By Sheela Lal and Komal Thakkar
Sheela Lal is a recent college graduate interning in DC for the second summer and Komal Thakkar is a rising senior at George Washington University. Below is part 1 of their guide (about food) to living in DC.
Amsterdam Falafel – They’re eco-friendly, super cheap, and have a garnish bar with 21 toppings and sauces.
Baked and Wired – Ever since DC Cupcakes came out on TLC, Georgetown Cupcake has gained tremendous popularity. While the cupcakes are delicious, you’ll get an equally delicious cupcake from Baked and Wired without all the madness.
Ben’s Chili Bowl- I’ve been told it’s not a trip to DC until you go to the historic Ben’s Chili Bowl. I’m vegetarian, so I can’t give you any tips, but apparently it’s all the rage.
Busboys and Poets – Standard, well priced food. Pasta, pizza, and the like. However, it’s their open mike nights, comfortable couch seating, and artsy atmosphere that I love.
Etete – U St. is one of my favorite areas, although it’s best navigated in larger groups as I don’t always feel safe on every street there. The Ethiopian food is incredible. Etete is by far my favorite.
Julie’s Empanadas – Head south of the border for some South American, freshly baked pies. Dirt cheap too!
Kramerbooks – Definitely on the pricier side, but totally worth it for a late night dessert run. Their brunch is great too! If the wait is long, the bookstore will keep you entertained.
Nooshi – Want to sit down for a nice Southeast Asian dining experience? They’ve got a great happy hour and large portions. Be prepared to wait though.
Old Ebbitt Grill – It’s the oldest restaurant in DC! Not cheap, but their menu is amazing! The restaurant itself is beautiful as is the surrounding architecture.
Rasika – By no means is this your average Indian restaurant. It claims to serve innovative Indian cuisine, and it does just that. Avocado with chutney? Who knew it would taste so good? WARNING: This is only a place I go to when my parents are in town and footing the bill. Portions are also rather small considering the bottomless pit that is my stomach.
The Diner – An Adams Morgan staple that attracts an interesting crowd. It’s the perfect comfort food spot, and it’s open 24 hours.
Founding Farmers – It’s a family favorite and their menu offers great options, especially vegetarian ones! Their brunch is my my favorite.
Because I live in residential housing, my relationship to food in DC is very different than Komal’s. I am not the biggest fan of the food in the city, primarily due to its cost. To counter that, I have invested time in finding discount websites such as ScoutMob, Living Social, GroupOn, and Capitol Deal.
Otherwise, I do a lot of grocery shopping. In my personal experience, Trader Joe’s is the best grocery store in town (cheap and quality produce, and other goods), but if you have a car, make sure you get out of the District and head to any of the three Wegman’s grocery stores in Maryland and Virginia. The other grocery stores like Safeway, Giant, and Whole Foods are too expensive or their produce isn’t worth it.
My favorite places to eat:
Kabob Palace - It’s in Crystal City, but worth the short metro ride. Incredible Afghan kabobs and biryani.
While we’re talking about Crystal City, both Thai places on 23rd St. are delicious, and honestly, the food in the “suburbs” is delicious and worth the trip. There are great ethnic restaurants in the beltway because, well, the rent is too damn high in the city, and many immigrants can’t afford to set up shop. Many interns or newly employed DC-ers forget that the suburbs are more than where families live.
Though I say there are great restaurants outside the city, I would be remiss if I didn’t echo Komal’s thoughts on DC food. It’s good. In the past 10 years, from what I’ve heard, it has improved a lot. There are a lot of affordable options available through these coupon sites and apps.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Komal and Sheela’s guide to DC living!
Washington Monument image via