Cheap Eats 2010: Mandalay Restaurant & Café

100 places that offer great food at low prices.

Why go: This bustling, family-run restaurant isn’t as embracing and warm a destination as it used to be, but the cooking retains its homespun character. Neither as fiery and bright as Thai nor as layered and spiced as Indian, Burmese food is a blend of the two, and this kitchen manages the feat of turning seeming exotica—sour mustard, gram fritters—into dishes of pure comfort.

What to get: Spring-roll salad, a meal in itself and a fascinating study in textures; crunchy, vividly dressed ginger salad; stir-fry of broad noodles with fried egg, shrimp, and bean sprouts; pork with sour mustard greens; catfish in red sauce.

Best for: Vegetarians and others looking for big flavor without loading up on meat.

Insider tip: Desserts are no longer a sure thing. shweji, a creamy, steamed cake made from Cream of Wheat, remains a bargain at $3 but is less luscious than it used to be, and coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell resembles the kind of finish you find in tourist traps.

>> See all 2010 Cheap Eats restaurants here

Don’t Miss Another New Restaurant—Get Our Food Newsletter

The latest in Washington’s food and drink scene.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
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.

We engage readers directly in their mailboxes with topics like Health, Things to Do, Best Brunches, Design & Shopping, and Real Estate. Get the latest from our editors today.
Get The Best Of Washingtonian In Your Inbox!