Dining on a Budget in Washington, DC

Dining on a budget is easy to do at these delicious spots in Washington, DC.

When living or visiting a world-class city, there are fine dining options galore. But if you keep to a budget, these meals might be more than a bit out of reach. Thankfully, there are also a lot of affordable dining options in town. Start with this list for a few of our favorites, spanning several cuisines and areas of town, for meals around the $10 mark.

Cheap Eats in Washington, DC

Ben’s Chili Bowl

For an inexpensive meal filled with variety, make a visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl. The menu is filled with hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and, of course, chili bowls. Diners can also enjoy sweet milkshakes, salads and vegetarian options. The menu’s most expensive single meal item comes out to under $15. If you love Ben’s Chili Bowl, there’s some good news—they also ship nationwide, so you can enjoy it at home. 

Henry’s Soul Cafe

Sometimes you just want a classic home-cooked meal without actually having to do any of the cooking parts yourself. Those times call for the fine Southern cooking at Henry’s Soul Cafe, where their filling lunch plates include a protein, two sides and dinner roll or cornbread. Go for comfort with their sliced turkey with stuffing and gravy, the meatloaf and mashed potatoes or roasted chicken. One of the best deals on the menu is the Big Henry double pork chop sandwich; it is so big you probably don’t need to order a side. If you have room, end your meal with a slice of their famous sweet potato pie.

Arepa Zone

If you have never had a Venezuelan arepa, head to Arepa Zone to give them a try and understand the hype. These handheld stuffed cornmeal cakes are available with various fillings, similar to a pita pocket sandwich. The Sifrina arepa with chicken salad, avocado and cheddar cheese makes a good lunch choice, or the Pernil with roasted pork, sliced tomato and queso fresco for something a bit heartier. Indecisive eaters can try a trio of mini arepas to taste a few at once and pick a favorite. Whatever you decide to order, ask for an extra side of the house green sauce for dipping. 

Arepas | WhereTraveler
Arepas (©Frederick Medina)

Hana Japanese Market

Are you looking for something different? Head to Hana Japanese Market and explore their international groceries and goodies. The tiny footprint is stuffed with tons of imported snacks, unique drinks, produce and convenience foods. Go early to get the best selection of their traditional onigiri rice balls and musubi. On weekdays they even offer premade bento boxes, perfect for lunch or dinner. Grab a few new treats to try at home, like their frozen mochi or takoyaki.

District Taco

You don’t need to wait til Taco Tuesday to knock out your cravings at District Taco. The four locations around town are open daily with a menu of tacos, burritos, bowls and salads with your choice of fresh proteins and toppings, including a vegan Beyond meat option. Start your day with a great deal, a trio of breakfast tacos with steak or chorizo for under $10. Other filling menu faves include the California Burrito (with guac and fries inside), fish tacos or Nachos Borrachos for lunch or dinner. 

Taco | WhereTraveler
Taco (©Fernando Andrade)

Keren Cafe & Restaurant

Recognized by the Michelin Guide, Keren Cafe and Restaurant is the spot to go for authentic Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. Breakfast is served all day at this humble hole-in-the-wall spot, including frittatas and sandwiches alongside traditional fava bean dishes. The friendly and helpful staff are happy to explain the menu and help with ordering. The Keren Special is recommended as a good order for first-timers, with grilled spiced meats and an array of vegetable dishes served with injera bread and a house salad. 

We The Pizza

The first location of We the Pizza opened on Capitol Hill nearly 15 years ago. Since then, the area chain has expanded to five locations serving fast-casual Italian food and house-made sodas. You won’t be limited to a sad slice of pepperoni or cheese pizza here because they have over 14 specialty pizzas available by the slice in combinations like Spicy Sicilian, Margherita Burrata and Capitol Supreme. If you are dining with a group, get a whole pie to share and add on a salad, saucy tossed wings or an order of garlic knots. 

PIzza | WhereTraveler
Pizza (©Shourav Sheikh)

Amsterdam Falafel Shop

Falafel and shawarma lovers flock to Amsterdam Falafel Shop for hearty meals of these Mediterranean staples. The namesake crispy chickpea patties are fried fresh to order and stuffed into fluffy pita sandwiches or served in bowls, with your choice of over ten types of toppings of vegetables and sauces. Meat eaters can get their sandwiches topped with hot and juicy chicken shawarma shaved fresh from the spit. Diners can even buy frozen packs of their falafel or fresh pita bread to go, to heat and eat from the comfort of home.