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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 05/23/2008

Interns' Guide: Days for Deals & Everyday Steals

By Julia Beizer

Capitol Hill interns, meet your lunch: Taqueria Nacionale's taco. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Many of Washington's best-known restaurants were built with expense accounts in mind -- not an intern's non-existent salary. That being said, happy hour deals make some of the nicer restaurants in the area affordable to even the unpaid set. We know it's not always easy to plan your meals around a restaurant's discount hours, so we've listed a few reliably good, less-expensive restaurants below.

See more in our Interns' Guide.

Happy Hours for the Hungry

Restaurant K's entrees hover in the $20s, but during happy hour, a selection of the Southern/Southwestern-inspired apps are available for $4 to $6. Burgers, hot-dog bites and chili cheese fries make up the menu, but the smoky, creamy, cheesy vat of "piggy" clam dip is an especially good choice.

Most interns are priced out of Hill favorite Johnny's Half Shell, but from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, small plates are well within reason. Mini-burgers and mini Asian tuna sandwiches are $2.50. Fried oysters and gumbo are $6 each.

Wings, fried shrimp, sliders and oyster shooters are among the treats on the K Street McCormick and Schmick's happy hour menu. Dishes range between $2 and $5. Find these prices between 3:30 and 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and again between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Nigiri pieces are $1.50 at both Cafe Asia locations from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Wash the raw fish down with half-price sake and $2.50 draft beers.

At the Dupont location of Heritage India, samosas, pakora and Indian street-food treats are half price between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on weeknights.

Burgers in Hotel Helix's swinging-60s lounge (and on the patio) are half price from 5 to 7 p.m. everyday.

Piola's happy hour is known for its tasty free snacks, but that's not the only opporunity to score a deal at this Rosslyn pizza shop. With a valid ID, students can get 20 percent off their meals between 3 and 5 p.m. and after 10 p.m. Also after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Piola offers a $12 pizza-and-a-beer deal -- any beer, any pizza.

The Big Hunt, a divey Dupont bar, isn't known for fine cuisine, but a large beer selection and food deals make it an attractive bet during the early part of the week. Food specials kick in once happy hour wraps up at 7 p.m. On Mondays, pizza is half price; burgers are half off on Wednesday. On Tuesdays, wings are 15 cents a piece.

At nearby Lucky Bar, find 25 wings on Tuesdays and half-price burgers on Wednesdays from 5 to 11 p.m.

Restaurants Within Reason

On the Hill, there's simply no better lunch under $5 than tacos at Tacqueria Nationale. Fresh ingredients make them sing.

D.C. institution Ben's Chili Bowl is a must-try for anyone who lives here. Score a chili half-smoke and a thick shake for under $8.

The subdued Talay Thai restaurant provides a welcome respite after a long couple of happy hours at Tortilla Coast. Pad thai and other mainstay dishes are available for under $10. To sample as many tastes as possible, split the appetizer sampler platter with friends.

Rice has an upscale restaurant's feel with a cheap restaurant's prices. The dimly lit romantic space is perfect for a date night on a budget, since most of the entrees are about $13. You can't make reservations here, but it's worth the wait.

Grilled cheese and burgers are some of the specialities at subterranean Polly's Cafe. Brunch is served all week here, and the specialities include eight different eggs benedict offerings and $3 spicy bloody marys.

Neighboring pasta shop Pasta Mia gets a lot of attention, but you'll find better service and big bowls of pasta under $13 at Adams Morgan's San Marco.

In downtown, you can't go wrong with the tandoori chicken tikka sandwich at the Naan and Beyond locations.

La Loma's Mexican dishes aren't mind-blowing, but, in the summer, the patio is a great spot to enjoy a filling $10 taco platter, boozy margaritas and free chips and salsa.

By Julia Beizer  | May 23, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Interns' Guide, Restaurants  
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Comments

I find Bistro Italiano on D St. between 4th and 5th a great budget Italian restaraunt with exceptional food and service.

http://www.menuism.com/links/go_to/cWtT2CjWGr3B3Qaby-t3N_?rl_id=aeuZMojT0r245yabBlKsEs

Posted by: Matt Foushee | May 30, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm new to the area...what are some good places to eat by the E.P.A headquarters?

Posted by: Rodrigo | June 11, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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