Ahh, DC in the summer: humid 95-degree days, random thunderstorms and thousands of broke college students clad in Ann Taylor pencil skirts trying to make it big. DC is a city that’s ripe with cheap eats, thanks to the many colleges that call it home. Eating Easy Mac and McDonald’s in a city with food as good as DC is a sacrilege, so use this guide to put your time in the city to good use.
1. Good Stuff Eatery
Finding a burger that doesn’t come from Mickey D’s under $10 is a true struggle in DC. Lucky for you, Good Stuff Eatery has a whole smorgasbord of burgers that clock in right around $7.
The fries here are something else—thick, crispy, greasy fries that actually taste like they’re made of potatoes. Swing by the dipping bar on your way to your table to pick up fun sauces like Sriracha mayo and silently thank yourself for not making Ramen for the umpteenth time.
2. Ching Ching CHA
M Street in Georgetown is an absolute nightmare in the summer time, jam-packed with tourists running around trying to find “that cupcake shop they saw on TV.” But Ching Ching CHA is completely worth rustling your way through the crowds for—it’s an oasis of affordable teas, snacks and meals that are light and perfect for the summer months.
If you’re a tea fiend, this is your mecca: the tea menu is pages long, packed full of oolongs and tisanes. The dumplings and rolls coming in at only $5, so you can have a meal complete with a perfect cup of tea for way less than most restaurants.
3. Cava Grill
DC’s Mediterranean scene is on point, and Cava Grill is a prime example—any place that offers “Crazy Feta” on top of your meal ought to have a special place in your heart. Cava Grill has a bunch of locations scattered throughout the DC area, offering crispy falafels and creamy tzatziki to fill you up.
The best part of Cava Grill? You can get a full meal, with plenty for leftovers, for under $10. Jackpot!
4. Amsterdam Falafel
You’re doing something wrong if you leave DC without eating here. Not only is Amsterdam Falafel dirt cheap, the food is delicious and flavorful. The topping bar is out of this world, offering all types of pickles, sauces and garnishes to customize your falafel sandwich.
Amsterdam Falafel is especially awesome for vegetarians and vegans alike, serving up crispy falafels that you’ll want to write home about. The fries here are not to be missed—thick, bold and unapologetic, they’re perfect for sopping up the leftover sauces from your falafel.
5. A food truck
There’s a reason food trucks are everywhere in DC: they’re cheap and amazing. Run out to one during your lunch break, and both you and your wallet will be full and happy. Dumpling and DC Slices like to set up shop by GWU, where a lot of interns live during the summer, but they can be found on most streets downtown and by the Capitol. Don’t you dare leave DC without experiencing the beauty that is food trucks.
Pro tip: ask your boss what his or her favorite food truck is. Not only will they be flattered, but you’re guaranteed to get a good meal.