The ‘nonessential’ government worker’s guide to cheap shutdown eats

October 4, 2013

This post was originally published at 11 a.m., Oct. 1.

If you're one of the workers declared "nonessential" by the federal government, you might soon find yourself with a lot less money and a lot more time. But that doesn't have to mean staying in and subsisting on Hot Pockets. Multi-course weekday lunches at some of D.C.'s priciest restaurants can be had for as little $20. And for even less, you can get cheap eats and classic comfort food from every quadrant in the city. Here's a compendium of all of our resources for cash-strapped gourmands.

Special government shutdown deals

This list has been updated. Because some deals are while supplies last, you might want to call ahead.

Some of them are applicable to everyone, and others are only for those who can present a government ID. Either way, these specials are your ticket to cheap drinks and happy hour bites, and a fun way for you and your coworkers to bide your time. Shutdown drinks and happy hour specials are here, and food deals are below.

• Federal or District government workers with a sweet tooth can get a free doughnut with any doughnut or chicken purchase at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, if they show their employee ID.

A Taylor Gourmet roast pork sandwich (James M. Thresher for the Washington Post)
A Taylor Gourmet roast pork sandwich (James M. Thresher for the Washington Post)

• All Taylor Gourmet locations are giving furloughed workers "a 10 percent discount, career counseling & a cookie" with the purchase of any hoagie or salad.

Ovvio Osteria will give you a free bruschetta appetizer with their already-bargain lunch deal, which gets you two menu items for $12. You have to present a government ID.

• At Osteria Marzano in Alexandria, government workers with ID get 50% off select pizzas during happy hour (4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday), as well as $3 draft beers and $4 house liquors.

All government workers who present their ID at Z-Burger get a free burger from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. No longer -- all of the furloughed workers ate too many Z-burgers and the company was losing too much money.

• The Original Pancake House (Bethesda, Rockville and Falls Church locations) will give government workers with ID  a 15 percent discount.

• On U Street, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt will offer government workers or contractors with ID 20 percent off any size frozen yogurt, with as many toppings as they want.

Posto gets cheeky with a special shutdown menu offering: "B-S Ravioli," or butternut squash ravioli, for $10. They're also offering $5 glasses of wine. Both of these deals are available to all patrons seated in the bar area.

• The Daily Dish in Silver Spring is offering a free cup of coffee to all government workers with ID, no purchase required. "Members of congress pay double," says the cafe.

Vinoteca is extending happy hour drink and small-plate specials to 9 p.m. for anyone with a government ID.

• At BLT Steak, there are $1 oysters (usually $3) for any government employee with ID. It's for people who have gotten a "raw deal" from the shut down. Rimshot.

• Get a free pulled pork sandwich at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray with your government ID. Workers are able to get one free sandwich every day of the shutdown (with the exception of members of Congress, the restaurant says).

 Diners enjoy an evening at Jaleo. (Photo by Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post)
Diners enjoy an evening at Jaleo. (Photo by Joseph Victor Stefanchik for The Washington Post)

• At three Jose Andres restaurants -- Jaleo (the DC, Maryland and Virginia locations), Oyamel and Zaytinya -- chef Jose Andres will be offering government workers with ID a free sandwich from 3-5 p.m. every day until the end of the shutdown. He's going to become a U.S. citizen soon -- read about it in the Reliable Source.

• The Hula Girl Food Truck -- parked at the Navy Yard today, Oct, 1 -- will be giving government workers either a free fountain soda or 10 percent off their purchase.

• If a government worker with ID buys a coffee at Bayou Bakery, he or she will get a free order of beignets.

• Alexandria's Happy Tart Bakery hopes to cheer up government workers with ID by giving them each a free cookie. They're gluten-free!

Soupergirl's curried butternut squash soup, top, garlic white bean soup, right, and noodle peanut salad. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
Soupergirl's curried butternut squash soup, top, garlic white bean soup, right, and noodle peanut salad. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

• At Soupergirl, government workers with ID will get 10 percent off soups and salads -- unless they're members of Congress, in which case, they'll be charged double.

• Over in Woodbridge, government workers can get a free soft drink and slice of pizza at L & B's Sports Bar, if they show their ID. The offer continues for every day of the shutdown.

• Bryan Voltaggio's Range is offering free "Government cheese" pizza to all workers with ID, until the shutdown is over.

• Get a free creamy potato, crispy bacon and chive soup with any purchase while supplies last at 8407 Kitchen Bar. The offer is valid at the bar for those with a government or military ID.

• At the brand new La Mano Coffee, furloughed workers with ID can get a free frittata & biscuit with any purchase.

• In Adams Morgan, Madam's Organ will be offering half-price food from 5-8 p.m. for anyone with a government ID. And they'll buy you your first beer, too.

• Two deals from the Clyde's group: in Chevy Chase, workers with government ID get 20 percent off of their check (excluding the lobster special). In Georgetown, $3 cans of beer.

Circle Bistro is giving government employees with ID 10 percent off of their check.

A rice bowl with paneer and a Mango Lassi shake at Thaaja. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)
A rice bowl with paneer and a Mango Lassi shake at Thaaja. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)

Thaaja joins the contingent of restaurants making members of Congress pay double, but for furloughed government workers with ID, it's 50 percent off of meals from 12-2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m., and $2 beers all day.

The Coupe has a number of 50-cent offerings for everyone during the shutdown, from 2-8 p.m.: Sriracha-glazed chicken wings, deviled eggs with gravlax, chives, and creme fraiche, stuffed medjool dates with spiced Marcona almond, roasted corn hush puppies, and Camembert cheese, wrapped in Surryano ham. No ID required. You can also get $3 Natty Boh’; $4 rum punch and $5 house white and house red wine.

• There are $2 "Furlough Fries" at Quill at the Jefferson Hotel beginning today and lasting through the end of the shutdown -- and they're for everyone, not just workers with ID.

• Non-essentials who get the party started early can head to Glen's Garden Market for a free beer from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., all week. The market is calling it the "Snark & Sarcasm Shutdown Party."

• Furloughed workers in Frederick can get free chicken pot pie fritters at Family Meal. Government ID required.

Asia Nine is offering all government workers a 10 percent discount on their check for the duration of the shutdown.

The Queen Vic asks that you show your government ID or retweet of this tweet to receive a free sticky toffee pudding, while supplies last.

Ruffino's Spaghetti House will give government employees 20 percent off of their bill, excluding alcohol.

• Both locations of Piola will give government employees with ID 4o percent off their bill, and any beer for $2.95 throughout the shutdown.

Mad Fox Brewing Co. will offer 20 percent off all pizzas to federal government and contract employees throughout the shutdown. Be sure to show them your ID before you order.

• All Boston Market locations countrywide will be offering government workers and military personnel a buy-one, get-one-free deal: With the purchase of any family meal, they'll get one roast chicken for free. Government employees can also ask for a coupon to be redeemed at a later date. This offer is valid Oct. 6-13.

Whole Foods locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia will be hosting a free spaghetti dinner on Sunday, Oct., 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for everyone, furloughed or now.

(Hear of any other deals on food and drinks? let us know at goingoutguide@washpost.com)

Frugal and delicious

• Next up: cheap eats. Here's Tom Sietsema's list of some inexpensive go-tos around the area, as well as some GOG favorites.

• If you're looking for something a little spicier, our $20 Diner columnist visits ethnic restaurants, mostly in D.C. suburbs, each week -- and no meal can cost more than $20 (his recommendations for interns are grown-up enough for a budget-conscious adult, too).

• Furloughed workers can still be fancy -- and they don't even have to feel guilty about it. Here's a list of D.C.'s best restaurants that offer multi-course lunch deals, some for as little as $15.

• A gourmet sandwich will fill you up, but won't set you back very much. Neither will a food truck lunch. Here are our guides to D.C.'s best sandwiches and best food trucks.

• Been there, done that? Here are a few brand-new restaurants that are easy on the wallet. The British-themed Duke's Grocery has monster-sized sandwiches -- the Brick Lane Salt Beef can easily feed two. G Sandwich also offers some of the heartiest fare you'll find between two slices. Bar Charley's bar snacks start at $5, and classic cocktails are as cheap as $8. D.C.'s first Smashburger will help you satisfy your fast food craving. You can get a margarita and two tacos during happy hour for $10 at the new El Centro Georgetown.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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