4 Amazing Places to Eat in DC for Under $20



DC eats — for some, it’s a breeze to stop by a high-end restaurant next to the Capitol and move on with their week. For others, ballin’ on a budget is a daily grind.

Whether we like it or not, the district can be pricey when it comes to the food scene.

At times, that’s just the price we have to pay for living in our nation’s capital.

At others (like now), the #FrayLife comes around to tell you that it’s possible to grab a quality meal without leaving your wallet crying for help.

Believe it or not, you can score great BBQ, boujee ramen bowls, “this doesn’t taste like DC pizza” pizza, and everything in between here in the district … for under $20 (if you know where to look) — yes, you read that right.

Need proof? Here’s our list of the best places you can eat in DC for $20 or less:

1. Menomale

Photo Credit: Menomale

2711 12th St NE

Range: $10 – $16

No sleep ‘til…Brookland? Not to be confused with the infamous Brooklyn, New York, Brook-land is a low key, quiet neighborhood located in the Northeast quadrant of DC. Most don’t know the neighborhood well, or the fact that it brings some of the best Neapolitan inspired pizza in all of the DMV area with Menomale.

Bringing wood-fired pizzas since 2012, Menomale has become known for its incredible tasting pizza, served at low and affordable prices. Serving your typical Margherita, to its very own “Brooklandissima” (roasted zucchini, roasted peppers, artichokes, gorgonzola and mozzarella), the pies are crafted and proportioned perfectly for everyone. Next time you’re in the area with a hot date or just looking for a quick bite with your pals, Menomale is the spot to hit.

#FrayLife Tip: Menomale serves all of its pizzas uncut because “true Neapolitan Pizza is not sliced”. Even though they offer to cut it if you’d like, don’t let them! Each pie comes with its own set of pizza scissors to cut yourself, which adds a fun and engaging aspect to the dining experience (and great footage for your Snapchat!)

2. Chaplin’s

Photo Credit: Eater DC

1501 9th St NW

Range: $10 – $14

There’s nothing better than some freshly made ramen noodles. No, we’re not talking about the microwaveable, college-dorm kind of ramen — we’re talking traditional ramen cooked under japanese native, master ramen chef, Myo Htun. Htun has been cooking ramen at Chaplin’s for the DC community since 2016. The menu ranges from high-end ramen bowls to traditional japanese dishes, some pricier than others.

The standard ramen menu, however, does come with large portions at low prices. With traditional Miso, to its house named “Chaplin A.S.S.” bowl (yes, that’s the name), Chaplin’s offers a ramen option for any and everyone. Add ons can range from $2-$4, but even with that, your bill will remain low and keep you satisfied. Chaplin’s is by far the ideal place to go for some of the best ramen in the city!

#FrayLife Tip: Sit outside if you can. Chaplin’s has got awesome curbside seating with a great view of the beautiful Shaw neighborhood!

3. DCity Smokehouse

Photo Credit: Best Thing on the Menu

203 Florida Ave NW

Range: $12 – $20

You don’t have to take a trip down South to enjoy some quality BBQ eats. In fact, the district has got its very own south style BBQ joint. After closing in 2016 in hopes of relocating, DCity was able to grab a spot in the NW and reopen in 2017. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or to stay awhile for a great meal, DCity is the place for it.

Half-smokes, ribs, mac and cheese — DCity’s got it all. Pitmaster Shawn McWhirter took over the restaurant after it reopened in 2017 and has been delivering some of the best BBQ in the DC ever since. McWhirter successfully defies the notion that good food requires a high price tag by creating delicious southern food all at reasonable costs.

#FrayLife Tip: The go-to is the “Meaty Palmer”. McWhirter created it himself and it is guaranteed to keep you going back for more!

4. District Taco

Photo Credit: District Taco

Eastern Market, Dupont, Metro Center & Tenleytown

Range: $3 – $13

It’s no secret that DC is home to some great mexican restaurants. There’s El Centro, Rosa Mexicano, and Mi Vida. What do all of these have in common? Their outrageously high prices. Few know that it’s very possible to grab a great mexican bite in the city, all at a low price.

Behold: District Taco. Starting off in 2009 as two friends with housemade chips, salsa and guac on a food truck, District Taco has evolved into one of the most known mexican eateries in the area. We like to think of District Taco as a high end Chipotle and a low end El Centro. Basically, DT is the happy medium.

Grab anything from a couple tacos, to a full out burrito bowl, or go big with a meat-stuffed burrito. Throw in some chips, salsa and/or guac and boom: you are in for a mexican food experience like never before. When you’re at DT, you’re never rushed and always feel welcomed and involved, and that’s something no amount of money can buy!

#FrayLife Tip: Don’t waste your time asking for extra add ons like pico de gallo or salsa; DT has multiple self serve salsa bars to add as much or as a little of those essentials as you’d like!

Did we miss your favorite low-priced restaurant in DC? If so, drop us a comment telling us what it is! Or better yet, next time you’re there, tag us in a pic on social using #FrayLife.

Need some dessert ideas for after your meal? Here are our top ice cream spots in the city!


View More Articles By Nicole LaRusso




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