We all know Borderstan has a ton of great food options, many of which are accompanied by a hefty price tag. But sometimes I just want a no-fuss, decent meal that is easy on the wallet. Well, there is no dearth of that either. Here are some of my favorite inexpensive places to eat in the neighborhood.
- Pica Taco – A small taqueria tucked away on Florida Avenue, their barbacoa and chorizo tacos, which are between $2.25 to $2.75 a piece, are amazing. They don’t skimp on the meat, and have simple but flavorful toppings. Excellent breakfast tacos too. If you haven’t been yet, it’s time.
- Great Wall Schezwan House – If you are looking for good Chinese food or spicy Szechuan, this is the place to go. I am a huge fan of their mouth numbing ma la chicken — $11 for a meal that is really two. This place is my go-to for Chinese. Oh, and their delivery service is insane. Food comes within 10 to 15 minutes and is piping hot. And when they say spicy, they mean spicy!
- Stoney’s – This is the quintessential neighborhood spot, with no attitude and a casual atmosphere. You positively have to try the fan favorite grilled cheese at Stoney’s. It is comforting, delicious, served with fries and is only $7.50! Wash it down with some draft Fat Tire, and your stomach will thank you, even if your thighs don’t. Luis has great things to say about their burgers too.
- Locolat café – I love this place. Although known as a chocolate spot, this little gem offers much more than sweet treats. Their savory waffles to which you can add a variety of toppings are incredible — crab cake on a garlic waffle, anyone? My favorite is the potato and chive waffle with grilled vegetables and cheese, which, coming in at $11 along with a salad is quite a meal. Rounded off with a glass (or two) of Prosecco and a dark chocolate truffle in their outdoor patio — heaven! If nothing, come here to drink their hot chocolate or try one of their 30 Belgian beers.
- El Rinconcito – If you want to stuff your face with awesomeness for $8, go here. This little hole in the wall Salvadorean neighborhood joint fills up quickly, and when you eat here, you will know why. They have an extensive menu, but do not be tempted to go for the familiar Mexican dishes – order from the Salvadorean menu instead. The pupusa combo platter — which comes with three pupusas (choose from beans/cheese/chicken/pork/loroco), yellow rice, pickled cabbage and beans, is fresh and authentic. If you are inclined to imbibe, they have a full bar with tasty margaritas and beers.
- Fast Gourmet – The Cubano sandwich here is one of the best things that has happened to me. Seriously. Delicious with pork, ham, perfectly melted cheese, mustard and pickles. Get the beer battered eggplant with that and make it a meal for $11. And if you are lucky, you might find their killer Tres Leches in the refrigerator. For more on Fast Gourmet, read Kim’s review of their signature Chivito sandwich.
- Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen – This is Chipotle’s second concept restaurant, and boy, am I glad they chose DC as the test market. Setup much like a Chipotle, the drill is the same -choose noodles or rice and then a meat, tofu or veggies, followed by tamarind vinaigrette or a red/green curry sauce. I have never liked tofu as much as I do here; chopped fine and sautéed with Thai chilies, turmeric and cumin. Along with the chilled rice noodles, charred corn, spicy red curry sauce and some crispy garlic and green papaya slaw for the finishing touches, you have a stellar meal for $8..
That just about covers me for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but where do you go for your favorite budget friendly fare?