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Travel 3 minutes 30 December 2019

Spend $25 Or Less At These 6 Michelin-Recommended Restaurants in Washington D.C.

These District restaurants go easy on your wallet without skimping on taste.

affordable Travel Washington D.C.

Dining out while traveling can really put a big dent in your wallet. Thankfully, there are several restaurants scattered throughout D.C.’s neighbourhoods that don’t sacrifice quality or freshness of ingredients when it comes to offering an affordable price tag.

So for your next trip to the capital city of the United States, check out these 6 affordable Michelin-recommended restaurants. They are not to be missed. 

Indigo
MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide Washington D.C. 2020
Most Expensive DIsh Price: $15
What Our Inspectors Say:
It’s yellow, not the telltale blue of its name, that defines this sunny Indian restaurant. Located in a cheerful house with a patio full of colorful picnic tables, Indigo is far from fancy (it’s largely self-service and food is served in disposable containers). But, how can you not adore a place where love notes from customers cover the walls? Indian expats and residents line up for such classic comfort cooking from the sub-continent as as spicy chicken masala and tender, melt-in-your-mouth goat curry. Even side dishes are elevated here-for instance, daal is packed with smoky flavor and doused in a cardamom-scented sauce, while paneer paratha (flatbread stuffed with cheese, onion, chopped red chiles and cilantro) is especially fluffy and addictive.

Toki Underground
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Washington D.C. 2020
Most Expensive Dish Price: $15


What Our Inspectors Say: You’ll go up the stairs, not down to Toki Underground, which shares the same front door as The Pug Bar. Once inside, notice raw wood beams, walls plastered with stickers and scribble, as well as dangling Christmas lights that exude a sense of childlike angst. That angst may grow into full-blown annoyance though as the waits are staggeringly long (there are just 30 counter seats and no tables), but come for lunch to steer clear of all lines. Fried chicken steamed buns; lightly battered and delicately fried enoki mushrooms; or pork dumplings are a good way to start things off. The Toki classic with chasu pork and a soft egg is a signature dish, where the broth is slurp-worthy. Its stick-to-your-bones porky intensity is especially memorable.

There are three types of pizza at Timber Pizza Company: red, white and green. (Photo courtesy of Timber Pizza Company.)
There are three types of pizza at Timber Pizza Company: red, white and green. (Photo courtesy of Timber Pizza Company.)

Timber Pizza Co
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Washington D.C. 2020
Most Expensive Dish Price: $24


What Our Inspectors Say: It may be the signature cry for falling objects, but Timber Pizza Co is only on its way up. This popular neighborhood hangout is on a mounting spiral after transitioning from a farmer’s market fave to a brick-and-mortar crowd magnet that also boasts a booming takeout business. So what’s all the fuss about? It’s the flavorful cooking, of course. A few bites into the Griffin salad and it’s clear this kitchen knows how to handle itself. Those in the know order a half and half to explore the wide variety of pizzas. The D&D’s mix of za’atar, finely diced sweet peppers and garlic chips is inventively delicious; while The Hughes piles bacon, cherry tomatoes, jalapeños and basil atop a white cheese pie slathered with a subtle and sweet tomato sauce.


Chercher
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Washington D.C. 2020
Most Expensive Dish Price: $18.50

What Our Inspectors Say: Set on the second floor of a townhouse just outside Little Ethiopia, this tidy jewel may have the bright walls and exposed brick so often seen in mom-and-pop spots, but rest assured that it delivers more than just a spicy stew with a home-kitchen feel. Expect authentic items native to the culturally rich region of the namesake mountains. Rip off a piece of the cool and lacy injera and then dig into the lamb wat, a tender stew fueled by the fiery notes of berbere. Simmered vegetables add a welcome dose of earthy flavor on the side, but wait, what’s that over there? It’s the under-the-radar and off-the-menu dishes that lure expats with bated breath. The larger—and swankier—sibling in Arlington's Court House neighborhood is a boon for Virginia residents.


Daikaya
MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide Washington D.C. 2020
Most Expensive Dish Price: $14


What Our Inspectors Say: There are restaurants where soaking in the atmosphere is part of the experience, and then there’s Daikaya. This no-reservations ramen shop is bursting at the seams (though the izakaya upstairs is an acceptable consolation prize if the wait downstairs is interminable). The unfussy space is filled with communal tables and booths, but the counter offers an unbeatable view of the hustle and bustle. Loud pop and rap music set the tone here, where you’re expected to order, slurp and move on. Daikaya is famous for its Sapporo-style ramen. Here, the white miso tare is kicked up a notch with chili spice. It's the most popular bowl, but try the special mugi-miso (barley miso) ramen with a side of citrusy yuzu kosho chili sauce for a change of pace.


Keren
MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide Washington D.C. 2020
Most Expensive Dish Price: $14


What Our Inspectors Say: Go ahead and order breakfast all day long, since Keren keeps the morning meal front and center. However, before you show up expecting bacon and eggs, take a second look as this is a showpiece of Eritrean cuisine. The East African nation was once occupied by Italy, and this history continues to be an influential force on its cuisine—with many pasta-centric dishes popping up on the menu. A loyal crowd alternates between watching soccer, debating Eritrean politics and filling up on the sizable portions. Ful, a staple breakfast dish of favas, jalapeño, tomato and onion, is a good place to start (there are six variations). Then go for the “five Eritrean” items for a well-rounded, veg-focused combo that's so good it will render you unable to pick a favorite.

Hero image courtesy of Indigo restaurant.

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