Five Cheap Eats in Washington, DC

family friendly washington dc

I receive a lot of emails from people traveling to Washington who are in desperate need of reliable restaurant recommendations. It is pretty easy to find lists of the top rated restaurants in DC, but it is not so easy to locate good eats at good prices. In an effort to help some of the millions of people who travel to our nation’s capital every year, I have compiled the following list of the best restaurants for tourists.

1. Moby Dick’s House of Kabob – This DC favorite offers simple yet delicious Iranian and Middle Eastern food. The options are many and the portions are generous. With several locations throughout the area, Moby Dick’s provides the guest with a variety of opportunities to try what is undoubtedly the best rice and kabob in the city. The most convenient location in DC is their Dupont Circle restaurant.

2. City Lights of China – Another Dupont Circle favorite, City Lights serves the best Chinese food in Washington. Prices are very fair for both lunch and dinner and the copious seating means the wait won’t be too long.  Specialties include Tinkling Bells Pork, Tofu Curl and Crispy Whole Fish.

3. Taqueria Nacionale – Located close to both the National Mall and Union Station, this lunchtime favorite serves up great food fast and without costing a fortune. The menu is simple and their specialty is making an exceptional and authentic taco.  There are also daily favorites for those not in the taco mood. The Taqueria’s mango-lime punch is a perfect accompaniment for this spicy lunch. The Taqueria is only open Monday-Friday and is adjacent to the Hall of the States office building.

4. Ben’s Chili Bowl – Without question a national treasure that attracts locals as well as celebrities and even Presidents. Ben’s has a history going back to 1958 and has played a key role in Washington cultural and political history. Everything is good here, but they are especially known for their chili dogs, chili half-smokes, and bowls of beef chili. Good news for the traveler, with their self-confessed crazy hours, anytime is a good time to visit. They’re open from 6:00 am-2:00 am during the week and until 4:00 am Friday and Saturday.

5. Evening Star Café – Located in the nearby DC suburb of Alexandria, Evening Star is a classic neighborhood eatery. This fun and eclectic restaurant has a menu to match; be sure to try the “BLT” Mac & Cheese. Wedged between Old Town and Crystal City, the Café is conveniently located for anyone traveling to Washington.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

6 Responses

  1. Heather

    Wow, these are all really great suggestions. Evening Star is my all-time favorite restaurant, and the lounge upstairs is my favorite place to hang out. They are associated with the wine store next door, so the wine list is unbelievable. I am a frequent visitor to Taqueria Nacionale, although I think it’s useful to mention that it’s the size of a lunch counter and they only have one table, which is outside. Good news is that you can take a short walk and eat in the shadow of the Capitol. The tacos are delicious and they make great soup. Ben’s can have horrendous lines, but it is awfully tasty, and a DC landmark too. It’s been awhile since my last visit to City Lights of China, but I remember it fondly. This also gave me a severe craving for Moby Dick…I’m going to have to go soon!

    Reply
    • Kelsey

      I love kabob and have never heard of Moby Dick. I’ll definitely have to try it!

      Reply
      • Matt Long

        Oh you have to go, they have several locations in the area.

  2. Bethany

    These sound amazing!

    Reply
  3. Kelsey

    Aw, I’m glad to see that you included the Evening Star. It’s only a couple blocks from where we live, and has excellent food.

    Reply
  4. Tanya

    I lived in DC for over a year and never made it to these spots. Sad day. I loved Ted’s Bulletin though. And I went to the Russian House in Dupont Circle for my birthday and loved it. And Tortilla Cafe at Eastern Market was a gift from heaven on my way home from work. And Port City Java has a Ginger Honey milkshake that is making me cry from missing it since I moved to Portland.

    Reply

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