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Fiscally-minded feasting

Eating in D.C. on an intern's salary

Life in D.C., as life anywhere for me, involves food — a great deal of it. And D.C. delivers when it comes to memorable food.

Much like L.A., D.C. is full of hidden secrets when it comes to restaurants. Unfortunately, few places do Mexican food like L.A. But the variety of food in our nation’s capitol more than makes up for this shortcoming, in my mind. A recent discovery for me was Open City, a coffee shop/diner/bar/pretty much everything else. It’s open 18-19 hours a day with everything from burgers to Belgian waffles to breakfast sandwiches. Breakfast is served from open to close. My best friend and her cousin, who came into town to visit relatives this week, introduced me to this now-favorite food place. As insignificant as it may seem, the servers place animal crackers on coffee saucers, which somehow makes a creamy latte just that much more delectable.

One of the great things about this city is that many of the coffee shops downtown have second stories. It may seem trivial, and probably is, but I find it extremely delightful to sit atop the second story of a Starbucks, sipping a caramel frappuccino and watching the bustling city go about its business.

The East Coast, it seems, has finally caught wind of the yogurt phenomenon that swept California a couple years back. Most of their places offer just one or two flavors — typically a tart, plain yogurt. However, just across from the International Spy Museum — the second-coolest museum in the city in my opinion — sits a place that I think might have a Berry Cool beat. And matching Biola students’ favorite hangout and its excellent yogurt is a tall order! The D.C. counterpart is called Frozen Yo, and what sets it apart from any other place I have seen is one particular flavor — red velvet cake. Top that flavor off with some fudge sauce and you have just about the creamiest, richest flavor imaginable. And since it is yogurt, one can at least try to believe the argument that its yogurt nature makes it unquestionably wholesome.

But no discussion of food in Washington, D.C., would be complete without more than a mention of Five Guys. Dare I say it? I do — it rivals In-N-Out Burger (gasp!) Before you turn away in utter disgust and head straight for the hate mail, hear me out. Not only are all the toppings no additional charge, but the place has free peanuts, the kind you get at ballgames, in huge bins at the entrance. Its Cajun fries are seriously to die for. But don’t take my word for it. It was voted the best burger joint by a bunch of different places for years in a row. Still don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself. There’s one in Cerritos, Calif.

However, eating out is a bit of a rare treat when you’re living on an intern’s salary. Granted, I am getting paid, which is more than many interns can say. It’s a blessing. But it’s still meager enough to keep me on my toes when it comes to food consumption.

This being the first time I am living on my own without the Caf or my mother’s kitchen to keep me fed, I have discovered two brilliantly cheap meals — French toast and cups of noodles. I can buy a loaf of bread for 89 cents, and eggs for approximately $2.19. That easily makes 10 meals for just over three bucks, with tax. For anyone too apathetic to purchase a well-rounded meal, too much in a rush to cook, and too cheap to buy anything else, cups of noodles come in packs of six for $1.99 at Safeway. I typically happen to be all three of those on my lunch breaks at work. Journalists don’t really take lunch breaks, or at least, not at The Times. Those people are some of the most dedicated bunch I’ve ever met. I feel guilty taking 30 minutes for a lunch break at times. That’s when the cups of noodles come in handy. Spicy chicken is actually quite superb.

Such is the life of an intern who loves her sweets and other forms of sustenance. Next on the list for me is Ben’s Chili Bowl, often rated the best food in the city. Perhaps I could justify the cost (and the calories) if I walked instead of taking the Metro…

Weeks down: 7
Weeks to go: 3

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