Washingtonian 2011 Cheap Eats, Hurricane Irene Edition

Back not a moment too soon.  The hard copy Washingtonian for September 2011 is out, with the annual top 100 Cheap Eats list, this year including Wheaton hotspots El Pollo RicoFull KeyNava ThaiRen’s Ramen, and Ruan Thai.  Ren is new to the list this year, and is totally deserving. Hollywood East is off the list for the first time in a long time.  Full Key, where I still have yet to eat, gets a “Best Dishes” highlight for its sizzling beef with black pepper hot pot — I guess I know what I need to order when I finally go there.

There are of course many more than 100 excellent, cheap restaurants in greater DC and it is too easy to nitpick lists like this, so I will nitpick in only limited fashion. Masala Art is on the list this year, and while Masala Art is a truly excellent restaurant and also a good value, I would not describe it as “cheap” though I guess the $9.95 lunch buffet does qualify.  Silver Springs’ newish Kao Thai is also on the list, but my recent experience there (soon to be posted) was mediocre, certainly not in Ruan/Nava territory.

Irene’s Restaurant in Laurel is on the list (no website, and Yelp reviews at odds with its inclusion in any kind of “best” list) (of course Yelp is completely unreliable in general). Not to be confused with Wheaton’s Irene’s Pupusas. I wonder if they will have any hurricane specials this weekend?  Batten down the hatches!

The September Washingtonian also features a Best of Bethesda section with many restaurant capsule reviews, but I’m not even gonna go there right now.

Here is a recipe for Hurricanes.  And here is a recipe for Oysters Irene, which sound pretty good, speaking of “down the hatch(es)” — hard to go wrong with bacon and (fresh) oysters.


3 responses to “Washingtonian 2011 Cheap Eats, Hurricane Irene Edition

  1. I have to disagree with Ren’s being on a cheap eats. Once you add the egg and some extra pork and whatever else you need to make it a complete dish, you have an almost $20 bowl of soup. While I’ve gone back after swearing I wouldn’t the first time when I got the plain version, it can’t compare with the value of Mi La Cay, for example, which is just around the corner.

  2. I agree with Willy about Ren’s undeserving of the title “cheap eats”. This is not to say that I don’t think it’s delicious. They give you a ton of noodles, which I’m told are flown in from Japan. Perhaps that’s why it’s considered to be a good value? You have to order an extra portion of meat, because what you get is like 3 slivers of bacon-sized pork.

    Good food, but not cheap.

    I can’t believe they don’t include Max’s $6+ felafel on that list. Talk about a value: taste and price.

  3. Agreed that Ren’s isn’t really “cheap” but for me the basic bowl was enough, I didn’t need extra pork. Maybe you guys are just extra hungry!

    I think Max’s flies under the radar because overall it is a mixed bag, and the atmosphere is pretty bad, so the reviewers tend to ignore it. I bet none of the Post/Washingtonian guys have eaten there in years. But you’re right, the falafal rocks.

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