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The Best Cheap Eats in Washington D.C.

D.C. might be best known for being the epicenter of politics in America but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be a hotbed for amazing food. The capital is a great spot to land when one is hankering for a good meal. But where are the smartest, savviest diners eating out? Welcome to our Tastemakers List. We’ve pulled data from thousands of restaurants to find the top spots among OpenTable's most expert, seasoned diners. Explore the city through food with some of the best cheap eats in the country.

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The OpenTable Team
16 Restaurants
Updated October 01, 2021
Restaurants:Jaleo DC, Due South, The Arsenal at Bluejacket
Price Range:$$ - $$$
Cuisines:Spanish, Southern, Contemporary American
Neighborhoods:Penn Quarter, Navy Yard
A photo of Jaleo DC restaurant

Jaleo DC

$$$$
Spanish
Penn Quarter
4.7
9776 reviews
Chef Jose Andres and his team have developed a delicious menu of Spanish cuisine that celebrates both the traditional and the cutting-edge. The food showcases the spirit and flavors of Spain and the atmosphere is festive, stylish, and casual. They've been open since 1993 and are a great place to pop in for a cheap bite after work or on the weekends. The menu features dishes like Jamon Iberico, cheese plates, sopas, and ensaladas — all at totally reasonable prices.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Due South restaurant

Due South

$$$$
Southern
Navy Yard
4.5
1242 reviews
Due South serves up thoughtfully prepared dishes that celebrate the best of the South. Chef Rusty Holman and his team prepare cherished family recipes they have shared for generations, including his signature house-smoked barbecue and regional classics like shrimp and grits. They have won awards for both their very reasonably priced food and their signature cocktails. Plus, the location on the newly revitalized Anacostia Riverfront Boardwalk offers a dazzling waterfront view!

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A photo of The Arsenal at Bluejacket restaurant

The Arsenal at Bluejacket

$$$$
Contemporary American
Navy Yard
4.4
1009 reviews
The Arsenal is the home restaurant at Bluejacket Brewery and is the perfect place for beer lovers to get a delicious quaff and a cheap bite to eat. The restaurant features a constantly rotating selection of 20 Bluejacket beers and five Bluejacket cask ales that you can pair with everything from loaded nachos to a farmstead salad to giant, juicy burger without breaking your wallet. The space itself is open and gorgeous and is the perfect setting for a night out with friends or an intimate date.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Dirty Habit | The Glass House restaurant

Dirty Habit | The Glass House

$$$$
Global, International
Penn Quarter
4.0
1616 reviews
Dirty Habit is fairly new on the scene in D.C. This gorgeous restaurant features innovative plates and expertly crafted cocktails, as well as a beautiful urban patio. The bar and restaurant are always buzzing with energy and whether you drop in for a delightful dining experience or cocktails during happy hour, you’ll find out how Dirty Habit has gained such a great reputation so quickly. They have a tantalizing selection of small plates, including seared foie gras, crispy calamari, and a poke tuna dish as well as larger plates, all with prices lower than you’ll find at other swanky spots in the area.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Sette Osteria - 14th St restaurant

Sette Osteria - 14th St

$$$$
Italian
Logan Circle
4.1
615 reviews
This vivacious restaurant is a fun and friendly spot to grab a cheap bit along 14th Street, one of the city’s liveliest streets. Sette offers artisan pizza and handmade pastas, as well as a wide array of wine and cocktails. They also feature a superb brunch that is a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. Check out their happy hour for discounts on drinks as well as delicious small plates and pizzas.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of O-Ku - DC restaurant

O-Ku - DC

$$$$
Sushi
Washington
4.8
1304 reviews
O-Ku Sushi in Union Market offers a bevy of raw fish options, Japanese whiskeys, and multiple bars where you can grab a drink and socialize with your friends. They have two floors of dining options and a large roof deck for open-air dining. Chef Bryan Emperor has come up with a delightful selection of nigiri, sashimi, and gourmet rolls as well as larger dishes like lamb chops, slow-cooked beef short ribs, and fluffy sea bass. They're the perfect spot to grab a tasty bite and enjoy a beautiful atmosphere.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Persimmon restaurant

Persimmon

$$$$
American
Bethesda / Chevy Chase
4.8
2542 reviews
Persimmon is an American bistro located off the beaten path from Bethesda’s bustling downtown. Chef Damian Salvatore is a native of Bethesda and knows the local restaurant scene well. As a result, he’s developed a niche menu of incredible starters, seasonal salads, and signature entrees that hit the mark in this neighborhood. You don’t have to worry about spending a fortune, either — starters and salads are super cheap and even the lavish entrees are reasonably priced.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of The Smith – Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C restaurant

The Smith – Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C

$$$$
American
Penn Quarter
4.5
2942 reviews
The Smith is a casual American Brasserie with locations in both NYC and DC. Located in the heart of the U Street corridor, the newest location offers a lively and boisterous atmosphere that is perfect for a night out with friends, a pre-show meal, or a cheap late-nite bite. Enjoy one of the bistro classics, something from the raw bar, shared dishes, or one of the many pizza and pasta choices paired with a delicious cocktail or beer.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Buck's Fishing & Camping restaurant

Buck's Fishing & Camping

$$$$
American
Chevy Chase
4.5
719 reviews
This is a small, neighborhood independently owned restaurant complete with a woody, fire lit atmosphere. They're a perfect place to enjoy local produce, meats, and fish without breaking the bank. Start out with some of their appetizers for the table, such as the famous onion rings and smoky dip, deviled ham spread with toasts, or mini corn dogs. They have a great selection of salads as well as hearty mains like the over-roasted heritage half a chicken, pan-roasted line-caught halibut, and prime beef burger.

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A photo of Le Chat Noir restaurant

Le Chat Noir

$$$$
French
Friendship Heights
4.1
2024 reviews
Le Chat Noir is a popular French restaurant and wine bar located in Friendship Heights. They have great prices on appetizers, such as the Saumon Fume, Escargots and Burrata, as well as their salads and main dishes. The bistro-style setting is perfect for a date or for small groups, and their delicious food and fantastic wine list make it easy to relax in a laid-back and friendly setting. They also feature daily specials that make use of the fresh produce available locally.

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A photo of Peacock Café restaurant

Peacock Café

$$$$
Contemporary American
Georgetown
4.8
1677 reviews
Established in 1991, Peacock Cafe is a staple of Georgetown life. They are one of the friendliest restaurants in the city and offers an eclectic menu with something for everyone. The atmosphere is always bustling and you can find a seat inside near the charming courtyard or outside on the sidewalk during warmer weather. Indulge in one of the classic soups or salads, one of the chef’s signature burgers, or a rich and savory entree. If you’re only looking for a small plate, the cheap appetizers are delicious too!

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Matisse restaurant

Matisse

$$$$
Contemporary French
Tenleytown
4.7
1482 reviews
This opulently decorated restaurant evokes the work of their namesake and is a stunning place to sit and enjoy a meal. The menu adds a contemporary flair to classic dishes and features a fantastic wine selection as well. Stepping inside, you might expect Matisse to be the kind of place with prices as high as the ceilings, but you can find some great deals on lunch and dinner items such as their salads and appetizers. This is the perfect place to take a date or a colleague for a business lunch and they will thank you!

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of BlackSalt restaurant

BlackSalt

$$$$
Seafood
Palisades Northwest
4.8
6272 reviews
This seafood shop and dining room has been around for over a decade and the crowds still love them. The menu highlights fresh seafood and a number of Italian dishes such as fresh pastas. Some of the standout plates include the wood-grilled octopus with salsa verde, steamed mussels with bacon and ale, whole grilled branzino, and their bouillabaisse. The Happy Hour is definitely worth checking out — you can get great prices on oysters, calamari, seafood stew, fish and chips, and more! It’s one of the best cheap places to eat in D.C.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of RIS restaurant

RIS

$$$$
American
West End
4.3
3159 reviews
RIS is an upscale neighborhood restaurant in the West End that serves seasonal American cuisine by executive chef Ris Lacoste. They have a fantastic menu that puts their own spin on American classics. If you want for a great deal, check out the Lunch Club at the bar, where you can choose from a selection of dishes paired with a glass of wine or beer for one set price. You can also regularly find great deals on the bar menu as well as cheap eats on the lunch and dinner menus.

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A photo of SEI restaurant & lounge restaurant

SEI restaurant & lounge

$$$$
Asian
Penn Quarter
4.4
2359 reviews
SEI is a modern Asian restaurant that makes a perfect spot for romantic dinners, corporate events, and all types of celebrations. The sushi chef, Noriyaki Yasutake, is from Fukuoka, Japan, and has been making homemade sushi since he was seven years old! They offer a wide variety of exciting dishes, from rice bowls to tacos to sliders, and the small plates are great for sharing with a group to keep prices down.

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A photo of The Source by Wolfgang Puck restaurant

The Source by Wolfgang Puck

$$$$
Asian
Penn Quarter
4.7
3652 reviews
Located at The Newseum, The Source by Wolfgang Puck offers an elegant dining experience where you can enjoy the innovative Asian cuisine dishes in a sleek and contemporary setting. After checking out the museum, head to the ground floor bar and lounge to sample one of the bar bites paired with a refreshing beer. They also have a full sushi and sashimi menu, all at prices that won’t make you gasp. Plus, if you hang on to your museum ticket you can get a 15% discount on your meal.

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