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Dirt Cheap Eats 2009: Lunch Steals

Think lunching for less than $15 at a special-occasion dining room like Kinkead’s is impossible? Not these days.

That’s a happy meal: a juicy burger, fries, and a soda are $8.99 at BGR the Burger Joint. Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg.

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BGR the Burger Joint (locations in Bethesda, Old Town Alexandria, and Dupont Circle). The tab can add up quickly at these family-friendly places, but it’d be a shame to skip the thick-cut Yukon Gold fries. To try it all on the cheap, go weekdays from 11 to 2 for the “box set”: a cheeseless burger, fries, and a soft drink for $8.99 (veggie burger $1 extra).

Good Stuff Eatery. Capitol Hill staffers form long lines for Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn’s thin but juicy burgers; even Michelle Obama is a fan. Weekdays from 11:30 to 2:30, a cheeseburger, hand-cut fries, and a soda are packed into the $10 “lunch bag” special.

Grapeseed. This wine-centric bistro goes a bit more casual during the day, offering an appetizer and a main course—such as fish tacos with avocado and lime and grilled salmon with shiitake salad—for $12 Tuesday through Friday.

Kinkead’s. At this DC seafood institution, lunch entrées ring in around $20, but daily between 11:30 and 2:30 at the bar (our favorite place to sit) and cafe, $12 will get you a sandwich—crispy cod, oyster po’ boy, pork Cuban, or chicken—with a cup of Bob Kinkead’s signature clam chowder or the day’s special soup.

The Majestic. Grab a leather-backed bar stool at this comfort-food cafe between 11:30 and 2:30 weekdays for the $12 “royal pick” special—an entrée (selections range from a cheeseburger to bratwurst to barramundi to seafood stew) and an iced tea or soda.

Proof. The $12 “lunch crush” special—your choice of six entrées plus a glass of wine—at this Penn Quarter wine bar features such gourmet options as a shrimp burger and a Wagyu steak and cheese. It’s available weekdays 11:30 till 2.

Restaurant Eve. A top-ten restaurant on a dirt-cheap budget? Yes, with the “lickity-split” special weekdays from 11:30 till 4 at this elegant Old Town spot. Snag a seat at the cozy bar and order any two dishes from a short list of appetizers, entrées, drinks, and desserts for $13.50. The menu changes, but two of our favorites—the Irish “BLT” and the birthday cake—are always available.

Teatro Goldoni. Dinner prices in this Italian dining room reach the expense-account stratosphere, which makes the $13.95 bar lunch—an entrée from a special menu and a glass of wine—served weekdays from 11:30 to 2 that much more of a steal.

Vermilion. Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 3, you can score Anthony Chittum’s robust cooking for $11. The midday “intern” special features a small green salad, a cup of butternut-squash soup, and half a roasted-portobello sandwich.

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