Food & Drink

The 16 Best Things to Eat in DC for $5

Published On 07/08/2015 Published On 07/08/2015
The Well Dressed Burrito
The Black Squirrel
DCity Smokehouse
El Camino
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
The Well Dressed Burrito
Heather Victoria Photography
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Urbana
Richard Sandoval Restaurants
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1. The Black Squirrel 2427 18th St NW , Washington, DC, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

This massive, Adams Morgan beer hall pours 'em tall, dark, and handsome. Black Squirrel offers a plethora of domestic and imported draft and bottled beers in all ales and stripes. Feeling peckish? The in-house kitchen serves up some seriously insane burgers, and the topping list is just as varied as the beer menu-- goat cheese jalapenos on your bacon burger? Yes please.

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2. DCity Smokehouse 8 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Noma)

DCity Smokehouse hosts a four-seat BBQ joint led by pitmaster Rob Sonderman. You’ll find menu items like the chicken and red velvet waffles and Sondermans’ smoked meats, and you can get a protein grand tour with a smokehouse meat platter. As far as we are concerned, DCity is one of the best places to get BBQ in Washington DC.

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3. Baan Thai 1326 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Baan Thai dares to go where other DC Thai places don't, in terms of heat and tang. The concept, housed inside Tsunami Sushi, evolved out of staff meal where more authentic dishes were devoured by Thai employees. Leading the charge is a chef whose name is as awesome as her food: P’Boom. You need to try her crispy rice cakes with chicken and shrimp, chicken stuffed in tapioca skin, stir-fried pork picnic, and coconut griddle snacks for dessert.

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4. El Camino 108 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, 20001

The hot spot comes from the team behind 1905. Order like a boss on your first visit by requesting one of every kind of taco, and tack on the chilaquiles — a cast iron skillet filled with chips, salsa verde, and gobs of smoked Gouda. Nothing vegetarian and gluten-free ever tasted so good.

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5. Kapnos 2201 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

Chef Mike Isabella's 14th Street Corridor restaurant is a go-to for upscale but reasonably priced Greek food. Open for dinner nightly and brunch on the weekends, Kapnos serves a small-plates menu of spreads, mezze, phyllo pies, and whole roasted meats like lamb, goat, duck, chicken, and suckling pig. There's plenty of seafood as well, given that wood-fire grilled octopus is the house signature. The wine list is stacked with red and whites from Greece and kegged lemonades.

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6. DC9 Nightclub 1940 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

DC9 is a club with great live music and a nice rooftop bar, but it also has fantastic food, including some of DC's best burgers.

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7. Copycat Co. 1110 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

From Barmini graduate Devin Gong, hip restaurant/bar Copycat Co. combines craft cocktails with Northern Chinese bites like pot stickers, skewers, and bao buns. In addition to a permanent cocktail menu loaded with the classics, bartenders rotate through weekly (hand-drawn!) specialty menus featuring toddys, daiquiris, juleps, and more. Copycat is spread out across two floors: the first is for a quick beer and bao, while the upstairs is a relaxed lounge where you can unwind for hours.

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8. Well-Dressed Burrito 1220 19th St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

Good thing this joint is down an alley near Dupont Circle, because you won't want anyone to see your face as you chow down on the Well Dressed Burrito's Nacho Supreme, which can come with grilled steak or chicken. Maybe if you ask super nicely, you'll get both. We're not making any promises.

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9. Dino's Grotto 1914 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Shaw)

Dino's Grotto is the kind of cozy Italian restaurant that breeds regulars. Its first location in Cleveland Park ran for nine years before closing in 2014. Shortly thereafter, the owners reopened Dino's 2.0 in Shaw. The menu is full of original crowd favorites like wild boar papparadelle, duck bolognese lasagna, and lump crab fettuccine. Though there are protein-based mains like duck breast and Tuscan pan-fried chicken, pasta is definitely Dino's speciality, so if you aren't avoiding carbs, the pasta-centric prix fixe dinner should be on your radar.

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10. Tortilla Cafe 210 7th St SE, Washington, 20003 (Capitol Hill)

You may know Tortilla Cafe from its spot on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but in any case make sure to get yourself an order of the tamale or empanada platter for $5.45, both of which come with two sides (we dig the yucca and plantains).

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11. Ivy and Coney 1523 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Shaw)

Ivy and Coney is a homey dive bar in Shaw that delivers a relaxed neighborhood vibe, delicious hotdogs, and a menu that includes nothing over $6.

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12. DGS Delicatessen 1317 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

DGS Delicatessen takes the idea from your old Jewish grandmother's kitchen and elevates it with a modern and creative spin that gives this authentic deli-bar new flavor and energy with a homestyle base. Styled after the turn-of-the-century grocery stores, DGS Delicatessen house cures and smokes their all meats and fish as well as crafts their own duck fat matzo balls.

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13. Keren Restaurant & Coffee Shop 1780 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

This family-run Eritrean spot, located at the foot of Adams Morgan, might just be the happiest restaurant in DC -- everyone is smiling, even those eagerly awaiting a table so they can chow down on the soft and sour injera, or a piping-hot, fan-favorite bowl of ful (a garlic-laced fava bean mash topped with garnishes reminiscent of American chili). The warm and welcoming staff will make you feel right at home while they serve it to you. A bonus? You'll find some of the cheapest beers in town here.

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14. Smoke & Barrel 2471 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

Smoke & Barrel has meat that is smoked with reclaimed bourbon barrels. In fact, not only do they have great smoked meats but they also have a great beer selection (25 cans and another 25 drafts) as well as 45 bourbons and whiskeys (not to mention their beer/shot combo "boiler crafters").

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15. Urbana 2121 P St NW , Washington, DC, DC 20037 (Dupont Circle)

With a swanky lounge vibe, Urbana offers a classic Italian menu from Chef Ethan McKee that features artisan pastas, fresh-caught seafood, and locally grown vegetables. You can't go wrong with the bucatini with jumbo lump crab or the diver scallops. The cocktail program as Urbana is just as classic and quality, brimming with Italian liqueurs and house-made ingredients, plus a happy hour that never disappoints.

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16. Latin Lounge at Zengo 781 7th Street Northwest , Washington DC, DC 20001 (Chinatown)

Antonio Sabato, Jr. reclining on pillows: move over, because you are no longer the sexiest Latin Lounge. That title now goes to one just built out below Zengo, which pays (... sexily pays!) "tribute to Latin American culture and cocktails" with a mingle-facilitating design (high-top communals with pincushion leather stools, a long 'n sleek concrete bar), and, for those who opt into the "Owner's Club", personal "liquor lockers", which ironically, the cool high school jocks would want to stuff themselves into.

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