Costilla, al pastor, and carne asada tacos from Taqueria La Placita
Even though we’ve focused on restaurants where entrees are less than $15, there are a lot of great eateries in Virginia and Maryland that offer great return on value for not much over $15. The best places to look for these restaurants in Maryland are Rockville and Wheaton, and for Virginia, in Falls Church and Annandale where there are a high density of strip malls and plazas conducive to low rents.
These five choices, in alphabetical order, represent some of the best values at restaurants where entrees average $15 or less. (For the purposes of our short list, we excluded alcohol costs, as depending on where you go and who you’re with, these can add up quickly.)
We realize that limiting our list to just five spots opens up the possibility that we left your favorite spot off. So, let us know your suggestions for other great cheap eats in the Old Line State.
Inexpensive, high-quality seafood is a rarity in any city, but Fishnet delivers just that in College Park. The restaurant serves a brief menu of fried and grilled fish sandwiches and tacos to which you can add hand cut fries or other sides for under $15. Specials like lump crab cake and soft shell crab sandwiches edge $15, but are priced a little higher based on their contents. If you’re not a fish lover, the menu also offers a grilled cheese with tomato, vegan falafel and a burger.
Swordfish sandwich and fries from Fishnet.
Rockville has become a second incarnation of DC’s Chinatown as many Chinese relocated to the suburbs. And Joe’s Noodle House has been a long time favorite for many of them. You can gather up several small plates of dumplings, noodles, pickles, and meats for less than $5 each, or gather a group to order a variety of traditional Szechuan dishes, including mapo tofu, yu-shiang pork, or fish in Szechuan sauce. A few of the fish dishes exceed $15, but on the whole, it’s easy to put together a cheap meal.
Amsterdam Falafel may get all the falafel press with its prime location, but Max’s Kosher Cafe in Wheaton has the best falafel balls in the area. Airy and crisp, they are worth eating on their own, but Max’s also offers a well-stocked selection of toppings to spice up your sandwich. If your tastes are more carnivorous, you can go for the shawarma, fried chicken, or a deli sandwich.
Soul rolls from Urban BBQ.
Taqueria La Placita — 5020 Edmonston Rd; Hyattsville, MD 20781 (map)
Of the numerous bodegas and taquerias in Riverdale, Taqueria la Placita is considered to be among the best of them. There are 20 different types of tacos for about $2.50 each, and fillings range from moist costilla (ribs), lengua (tongue), tripe, and barbacoa (lamb bbq). If you’re a heatseeker, make sure you top your taco with the red and green hot sauces that you find on the table.
This local, mini-chain runs the gamut of barbecue with pork, chicken, and beef offerings as well as burgers and other meaty items. A three meat combo plate with a side comes in at just under $15. For those who enjoy their food in a Frankenstein-like mish-mash, there’s the Urban Legend – Fritos topped with chopped brisket, sausage, beans, and cheese. Or for the truly heart stopping, try the soul rolls, which are brisket and cheese stuffed fried egg rolls with a chili cheese dipping sauce for $7.
This Vietnamese restaurant on Rockville Pike has a persistent buzz during the weekends. Many come for the large bowls of pho and bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup). But unlike many restaurants that do pho well, they also serve good grilled meats on rice or rice noodles and banh mi. A check off list makes it easy to pick your fillings or add pate to any sandwich. Try the banh mi op la, which is stuffed with a runny fried egg.
Jamie R. Liu is a freelance writer, food nerd, and former DCist food and drink editor. She has contributed to Eater, Washington City Paper, the Express, and AskMen.com.
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/marylands_top_5_cheap_eats/7224
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