Penny Pinchers

The Pinch aces bar food on a budget

Newcomer The Pinch in Columbia Heights forgoes many luxuries to keep its prices low: Silverware is mismatched, and the space–which was most recently a Salvadoran discothèque–looks like it was decorated on a dorm-room budget.

But the low overhead means that every item is $10 or under. And though plenty of divier-than-thou restaurants charge this little, The Pinch's menu is shockingly good.

Plump, sweet shrimp are beer-battered and served buffalo-style ($9), for a two-for-one bar all-star. Chef Stephanie Sharky coats her fried pickles ($6) in a salty pretzel crust to balance the tartness.

Beyond the bar snacks, the restaurant serves well-conceived salads like the Tuscan ($7), which tosses artichoke hearts, tomato, sliced asparagus and mozzarella in a basil vinaigrette. The Burduckon burger piles pulled duck breast, crisp bacon, cheddar and fried onions onto a beef patty ($10). Pulled duck also goes onto a sandwich ($9) with tangy, peppery house-made hoisin sauce that is a welcome change from many too-sweet barbecue sauces out there. Tie it all together with a side of pickled bacon slaw ($5).

The bar knows how to end on a strong note, too: Almond Joy pie ($8) and peanut butter pie ($8) are excellent pairings for a glass of PBR ($4).

The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW (between Parkwood & Perry pls.); 202-722-4440 or thepinchdc.com