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October 21, 2012 / bikesbytesbites

Cheap Eats 2010-2012: A Recap

In 2010 I started on a quest to visit all 100 restaurants on Washingtonian’s Cheap Eats list. When I started I grandfathered in restaurants on the list I had already visited. When the end of the year came (ie, when the Washingtonian issue containing the 2011 Cheap Eats restaurants appeared, I hadn’t made it to all of the restaurants on the 2010 list, so I grandfathered in the ones on the 2011 list (there is a 20 percent turnover) and continued on my quest. I *would have* finished this quest in 2011, but the 2012 Washingtonian list came out in June, while the 2011 list hadn’t appeared until August. So, I started over on the 2012 list, with about 20 restaurants to go.

I did it! I can now report that I have eaten at every restaurant on Washingtonian magazines 2012 Cheap Eats Restaurants list. So I think I should do a recap. There have been highs and lows.

The Good

So starting with my Best Cheap Eats (in no particular order):

  • Damoim, Annandale VA. Fusion Korean-Mexican cuisine. Really. (Gotta love American ethnic pluralism when it results in blends like this.) The short rib tacos are to die for. Great atmosphere, too.
  • Ray’s the Steaks at East River, Anacostia, DC.  A great place and a great way to support economic development in a part of town that hasn’t had much of it.  Yes, there are steaks, but also Southern Fried Chicken.
  • PS 7, between Chinatown and Penn Quarter, DC.  A perfect combination — a Cheap Eats (bar) menu, but served in a restaurant that also has a more expensive menu, so you get the advantage of great service and a lovely setting (great outdoor dining) without paying for expensive food.
  • Bangkok 54, Arlington VA. It’s kind of not fair to include this on the list, since it’s one of my longtime neighborhood favorites.  But now I can go without feeling guilty that I’m not experiencing a new restaurant.
  • R & R Taqueria, almost-to-Baltimore (Elkridge) MD. Very unique atmosphere (a converted gas station). Very good Mexican food.
  • Sundevitch, Logan Circle, DC. Fantastic, unique sandwiches and salads. But teensy.
  • Burma Road, Gaithersburg MD. Anything not on the American menu.

The Bad

Probably, the least said about the bad, the better.  But I wasn’t particularly impressed with:

  • Shawafel, H St NE. Blah Middle-Eastern (shawarma and falafel, get it?)
  • Sidebar, Silver Spring MD. Teensy portions of so-so bar food.
  • Eamonn’s. Fish and chips. Period.
  • Any Pho place (but that’s just me)
  • Most of the chicken places (except Sardi’s, and again, that’s just me)

What’s Next?

I’m on the lookout for another quest, until the 2013 Cheap Eats list comes out.  I thought of visiting all bike shops within a 15-mile radius of home, but I’ve probably already been to them all. Suggested gratefully accepted.

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