At the beginning of the semester, it is easy to have good intentions with your finances. You budget your Colonial Cash, decide how much you want to spend on your groceries, and plan when you will cook instead of eating out. But as class, work and internships quickly come into full swing, the demands of everyday life can be overwhelming. Your painstaking grocery budget is blown on expensive takeout when you are too tired to cook, or you spend the money you planned to use for a few dinners out on one heavenly (but overpriced) bottomless brunch. Here’s the thing: eating out does not always need to be a huge splurge. If you spend wisely on your meals, you will save yourself both stress and time spent sweating in the kitchen. Next time you find yourself too burnt out to boil water, consider checking out one of these budget-friendly restaurant options in the Foggy Bottom or Dupont Circle area.
Address: 2423 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
With a choice of chicken teriyaki for $9.95 or veggie tempura for $8.95, the One Fish Two Fish Bento Box is a steal for any meat-lover or vegetarian alike. The Box also comes with three California sushi rolls, a small salad, a serving of crab rangoon, refreshing edamame, and rice. If you’re like me and hate having to choose just one entrée at Chinese restaurants, this dish is an awesome alternative option. It is not only a great deal but an awesome sampler of some of the restaurant’s best offerings. One Fish Two Fish is a quick, easy takeout or delivery option as well.
Address: 1919 M Street, NW
Although the legendary District Taco three tacos for $7 deal was recently upped to three for $8, the variety of toppings and large portions still make it a bargain. You can customize each taco with fillings like carnitas (pulled pork), pollo asado (grilled chicken), or barbacoa (slow cooked shredded beef), and other toppings like Pico de Gallo, shredded cheese, fresh jalapeños, raw onion, and more. You can have all three tacos the same or try out different combinations of ingredients for each; what’s great about this place is your meal is inexpensive, but completely personalized to your taste. As a bonus, it’s next to impossible to eat all three tacos in one sitting, so there’s tomorrow’s lunch. The restaurant is also very casual, so it would be easy to swing by and pick up your trio of tacos on the way home from work.
Address: 2040 I Street, NW
This campus favorite may have a reputation as a dive, but the bar-restaurant’s takeout window is super convenient – and cheap. Its central location makes it simple to stop in for a bite at any hour. My personal favorite menu item is the grilled cheese, made with the bread and cheese of your choice and ringing in at $3.50. You may want to spend your savings on a healthy side to go with your sandwich, but this is the least amount of money I’ve ever spent on a meal in the Foggy Bottom area. And if grilled cheese isn’t quite your thing, there are also plenty of other options that cost far less than $10.
*This hyperlink leads to the Yelp page because Lindy’s doesn’t have an official restaurant website.
Address: 1301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
This eclectic and funky diner boasts a range of affordable options on both its lunch and dinner menus, but for me, the salads reign supreme. The tangy and savory Apple Blue Salad is only $7.95, while the loaded Taco Salad is just $8.95. You also have the option of adding tuna, chicken, steak, or salmon to any of the salads for $2-$5. Besides the cheap eats, Luna Grill also offers a cool atmosphere, with good music and artsy ambiance. I suggest bringing a few friends or maybe a date and settling down to dine in.
Address: 528 23rd Street, NW
While many items on this menu fall just out of the $10 range, there are some entrées still under budget. The Grilled Chicken Oriental, with snow peas or mixed veggies, is a great option, and so are the various noodle and fried rice entrée options. Ranging from curry fried rice to shrimp fried lo mein, these dishes all come in generous portions, so your savings will continue when you snag the leftovers. Magic Gourd has speedy takeout or delivery, but dining in with one of their famous volcano drinks is not a bad option, either.