Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'A New Era' in DC comes with a price tag...or does it?

“It’s such an interesting time for the real D.C., because for years there has been a whole lot of nothing going on."

Gillian Clark, a soon-to-be restaurant owner in Petworth and author of the above quote, knows a 
thing or two about how DC has made dramatic changes in a remarkable period of time. Even five years ago I cringed and speed-walked when heading east along U Street past 10th Street. My how things have evolved for the better.

In that small period of five years I've seen the rise in popularity (and availability) of wine bars (i.e. Urbana, Cork, Veritas) and cool neighborhood joints in areas that used to be off limits because of crime (i.e. Red Rocks Pizza, Vegetate, The Red Derby, Locolat).

With a new infusion of great restaurants, bars, coffee shops and cultural happenings Washingtonians are defintiely having a great time living in the city. Dare I say we're having the best time we've ever had here? 

Problem is, many of these places price too many people out from enjoying the fruits of their existence and what they have to offer. 

Case in point: Last night a couple girlfriends and I 
had a well 
overdue and much-needed catch up at Marvin on 14th Street (see picture with Obama on the side of the building). If you love a place with a dark, moody ambiance and great jazz or funk music (depending on whether it's during the week or Fri/Sat) and nooks and crannies to get comfy in, then it's a great place to be. But as much as I cherish all of that, I can't justify spending 
$9 on a glass of Pinot Noir or Bordeaux more than once in a blue moon. As part of my New Year's resolution to save money, laying down that kind of cash just isn't going to work. 

So, is it possible to eat, drink and socialize in DC on the cheap?

Feel free to disagree, but I think the answer is a resounding YES!!!

A couple of great examples:

El Paraiso on 14th, just south of U Street. As one reviewer
on Yelp put it: "This is one of my favorite 'I do not want to cook tonight" and "let's meet 
for margarita" restaurants! I truly believe the name is apt for this great little unfussy neighborhood gem."

El Sol, 9th and T. Great chips and salsa, carne asada and shirmp tacos. Cheap, cheap, cheap!

Stetson's, 16th and U. An old-crowd favorite. 
Cheap beer and wings; nice outdoor space for summer get-togethers.

What other places do you love that don't require half your paycheck


  1. Haydee's in Mt. Pleasant has a fun atmosphere and great latino fare that is sooo cheap. Also, Amsterdam Falafel on 18th in Adams Morgan is a great spot for a quick and low budget meal! You can stuff your falafel with a variety of tasty toppings, add some fries to your order, and you've got a great meal under $10.

  2. ah, yes, i too find my voice get a bit hypher when I get to talk about the evolution of this neighborhood in the past 5 years. It's just wonderful. The time of this hood/city is here. along with the many cheap gems that you mentioned, I'd probably ad "chix" at 11th and U. The place is tiny, but it does have some of the best roasted chicken around. Must try. Also, "Etete" on 9th and U. Small, cozy and really good ethiopian. Through the grapevine, I've also heard of an excellent greek place at the corner of 12th&U. To be checked out and reported on.