Whether for business or pleasure, lunch in the District doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, there are several options for less than $10.
Think the only way to cut down on the cost is to bring it in a brown bag, find a fast food value menu of regret or just skip it altogether? Think again Washingtonians. Our fair city has tons of midday grub options at affordable prices and they don’t involve a drive through. With a few simple tricks and a little research, the indulgence of restaurants doesn’t have to be a drain on your wallet. You can save money without sacrificing the experience by knowing where to go:
- Join the club. Many places have loyalty or punch card programs, and if you are eating out a lot, these can add up quickly and you could score three or four free lunches every month.
- Split the difference. With large portions, à la carte add-ons and combo specials all over the place, whether you’re dining with a co-worker or a date, look at the menu together and see if there are some menu items that you want to team up on, or even literally split down the middle.
- Make it special. Many places have weekly specials, some every day of the week. Some will even offer a two-for-one option, so keep an eye out and plan your lunch dates accordingly.
Check out this list of area favorites for an affordable lunch and see if your favorite spot made the cut.
2425 18th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
This falafel shop, inspired by falafel shops in Amsterdam, makes ordering easy because there aren’t many options. Customers simply order a falafel with the number of balls of their choosing, it’s prepared before their eyes in minutes and then they garnish the sandwich themselves, choosing from a bar equipped with over 20 toppings. The Adams Morgan restaurant kindly recommends a “topping strategy” for those intimidated by many options. A regular falafel is only $6. The French fries are also a must-order.
2605 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
Proclaimed as the best sandwich destination in the DC metro area, Earl’s is definitely worth a visit. Sandwiches make the perfect lunch meal and there are over 35 to choose from at Earl’s. Most sandwiches are under $8, leaving enough money for a drink or side. The sandwich meat selection covers all of the bases: roasted turkey, roasted beef, prosciutto ham, grilled chicken and roasted pork loin. Other options are tuna salad sandwich, BLT or grilled cheese. If in the mood, breakfast is served all day. There are two Earl’s locations: Clarendon and Ballston.
El Pollo Rico
932 N. Kenmore St.
Arlington, VA 22201
A local favored lunch hotspot, El Pollo Rico in Virginia Square knows how to do chicken. Patrons can order a 1/4 of a chicken for less than $6. Or, for a larger portion, a 1/2 chicken is $7.75. Each order includes two sides and two sauces. White meat is an additional 25 cents. Ordering a soft drink for $1 will still allow people to order an additional side or dessert. Don’t be intimidated by the long lines – the food is well worth the wait.
Greek Deli & Catering
1120 19th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Catering to those who appreciate Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, Greek Deli is the place for you. The restaurant is located near Farragut North metro. At this deli, $10 can go a long way. A famous Greek salad is only $8 for the large. Traditional-style sandwiches, like gyros and homemade pitas, are delicious. The Greek specialties, meatballs and baked moussaka are affordable with one or no sides. Portions are large enough that multiple sides are not necessary. Call the deli to learn about the daily specials.
Juice Joint Café
1025 Vermont Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Avid health nuts should visit the hidden gem that is Juice Joint. Aside from the large smoothie and booster selection, the café also serves notable salads and stir-fry. The wraps are served hot or cold, like Portobello mushroom or jerk chicken, and cost less than $8. Juice Joint has a large menu; all food is fresh and this deli features daily deals. Service is quick and efficient. Conveniently, there are numerous choices for vegetarians and vegans.
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Kelly Johnston is a freelance writer living in D.C. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Fashion Retail and Merchandising and a minor in Journalism. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.