As nice as it is to go to the latest, trendiest "it" restaurants and bars here in DC where a new establishment seems to crop up overnight on a daily basis, eating out on a regular basis can play havoc on one's wallet. As someone who is planning a wedding next year (apparently this is still a thing), I appreciate any opportunity to save a couple of bucks while not sacrificing quality or tastiness. Surprisingly DC is not short of local spots that offer great food at economical prices, if you're willing to go a little further afield away or in some cases, just look a little closer.
I've included a couple of recent local favorites I've discovered around town after the jump!
Florida Avenue Grill
1100 Florida Ave NW, Washington DC
As old school as it comes, Florida Avenue Grill's magnificent breakfasts are some of the best I've ever had. If you come during prime breakfast and brunch hours, especially on the weekends, be prepared to wait but it's worth it. Nothing cures a hangover (and soothes your wallet) like one of their huge breakfast plates - and you can have your pick of breakfast meats, from more traditional options like bacon to more adventurous choices like scrapple or that DC institution, a split half smoke. If you go on the weekends, don't forget to try an order of their biscuits and sausage gravy, only available on Saturdays and Sundays.
1610 14th St NW, Washington DC
Okay, so Ghibellina is definitely not technically considered a cheap option, especially given its splashy 14th Street location near Logan Circle. However, the best and most economical way to experience their phenomenal Neopolitan-style pizzas (check out that crust and those blisters!) is during their weekday happy hour where they have eight different types of pizzas available around the $10 price point, as well as wine, beer and cocktail options for either $5 or $6. For me, Ghibellina has the best pizza available in the District - yes there, I said it - and it's totally worth it to go check out if you can. I prefer to stay simple with their basic Margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella but there are more complex and seasonal options also available.
320 23rd Street South, Suite 150, Arlington VA
Hidden in the ugly depths of Crystal City's many nondescript and generic office complexes, Queen Ammanisa is one of my favorite discoveries of the year. Its terrible location aside (tucked next to a Legal Seafood, Buffalo Wild Wings and other chains), the kitchen at Queen Ammanisa is quietly churning out fantastic Uighur dishes from China's Xinjiang province. The food is a mix of Chinese and more Middle Eastern flavors, so their noodles, kebabs and rice dishes are heavily flavored with cumin, zaatar with ingredients (many which are halal) like lamb, carrots, raisins and other unexpected additions. Pictured above is their delicious "dry fried laghmen" - or a traditional noodle which is hand-pulled, creating an addictive chewy texture reminiscent of traditional knife-cut noodles from northern China. Don't forget to try their homemade samsa which is basically a pastry pocket stuffed with lamb, similar to a samosa.
3512-14 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC
Indique, an Indian restaurant hidden along Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, recently launched a weekend bottomless brunch where $20 gets you unlimited small plates off their brunch menu. You can also opt in for unlimited mimosas for $10 more, or bottomless brunch cocktails for an additional $15. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good bottomless brunch deal, and if there's anything I love even more than that, it's dosas, the irresistible (to me, anyways) crepe-like pancake from the south of India. Surprisingly, it's incredibly challenging getting good south Indian food here in DC and while I think Indique is still very much working through the service and timing challenges related to a bottomless brunch service, it's a solid (and cheap!) option in the District for some great Indian flavors. Beyond dosas, they are also offer more innovative dishes like a chicken kebab eggs benedict, a breakfast kathi roll and other fun selections.
425 I Street, NW, Washington DC
Located in a quiet corner in Mount Vernon Square, Ottoman Taverna's lavish menu is definitely on the pricier side. However, if you visit during happy hour (and on the rainy evening we stopped in, it was empty!), many of their signature dishes are only $5 at the bar, including their fresh hummus (pictured above), the Sigara Boregi (a feta and parsley stuffed filo dough parcel), Mucver (zucchini fritters) and other interesting choices. Select drinks are also $5 too - and I very much appreciated our bartender's generous wine pour. I'll have to go back once I'm feeling a bit more flush for regular dinner service and check out their extensive mezze selection as well as signature kebabs.
Let me know if you have any local favorites I should check out!
One woman's journey to eat all the food. Or at least, most of it.