About Eat Great Cheap 2019
This article is a part of Washingtonian’s Eat Great Cheap feature, our annual list of where to eat (and not break the bank) right now. Our food editors put together the best new restaurants around DC where you can find Detroit-style pizza, Japanese egg-salad sandwiches, chicken-nugget-filled tacos, and more—for $25 or less per person.
423 Eighth St., SE
Chefs Scott Drewno and Danny Lee recently expanded their Chinese-Korean fast-casual beyond its Capitol Hill flagship to Dupont Circle (and San Diego). High energy and bold flavors, along with cold beer and booze, make both counter-service restaurants worthy dinner destinations. The new shop has longer hours, with lunchtime rice bowls, a mean bulgogi hoagie (think Korean steak-and-cheese), and, at brunch, XO shrimp-and-grits and bloodies. Great any time: fiery lamb noodles and that now-famous chopped brisket with furikake-buttered rice.
3 Grand Corner Ave., Gaithersburg
Few culinary sights are as transfixing as a chef pulling, flipping, and slapping a small mound of dough into what looks like a thousand strands of noodle—in less than a minute. At this counter-service spot, you choose your noodle thickness and protein, then take a place by the counter and watch. Chewy knife-cut noodles paired well with roast duck, while thick noodles were bolstered by a fortifying broth floating with rounds of oxtail, daikon-radish crescents, and bok choy.
2972 Gallows Rd., Falls Church
Hot pot might be in this restaurant’s name, but it’s no longer the main attraction since the former owners of Tempt Asian in Alexandria took over earlier this year. The best finds are concentrated under the “chef specialties” section of the menu—in particular, the handmade noodles, whether cumin-scented strands stir-fried with lamb and peppers or the wide, chili-oil-soaked ribbons in the “city large plate chicken.”
814 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria
Come seeking comfort at this southwestern Chinese noodle house steps from the Potomac River. In a quiet room hung with tapestries from co-owner Zongmin Li’s native Yunnan, you’ll find chrysanthemum tea and the soft rice noodles called mixian. The spaghetti-like strands are the specialty here, either in delicate soups or a homey toss of tender braised beef and its jus (a summery alternative: the refreshing liang mixian salad with marinated chicken and vegetables). Bowls can make a meal, but small plates—tangy cucumbers, steamed lotus-leaf buns with pork belly or tea eggs—are worth the diversion.
This article appears in the August 2019 issue of Washingtonian.