Washington, DC is a great place for foodies. The cultural diversity in this town is equal to cities like New York and Chicago. Your culinary options range from local food trucks that line the sidewalks around L’Enfant Plaza to the top celebrity chefs’ restaurants in Georgetown that are invading the city in hoards. It all sounds pretty great but eating out can be expensive especially in DC, where an average lunch + beverage will cost you $15-$20. Fortunately, there are still some eateries in the Washington metro where you can stretch your $20 bucks and leave feeling satisfied.
Rustico: Cheap and Excellent Beer Selection by the Glass
Choose from a variety of rotating microbrews and imported beers on tap and drink to your heart’s desire without fear of bloating and maxing out your credit card because at Rustico, you can pay per taste and not per pint. With tastings starting at $2 each, your $20 can buy you up to ten different kinds of beers from different parts of the world, and with alcohol volumes as high as 10%, it might only take a few to get you in a particularly cheery mood. Rustico has two locations in Virginia: Alexandria and Ballston.
Passionfish Reston: Best Secret Happy Hour Spot
Is it five o’clock yet? If the answer to that is yes, then head over to Reston Town Center and grab one of the bar tables at the popular PassionFish Restaurant because they will not remain empty for long. This seafood eatery offers one of the best happy hour specials in the DC metro area with a menu of signature food and cocktails for a mere $5 each—practically unheard of in any major city, much less near Washington. Enjoy a classic Brazilian caipririnha with blackened tuna tacos or a mojito with Peruvian ceviche.
Estadio: Small Plates for Smaller Appetites
There is no better way to maximize your culinary budget than hitting a tapas place like Estadio. This one in particular has a wide selection to choose from and with very reasonable prices to boot. Your 20 bucks will likely buy you up to three courses of tasty tapas. It might even be enough to fill you up for the night. The ambiance is definitely vibrant. This is the type of place people go to catch up with friends. Estadio is right on the corner of 14th and Church Streets NW and offers brunch and lunch menus as well.
Tryst Coffee House and Bar: Café Culture on Display
This independent café and bar at the newly revitalized Adams Morgan district offers some of the best and cheapest coffee, tea, and snacks within a five-mile radius of the Capitol. For less than $10, you can get yourself a cup of organic loose-leaf tea and Tryst’s sumptuous Death by Chocolate dessert waffle whose single serving is large enough to split between a few people. The place offers free WiFi and is a favorite hangout by students and young professionals that live around or venture to the area.