Cheap Eats 2009: Al Carbon

Why go: Venezuelan owner and cook Milvia Dinoran has taken a rundown storefront and created an appealing roadside canteen with Latin cooking, attentive service, and decor featuring Crayola-hued walls and coffee-can planters lining the windowsills.

What to get: Cheese-filled arepitas, mini-versions of the Colombian corn cakes known as arepas, made even better with a swipe of crema and house-made hot sauce; beef soup with chunks of meat, cassava, and green plantain in a fragrant broth; charcoal-grilled chicken with black beans and rice; charcoal-grilled tilapia on banana leaves (give it a finishing spritz of lime).

Best for: Big appetites with thin wallets.

Insider tip: This is a small operation, and nearly everything is cooked to order, so the kitchen sometimes runs out of items. Worth seeking out: the house-made sangría and Sunday breakfast, which includes Andean potato soup, eggs, shredded beef, beans, and more for $7.95.

Open Monday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sunday until 7.

>> 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.