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Best Restaurants in DC | Dining on a Budget

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The best restaurants in DC to dine on a budget and enjoy a fun and delicious meal


Washington, DC is a vibrant city with a diverse population. It is home to the federal government of the United States of America, many international organizations, and more than 600,000 residents. In addition, with its many museums, it is a destination for thousands of tourists every year.

I have called this city home for about two years now and enjoy the diversity it has to offer, especially when it comes to food (and we’re not just talking about DC’s chocolate shops, which we already know Jessica loves.) It can be expensive to dine out, as many of the restaurants cater to the politicians and others who come to the capital to on expense accounts.

So, after visiting the museums and seeing the monuments, where can a Travel Belle find the best budget restaurants in DC to have a good dinner and local experience? Here are a few suggestions:

The Washington metro area is home to a large community of immigrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many restaurants in the city feature cuisine from this region of Africa. One of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants is Etete, located near the intersection of U and 9th Streets Northwest. For Travel Belles who have not had Ethiopian food before and enjoy culinary adventures, this is a perfect place to go for dinner.

It is casual and often busy, but always worth the wait. The menu features a variety of different stewed vegetable and meat dishes served with injera, a tangy flatbread that is used in place of utensils (yes, you get to eat with your hands!) All food at Etete (and most other Ethiopian restaurants) is served on a large communal plate and everyone enjoys the dining experience together. To eat, you break off pieces of the injera and use it to scoop up bites of the various dishes. Eating at Etete is a culinary and cultural experience and a lot of fun!


How good would a list of suggestions for best restaurants in DC to dine on a budget be without… Pizza

For Travel Belles seeking something a little more familiar, there is always pizza. RedRocks Firebrick Pizzeria is in Columbia Heights at the intersection of Park Road and 11th Street Northwest. This tiny corner of the neighborhood has become home to several locally owned cafes and restaurants, including a fun wine bar, pub, and this lovely pizzeria. All of them are cozy and have friendly service – perfect neighborhood restaurants.

The menu at RedRocks features delicious brick oven pizzas with top-notch cheese, as well as a variety of appetizers, salads, and panini sandwiches. They also serve good Italian and American beer, wine and craft cocktails. I have eaten here several times and always start my meal with the warm olives. Baked with herbs and lemon slices, they arrive at the table warm and steaming. Of course, the star of any meal here is the pizza.

The crust is thin and chewy with toppings of excellent quality. My favorite is the most basic: Margherita with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Whenever I have dinner here I like to sit at a table by the window and enjoy a bottle of Italian wine, olives, pizza and the quiet pace of this little corner of the city.


In the mood for French?

There are several excellent French restaurants in the nation’s capital and one of my favorites is Bistrot du Coin. Located in Dupont Circle, this lively bistro is open 364 days a year (it only closes for Labor Day, the first Monday in September) and serves classic French dishes. When I want to reminisce about cafes in Paris, this is where I go. And what to order? All the food is good, but I think the salads, mussels, and fries are especially delicious. They also serve pâté, duck confit, raviolis, cassoulet, steak frites and much more.

Bistrot du Coin is almost always busy, so it’s a fun place to go to enjoy some delicious food and watch the Dupont Circle neighborhood scene.


Best Restaurants in DC for hip dining

For me, noodles are the perfect comfort food, especially during a long winter. In Washington, the perfect place to enjoy a warm bowl of comfort is DC Noodles on the U Street Corridor in Northwest. This hip little restaurant serves Asian fusion noodle dishes in a vibrant atmosphere. For the soups, you pick the broth, noodles, and type of protein (chicken, seafood, pork, beef or tofu), and soon you are enjoying a large, delicious bowl of soup. They also serve basic wok stir-fried noodle dishes like pad thai, pad see ew, and khao soi.

Everything is fresh, delicious, and served in generous portions – perfect after a long day of sightseeing!

Regardless of what type of food you crave, there is always a restaurant in DC to enjoy a delicious meal and the local culture in the nation’s capital while sticking to a budget!

Photos property of and by the author and used with permission.

4 thoughts on “Best Restaurants in DC | Dining on a Budget”

  1. DC is one of those places that isn’t always at the top of people’s lists to visit, but every time I go there, I find myself thinking, it should be!

  2. I never knew that there was a big Ethiopian community in DC, very cool! Love the sound of the French restaurant as well! Yum!

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