Cheap Eats 2009: Mandalay Restaurant & Cafe

Great food, low prices, lots of fun

Why go: At its best, Burmese cooking is a riot of color, texture, and flavor, a mixing and matching of Indian and Chinese cooking that tastes like neither. This family-style restaurant manages to make the exotic feel familiar.

What to get: Crunchy ginger-and-shredded-cabbage salad; garlicky tea-leaf salad; salmon and green peppers in tomato-based curry sauce; sliced pork sautéed with sour mustard greens and cilantro; ShweJi, a sweet custard dessert of Cream of Wheat, coconut, and milk.

Best for: A satisfying meatless meal. Servers ask if fish sauce is okay with certain preparations, plus there are vegetarian and vegan designations on the menu.

Insider tip: Children are warmly welcomed—a Sesame Street floor mat is placed under a high chair, and paper plates and plastic utensils are furnished.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here 

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.