Cheap Eats 2016: Mi La Cay

Good for Groups Extra-Cheap

In this era of abbreviated communications, here’s one to remember: M9. That’s the designation on the menu at this quick Vietnamese cafe for a gigantic bowl of egg-noodle soup. Don’t bother with the thin strips of beef massed near the top—this is not about the meat. It’s not even about the tangle of egg noodles, which have great spring. It’s about the broth, a tongue-coatingly rich extraction of beef fortified with dried shrimp. Voilà—surf and turf in liquid form! Mi La Cay is no one-hit wonder. You’ll also find the best bánh mì outside of Falls Church and a slew of small, simple plates that deliver unexpectedly big flavor—lacquered quail with lime dip, say, or tightly bundled grape leaves packed with beef, onions, and black pepper and plucked hot from the grill.

Also good: Cold-cut bánh mì; egg noodles Phnom Penh with soup on the side; bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup); iced Vietnamese coffee.

See what other restaurants made our 2016 Cheap Eats list. This article appears in our May 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.