While the trend of small plate meals has taken hold in the DMV, there are still options out there for plates overloaded with rice, beans, chorizo, pollo, and carnitas that will keep anyone full all afternoon. Some of these spots are holes-in-the-wall, and others can serve more than a hundred hungry patrons. Some have traffic as its background music, but one soothes diners with a piano. All of these joints keep it simple because it's only one order, one plate, and one appetite destroyed.Read More
Latin Plate Lunches That Don't Drain the Wallet
1. El Rinconcito Cafe
Washington, DC 20001
Nothing like a plate of chicharones (fried pork) to kill a craving. With a side of rice, re-fried beans, and tortillas all for about $13, there's still money left over for a cold Tecate. The bar takes up half of the small dining spot, so it's perfect for solo eaters who just want a quick bite.
2. El Sauce
Washington, DC 20001
One block north of El Rinconcito near a Latin grocer is a little outpost with plate meals running around $10-12. Serving the typical staples of chicken, beans, and rice, this place isn't fancy. And the interior isn't too inviting, so it's best of make this more of a carry-out option.
The guys behind Dupont Italian Kitchen have expanded east and opened this homage to Frida Kahlo's husband Diego Riviera earlier this summer. The space is bigger than the other players on this list and prices run higher here (as expected with a 14th St establishment). But the carne asada with rice, beans, and plantains is totally worth it.
4. Haydee's Restaurant
The locals swear by it. And they know what they are talking about. For less than $14, score a plate of camarones entomatados (shrimp in tomatoes) with salad and rice. For the hearty carnivore, Haydee's combo has three proteins — steak, chicken, and shrimp — all on one plate. With two locations to choose from (the other is in Brightwood), a need for Salvadorian dishes shouldn't go unfulfilled.
5. Dos Gringos
A more hipster choice in an ever-more hipster nabe, the key here is to order the Honduran plato tipica. Sure, it's on the breakfast menu, but it's available all day. Egg, plantains, beans, and a bunch of other deliciousness. One plate for only $7.
Washington, DC 20009
At the intersection of bars, clubs, restaurants, and sorority girl shrieking known as AdMo, Mixtec has been serving up satisfied patrons for a while. And for less than an Andrew Jackson, you can score the plato Zapoteca with grilled chicken, pork tamale, cheese enchilada with mole, and rice and beans with guac. That's the same price as one and half drinks at any dive around the corner.
7. Banana Cafe and Piano Bar
Who doesn't want to dine on Cuban food while being serenaded by a piano? Exactly. In Eastern Market, both worlds collide at Banana Cafe. For $11, the Puerto Rican plate has a timbale with pork, beef, and sweet plantains plus two kinds of cheeses. And don't forget the sides of rice and beans. And the sweet, sweet sounds of piano keys.
8. Lauriol Plaza Restaurant
This Dupont spot is known more for its pitchers of margaritas and wild weekend crowds. With its large platters of enchiladas, grilled steak, ribs, and other pan-Latin specials — many for under $20 — there is still money left for another round of drinks to share with friends.
9. Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Yeah, the interior may be over the top, but the food hits it where it counts. For $17, eat like the ultimate carnivore with steak, chicken, chorizo, and shrimp with salad on the side. And to elevate the dish, a sauce with Dijon is included.
10. Super Tacos & Bakery
Try the carne asada at Super Tacos and get steak, rice, beans, salad, tortillas and your fill of food for only $10.50.