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Cheap Eats (2009)

See All Cheap Eats Restaurants
What is a Cheap Eat?
The Best Cheap Eats Dishes
Cheap Eats Photo Slideshow
Incoming and Outgoing Restaurants

Think finding a great cheap meal is hard? Try finding 100 of them.

We crisscrossed the region for a year to come up with this list. Our two criteria: Two people should be able to eat for $50 or less (including tax and tip), and the restaurants should wow us with their cooking. In uncertain economic times, value matters more than ever.

For this edition of 100 best bargain restaurants we found a fascinating--and rewarding--mix of styles. You can chow down on pit-smoked pulled pork at a backwoods shack or woo a date at a lounge that dishes up stellar small plates. We turned up good curries in a sumptuously appointed Indian restaurant in Chantilly and in a two-table English-basement cafe in DC. We found a great bagel shop--you can take friends from New York without apologizing--and a good wine bar.

Six pizzerias made the cut, ranging from a wood-paneled dining room that opened during the Eisenhower administration to a food cart that turns out terrific Neapolitan pizzas with the help of a propane tank.

Speaking of range: A Bosnian restaurant and a Kazakh cafe both earned spots on the list (a first for either cuisine in this magazine); kebab houses are as prevalent as burger joints; and Little Korea in Annandale, Little Ethiopia in DC, Little Mexico in Bladensburg, and the new Chinatown of northern Rockville are all well represented.

So go ahead--mind the Dow and the S&P. But trust us: With so many options to choose from, you won't have to make a lot of sacrifices to eat well and affordably this next year.

--Todd Kliman

Order By:

Al Carbon

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 200 Park Rd. , Rockville, MD 20847
Neighborhood(s): Rockville
T: 301-738-0003
Cuisines: South American, Peruvian
Scenes:
Outdoor Seating
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Outdoor Seating
Description:

A cozy Central American pit-stop.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Al Carbon Al Carbon

American Flatbread - Ashburn (Closed)

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 43170 Southern Walk Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20148
Neighborhood(s): Ashburn
T: 703-723-7003
Cuisines: Pizza, Italian, American
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Description: This Vermont-based pizzeria celebrates local ingredients.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: American Flatbread Cheap Eats 2008: American Flatbread - Ashburn Hearth American Flatbread

Amina Thai

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 5065 Nicholson Ln., Rockville, MD 20852
Neighborhood(s): Rockville
T: 301-770-9509
Cuisines: Thai, Vegetarian/Vegan
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Description: A Thai restaurant with Muslim roots.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Amina Thai Cheap Eats 2008: Amina Thai Cheap Eats 2007: Amina Thai Amina Thai

Angeethi - Herndon

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009) Dirt Cheap Eats (2008)
Address: 645 Elden St., Herndon, VA 20170
Neighborhood(s): Reston/Herndon
T: 703-796-1527
Cuisines: Indian
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Description:

A delicious passage to India in Herndon.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2013: Angeethi Cheap Eats 2009: Angeethi Dirt Cheap Eats 2008: Angeethi Cheap Eats 2008: Angeethi Dining on a Shoestring: Angeethi

Bagels And ...

Rating:
Best Breakfasts 2012 Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 2019 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
Neighborhood(s): Annapolis
T: 410-224-8686
Cuisines: American, Breakfast, Deli/Quick Bites
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Description: The best bagels and bialys around.

Reviews:

Bagels and. . .: Best of Breakfast and Brunch 2012 Cheap Eats 2009: Bagels and... Cheap Eats 2008: Bagels And ...

Bombay Indian Restaurant

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 11229 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring/Takoma Park, MD 20904
Neighborhood(s): Silver Spring/Takoma Park
T: 301-593-7222
Cuisines: Indian
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Description: Some of the area's best Indian cooking emerges from this stripmall kitchen.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Bombay Indian Restaurant Cheap Eats 2008: Bombay Indian Restaurant 100 Best Restaurants 2008: Bombay Indian Restaurant Cheap Eats 2007: Bombay January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

Da Marco Italian Restaurant

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 8662 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring/Takoma Park, MD 20910
Neighborhood(s): Silver Spring/Takoma Park
T: 301-588-6999
Cuisines: Italian
Scenes:
Food Specials
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Good for Groups

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Da Marco Ristorante Italiano Great Takeout: Da Marco Ristorante Italiano Cheap Eats 2008: Da Marco Cheap Eats 2007: Da Marco Ristorante Italiano Da Marco Italian Gourmet

Domku

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 821 Upshur Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011
Neighborhood(s): Georgia Ave./Petworth/Takoma DC
T: 202-722-7475
Cuisines: Scandinavian, Russian/E. European, Breakfast
Price Range: Moderate
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Description: Aquavit and gravlax in a cool, chandeliered Petworth lounge.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Domku Cheap Eats 2008: Domku Cheap Eats 2007: Domku Domku

EatBar

Rating:
Best Breakfasts 2012 Cheap Eats 2012 Cheap Eats (2009) Cheap Eats 2011
Address: 2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Neighborhood(s): Arlington, Arlington, Clarendon/Courthouse
T: 703-778-9951
Cuisines: Tapas/Small Plates, Modern, American, Breakfast
Happy Hour on: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Weekend Brunch, Good for Groups
Description: Chef Nathan Anda—who also oversees the more expensive Tallula next door—is at his best here, dabbling in casual small plates and his beloved charcuterie.
Happy Hour Details: Monday through Friday, 4 PM to 7 PM.

Reviews:

EatBar: Best of Breakfast and Brunch 2012 Cheap Eats 2012: Eatbar Cheap Eats 2011: EatBar Cheap Eats 2009: Eatbar Cheap Eats 2008: EatBar

El Tapatio

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009) Dirt Cheap Eats (2008)
Address: 4309 Kenilworth Ave., Bladensburg, MD 20710
Neighborhood(s): Bladensburg
T: 301-403-8882
Cuisines: South American, Mexican, Breakfast
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Description: A family-run storefront with authentic Guadalajaran specialties.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: El Tapatio Dirt Cheap Eats 2008: El Tapatio Dirt Cheap Eats 2007: El Tapatio Cheap Eats 2007: El Tapatio El Tapatio

Evo Bistro

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 1313 Old Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, VA 22101
Neighborhood(s): Mclean, McLean/Tysons Corner
T: 703-288-4422
Cuisines: Spanish/Portuguese, Tapas/Small Plates, Moroccan, Greek/Mediterranean
Scenes:
Food Specials
Happy Hour on: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Weekend Brunch, Good for Groups
Description: A bistro that's all about wine—and fun.
Happy Hour Details: Monday through Friday, 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Evo Bistro Cheap Eats 2008: Evo Bistro Evo Bistro

Faryab

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009) 100 Best Restaurants (2010)
Address: 4917 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814
Neighborhood(s): Bethesda/Glen Echo
T: 301-951-3484
Cuisines: Middle Eastern, Afghan
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Good for Groups
Description: A hidden Bethesda gem.

Reviews:

100 Best Restaurants 2010: Faryab Cheap Eats 2009: Faryab 100 Best Restaurants 2009: Faryab Cheap Eats 2008: Faryab 100 Best Restaurants 2008: Faryab

Flavors Soul Food

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 3420 Carlyn Hill Dr., Falls Church, VA 22041
Neighborhood(s): Falls Church, Baileys Crossroads
T: 703-379-4411
Cuisines: Soul Food, Southern, American
Price Range: Inexpensive
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Kid Friendly, Good for Groups
Description: Smoked or fried? Pick your pleasure at this hidden soul food spot.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Flavors Soul Food Cheap Eats 2008: Flavors Soul Food Cheap Eats 2007: Flavors Soul Food Flavors Soul Food Flavors Soul Food

Johnny Boy Ribs

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 7540 Crain Hwy., La Plata, MD 20646
Neighborhood(s): La Plata
T: 301-870-2526
Cuisines: Southern, American, Barbecue
Scenes:
Outdoor Seating
Price Range: Inexpensive
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Other: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Outdoor Seating, Good for Groups
Description: The barbecue at this dilapidated shack is the real deal.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Johnny Boy's Ribs Cheapt Eats 2008: Johnny Boy's Ribs Cheap Eats 2007: Johnny Boy's Ribs Johnny Boy's Ribs

M Cafe

Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 5471 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Neighborhood(s): Tenleytown/Friendship Heights
T: 301-986-4818
Cuisines: Pizza, Italian
Price Range: Moderate
Description: An Italian duet at the Collection at Chevy Chase.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: M Cafe Cheap Eats 2008: M Café and Bar Cheap Eats 2007: M Cafe M Cafe

Taqueria Nacional

Rating:
Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 400 N. Capitol St., NW, Washington, DC 20001
Neighborhood(s): Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill
T: 202-737-7070
Cuisines: Tex-Mex, South American, Mexican, Breakfast, Deli/Quick Bites
Price Range: Inexpensive
Description: Ann Cashion's upscale taco stand.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Taqueria Nacional Cheap Eats 2008: Taqueria Nacional Dirt Cheap Eats 2007: Taqueria Nacionale

Vaso's Kitchen

Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 1225 Powhatan St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Neighborhood(s): Alexandria, Alexandria, Old Town
T: 703-548-2747
Cuisines: Greek/Mediterranean
Price Range: Inexpensive
Description: Like you're eating in a Greek grandmother's kitchen.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Vaso's Kitchen

Viet Bistro

Cheap Eats (2009)
Address: 6799 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church, VA 22044
Neighborhood(s): Falls Church
T: 703-538-7575
Cuisines: Vietnamese
Price Range: Moderate
Description: Some of the spiciest—and most interesting—cooking in the Eden Center.

Reviews:

Cheap Eats 2009: Viet Bistro Cheap Eats 2008: Viet Bistro Cheap Eats 2007: Viet Bistro Viet Bistro Viet Bistro
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