Cheap Eats 2009: Sichuan Village

Great food, low prices, lots of fun

Why go: The Szechuan fare goes far beyond the usual Kung Pao and twice-cooked clichés. Pickled ferns, long beans, and fresh bamboo show up, as does a fiery, oil-slicked red-chili brew that energizes the signature—and mostly wonderful—“Chengdu” dishes.

What to get: Pork belly with long beans, ginger, and bamboo; Chengdu-style tofu and fish (usually flounder) with red-chili oil; garlicky stir-fried pea leaves; smoked-pork fried rice with bits of egg, scallion, carrot, and fat-edged pork.

Best for: Diners with a taste for adventure—and chili-stoked heat.

Insider tip: The waitstaff is knowledgeable and opinionated, and because most diners are Chinese, you can always fall back on ordering what they do. Heed the color coding: Orange is medium hot, red incendiary. The restaurant does a brisk business with its buffet, but that’s not where the excitement lies.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here 

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.