The Deets: With more and more upscale bistros moving in to the 'hood, humble Ballet, next to its scrappy neighbor the Comet Tavern, is not much to look at. But along with places like Charlie's and Glo's, joints like Ballet still hold a torch for the days when Capitol Hill was more grunge than glossy, and keeps its prices in line with its looks.
The Beets: Ballet serves traditional Vietnamese fare, but if you can get past the conventional menu (and looks, obviously), service is very efficient and nearly everything can be made vegetarian. Bowls of piping hot, delicately spiced vegetarian pho (the Pho Chay Combo with mock beef and chicken, tofu, vegetarian meatballs, and veggies is the way to go) and three kinds of veggie bahn mi are on offer, no order going over $6.95.
Entrees top out at $8.95 for the most expensive item--Cashew Stir Fry--but that's a pauper's price compared to other options nearby (Quinns, Oddfellows), especially when portions are so big you have to take leftovers home. Tofu and mock meats (chicken, beef, ham) are in abundance here, readily available as meat choices for entrees from stir-fries to curries, noodles to rice dishes, and even satay and spring rolls offer veggie options.
Cheerful, speedy servers in street clothes make the experience far more functional than fancy, but the requisite fortune cookie always ends things on a sweet note.
The Tweet: Ballet is no fancy dancer, but consistent plant based options make Ballet an Asian dive worth returning to.