Where Do Chefs Eat Cheap?

We asked the white-coat set where they slurp pho, tear into Korean pancakes, and indulge addictions to pickle juice.

“The beef-brisket sandwich from Wagshal’s in Spring Valley (4855 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-363-5698). It’s fatty but not too much, smoky but not too much, and the rye is a perfect chewy foil for the rich meat and a schmear of mustard. I always get a Dr. Brown’s cream soda with it.”

Antonio Burrell, chef de cuisine, Masa 14

“At least once a week, sometimes more, my husband and I go to Pho 75. It makes a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I usually order a regular Number 12—no cilantro. Every now and again we get the chicken pho, which is excellent as well. I would love to be able to get a beer with it, but they don’t serve it.”

Tracy O’Grady, chef/owner, Willow

“Korean seafood pancake from H Mart in Falls Church (8103 Lee Hwy.; 703-573-6300). I order it with a side of kimchee. It’s simple and good.”

Bertrand Chemel, executive chef, 2941

“Crabcakes from Jimmy’s Grill at the Maine Avenue Fish Market (1100 Maine Ave., SW; 202-484-6008). The crabcakes are all crab, unlike some that are mostly breading, and I order them with yeast rolls and wilted spinach. It’s great to be by the water and watch all the people at the market haggling for their fish. It’s like taking a step out of DC and going to the Eastern Shore.”

Rachael Harriman, chef de cuisine, Sou’Wester

“I love the crispy roasted potatoes with malt aïoli at Bar Pilar. It’s a tasty snack. I’m normally with my fiancée and a few friends, so we order a good many other dishes, but I’d be damn happy sitting at the bar relaxing with a good IPA and just those taters.”

Daniel Singhofen, executive chef, Eola

“I go to the Quarry House Tavern and get tater tots and a drink called a Pickleback—cheap Jameson Irish whiskey and pickle juice. I love it—the pickle juice cleans your palate. And the tater tots, there’s just something comforting about them.”

Pedro Matamoros, chef/owner, 8407

Pho from Pho Hoa Binh (11782 Parklawn Dr., Rockville; 301-770-5576). I get the small with fat brisket and extra-soft tendon. For under $8, you get a pile of noodles, almost a full quart of broth, a half pound of bean sprouts, jalapeño, lime, and about two full branches of basil. I need to grab a mixing bowl just to fit everything in. The bean sprouts are always fresher than anything you see in the grocery store.”

Nate Waugaman, executive chef, Addie’s


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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 Petworth.