthily. Featuring a mostly vegetarian –themed menu, you can get a heaping veggie bowl or satisfying salad here and still come in under $10. A menu sampling includes:
Lime After Lime ($8.49): Cilantro-Lime Quinoa, Radiccio, Arugula, Roasted Edamame & Corn, Cherry Tomato, Scallions, and Za-atar Sunflower Seeds, tossed in a Chili Lime Vinaigrette
Kimchi-wa ($8.79): Rice, Sweet Potato, Carrot, Cabbage, Edamame, Bok Coy, Garlic Yogurt Sauce, and Topped with Scallions, Sesame Seeds, Corn Nuts, Kimchi, and Soy Ginger Dressing
The Market Lunch can have long lines, but wait people shall…because it’s that’s good (and cheap). Situated in Eastern Market, this is a great spot to get a heaping plate of almost anything for under $10. Some menu staples include their larger than life pancakes (get a stack of 3 for $7.25) which come in buttermilk, blueberry, chocolate chip, buckwheat, and more flavors. Also available are no-frills sandwiches such as a fried green tomato sandwich, hot ham & cheese, North Carolina BBQ and more. If you’re fixin’ to eat, this is the spot.
The best part about this list? It only scratches the surface. While at times it might seem like DC is out to nickel and dime you, if you look hard enough (through back alley ways and past the shining, but pricy, crab cakes on the menu) you can find diamonds in the rough. Enjoy!