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After mortgaging your house for that Craigslist apartment an hour outside the District just to attend Barack Obama's Inauguration Festivities, it's unlikely that black truffle tasting dinners will be on the menu for you. But some of the best food in DC is also some of the cheapest. Here are five picks for the best local bargains:
Ben's Chili Bowl: This historic U Street diner opened in 1958, and it's been a late-night hangout for everyone from Miles Davis to Martin Luther King Jr. This year the restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary and the election of the first black president, who has joined Bill Cosby in gaining the right to unlimited free food. You can get a window into history for the bargain price of $4.95 with their Chili Half-Smoke, a quarter pound half-pork, half-beef sausage on a bun smothered in mustard, onions and spicy chili sauce. 1213 U St. NW
That's what it looks like from the elaborate (read: pricey) inaugural menus popping up at DC restaurants. The most lavish we've seen so far is the three-day extravaganza at the wine-centric Mediterranean spot Proof in Penn Quarter.
If you're in town early, Proof gets things going with a $120, four-course tasting menu and live jazz show on the evening before the inauguration. Cheapskates can view the show from the bar for just $40, but you don't get dinner, so we're not exactly sold on that idea.
On the afternoon of inauguration, Proof is offering a $75 buffet brunch, which includes tax, tip and unlimited Champagne, while the parade and swearing-in are broadcast on four flat-screen TVs.
Finally, for those who hoped to go to a swanky inaugural ball but didn't score an invite, Proof's Tuesday evening bash is a Cristal-and-caviar-until-3 am kind of deal, but it'll set you back $250 a head.
We've been telling you all about where to get your eating and drinking on in DC during next month's inaugur-ama, but in case you can't remember all that, here's a handy app to load onto your iPhone.
Developed by no less a group of Washington insiders than the lobbyists at Patton Boggs LLP, the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Guide gathers all your DC eating and drinking tips in one handy app and includes a Metro guide, tips about where to find free WiFi and even a feature that tells you exactly how far you are from Obama's swearing-in point at all times.
Our favorite feature is the guide to free restrooms throughout the District--sort of a digital version of this pamphlet--although we're a little taken aback by the crime-alert button, which gives you a head's up if you're wandering towards one of DC's not-so-great nabes. At least you'll know when it's time to put the iPhone away!
· 2009 Presidential Inauguration Guide [AppStore]
· New Inauguration iPhone App Helps Find Places to Eat [Obama Foodorama]
· Inauguration Travel coverage [Jaunted]
Washington is getting so swept up in this inauguration mania that restaurants throughout the District are offering all kinds of special menus with cheeky political-minded offerings inspired by... Joe Biden?
Well, at least one eatery is. Nage Restaurant, which has one branch on the Delaware shore and another in the Marriott hotel on Embassy Road in DC, is getting hyped for their native son and VP-elect with "Biden Brunches" the first three Sundays in January.
The menu will be full of First State classics--yes, they exist--like Southern Delaware style chicken in a blanket and Northern Delaware scrapple. There will even be a Biden impersonator on hand, just for the ambiance. No doubt he'll be arriving by train.