The Cheap Guide to D.C.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Levi’s Port Cafe
U Street Music Hall
Lima’s Sabor Mondays
HaHa at RiRa
Dupont Ice Skating
Cheap Theater Tickets
E Street Cinema
Washington Sports Teams (Nationals, Wizards, D.C. United)
Tidal Basin Boating
Screen on the Green
National Gallery of Art Concerts
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
National Gallery of Art
Museum of Natural History
The National Mall
Welcome to Washington, D.C. – where everything is expensive. From the cost of living, to crappy tie-dye tourist shirts, to our bloated government, it’s hard for the thriftily inclined to find a good deal.
That’s where we come in. Being advocates of responsible spending (and Washington, D.C., locals), we decided to put together a list of D.C.’s best AND cheapest options in food, drink, entertainment, and local attractions.
Seeing as DC’s about to be descended upon by thousands of visitors for the inauguration, we revved up this bad boy to be released now so our tourist friends can save money all weekend. However, it also has events and deals that cover all times of year because saving money shouldn’t be a special occasion.
Overspending is bad idea for anyone – individual or government – and we want to help you be as fiscally responsible as you can. After all, Washington needs a role model, and it might as well be you.
Plates, who needs ‘em right? Not you if you’re eating at the no-frills Amsterdam Falafelshop. This Middle Eastern-inspired takeout has an impressive display of ingredients to give you maximum falafel creative control. With food so good, we’d warn you not to spill, but we doubt you’d even entertain the thought.
Ask any D.C. resident what restaurant you should go to, and Ben’s Chili Bowl is guaranteed to be on their list. Is it because they usually have it after a night of bar hopping? Who knows, but Billy Cosby proposed to his wife there, so it has to be good.
According to the owner’s of Taylor Gourmet, the quality of D.C.’s Italian hoagies wasn’t good enough. So they got together and did something about it. Full of creative sandwiches and a hip aesthetic, this restaurant brings a little bit of Philly to D.C. (the good part, though).
If you’re not from one of the coasts and don’t question the freshness of your local seafood, Surfside is for you. Add to that a loud and boisterous environment, and you may find yourself channeling your inner pirate. (Minus the murdering and stealing. So really just being loud and eating sea creatures. Maybe one of you owns a parrot, but that’s stretching it.)
Ever wanted a great hot chocolate with your tacos? You do now, and we know a place that’s known for both. Taqueria Nacional has some of D.C.’s best best tacos, hot chocolate and a whole lot more in quality Mexican food.
Sick of the suits and ties all over town? Levi’s Port Cafe does its best to buck the uptight D.C. stereotype and offers some of the best southern comfort food in the area. Some say the mac and cheese side is worth the trip alone. We’d agree.
8. Eastern Market (Map)
Just like an old-fashioned market, except there’s no disease or street urchins stealing apples. This Saturday and Sunday morning tradition features fresh fruit, produce, spices, the famous blueberry buckwheat pancakes and more. If you’re repulsed by eating out one more time, this is the place to go.
For something you could do for free, it can be awfully expensive to go out dancing, but not at U Street Music Hall. There’s no bottle service, VIP booths or dress code. Just great music, an exceptional sound system, and a low price of admission.
If you’ve always wanted to pretend to be classy, D.C. is the town for you, and Fiola is the bar that lets you do it on the cheap. A very classy establishment that hosts a very inexpensive happy hour. Whether you’re trying to impress clients, friends or a date, this the place to be.
Ladies drink free. Now that we have your attention, we’d like to point you to Lima and their Monday night special. Free salsa lessons, no cover, and from 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. ladies are treated to an open bar. Gentleman, if you were looking for a sign, this is it.
When the stiff D.C. architecture makes you feel like you wanna read a policy paper, head down to Bohemian Caverns for Fatback, a funk/soul dance party every third Sunday of the month. There you can groove yourself back into a regular human who has feelings and enjoys colors.
Fast. Cold. Cheap. Nothing fancy here.
It’s not big, but its got beer. Simple, Cheap, Fun.
A frugal traveler walks into RiRa on Wednesday night and gets a free comedy show with his beer. Hilarious.
Take the family and participate in an activity that almost guarantees – no, is essentially – pre-gaming a cup of hot cocoa. Warning: Watch out for the congressman; they can’t seem to balance anything, least of all themselves.
D.C.’s filled with fakers – some of them honest about it – and the others would never lie to you. Check out this site to get the cheapest tickets to see the Tony Award-winning D.C. folk who are honest about when they’re lying.
When one goes to D.C., they must not only be up on the latest in politics, but also the cultural world. Feed that post-modern intellect with some of best, yet often-missed, films going ‘round the country. With tickets cheaper than the multiplex, it’s passé not to.
You’d never root against your home team, but how can you not root for America’s teams? After all, D.C. citizens aren’t residents of a state, they’re residents of America. So cheer on the rest of America’s second-favorite teams and don’t spend a lot of money doing it. Be sure check out StubHub.com first – unless you’d rather this be the Unnecessarily Expensive, But Not Any Funner Guide to D.C.
P.S. You can sometimes snag Wizard’s tickets for less than $10. A rare find in pro sports.
It’s a fun time on the water, and you get to set the leisurely pace. One parent for each boat though; otherwise the kids’ll push each other in. Happens all the time.
Want to see epic explosions and spy chases on the national mall? Perfect! Bring a blanket and some snacks every Monday night in the summer. No need to pay anything; it’d be pretty hard to tell you that you can’t watch when you can see the screen from the Washington Memorial.
Again with the culture. Back home you never see concerts like this where people wear suits un-ironically. Now you’ve got no excuses because these concerts are free every Sunday night and it’ll make you feel like you at least did something with your weekend other than sleep and nap.
A theater that will never be known for their great production of “Les Mis,” Ford’s Theatre is home to a fascinating museum about Abraham Lincoln and his role in the Civil War. Tickets are cheap, and the history is rich. Oh, and they do plays too.
It may scream that it was built in the 60’s, but the Kennedy Center’s offerings have kept up with the times. Offering free performances and music on a nightly basis, you can’t help check out this high quality art.
Do you even know someone who doesn’t like to see exotic animals hanging out all day? What!? Feed them to the lions! Don’t worry – admission is free, so you won’t have to pay to take your friend to “see” the big cats.
The final stop on our cultural improvement tour is the National Gallery of Art. It’s impressive because even if you don’t “get” the paintings, you’re still amazed someone could do that. And it’s free.
Dinosaurs. Need we say more?
Not to point out the obvious, but the National Mall is full of museums, memorials and important government offices. Also Congress is there. You could spend a whole day, there so be sure to check it all out before you go.