Think you have to spend beaucoup bucks in order to enjoy a great meal in the District area? Not so fast. There are plenty of restaurants that offer delicious meals without having to break the bank.
Eating out in the District is often a treat, an occasional necessity, but almost always more expensive than dining at home. However, with a few simple tricks and a little research, the indulgence of restaurants doesn’t have to be a drain on your pocketbook. You can save money without sacrificing the experience by knowing where to go (see below) and practice a few of these money-saving tips:
- Bigger can be better: With portions being the huge sizes they are nowadays, it’s easy to get filled up without clearing your plate all on your own. If on a date, keep it reasonable by splitting an appetizer and a meal to cut back on the overall tab if you know the servings are substantial. One main entree can also be stretched into two meals by simply saving your leftovers for lunch the next day; make sure you tailor your order to something that will keep and reheat well.
- Be smart with your spirits: Make your buck stretch further by finding the BYOB (bring your own booze) restaurants in your city. This will allow for dinner and drinks on a much smaller budget. Always ask about drink specials too. Whether it’s two-for-ones or just discounted house wines and wells, you can shave off a decent portion of the tab if you’re willing to step away from the premiums.
- Keep an eye on the clock: Happy hours are not just for drinks, as many places will offer food specials as well. If you are willing to dine earlier or later, you may be able to save on both your meal and your drinks.
- Have a nose for specials: Many places will have weekly specials, some every day of the week. Whether it’s the college cliché of Taco Tuesdays or half-price Mondays, get to know the schedule of the restaurants nearby and frequent them on those days.
- Sides can steal the show: Free bread or chips and salsa? Unlimited fries? Side salad included? Keep an eye on the extras and a smaller, lower-priced meal could be plenty to fill you up.
From tasty summertime staples to the best vegetarian dishes in town, stop by one of these District-area restaurants and see how much you can enjoy while making the most out of your hard-earned cash.
423 8th St. S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
Just because summer has come to an end doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite summertime staples. DC-3 offers a variety of specialty hot dogs including a deep-fried, all-beef hot dog wrapped with bacon and topped with jalapeno relish and deli mustard or a half-smoke with sweet relish, yellow mustard and raw onion. Don’t see a hot dog combo that you like? Get a plain dog and add as many toppings that you want for free. Enjoy other summertime favorites including soft serve ice cream, cotton candy and fried Oreos. Wash it all down with a fountain soda. The restaurant features a casual dining experience with a vintage vibe that pays tribute to the “plane that changed the world” known as the Douglas Commercial 3, or DC-3.
Redrocks Neapolitan Bistro
1036 Park Road N.W.
Washington, DC 20010
Looking for something a little bit more fancy? Pay a visit to Redrocks in Columbia Heights where you will find delicious meals without breaking the bank. Start off your meal with tasty garlic knots made with fresh pizza dough, parmesan, oregano and garlic. Then, enjoy a fresh Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, basil, sliced tomato, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or, choose from more than a dozen 11-inch pizza pies featuring toppings like crimini mushrooms, sweet and hot peppers, crispy prosciutto and roasted eggplant. Wash it all down with a Pacifico lager or a glass of red wine. The cozy, brick-walled restaurant also offers a special brunch menu with delicious and affordable menu items.
2348 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
If you’re in the mood for some comfort food, then there’s no better place to check out than Bourbon in Glover Park. The two-level, low-key restaurant and bar features a lively dance floor upstairs, plenty of seating around the bar and a “secret” patio in the back. Chow down on a bowl of 4 alarm beef chili, a plate of meatloaf with red skin mashers and rosemary gravy or a delicious grilled cheese sandwich featuring a blend of three cheeses melted to perfection. Add a little extra comfort with a cup of homemade tomato soup. Bourbon also features delicious desserts like homemade bread pudding, daily food and drink specials, a wide variety of small-batch bourbons and micro-brewed beers.
6304 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22044
For the best vegetarian meal for your buck, enjoy a tasty and affordable meal at the Sunflower. Start off your meal with steamed dumplings, tasty spring rolls or a cup of miso soup. Then, choose from a variety of healthy options including salads, panini sandwiches, noodles, rice bowls or vegetarian sushi. Popular menu items include the General Tso’s surprise which features chunks of soy protein marinated in delicious hot kung-pao sauce and garnished with steamed broccoli and carrots or the eggplant lover, a dish that features brown-battered eggplant, organic cheese, soy protein, sun-dried tomatoes and a pine nut pesto blended with a sweet and sour sauce. The Sunflower also offers organic juices, non-alcoholic beverages and desserts.
The Abbey Burger Bistro
1041 Marshall St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Step away from the dollar menu and step into The Abbey Burger Bistro where you will find such amazing (and reasonably priced) burger creations like the Philly burger with sauteed onions and green peppers with your choice of provolone cheese or cheese wiz or the sweet and salty peanut butter (yes, peanut butter) burger with applewood smoked bacon. For a little extra, order the bison burger and enjoy tasty toppings like bleu cheese and a homemade onion ring. The casual restaurant and bar also features a variety of appetizing appetizers, happy hour food and drink specials and delectable desserts, like a chocolate chip cookie sundae, root beer floats and funnel cake.
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Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.