Cheap Eats 2010: Sichuan Village

100 places that offer great food at low prices.

Why go: This family-owned two-part restaurant—a server-attended dining room and a less-appealing buffet—puts the Szechuan province and its namesake mouth-numbing peppercorn on vivid display in dishes assembled with fresh produce and experienced hands. The signature Chengdu sauce, ablaze with red chilies and scallions and available with almost every protein, proves that Chinese cooking can be way more than orange chicken.

What to get: Chengdu beef, fish, or pork; sweet-onion cake, whose fried dough is good for sopping up sauces or cooling a burning palate; a vinegary version of dan dan noodles; pea shoots stir-fried with garlic; pork belly with ginger and long beans; ma po tofu.

Best for: Large groups of intrepid eaters who aren’t afraid to try such dishes as Ants on the Tree (pork with noodles) or green-bean jelly.

Insider tip: Don’t let the staff steer you to the Americanized buffet; ask for suggestions from the Chinese menu instead.

>> See all 2010 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 Petworth.