By Kaylee Dugan, Logan Hollers, Priya Konings
250 restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week. For the next seven days you can get 7 days diners are able to indulge on a budget. But the $35 dinners and $22 lunches and brunches aren’t always a deal. These 17 picks are deals. Whether you’re carbo-loading, avoiding dessert or can’t get enough ice cream, we’ve got you covered.
If you are looking for simplicity, Aperto’s restaurant week menu is for you. Enjoy an arugula salad with beets, bright, fresh orange, and walnuts, followed by one of my favorite pastas of all time: cacio e pepe. Pasta is swirled in a super heady, creamy cheese sauce and tossed with spicy black pepper. Normally, Aperto’s pasta alone is $22 so to get all three courses for $22 at lunch is a steal. For dessert, Nutella semi-freddo, a cool, sweet, super chocolate-y is the ideal ending to the meal. Because everything is better with Nutella. -P.K.
Mike Isabella just kills Restaurant Week. Year after year, his stable of restaurants continually produce some of the best deals you’ll find in the city. And his newest venture, Arroz, offers some of the best dining yet. As always, Isabella goes above and beyond, offering not three but four courses for $35. Start with a summer vegetable salad with romesco and a garlic vinaigrette; move on to fried cauliflower with crispy pig tail, hot smoked bone marrow, or rock shrimp with garlic and cilantro (good luck with that decision); and get full with a Moroccan shakshuka or Portuguese tomato rice. Whatever your picks, you’re ending with the cookie plate, an apropos over-the-top finish from one of the Restaurant Week savants. -L.H.
I love pasta. I really, really love pasta. Doesn’t everyone? For restaurant week, Bibiana is offering up a whole lot of pasta so if pasta is your jam, you know where to go. Kick off your lunch or dinner with thick, savory Tuscan tomato and bread soup, burrata drizzled with a seasonal pea puree, or panzanella, which is the perfect salad because hunks of bread are tossed in with the tomatoes and cucumber. For your main course there are many choices but for me it’s between the summer corn and ricotta ravioli and the tomato risotto. There is nothing better than corn ravioli but risotto tossed with asparagus and adorned with a dollop of whipped ricotta is pretty much a dream. Either way, you won’t go wrong, you’re going to have delicious meal for almost half the price you would typically pay. -P.K.
Italian is the name of the game this restaurant week. At Casa Luca, there is a burrata adorned with sweet corn, gazpacho, risotto made with pesto, and a sinfully decadent caramel budino. This may be the spot you walk by at lunch because it seems like it’s only for law firm lawyers and power couples, but during restaurant week you can join the ranks of D.C.’s fine diners because the food is finally affordable. Grab a seat on the patio, or for a more formal experience, eat inside. -P.K.
Chef Michael Schlow’s “restaurant within a restaurant” has gotten raves for its pristine seafood, intimate setting, and impeccable plating. Sounds like the perfect $35 Restaurant Week dinner pick, especially given the fact that six small courses are normally $45. conosci is again offering a set five-course menu that showcases the kitchen’s care with fresh seafood; see, for instance, last year’s Restaurant Week offering of arctic char sashimi and a red snapper ceviche. The former, paired with chive oil, shaved celery, and fermented chile, had a distinctly Asian feel; the latter, combining purple sweet potatoes and a leche de tigre, leaned more South American in its flavors. Either was a stand alone dish worth at least $10 on its own…put together a meal featuring five such plates, and you’ve got yourself a Restaurant Week steal. -L.H.
What I always love about Convivial is that for restaurant week they just let you pick three courses from their regular menu. It’s a great way to sample a restaurant’s regular menu for less. A lot of restaurants just offer sub-par dishes and smaller portions for restaurant week, but not Convivial. I would go with a group of friends and order a whole bunch of stuff to share. I highly recommend their housemade potato chips, latkes, cauliflower tabbouleh, chickpea socca, and stuffed squash blossoms. But what I really love at Convivial is their epic dessert selection. You are going to want to bathe in the hot sticky pudding, float in the chocolate mousse, and inhale the deconstructed s’mores. I wonder if they will let you just get three desserts… -P.K.
We really liked Dirty Habit. Get past the cheesy name, and great things await within, especially during Restaurant Week. Executive Chef Kyoo Eom is another generous benefactor, offering four courses for dinner, rather than the typical three. Sure, a few of the items have a dollar or two upcharge, but why not shell out the extra Washington when you’re eating this good? Stick to the sea with a meal of shishito peppers with dried anchovy, steamed mussels, and grilled octopus. Or, stay meaty with plates of truffle fries, wagyu beef tartare, and roasted duck breast. Either way, your final sweet course is covered, whether you’re into German chocolate cake, banana pudding, or a tart Key Lime pie. Also noteworthy: three separate beverage pairings (featuring wine and / or booze) for just $20 each. Getting out of here with three drinks and four courses for just $55 is easily one of the best steals of this Restaurant Week. -L.H.
Equinox has long since been one of my most favorite fine dining restaurants in D.C. I am always looking for an reason to dine here, and restaurant week gives me the best excuse because I can have three courses for a fraction of what I would normally pay. This year’s restaurant week menu looks pretty insane. There’s yellow tomato gazpacho, rich creamy polenta in a glass, smoked paprika spaghetti, cauliflower tempura and much, much more. End your meal with house made cookies and milk. -P.K.
Etete is my favorite new discovery. Since its recent renovation, it’s an elegant, modern, fun place to eat, with really good food. For Restaurant Week they are offering almost all of their awesome appetizers, which include sambusas transformed into spring rolls, injera tacos, and crunchy, earthy black eyed pea fritters. Entrees include a veggie platter with injera, collard greens, lentils and smoked carrots and dessert is a pistachio napoleon that is sweet, crunchy, and satisfying. Be sure to try as many of their cocktails as you can; their bar program was renovated too. -P.K.
Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s waterfront gem is a perennial contender for the best restaurant in D.C. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of the opportunity to dine well here for a fraction of the cost of a normal night’s meal? The Restaurant Week lunch offers three courses for just $22; start with summery tomatoes, whether in a cool, refreshing gazpacho, or an heirloom salad with pickled red onions and cucumber. While the Sardinian ricotta cavatelli is a great lunch choice, stick with Fiola Mare’s specialty: fresh seafood, done simply. In this case, an olive-oil poached branzino filet with mussels and red peppers. Finish sweet with a tiramisu or a summer blueberry gelato, and you’ve just crushed one of the finest dining experiences in DC for less than the price of some of their regular menu appetizers. -L.H.
Chef Hamilton Johnson has finally found a suitable landing space; after the closing of Vidalia last year, Chef Johnson has been hard at work planning out his new menu, which draws culinary flavors from his childhood in South Carolina and his travels in Iceland. It’s not every chef that can confidently combine such disparate elements as corn and sea buckthorn, but Chef Johnson pulls it off with style and substance. That’s why Honeysuckle is such a great Restaurant Week pick: the $35, three course dinner menu includes some of his most innovative cuisine (think cured Icelandic sea trout with dill mayonnaise and a pumpernickel meringue or a whole Carolina mountain trout with potato confit and southern chow chow) that combines his upbringing with his experience, at a fraction of the cost. Also, thank you Chef, for including a cheese option in your dessert choices. -L.H.
Indique had a comeback in the last year, and I for one cannot get enough of their food. Their restaurant week menu looks great and I especially love that they have a separate veg and non-veg Restaurant Week menu. Standouts include their samosa chaat, cauliflower fry, and kofta curry. For dessert you will get a trio of gulab jamun, mango flan and kulfi. It’s like three desserts in one. My stomach is seriously growling. -P.K.
The problem with Restaurant Week is that it locks you in a dessert box. If you’re hitting up dinner and want to take advantage of those sweet deals, you’re going to be forced to eat dessert, whether you have a sweet tooth or not. Maketto is one of the few restaurants that gives a big old middle finger to dessert and lets you enjoy three full courses of savory food like the fried chicken obsessed adult you are. If we were ordering for you, we’d recommend you start with the pan seared leek and mushroom bao, move on to the crispy gruyere and braised beef dumpling and then finish it all off with an order of Maketto’s famous fried chicken. Go home immediately afterward and bask in the food coma. -K.D.
I would eat John Melfi’s food every day if I could afford it. During Restaurant Week, I would ideally hit it up three times. Day one, I would get the bean salad with house made olive oil croutons, day two feta and watermelon salad, and day three, the burrata with shaved artichokes and Meyer lemons because those are pretty much the best three ingredients of all time. For my entrée: tomato risotto every time because Chef makes the best tomato risotto I have ever had. And for dessert, I would rotate through all three because you can never get sick of chocolate mousse, a frozen lemon soufflé, or bourbon peaches. A dinner like this would normally set you back about $50 so to get it for $35 is a deal. -P.K.
Real talk: if it’s good enough for the Obamas to still dine here, it’s probably a safe bet for Restaurant Week. Rasika’s West End branch is famous enough not to put out a specific Restaurant Week lunch menu; that’s a good thing for diners, as it means that you get to choose from seven different appetizers, seven different entrees, and five different desserts. Tough to go to Rasika and not order the palak chaat, but you do you. In fact, three orders of that dish for $22 would still be one of the best Restaurant Week deals in the city. -L.H.
Chef Bryan Moscatello has been killing it ever since he took over the kitchen at 701 Restaurant, and if you haven’t had a chance to try his food you need to immediately. For restaurant week he is offering all kinds of gems, like compressed watermelon with pickled ramps and peppercorn dressing, grilled stone fruit with creamy ricotta made in house, and, my personal favorite, carrot fricassee which has a rainbow of gorgeous carrots, brown butter, hazelnuts, and fresh pesto. And those are just the appetizers! For you main course I would recommend one of his pastas, the sunchoke pasta with garlic confit and lemon sabayon is divine. The tortellini will literally melt in your mouth. For dessert, nothing quite compares to the cherries with cream cheese ice cream. Yep, you read that right. Cherries, chiffon cake, and cream. Cheese. Ice. Cream. -P.K.
We’ll stop recommending José Andrés restaurants when they stop being good, and we don’t see that happening any time soon. So we’re going to recommend you take this opportunity to hang out in a ThinkFoodGroup restaurant you may not have visited in a while. With it’s stupidly tall ceilings and bright white interior, Zaytinya is easily on one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city and it’s sure to impress any date / friend / family member you invite out. Their $35 menu includes four mezze plates and dessert, so plan to leave full. Our personal favorite dishes include the hommus, shish taouk and falafel, but this is one place where you really can’t go wrong. -K.D.