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Eating in D.C. can be bank-breaking. With so many big-name chefs opening up exciting, premium restaurants on every corner, it’s tough to find a filling bite for lunch for less than $10 anymore. The city has seen its food culture Renaissance — though that may be a blessing for foodies with refined palates and generous pocketbooks, it’s a curse for those living and working in the city who can’t afford to shell out more than a few dollars a plate. In protest of these skyrocketing prices, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the D.C. area’s best cheap bites and eateries. Items on the list range from “best bang-for-your-buck” to “best value for quality” to just plain dirt-cheap. Go forth. Arm yourself with knowledge. Feed yourself.

breakfast

Pete’s Diner

212 2nd Street SE

Price Range: (for breakfast) $3.95 – $8.95

Politicians frequent this Capitol Hill diner, and so should you. This place sells the works: big, greasy egg platters, dirt-cheap breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes as big as your face. Get an order of three enormous sweet potato pancakes for $5.95. You won’t have to eat again for at least a month. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

The Coupe

3415 11th Street NW

Price Range: (for breakfast) $7.50 – $13.50

The Coupe is on the “upscale” side of cheap. Respectable diner food, with more options than your typical greasy spoon. Try a tasty tofu quiche with lots of vegetables for $9.25, or a plate of five banana pancakes for $8. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

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Lincoln’s Waffle Shop

504 10th Street NW

Price Range: (for breakfast) $4.95 – $10.95

Think of Lincoln’s as a less frightening Waffle House. You won’t leave dazzled by culinary brilliance, but you will leave full. Get a huge chicken and waffle platter for $8.95, or just a giant waffle for $3.50. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Open City

2331 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20008

Price Range: (for breakfast) $7.00 – $12.00

With options like a jalapeño-touched Hashbrown Bowl and the Ten-Thirty-Five burger on an english muffin, Open City makes you feel good about ordering breakfast at any time of the day. Like, really good. -Avery Anapol

The Diner

2453 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Price Range: (for breakfast) $2.00 – $12.50

Who doesn’t like the option of eat breakfast at 4 AM? At The Diner you can do that. You can eat breakfast any time you want. Doesn’t that sound lovely? – Sarah Guan

Florida Avenue Grill

1100 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009

Price Range: (for breakfast) $1.75 – $11.95

Florida Avenue Grill is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, so you know that their food is good. Stop by The Grill, the oldest soul food restaurant in the world, and enjoy a great diner breakfast. – Sarah Guan

Room 11

3234 11 St NW, Washington, DC 20010

Price Range: $3.00 – $13.00

Yes you can get a Taco Choco at Room 11 at dinner. But you can also get delicious pastries and breakfast too. Maple cinnamon granola, anyone? – Sarah Guan

U Street Cafe

1301 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Price Range: (for breakfast) $2.19 – $8.99

Free wifi and all-day breakfast means you will never want to leave. – Sarah Guan

Red Apron

709 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004

Price Range: $4.00 – $7.00

Red Apron may be better known for its lunch fare but they have a pretty solid breakfast menu as well. The menu is based around tigelles, and everything is under $7. If you want something lighter, they sell pastries and yogurt as well. – Sarah Guan

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Big Bear Cafe

1700 1st St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Price Range: $2.50 – $6.00

With a great selection of bagels, and a beautiful patio, Big Bear Cafe is a great little neighborhood cafe. – Sarah Guan

sandwiches

Greek Deli

1120 19th Street NW

Price Range: $7.99 – $10.99

Cheap gyro done right. Get there early because the line wraps around the block some days. Soft, tender meats, wrapped up with fresh toppings in a warm pita. Fills you up and keeps you going all day long. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Bub and Pop’s

1815 M Street NW

Price Range: $8.00 – $14.00

This place was recently named one of D.C.’s best sandwich shops. Visit soon before the fame drives the prices up. Bub and Pop’s sells huge sandwiches stuffed with meats, cheeses, and every kind of topping you can think of. Buy half-sandwiches for $8 or full ones for $14. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Meats and Food

247 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

Price Range: Under $10

13th Street Meats new store location means that you can stop by and get their amazing sausages at any time. -Sarah Guan

 

Little Red Fox

5035 Connecticut Avenue NW

Price Range: $9.00 – $10.50

This new little cafe is cute, serves a weekly rotating menu, and best of all, doesn’t cost and arm and a leg. Their sandwiches get the seal of approval from several of D.C.’s critics (including the Washington Post’s Tim Carman) and straddle the $9 – $10 price mark. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Taylor Gourmet

Multiple locations in Metro DC and Bethesda, Merrifield, and Ballston

Price Range: Under $10

The sandwiches here are Subway’s fancier, more beautiful, nicer, funnier, more philanthropic sister. Even President Obama loves it. We have the same taste in hoagies: the Race Street has roasted turkey, prosciutto, pesto and mozzarella cheese, and is POTUS-approved. -Avery Anapol

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Woodward Takeout Food

1426 H Street NW

Price Range: $8.50 – $12.75

Known lovingly as WTF, Woodward Table’s takeout operation offers soups, salads, and — best of all — sandwiches. This is foodie food on the cheap. Go for their specialty, the Chick Chick sandwich: fried chicken with bread and butter pickles, bacon, cranberry relish, mayonnaise and lettuce piled high on a soft toasted bun. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Cafe tu-o-tu

2816 Pennsylvania Ave NW

3421 M St NW

Price Range: $7.25 – $10.75

Yes, you can actually find cheap food in Georgetown. Cafe tu-o-tu is a Greek and Turkish style cafe. It is the place to go for amazing salads, sandwiches, and soups. The food is fresh and tasty. Try the Mango Salad, made with fresh and dried mango, dried cranberries, Parmesan cheese, and arugula. Its seasoned with a balsamic vinaigrette. – Sarah Guan

Wicked Waffle

1712 I St NW

Price Range: Under $10

A waffle sandwich might be a weird thought, but trust me on this. Wicked Waffle makes creative waffle sandwiches and normal, sweet waffles. The waffle bread is light and crispier than normal sandwich bread, so if that is something you like you should try it. If you are more of a waffle purist, Wicked Waffle still makes traditional sweet Belgian waffles, such as Nutella waffles. – Sarah Guan

Booeymonger

3265 Prospect St NW

5252 Wisconsin Ave NW

Price Range: $4.50 – $9.25

Despite its posh surroundings, Booeymonger is nothing like the designer stores it is surrounded by. Take a break from shopping, or window shopping, and stop by for a cheap sandwich. You can either make your own, or order one of their sandwiches. – Sarah Guan

Burger Tap & Shake

2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037

Price Range: $6 – $11

If you’re in the mood for a burger, however basic, BTS is your new go-to spot. The Six-Buck-Chuck, their traditional lettuce-tomato-onion gig, is fantastic, but I tend to go for the Big Daddy: blue cheese, AP sauce, and bacon as thick as your finger. Wash it down with their Cookies ‘n Cream milkshake. Trust me. -Avery Anapol

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Sing Long

5211 Georgia Avenue NW

Price Range: $4.95 – $7.95

Dirt-cheap noodles is what Sing Long does best. You want chicken lo mein? $4.25. Pork rice noodles? $6.95. Their Singapore noodles, offered at a slightly steeper $7.95, are worth the extra few bucks. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Daikaya Ramen Bar

705 6th Street NW

Price Range: $11.75 – $13.25

Just get the goddamn ramen. Its so good. So so good. The veggie one has loads of veggies and a rich broth that has more depth of flavor than any other noodle soup in town. Its available for $13.25, and even if you can’t get take-out, you can get leftovers to go. – Priya Konings

 

 

Donburi

2438 18th Street NW

Price Range: $9.00 – $18.00

One of Adams Morgan’s hidden gems is this little rice bowl shop. They only feature eight bowls on the menu, ranging from the economical karaagedon ($9) with fried chicken, onions, and egg, to the more luxurious sake-uni don ($18), made with fresh salmon and sea urchin. The bowls are large, rich, and incredibly tasty — especially the pork katsudon, which is easily worth its price. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Sakuramen

2441 18th Street NW

Price Range: $8.00 – $13.00

Sakuramen attracts DC patrons all day long because of their fabulous ramen. What you may not know is that they have another secret weapon: steamed buns. Get the mushroom ones. Marinated in soy sauce and perfectly peppered, you could make a meal just from the buns. $8.00 gets you 2 buns. – Priya Konings

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DC Noodles

1412 U Street NW

Price Range: $12.00 – $17.00

For $15 at DC Noodles you can get one of the best deals in town: a bowl of spinach noodles, asian pumpkin, and fresh veggies drenched in a thick, spicy red curry sauce. The bowl is big enough to feed two, but both of you might find yourselves licking the bowl. – Priya Konings

Chinatown Express

746 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Price Range: $7.95 for a noodle bowl

Chinatown Express offers a full, traditional Chinese menu, but the real gem here is the selection of Fresh Noodle dishes. In a soup or in a stir fry, the noodles come with your choice of vegetable, chicken, beef, seafood, pork, or duck. The fresh dumplings are a treat as well, for just $5.95. While waiting for your food (which won’t take longer than five minutes), you can watch the chefs make the noodles in the storefront window. -Avery Anapol

mexican

District Taco

Various Locations

Price Range: $7.00 – $8.00

If you haven’t been to District Taco yet, you’ve been missing out on one of the best deals in D.C. Three flour (or corn) tortillas stuffed to the brim with toppings for $7? Or maybe you’d prefer a fat, overstuffed burrito for the same price? District Taco might have gained popularity over the past few years, but it still knows its way about cheap Mexican food. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Tortilla Cafe

210 7th Street SE

Price Range: $4.99 – $8.50

You can’t beat this Capitol Hill spot when it comes to dirt-cheap Mexican favorites like tamales, empanadas, or fajitas. A tamale platter with two sides is only $5.45. Swap the tamale for a burrito and it’s $6.29. Empanadas go for $2.50 a pop. Bring a cannister of Tums and prepare to eat your way through Mexico. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

The Well Dressed Burrito

1220 19th Street NW

Price Range: $5.25 – $8.95

Few people know of the secret burrito restaurant on 19th Street, literally tucked into a back alley. The restaurant opens at strange hours (11:45 am – 2:15 pm) but if you can manage to get yourself there on time, you’ll be treated to a huge burrito smorgasbord the likes you’ve never seen. A 16 oz burrito stuffed with beef, beans, and cheese, smothered in enchilada sauce, and served over rice, is a mere $6.75. Beat that, Chipotle. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Takorean

1309 5th Street NE (inside Union Market)

Price Range: $3.50 – $9.00

DC’s best food truck finally set up shop. Takorean now sells its fabulous korean tacos at Union Market, and you can get 3 of them for just $9.00. Get the hoisen tofu taco, top it with vinegar and sesame oil slaw, lime crema, and some sriracha. Go by yourself. You don’t want any distractions when you are eating these tacos. – Priya Konings

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pizza

&Pizza

Various Locations

Price Range: $6.82 – $8.86

&Pizza is a local chain that has recently opened a number of locations around the metro area. They specialize in quick, personal pizzas prepared how you like. Prices run in the $6 – $8 dollar range for each personal pizza, and the ingredients are fresh and interesting (falafel crumbles, mushroom truffle sauce and fig marsala, anyone?) – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Vace

3315 Connecticut Avenue NW

Price Range: $9.00 – $16.00

Where else can you get a good medium pizza made fresh for $9 a pop? Nowhere. Stop ordering Pizza Hut and switch to Vace. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Jumbo Slice

2341 18th Street NW

Price Range: $5.00 – $7.00

The quintessential drunk pizza slice. You will not find a slice of pizza larger, greasier, or more regrettable than a $5 cheese jumbo slice. Oh, but it feels good going down. It feels so good going down. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

District of Pi

910 F Street NW

Price Range: $11.95 – $22.95

District of Pi’s Berkeley pizza is a cheesy deep dish pie from heaven. The thick crust is piled high with mozzarella, meaty portobella mushrooms, olives, peppers, zucchini, and of course, garlic. The small is $15.95 and will easily feed two. -Priya Konings

 

Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza

Locations in Clarendon, Columbia Heights, Friendship Heights, and Silver Spring

Price Range: $2.75 (slice) – $26 (large specialty)

One day, I will discover the meaning of “Apizza.” Until then, I will keep enjoying the garlicky, spinachy goodness of The Edge of the Woods from Pete’s. This pizza is a work of art: fried eggplant strips. ON PIZZA! Pete’s is also the go-to delivery choice for Northwest DC suburban moms, making babysitting in Bethesda absolutely worth the schlep.

-Avery Anapol

happyhour

 

El Chucho

3313 11th St NW

Price Range: $2.50 – $8.50

A pair of tacos for $2.50? Margaritas for $4? Every day from 4 – 6:30 pm? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. -Brandon Weight

Biergarten Haus

1355 H Street NE

Price Range: $5.00 – $10.00

Happy hour at Biergarten Haus means cheap German beer and cheap German food. Snack on some low-cost, high-calorie Bavarian favorites like potato pancakes, bratwurst, or soft pretzels and mustard. -Ashlyn Frassinelli

Tono Sushi

2605 Connecticut Ave. NW

Price Range: $1.00 – $5.00

One dollar sushi sounds like a deal, and also sounds like a guaranteed hospital visit. One dollar sushi at Tono tastes like five dollar sushi, and does not cause hospital visits. One dollar sushi at Tono is an excuse to get excessively drunk on four dollar sake and yell at tigers for free at The Zoo. Please don’t yell at tigers. Please eat one dollar sushi and have a respectable night. -Brandon Weight

Ghibellina

1610 14th St. NW

Price Range: $5.00 – $10.00

Half priced beer, wine, and pizza. Do we need to say more? – Sarah Guan

The Partisan

709 D St. NW, Washington, DC 20004

Price Range: $2.00 – $10.00

The highlight of the Bar menu has got to be the Tigelle. Tigelle is an Italian bread that is griddled in lard. The Tigelle can come as a burger, to add to the yummy fattiness of it. – Sarah Guan

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DGS Delicatessen

1317 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Price Range: $4.00 – $7.00

Our love of DGS as a brunch spot has been well documented. But DGS also has an amazing happy hour. With $7 cocktails and bites at $5 it looks like we might be stopping by multiple times a day. – Sarah Guan

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Firefly

1310 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Price Range: $5.00 – $11.00

$6 cocktails and food like Parmesan truffle fries has our mouths watering. – Sarah Guan

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Ivy and Coney

1537 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Price Range: Inexpensive

Less a place for dinner and more a place for Detroit and Chicago expats to gather, you can get Chicago and Detroit-style hot dogs, drink Detroit and Chicago beers, and watch Detroit and Chicago teams play. There is no happy hour but it’s happy hour prices all the time – Sarah Guan

 

latenight

Julia’s Empanadas

Various Locations

Price Range: $1.99 – $4.19

Empanadas are the perfect late-night snack: big, meaty, filling, and warm. Julia’s are a D.C. staple. She also sells a (even cheaper!) sweet variety stuffed with fruit for anyone trying to get a bit more fiber in their diet. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Manny and Olga’s

Various Locations

Price Range: $3.99 – $14.99

A grotesquely cheap delivery/takeout restaurant for those late nights where pretty much anything hot and edible works. Your best bets are their chicken tenders or burgers — cheap, greasy, consistent and able to satisfy even the most heinous case of the drunchies. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Duke’s Grocery

1513 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Price Range: $9.00 – $19.00

“Duke’s Grocery, inspired by the relaxed atmosphere and international culinary flavors of London’s best neighborhoods and dining establishments, recently celebrated its one year anniversary. This causal neighborhood pub has retained its original chilled-out ambiance since it opened, and continues to churn out fresh and seasonal fare that is far from ordinary American bar cuisine.” – Priya Konings, from our Taste Test

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Amsterdam Falafelshop

830 14th Street NW
2425 18th Street NW

Price Range: $2.35 – $5.95

Falafel, made to order fresh, stuffed into a wrap and smothered in any number of rich, delicious toppings. You can trick yourself into thinking that what you’re eating is healthy because, hey, isn’t falafel made out of vegetables or something? (It’s made out of chickpeas – close enough, right?) – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Ben’s Chili Bowl

1213 U Street NW

Price Range: $4.40 – $8.35

If you’re on U Street past 8 pm you might as well get in line for Ben’s Chili Bowl, because odds are you’re going to end up eating there one way or another. The sweet aroma of cheap, cheap fried food and chili wafts from the open door, drawing in customers no matter what the time or temperature. Get the chili cheese fries. Or the half smoke. Or both. Or one of everything on the menu. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Keren Restaurant

1780 Florida Avenue NW

Price Range: $5.00 – $9.13

Have you ever eaten Ful? It’s a big bowl of Ethiopian beans, topped with egg, vegetables, and other toppings, and served with two fresh-baked fluffy rolls. Order it and eat it for dirt cheap and feel full for the next 24 hours. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

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Ren’s Ramen

11403 Amherst Avenue, Wheaton, MD

Price Range: $10.00 – $11.00

Ramen in the city usually costs upwards of $15. A quick trip to the suburbs reveals this tucked-away ramen shop in Wheaton, where big bowls of ramen go for around $10 a pop. The ramen is served Sapporo-style, topped with roast pork, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, scallions, onion, ground pork and a big sheet of nori. No matter which base you choose — miso, salt, shoyu, and vegetarian are all options — you’ll be satisfied. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Taqueria Tres Reyes

8562 Mathis Avenue, Manassas, VA

Price Range: $2.60 – $13.99

The best cheap Mexican restaurants are the ones with tons of options. Want a quesadilla? They have it. Gorditas? Yep. Enchiladas? Flautas? Tortas? Whole roast chickens? Tripe soup? Beef tongue platters? Yes, yes, and yes, all for under $15. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Just Jerk

9005 Lanham Severn Road, Lanham, MD

Price Range: $4.95 – $14.95

Amusing names aside, this hole-in-the-wall Jamaican restaurant delivers on cheap, delicious jerk chicken goodness. Stuff yourself with a platter of jerk dark meat, rice and peas, and stewed cabbage for only $11.50. Or grab a sandwich for around $7.25. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Pho 75

1721 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA

Price Range: $6.00 – $10.00

Nothing beats a big bowl of pho when it comes to filling up a hungry stomach on the cheap. Pho 75 in Arlington offers its base pho for $6.00, with toppings running you small amounts extra. A huge, meaty, noodley meal can be all yours for $7 – $8. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Les Baguettes

6757 Wilson Boulevard, Falls Church, VA

Price Range: $3.00 – $4.00

Fresh baguettes, baked on-premise every morning, are the base for Les Baguettes’ signature banh mi sandwiches. Each sandwich is easily the length of a forearm, stuffed with roasted meats, fresh pickled vegetables, jalepeño and mayo, and is only $3.50. $3.50 for a huge sandwich. Yes, this is real life. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

 

Four Sisters Grill

3035 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, VA

Price Range: $6.25 – $9.95

Succulent banh mis are always, mercifully, cheap. Four Sisters Grill, a spin-off of Falls Church’s famous Four Sisters, offers five tasty varieties: cold cuts, grilled pork, grilled beef, grilled chicken, and tofu. (Pro-tip: go for the pork.) The grill also serves up a mean Vietnamese noodle bowl. A big, generous bowl of rice noodles topped with grilled meats, vegetables, sprouts and more will run you under $10. – Ashlyn Frassinelli

Pizza CS

1596 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD

Price Range: $8.50 – $15.50

Okay, so $15.50 for a personal 11 inch pizza may not seem like the best deal, but its worth it for their pizza. This fast-casual pizza place uses a wood-fired stove, and makes fresh Neapolitan pizza. Try to go there for lunch on a weekday, as you can get a soda, margherita pizza, and ice cream for $11. – Sarah Guan

La Limena

765 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD

Price Range: $6.50 – $18.95

So most of the food here isn’t considered super cheap. But, their rotisserie chicken is the reason why I’m including them. You can get a quarter of a chicken for $6.50 with two sides. And the chicken is substantial. If you think that a quarter is not enough, the half chicken is only $8.95. Combined with the two sides you will be full for hours. For sides I recommend the white rice. It’s cooked with garlic oil and salt so it’s probably the most flavorful white rice you will have. – Sarah Guan

Taco Bamba

2190 Pimmit Drive, Falls Church, VA

Price Range: $3.00 – $16.00

Chef Victor Albisu’s taco place offers tacos for under $10, with traditional ingredients like chorizo and more creative ingredients like pork and beef tongue. – Sarah Guan

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Sometimes you’re hungry and don’t have a choice of what to eat because you’re at a show. You do have a choice of what venues to patronize. Our handy BEST VENUE FOOD roundup will help your musical/food adventures.

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In closing, Alex Tebeleff on why you should consider heading to Rockville to eat at Sichuan Jin River

A friend of mine returned from China a few years back and suggested I check out Sichuan Jin River in Rockville, MD for my family’s traditional Jewish Christmas pre-movie lunch, claiming this restaurant was particularly close to what the food really tasted like in China. For me, it was love at first Kung Pao. That particular dish of Kung Pao Chicken, when ordered from their Authentic Chinese section of the menu, perfectly demonstrates what makes this place so special. The smokey hot heat from the peppercorns that replaces the usual bland peppers and onions totally transforms the dish. It’s not just that’s it’s spicier, it really has an interesting and fantastic flavor. It’s actually a simple dish of only hot peppercorns, peanuts, chicken, and sauce, yet it’s flavor is way more complex that you would expect.

There are other unusual gems here among the more common and delicious traditional Chinese fair of Dan Dan Noodles and Pork Buns, like the refreshing and ever so sweet and spicy crunchy Lotus Root Salad, and Baby Bok Choy that’s served with preserved egg on top, not to mention plenty of spicy dishes with all the parts most Americans are terrified to eat but are common in most of the rest of the world, like Liver, Kidneys, and even Duck Blood Curd.

Other dishes highly recommended include Eggplant with Ground Beef in Garlic Sauce where the peppercorns and pickled hot red pepper don’t overwhelm with spice, but leave a slight, pleasant numbness in your mouth, and my personal all time favorite, the Smoked Duck Entrée, where the fat literally caramelizes out of the duck and crisps on top of the skin. The duck is complimented and balanced out perfectly by rich plum sauce and soft buns where you can make your own smoked duck sandwich if you’d like. Make sure to get the hot entrée Smoked Duck, not the cold appetizer! You can even get a Kirin Ichiban to wash it all down for $4.

For a musician and a foodie on a budget, this place is a dream come true. All the portions are big enough to take at least half home. I’ll be going back eventually to try the Duck Blood Curd in Sichuan Sauce and Shredded Kidney and Vegetables in Fiery Soup when I have the guts to do it.

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