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

Interns' Guide: True Intern Favorites

By Fritz Hahn

The Madhatter's cheap happy hours make it a popular destination for interns and kickball teams. (Andrea Bruce Woodall/ The Washington Post)

Anyone who has ever been an intern knows what it is like to try to get by on a budget without dying of starvation or boredom. After spending the week slaving over mail mergers and filing cabinets, we all need to shed the constraints of the office and let loose. Here are some of my favorite places that I've accumulated after four years of calling the District home.

See more in our Interns' Guide.

Since I hail from the great state of New Jersey, it is to be expected that I have an obsession with 24-hour diners. While there is a notable absence of such fine dining establishments in D.C., Steak 'n Egg in Tenleytown has managed to satisfy my 3 a.m. cravings and nurse my Saturday morning hangovers. With generous portions and intern-friendly prices, this local greasy spoon can't be beat.

If you're in the mood for something a bit more upscale, try Chef Geoff's in downtown or in Wesley Heights, near AU. On Mondays and Tuesdays enjoy a $5 bistro burger complete with crispy bacon, fries and a pickle or $8 specialty pizza. For $7.95 you can wash it all down with a "super-mug" of domestic beer. Just beware that this is not a well-kept secret, so it gets crowded quickly and you have to sit in the bar section for the deals to apply. This deal is offered all day on Monday and Tuesday, and again from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Feeling international, but don't have the funds to enjoy the cuisine of some of D.C.'s posh restaurants? Try Raku in Dupont Circle. For $9.95 (plus tax and tip) you can have a sushi combo, which is served with a house salad and miso soup. Don't worry if you have yet to master the fine art of using chopsticks, because they'll give you silverware.

For a bit of intellectual stimulation after a mind-numbing day in front of a copy machine, I suggest Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle. You can spend hours perusing the shelves in this quaint store and never even open your wallet. If you go to brunch in the cafe on Saturday or Sunday, you can enjoy a complimentary mimosa, Bloody Mary or orange juice, but be careful -- some of the items on the menu can do significant damage to your wallet.

Italian food lovers who are pinching pennies should head for Cafe Luna in Dupont Circle. Ten different pasta dishes and six specialty pizzas cost between $5.95 and $7.95. If $8 is still too much for your budget to bear, try Sunday and Wednesday nights for half price pizza and Mondays for half-price pastas. The kitchen sends out veggie-friendly dishes, too.

If you've never been to D.C. before, make sure you visit Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street. Not only has the restaurant been around since the late 1950s, it also has great cheap eats. For $3.45 you can get Ben's Famous Chili Dog complete with onions and chili. If you're a burger person, you can get a quarter-pound burger with any condiments you want and all the chili you can eat for $4.45.

Since turning 21, I've made Adams Morgan my favorite place to go on a Friday night. The Angry Inch Saloon is a guaranteed good time on a budget. Plus it's located across the street from three of the "original" Jumbo Slice pizzerias. Angry Inch has drink specials every night: On Mondays enjoy $3 Miller Lite Drafts and Coronas and half-price appetizers. Partake of Friday and Saturday happy hours with $2 Miller Lite drafts, $3 Coronas and rail drinks and half price burgers and appetizers. The downfall is that it's a trek from the Adams Morgan/Woodley Park-Zoo Metro station, so you may have to shell out a few bucks for a cab after having a few drinks.

For those of you who aren't looking for trendy ambiance but need a cheap, strong drink to help you drown your sorrows, I suggest the Malt Shop in Tenleytown. If you can stomach the rowdy AU frat boys and grimy floors, there isn't a better place that can offer a stronger drink for your money. A large vodka and soda (hold the soda) will set you back about $5.

Madhatter has long been a staple of Dupont Circle bar crawls, but it's also a great place for happy hour. From 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays, the bar boasts half-price appetizers, $2.75 glasses of house wine and $2.75 rail drinks that will make you happy to be "among mad people."

Dan's Cafe in Adams Morgan has a hilariously skeevy atmosphere and some of the cheapest drinks in D.C. If you ask for four vodka-tonics, you get a bowl of ice, a Styrofoam plate of limes, an airplane-sized glass bottle of tonic and a cup of straight vodka, all for about $13. As long as you don't mind making your own drinks in an setting reminiscent of "Animal House," it's hard to beat the price.

-- Samantha Tyrka

Samantha Tyrka was a spring 2008 City Guide intern.

By Fritz Hahn  | May 23, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Interns' Guide  
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I was with you until you mentioned the Douchebag HQ called the Angry Inch. For cheaper and a less testosterone filled evening head on over to Millie & Al's for beer just as cheap, and the Assclowns pretty much stay away, but they infest all of the bars on Friday and Sat.

Posted by: Jungle Jim | May 23, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Though most of your suggestions are pretty good, it's hilarious that you dislike the frat boys at the Malt Shop, but recommend the Angry Inch. The Angry Inch is for people who don't know how to speak to the opposite sex unless they are shouting over Bon Jovi or Def Leppard and throwing back terrible beer. It's the quintessential frat house basement.

Posted by: Henry | May 23, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

This is great, recommending college-age interns to go to Adams Morgan on the weekends. Please make sure all of you stay there and don't infect other areas of DC.

Posted by: Kevin | May 23, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Raku in DuPont?!?! That place is awful--avoid it at all costs! (If you happen to be in Bethesda though, definitely eat at the Raku there)

Posted by: Rich | May 25, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

raku in dupont = tourist trap! But it IS cheap, so I guess I see why it makes the list. yikes.

You did forget to mention, after going to Adams Morgan, the location of the physical altercation that will surely take place.

Posted by: cha | May 28, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

umm youre great and everything you said was perfect! i love you!!

Posted by: little! | May 31, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

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