There is one simple fact of college life that has been true since colleges existed. Students want cheap food, and they want to know where to find it. That’s especially true in a town like DC, where the burgeoning restaurant scene might actually be enough to prevent a government shutdown. Luckily, for college students in the area, there are still a number of places in DC where you can get a good meal for under $10. Here’s a look at some of the best.
The first choice is an obvious one. Go to your nearest grocery store and eat at home. Emphasis on the words grocery store. There are smaller stores nearby that might be a bit more expensive than what you’ll see listed below. However, grocers will provide a better variety at a lower price. It’s the best way to save money. As a college student, you should be intimately familiar with the following foods: macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and ramen soup. There’s also any number of frozen foods that you could pop into the microwave and get creative with. Some notable and healthy choices are:
- Ocean Eclipse Salmon, Wild Caught – $6.99-$7.99 for 2 pounds
- PictSweet All Natural Chopped Spinach – $1.99 for 16 ounces
- Rice Expressions Organic Brown Rice – $4.69 for three 10-ounce pouches
- PictSweet All Natural Blackeye Peas – $1.99 for 16 ounces
- Dole Blueberries – $4.20 for 12 ounces
These aren’t your father’s TV dinners, so you can buy them, cook them up, and eat them with the added bonus of still feeling like an adult! However, if going out is more your thing, try these below places on for size.
Located at 2425 18th Street NW, Amsterdam Falafel is one of the more popular spots to eat a lot of food for not a whole lot of money. No matter what you decide to fill your falafel sandwich with—tahini, yogurt sauce, fresh or pickled vegetables, hot sauce, etc.–it’s hard to go wrong with their wide variety of sandwich toppers. You might even be able to challenge yourself with this: how much food can you possibly cram into a pita? Go ahead and indulge yourself, because regardless of what you manage to put in, it will only cost $5-$6 either way.
Ramen is an inexpensive and quick way to fill up. And as mentioned above, students should get to know it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean making it at home. A five minute bus ride from NE Massachusetts AVE & NE 4TH Street will get you to H Street’s Toki Underground. Where you can enjoy inexpensive, rich meaty broth and noodles, starting at $11. This includes chashu pulled pork and soft boiled egg with the option to add noodles, extra meat, or egg for a few dollars more. And if that isn’t enough, you can add a side order of crisped pork, beef, chicken, seafood or vegetarian dumplings. Toki Underground is located at 1234 H Street NE. Be warned, there might be a wait here.
El Chucho has two things going for it. First, it offers a sit down meal of tacos and tortas at a reasonable price. An order of two meaty tacos is about $6, while the heartier torta sandwiches are about $12. Second, it’s close by. From Union Station, it’s only about a 20 minute ride. Not bad for a place with a menu of frozen margaritas that are $7 and under. El Chucho is located at 3313 11th St NW.
Fast Eddies’ Sports & Billiards
- Step 1. Walk over to Union Station Metro Station.
- Step 2. Get on the Red Line to Farragut North Metro Station.
- Step 3. Eight minutes later get off and walk over to Fast Eddies’ Sports & Billiards at 1520 K Street, NW
- Step 4. Enjoy $5 burgers, half price pizzas, sports and pool.
And it doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Grillfish is one of those spots known for having a great happy hour with appetizers ranging from $4.25-$9.50 among other specials. It is located at 1200 New Hampshire Ave. NW, which is roughly 11 minutes off the Red Line. And a cool perk for eating here is that the restaurant has recently partnered with the West End Cinema. Meaning that if you bring your same day receipt to the WEC, you’ll receive discounted tickets at the student rate of $9. Also, if you have proof of having bought tickets online in advance, you’ll receive 10% off your entrees at Grillfish (same day as the show). That almost makes this the perfect spot for a night out on a budget.
College life is tough enough as it is. There’s no reason to go hungry while you’re working, studying, and planning for your future. You just have to know where to go and what to get. That way, you can not only eat well but have some fun along the way. Bon appetit!