clock menu more-arrow no yes
Copycat Co.
Copycat Co.
Facebook

Chefs' Favorite Cheap Eats: 25 Picks from D.C.'s Cooks

Eat cheap where the chefs go.

View as Map
Copycat Co.
| Facebook

Chefs always have the best intelligence on great places to eat, whether they specialize in specific cuisines, after hours eats, or in this case, cheap eats.

Of course, there are the usual suspects: tacos, Chinese food, sandwiches, pizza, ramen and pho. But they have also found some undiscovered grocery store finds and Indian food.

One chef, Josu Zubikarai of SER, even treks out to Hooters, his personal favorite cheap spot, on his Harley mounted with a set of horns from a buffalo he hunted 15 years ago. He's a sucker for the Daytona buffalo wings.

Eat like a chef and save at these 25 favorites.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Copycat Co.

Copy Link
1110 H St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 241-1952
Visit Website
Recommended by: Shannan Troncoso, Brookland's Finest, Chef
Why: "They have one of the few late night menus available every day (which is good for us industry folks). The triple delight dumplings and the beef bao are my favorites."

[Photo: Facebook]

2. Donburi

Copy Link
2438 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Recommended by: Robb Duncan and Violeta Edelman, Dolcezza, Owners
Why: Warm rice, fresh salmon, and umami soy — the perfect Japanese comfort food.

[Photo: Facebook]

3. Indigo

Copy Link
243 K St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 544-4777
Recommended by: Shannan Troncoso, Brookland's Finest, Chef
Why: "It's a block from my house. This family-run business is putting out some great authentic food. We go there at least once a week. Their lamb biryani and spicy goat curry are my favorites. They change the menu daily, and they also have a lot of great vegetarian options."

[Photo: Facebook]

4. Jam Doung Style

Copy Link
1726 N Capitol St NW
Washington, D.C. 20002-2184
(202) 483-2445
Recommend by: Anthony Lombardo, The Hamilton, Executive Chef
Why: Jamaican jerks and curry

[Photo: Yelp]

5. Meat In A Box (Two Locations)

Copy Link
2005 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Recommended by: Travis Weiss, Mad Fox Brewing, Executive Chef
Why: "God, so many. They do grilled wings, pizza, and skewers."

[Photo: Facebook]

6. Pho 75

Copy Link
1721 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209
(703) 525-7355
Recommended by: Samuel Kim, 1789 Restaurant, Executive Chef

[Photo: Yelp]

Why: The obvious.

7. Pho Viet

Copy Link
3513 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010
(202) 629-2839
Visit Website
Recommended by: Jenna Pool, Pool, Macon Bistro & Larder, Chef de Cuisine
Why: "I eat there about once a week. (I'd go more if I lived closer). Nothing beats a bowl of Jimmy's pho, a couple spring rolls and a glass of Vietnamese iced coffee. He makes the best in town as far as I'm concerned."

[Photo: Yelp]

8. Surfside Taco Stand

Copy Link
1800 N St NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 466-1830
Recommended by: Travis Weiss, Mad Fox Brewing, Executive Chef
Why: "My severe weakness is the 24 hour Surfside window. Crack....in the best way."

[Photo: Yelp]

9. Taqueria Habanero

Copy Link
3710 14th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20010
(301) 789-7407
Recommended by: Adrian Salazar, Mango Tree, Executive Chef

[Photo: Yelp]

Why: Stellar tacos.

10. Thai Square

Copy Link
3217 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204
(703) 685-7040
Visit Website
Recommended by: Maura Radmanesh, Tower Oaks Lodge, Pastry Chef

[Photo: Yelp]

Why: Authentic Thai food.

11. Yekta Kabobi & Market

Copy Link
1488 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 984-0005
Visit Website
Recommended by: Maura Radmanesh, Tower Oaks Lodge, Pastry Chef

[Photo: Facebook]

Why

12. A. Litteri, Inc.

Copy Link
517 Morse St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 544-0184
Visit Website
Recommended by: Brad Deboy, Blue Duck Tavern, Chef de Cuisine
Why: It has the best classic Italian sub.

[Photo: Facebook]

13. Daikaya

Copy Link
705 6th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 589-1600
Visit Website
Recommended by: Douglas Alexander, Art and Soul, Executive Chef; Garret Fleming, Executive Chef, Barrel
Why: Spicy miso ramen with an egg and pork belly; shoyu ramen.

[Photo: Facebook]

14. Taqueria El Sol

Copy Link
3911 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20011
(202) 704-2526
Recommended by: Brad Deboy, Blue Duck Tavern, Chef de Cuisine
Why: "It has the best tacos; try the pastor and lengua tacos."

[Photo: Yelp]

15. Toki Underground

Copy Link
1234 H St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 388-3086
Visit Website
Recommended by: Brad Deboy, Blue Duck Tavern, Chef de Cuisine
Why: "It's the best place for noodles at lunch; try the red miso."

[Photo: Facebook]

[Photo: Yelp]

16. Ba Le Bakery & Deli

Copy Link
2822 Graham Rd
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 876-9062
Recommended by: Tim Ma, Water & Wall, Chef and owner
Why: "I’m a huge fan of Ba Le, which I often hit up on the way home for banh mi (open 24 hours except for one day a week)," Ma says.

[Photo: Yelp]

17. Bangkok Golden

Copy Link
6395 Seven Corners Ctr
Falls Church, VA 22044
(703) 533-9480
Visit Website
Recommended by: Garret Fleming, Barrel, Executive Chef
Why: "I like the Nam Khao, a spicy crunchy rice salad that resonates of citrus and fresh herbs," Fleming said.

[Photo: Yelp]

18. Cho Eden Supermarket

Copy Link
6763 Wilson Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22044
(571) 730-4430
Recommended by: Tim Ma, Water & Wall, Chef and owner
Why: It has a little hidden food area near the back that features duck, pork, rolls, etc. "I usually like to visit between shifts or really any time I have a chance to get away and eat."

[Photo: Yelp]

19. Il Canale

Copy Link
1063 31st St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
(202) 337-4444
Visit Website
Recommended by: Garret Fleming, Barrel, Executive Chef
Why: "The best pizza they have is the Pizza al Diavola which can be purchased for $13 at lunch time, three of the four slices fills me and leaves me enough snack to save for HH the same day. The San Marzanos are always sweet to balance the bitter on the perfect char they achieve with the rippin' hot oven."

[Photo: Facebook]

20. La Chocita

Copy Link
4800 Annapolis Road
Bladensburg, MD 20710
Recommended by: Josu Zubikarai, SER, Chef
Why: For authentic Mexican food.

[Photo: Yelp]

21. Market 2 Market

Copy Link
116 E Del Ray Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301
(571) 312-3010
Visit Website
Recommended by: Caitlin Dysart, 2941, Pastry Chef
Why: "My go-to cheap eats spot is Market 2 Market, a great neighborhood deli in Del Ray. Sandwiches are my favorite food and I usually get a craving Sunday afternoon. I like the Monroe (a cold turkey sandwich) or the Reuben if I want to go all-out. You get a sandwich, chips and a drink for only $10. And they have a large selection of craft beers."

[Photo: Facebook]

22. Panda Gourmet

Copy Link
2700 New York Ave NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 636-3588
Recommended by: Katsuya Fukushima, Daikaya, Chef
Why: "The fact that it's cheap is an added bonus. Hell, I’d still go there if it was double the price it’s so good! The pork belly is great, the fresh noodles, the cucumber salad, the fresh sautéed wood ear mushrooms, and the cumin spicy lamb are all delicious. I try to take whomever I can there when I have the opportunity."

[Photo: Facebook]

23. Piola (Two Locations)

Copy Link
2208 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 986-8729
Visit Website
Recommended by: Joel Hatton, 1905 Restaurant, Executive Chef
Why: "I sometimes go to Piola on 14th on the weekends after work because it’s quiet and open till 1 a.m. The Margherita pizza is only $11, but I usually get the Chicken Parm, which is $16, but it’s a huge portion of chicken, pasta, and tomato sauce with bread and olive oil."

[Photo: Facebook]

24. Shake Shack

Copy Link
1216 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 683-9922
Visit Website
Recommended by: Garret Fleming, Barrel, Executive Chef
Why: "The now ubiquitous Shake Shack smoke shack sans pepper pickles does me right in a pinch."

[Photo: Yelp]

25. Mr. Henry's Restaurant

Copy Link
601 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 546-8412
Visit Website
Recommended by: Ivan Zivkovic, Ambar, Chef
Why: The Blues Burger with melted blue cheese and red onion jam

[Photo: Facebook]

1. Copycat Co.

1110 H St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
Recommended by: Shannan Troncoso, Brookland's Finest, Chef
Why: "They have one of the few late night menus available every day (which is good for us industry folks). The triple delight dumplings and the beef bao are my favorites."

[Photo: Facebook]

1110 H St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

2. Donburi

2438 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Recommended by: Robb Duncan and Violeta Edelman, Dolcezza, Owners
Why: Warm rice, fresh salmon, and umami soy — the perfect Japanese comfort food.

[Photo: Facebook]

2438 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

3. Indigo

243 K St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
Recommended by: Shannan Troncoso, Brookland's Finest, Chef
Why: "It's a block from my house. This family-run business is putting out some great authentic food. We go there at least once a week. Their lamb biryani and spicy goat curry are my favorites. They change the menu daily, and they also have a lot of great vegetarian options."

[Photo: Facebook]

243 K St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

4. Jam Doung Style

1726 N Capitol St NW, Washington, D.C. 20002-2184
Recommend by: Anthony Lombardo, The Hamilton, Executive Chef
Why: Jamaican jerks and curry

[Photo: Yelp]

1726 N Capitol St NW
Washington, D.C. 20002-2184

5. Meat In A Box (Two Locations)

2005 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Recommended by: Travis Weiss, Mad Fox Brewing, Executive Chef
Why: "God, so many. They do grilled wings, pizza, and skewers."

[Photo: Facebook]

2005 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

6. Pho 75

1721 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209
Recommended by: Samuel Kim, 1789 Restaurant, Executive Chef

[Photo: Yelp]

Why: The obvious.
1721 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209

7. Pho Viet

3513 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
Recommended by: Jenna Pool, Pool, Macon Bistro & Larder, Chef de Cuisine
Why: "I eat there about once a week. (I'd go more if I lived closer). Nothing beats a bowl of Jimmy's pho, a couple spring rolls and a glass of Vietnamese iced coffee. He makes the best in town as far as I'm concerned."

[Photo: Yelp]

3513 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010

8. Surfside Taco Stand

1800 N St NW, Washington, D.C. 20036
Recommended by: Travis Weiss, Mad Fox Brewing, Executive Chef
Why: "My severe weakness is the 24 hour Surfside window. Crack....in the best way."

[Photo: Yelp]

1800 N St NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

9. Taqueria Habanero

3710 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
Recommended by: Adrian Salazar, Mango Tree, Executive Chef

[Photo: Yelp]

Why: Stellar tacos.
3710 14th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20010

10. Thai Square

3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204
Recommended by: Maura Radmanesh, Tower Oaks Lodge, Pastry Chef

[Photo: Yelp]

Why: Authentic Thai food.
3217 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204

11. Yekta Kabobi & Market

1488 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852
Recommended by: Maura Radmanesh, Tower Oaks Lodge, Pastry Chef

[Photo: Facebook]

Why
1488 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

12. A. Litteri, Inc.

517 Morse St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
Recommended by: Brad Deboy, Blue Duck Tavern, Chef de Cuisine
Why: It has the best classic Italian sub.

[Photo: Facebook]

517 Morse St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

13. Daikaya

705 6th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Recommended by: Douglas Alexander, Art and Soul, Executive Chef; Garret Fleming, Executive Chef, Barrel
Why: Spicy miso ramen with an egg and pork belly; shoyu ramen.

[Photo: Facebook]

705 6th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

14. Taqueria El Sol

3911 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20011
Recommended by: Brad Deboy, Blue Duck Tavern, Chef de Cuisine
Why: "It has the best tacos; try the pastor and lengua tacos."

[Photo: Yelp]

3911 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20011

15. Toki Underground

1234 H St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
Recommended by: Brad Deboy, Blue Duck Tavern, Chef de Cuisine
Why: "It's the best place for noodles at lunch; try the red miso."

[Photo: Facebook]

[Photo: Yelp]

1234 H St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

Related Maps

16. Ba Le Bakery & Deli

2822 Graham Rd, Falls Church, VA 22042
Recommended by: Tim Ma, Water & Wall, Chef and owner
Why: "I’m a huge fan of Ba Le, which I often hit up on the way home for banh mi (open 24 hours except for one day a week)," Ma says.

[Photo: Yelp]

2822 Graham Rd
Falls Church, VA 22042

17. Bangkok Golden

6395 Seven Corners Ctr, Falls Church, VA 22044
Recommended by: Garret Fleming, Barrel, Executive Chef
Why: "I like the Nam Khao, a spicy crunchy rice salad that resonates of citrus and fresh herbs," Fleming said.

[Photo: Yelp]

6395 Seven Corners Ctr
Falls Church, VA 22044

18. Cho Eden Supermarket

6763 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044
Recommended by: Tim Ma, Water & Wall, Chef and owner
Why: It has a little hidden food area near the back that features duck, pork, rolls, etc. "I usually like to visit between shifts or really any time I have a chance to get away and eat."

[Photo: Yelp]

6763 Wilson Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22044

19. Il Canale

1063 31st St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007
Recommended by: Garret Fleming, Barrel, Executive Chef
Why: "The best pizza they have is the Pizza al Diavola which can be purchased for $13 at lunch time, three of the four slices fills me and leaves me enough snack to save for HH the same day. The San Marzanos are always sweet to balance the bitter on the perfect char they achieve with the rippin' hot oven."

[Photo: Facebook]

1063 31st St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

20. La Chocita

4800 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg, MD 20710
Recommended by: Josu Zubikarai, SER, Chef
Why: For authentic Mexican food.

[Photo: Yelp]

4800 Annapolis Road
Bladensburg, MD 20710

21. Market 2 Market

116 E Del Ray Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301
Recommended by: Caitlin Dysart, 2941, Pastry Chef
Why: "My go-to cheap eats spot is Market 2 Market, a great neighborhood deli in Del Ray. Sandwiches are my favorite food and I usually get a craving Sunday afternoon. I like the Monroe (a cold turkey sandwich) or the Reuben if I want to go all-out. You get a sandwich, chips and a drink for only $10. And they have a large selection of craft beers."

[Photo: Facebook]