The trek to College Park requires one transfer at L’Enfant Plaza or two transfers at Metro Center and then Fort Totten.
But the 45-minute journey is worth the time (and a little patience) because the University of Maryland has the college vibe GW lacks with its endless fast food, white-pillared Fraternity Row and student deals galore.
Be sure to arrive in Terrapins territory with an empty stomach: An Indian buffet, a sandwich called “The Nutelly” and massive slabs of pizza are in store.
Food Factory II
8145 Baltimore Ave.
This casual Indian and Middle Eastern restaurant is tucked between a tanning salon and a calzone chain in a strip mall. But don’t be fooled by its unassuming location, name or low prices: Food Factory II serves high-quality chicken curry, beef and kabuli pilau (sweet rice) by the mound.
Food Factory has a buffet with basic chicken, lamb and beef options plus sides like samosas, rice and lentils from $8 to $10 everyday. Despite the more economic option, I ordered a falafel wrap for $6, which was served on a styrofoam plate, stuffed with double-fried chickpeas and smothered in typical halal sauce.
Despite all the succulent, spicy meat options, the real star was the naan. The leavened flat bread was still steaming when it was served in all its fluffy glory. At just $1, naan is an essential addition to flavorful dishes like lamb curry with spicy yogurt sauce.
The Board and Brew
8150 Baltimore Ave.
If zesty Middle Eastern cuisine doesn’t sit well with you, head five doors down to The Board and Brew. The student hub, which opened last summer, serves burgers, fries and holds open mics and trivia during the week.
One appeal of the diner-cafe fusion is its board games, which customers can rent for $5 a person. The Board and Brew’s website claims that they have 500 games in stock, but I was too busy devouring fried pickles dipped in roasted red pepper aioli to count.
Along with Bananagrams and Battleship, I ordered spicy caramel popcorn and The Brew Burger for $10. The burger was pretty mediocre, but the popcorn, served in a large mug, had a perfectly crunchy consistency and sweet kick.
For an even more sugary snack, I could have ordered The Nutelly, a sandwich on sourdough with Nutella, marshmallow fluff and raspberry preserves. Drink options included hard cider and ginger beer for $5, as well as freshly brewed lattes. Other notably original items were onion fritters, pretzel bites and apricot croissants.
4439 Lehigh Road
You could head to reliably greasy chains like Applebee’s, McDonald’s or Five Guys for late-night grub, but for an authentic College Park experience, look no further than Pizza Kingdom.
After some quality time at a bar called Cornerstone, which for better or worse serves Kamikazee shooters and Captain Morgan shots for $2 on Fridays, go across Baltimore Avenue: You’ll find a pizza joint jam-packed with girls wearing high heels ordering 12-inch slices (or maybe that was just me).
The 2 a.m. crowd isn’t just entertaining. Pizza Kingdom expects the rush, so there are half a dozen employees behind the counter ready to exchange your $5 for an irresistibly cheesy quarter of a pizza pie.
On the Metro ride home, you may feel the twinge of regret that comes from a day spent eating and a night of state college revelry. But that’s the price you pay when you escape the confines of Cities and Nooshi.