Dining Around DC

The recent Journalism Education Association national convention in DC offered the opportunity to sample a multi-cultural smorgasbord of the city’s budget-friendly restaurants.

Jordan Atkins, Staff Writer


At the South African-inspired restaurant, Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken, the first recognizable trait is its beautiful interior design, which is colorful and bright. The food was terrific — I ordered the chicken burger and fries, which I found delectable. Although the food and environment were excellent, the service and pricing were unsatisfactory. The time spent for ordering and getting seated was excessive, and on top of that, the staff was yelling and cussing multiple times while I dined. The table was not cleaned in-between customers, leaving the table’s surface filthy and sticky. Nando’s pricing was also quite strange. For instance, a friend I dined with ordered three sides for a total of $8.67, which is a decent price for filling and yummy food. The chicken burger costs $9.89 alone, and with a added side, the price jumped to around $14. The cashier explained that if you order an entree and a side, the price of the sandwich increases. This process does not make sense.

West Wing Café

Ignoring the boxes of random junk that were visible around the walls, the West Wing Café has a very cool and industrial vibe. However, maneuvering through an the process of ordering was confusing, which the staff did little to help with. Right when you enter the cafe, a sign tells you what to order, but it was very easy to miss. Once you do order, you need to go to the opposite end of the counter to get your food, but that is not where you pay, so you must continue to proceed to yet another counter that was closer to the entry to pay for your food. Other than that, the prices were certainly worth it. An order of a cheese omelet, home fries, and complimentary toast only costs $8.87. The omelet was good, but my only complaint was that it was made with American cheese instead of cheddar. The home fries were amazing, and the food, in general, tasted fresh. The view when sitting at the window counter was the street which proved to be a nice landscape.


When we arrived at Naanwise, we were seated and had our water glasses filled rather quickly. The inside of the restaurant had interesting light fixtures, and cool art lined the walls. The staff also provide the table with naan before taking it away soon after, which was confusing. This all took place in the first few minutes. After that, it took forever to order and receive the food. The Aloo Goat Cheese Tikki appetizer came out with less food than what I pictured, so overall, the dish was a letdown. Naanwise did have a lunch buffet for only $14, but I was not able to check out how many selections they had to offer. All in all, the Naanwise interior aesthetic is beautiful and their prices are fair, but the service and food were average at best.


Throughout my trip to DC, this was definitely the best investment I made. Vapiano is an authentic Italian pasta and pizza bar. When you enter the restaurant, you receive a card to charge your purchases on to. Once you figure out what you want to order, the chef makes the meal in front of you, which was a cool show. The Pesto Basilico came with bread and only cost $11.50. This meal was the most filling and delicious by far. The environment of the restaurant was very cool and welcoming. Although you can choose to eat with your group of people, the tables are set up so that you can sit by people unknown to you. I think Vapiano should definitely become a chain. 

Tono Sushi

For lunch, Tono Sushi is a great spot. For around $14, you can receive three sushi rolls and soup. The plating of the meal was very nice and the food came out quickly. The quality of fish was high as well as the other ingredients. They even have alternative soy sauce for people who are gluten-free. Despite their delicious food and nice plating, the restaurant has low ceilings, due to being underground, and therefore does not have a lot of natural light. This left the eatery feeling dark and cave-like. In addition to this, the interior had stains everywhere: on the walls, napkins, and flooring. As far as sushi restaurants go, Tono Sushi is a very affordable and delicious option, but I would recommend  taking it to-go.

Corner Bakery Cafe

The Corner Bakery Cafe has a very nice and comfortable interior. On a Sunday morning, the line was out the door, but the staff handled this in a fairly quick manner. Every staff member worked hard to accommodate guests.  I ordered toast and a ham and egg bowl. The ham and egg bowl left some room for improvement, tasting slightly stale. The eggs were watery, and the cheese was warm but not melted. The total price came to $8.79, which was slightly high for the quality. In general, the prices of the restaurant could be compared to Panera’s pricing, and just like Panera, the Corner Bakery Cafe is simply mediocre.