You're walking down the street as the pangs of hunger begin to settle in, but there are only a few meager bills in your pocket. Everyone's been there. Sometimes hunger strikes at the most inopportune time. This can lead the weaker-willed, or perhaps just less experienced, individual to resort to such unsavory methods of satiation as McDonald's or 7-Eleven. But no longer. Here are a few fine establishments in the Blair area that provide quick and appetizing meals at modest prices, so no one will ever have to suffer through a greasy abomination again just because they're a few dollars short.
Big Greek Cafe
Before embarking on this feta-fueled Odyssey, the melodious music and clean interior of the Big Greek Cafe in Downtown Silver Spring provide a pleasant setting to enjoy a meal. The presentation of the gyro is typical of most fast food places, but distinguishes itself with a cube of feta and two peppers, to be eaten with the sandwich. Upon the first bite, the overall saltiness of the is slightly overpowering, as the condiments are unevenly distributed, with only meat and pita bread at the front. However after making my way further through the tomatoes, onions and tzatziki (a yogurt sauce) balance out this saltiness and complement the strong flavors of the well-seasoned meat. This might be one of the cheapest and most convenient places to eat in Silver Spring on Wednesdays, where the Big Greek Cafe has a weekly $5 gyro deal. For a mere Abraham Lincoln one can enjoy a complete meal without sacrificing food quality at this popular local spot.
Another downtown Silver Spring establishment, Negril, is worth the skinny sidewalk and lack of legal nearby parking. Even a modest sum (of about $4) can buy you a full meal of a beef patty and coco bread. This might seem like a bit of a carb-overload, but the soft, fluffy bun pairs well with the crisp and flaky pastry which houses a spicy beef filling. If you're feeling a little more opulent, you can splurge and buy the jerk chicken sandwich for $6. A plentiful helping of deliciously seasoned chicken is paired with crisp lettuce and a sweet poppy seed dressing, all in a piece of coco bread. Though larger and more filling than the beef patty, this sandwich feels lighter, perhaps due to the lack of anything fried. When in downtown Silver Spring, it's hard to resist this longtime staple of Blair students.
El Pollo Rico
If you find yourself in Wheaton and needing to either feed yourself (or an entire family), El Pollo Rico is the place to go. For only $6.30 you can help yourself to a quarter of a chicken and two sides which include fries, white rice, red beans, tortillas and coleslaw. There are plenty of Peruvian chicken places near Blair, but El Pollo Rico blows the competition out of the water. Juicy, perfectly seasoned, just crispy enough and always fresh; this is some life-changing chicken. But the real star of their menu is the the Family Deal. One whole chicken with your choice of three generous sides and eight sauces, all for $21. Able to feed a mob of starving people, or one
hungry individual, the Family Deal makes El Pollo Rico one of the best bangs for your buck in the area.
Mi La Cay
Another great and affordable Wheaton spot, albeit a less well-known. Mi La Cay is a Vietnamese restaurant offering pho, banh mi and many other delicious dining options. However, the most affordable item on the menu is the banh mi ($6), which is perfect to grab when you're strapped for cash but still craving a filling meal. Banh mi is a type of sandwich that features your choice of pork, beef, or chicken with jalapenos, carrots, cilantro and cucumbers all nestled in between two pieces of fluffy french bread. The pickled and seasoned vegetables balance out the meat and bread, creating an interesting combination of both light and heavy as well as cool and hot. The savory seasoning especially lends itself to the pork but is tasty on all three options and is made all the better with the addition of jalapenos to create some more complexity in the flavorful sandwich. A Vietnamese restaurant might not be the first place one may think of when searching for an affordable sandwich, but after one visit, Mi La Cay will quickly become a regular lunch and dinner spot.