The Sequester Dining Guide, a primer on eating well on a budget

March 4, 2013

I wish I could say we had planned in advance to launch a cheap eats column on the same day the government decided to lead us down Sequestration Lane. But we didn't. Like so many things in life, it was purely a coincidence.


Pupusas: One of the best bargains eats in all of the Washington area. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

I'd call it a happy coincidence, but any change in job status is far too stressful to label it as such. So let's just say there may be some cosmic order to the universe: One hand slaps, the other soothes.

It's too early to know how the massive budget cuts will trickle down and affect different sectors of Washington. Regardless, it's not too early to rethink your dining budget. We're here to help.

Perhaps you've had already read the debut $20 Diner column, which spotlights the grill-centric cooking at Swahili Village Restaurant and Bar in Beltsville. If Kenyan cuisine isn't your thing, we have plenty of other ideas. In fact, Tom Sietsema has 20 more options for cheap eats, including Shake Shack, Bangkok Golden Thai and C.F. Folks, the recent winner of an America's Classics Award.

Now, I don't want to step on my own toes by recommending places I want to review later, but I will suggest these longtime favorites for bargain bites:

• La Chiquita in Takoma Park for pupusas

• Great Wall Szechuan House for ma la dishes

• Ravi Kabob House for lamb kabobs

• Pho 75 for Vietnamese noodle soup

• District Taco for breakfast tacos

• El Pollo Rico for Peruvian chicken

• MGM Roast Beef for hand-carved sandwiches

• Yamas Mediterranean Grill for housemade gyros

• Shawafel for the crispy cauliflower sandwich

Then, of course, there is the fleet of food trucks that roam the District, Arlington and Montgomery County, any one of which can dish out a tasty lunch for around $10.

This list is but a thin shaft of light among the full spectrum of cheap eats available in the area. So consider this a crowdsourced blog item: Add your own suggestions in the comments, so we can all take advantage of some delicious bargains during the dark sequestered days ahead.

Further reading:

• The $20 Diner Manifesto: Finding flavors to savor with none of the hype

• $20 Diner: Kenyan mash-ups make for thrilling cheap eats at Swahili Village

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.
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