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Dining deals through the rest of August. By Anna Spiegel
Haven't tried Mintwood Place's bolognese? Try it during extended Restaurant Week, offered at many places around Washington. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Just when you thought all the 14-cent fun was over, a variety of eateries are extending their Summer Restaurant Week deals. The following spots offer $20.14 lunches and $35.14 lunches, dinners, and/or brunches, plus a few specials on wine and other beverages. Don’t forget that Alexandria Restaurant Week is also happening now through Sunday.

Through Friday, August 22

2941

2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church

You’ll find three-course set lunch and dinner menus with dishes such as salmon tartare and yellow-corn ravioli.


Through Saturday, August 23

Fiola

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Full à-la-carte and tasting menus are offered alongside the set RW lunch and dinner offerings at chef Fabio Trabocchi’s elegant Italian spot.


Through Sunday, August 24

701

701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Chef Benjamin Lambert’s lunch and dinner prix-fixe menus includes the likes of beef carpaccio and steak with béarnaise vinaigrette.


Ambar

523 Eighth St., SE

The dinner menu includes a selection of four Balkan-inspired dishes.


Ardeo & Bardeo

3311 Connecticut Ave., NW

It’s usually a good sign when a restaurant offers the regular menu for Restaurant Week, which is the case here: three courses from the dinner selection.


Bibiana

1100 New York Ave., NW

Both the lunch and dinner offerings come with a special wine menu, with bottles priced at $30.


Casa Luca

1099 New York Ave., NW

Classic Italian dishes such as prosciutto di Parma with cantaloupe and cacio e pepe pasta are included on the RW menus, along with specially priced wines.


Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar

801 Ninth St., NW

You’ll find Restaurant Week around the clock at this Cuban spot, which serves set menus for lunch, dinner, and brunch.


El Centro D.F.

1819 14th St., NW; 1218 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Guacamole, tacos, ceviche, and more can be found on both the Restaurant Week lunch and dinner menus.


Graffiato

707 Sixth St., NW

Though the RW dinner menu has ended, you’ll still find three-course selections at lunch and brunch.


Masa 14

1825 14th St., NW

A selection of four tapas-style plates such as spicy tuna rolls and pork belly steamed buns make up the extended dinner menu.


Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd., NW

Mintwood signatures such as wedge salad and bucatini Bolognese can be found on the Restaurant Week dinner menu.


Nage Bistro

1600 Rhode Island Ave., NW

Save room for the “campfire sundae” with smoked vanilla ice cream and toasted marshmallows on both the RW lunch and dinner menus.


Nopa Kitchen & Bar

800 F St., NW

Bistro fare like country pâté and roast chicken with panzanella salad make up the RW lunch and dinner menus.


Slate Wine Bar + Bistro

2404 Wisconsin Ave., NW

The lunch and dinner menus include discounted drinks as well as food, such as an $18 wine pairing.


The Oval Room

800 Connecticut Ave., NW

This recently renovated restaurant extends its Restaurant Week lunch menu, which includes new dishes such as burrata with shaved summer vegetables and charred-jalapeño spaghetti.


Toro Toro

1300 I St., NW

Try three courses at lunch or dinner at restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s newest DC restaurant.


Zengo

781 Seventh St., NW

Lunch-goers will find offerings that center on sushi and bento-style boxes, while dinner draws from the regular menu.


Through Saturday, August 30

Trummer’s on Main

7134 Main St., Clifton, VA

In addition to the traditional $35.14 dinners, you’ll find four courses for $49.14 with dishes like a pan-seared scallop and dumpling in dashi broth or crusted beef short ribs. Wine pairings are an additional $29.14.


Through the month of August

Smith & Wollensky

1112 19th St., NW

Get your steakhouse fix on the cheap with lunch and dinner at this Dupont spot, which offers classics like wedge salads and filet. Beginning August 19, you’ll find $20 wine flights to pair with the meal—or just sip at the bar.

Posted at 01:33 PM/ET, 08/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to sip mimosas with your set menu. By Anna Spiegel
Get your Restaurant Week fix during brunch this weekend. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Summer Restaurant Week 2014 is nearly over, but you’ll have an extra opportunity to try the promotion this weekend at a number of spots offering brunch.

Check back in with us on Monday for a list of restaurants extending the lunch and dinner RW menus, and don’t forget to tell us about your experiences.


Bistro Bis

15 E St., NW

The Saturday and Sunday brunch menu at this Capitol Hill classic mixes French bistro fare like onion soup with brunch-y dishes such as biscuits and gravy and eggs Benedict.


Chef Geoff’s

Multiple locations

All four locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia offer Sunday brunch for Restaurant Week (here’s a sample menu), with dishes such as bagels and lox and a breakfast burrito served alongside coffee or cocktails for $20.14.


Graffiato

707 Sixth St., NW

Good news for those who can’t make it in for chef Mike Isabella’s Restaurant Week brunch menu: Those pepperoni-sauced chicken thighs will be available on the extended RW offerings next weekend.


Lia’s

4435 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase

The regular lineup of “Lia’s classics” are offered on the Restaurant Week brunch menu and include a coffee, Bloody Mary, or mimosa.


Vermilion

1120 King St., Alexandria

A refined seasonal menu includes dishes such as chilled corn soup, baked eggs with grits and roasted mushrooms, and ricotta-poppyseed fritters with poached peaches.

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 01:01 PM/ET, 08/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Give us your two—or in this case, 14—cents. By Anna Spiegel
Restaurant Week: loved it or hated it? Photograph via Shutterstock.

Summer Restaurant Week 2014 is here, with $20.14 lunches and $35.14 dinners offered throughout Washington until Sunday. As we’ve already discussed on the Best Bites Blog, the promotion isn’t always a good deal. Whether you’re trying a newly opened eatery or one of the established spots on our 100 Very Best list, RW is like dining out on a holiday: All bets are off.

So how can you make the most of Restaurant Week? One of the best ways is through word of mouth. We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments—good, bad, and otherwise—and through the poll below. Happy eating! 

Posted at 02:50 PM/ET, 08/11/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Quality control. Limited menus. Why one restaurant owner says no. By Anna Spiegel
Restaurant Week doesn’t deliver the value it once did, says Dino's Grotto chef and co-owner, Dean Gold (left). Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

For all its benefits, Restaurant Week can be a fraught time for all involved. Customers, rightly, want a good dining experience and a good deal. Restaurants, rightly, want to fill seats during an otherwise slow month—the original purpose behind the promotion—and satisfy guests without losing money. Sometimes these interests conflict, and parties on both sides opt out. One such example is chef Dean Gold, co-owner of Dino’s Grotto in Shaw.

“As a longtime participant in it, I just don’t feel like it’s a great deal,” says Gold, who partook in the official Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) Restaurant Weeks for seven years at the original Dino in Cleveland Park.

Gold isn’t ignoring the summer promo entirely, offering an “anti-Restaurant Week” menu that he feels is fair to his customers: ten “tastes of Dino” for $35. Here, he speaks with us about his plans, thoughts on Restaurant Week, and how to find a good meal.

How have you seen Restaurant Week change?

At one point, it was a good thing. I really feel that it went away from restaurants like mine when it went to $35. Basically, the way people eat at my restaurant, $37 is what it takes to have three courses, so you’re saving two bucks. It’s just not that good of a deal.

Every purveyor puts out specials for Restaurant Week. You look at what they’re offering. People who specialize in wild salmon and are pushing it one week want to sell you the lousiest farm-raised salmon for Restaurant Week. Meat companies are putting deals on lesser cuts of conventional beef, when their point of pride is all-natural beef. During Restaurant Week they’re pushing conventional and really poor-quality cuts. If you’re doing Restaurant Week, you need to be able to put together a menu. Restaurants need the help.

When did you begin to see the change?

Probably about two years ago. We track our sales, and the bulk of Restaurant Week had just fallen off dramatically. We try and cobble together something that’s a really good deal for people, and if you don’t get a big bump, it’s not a good thing.

They [RAMW] have partnered with OpenTable, and if you’re not on OpenTable, it’s hard to get a bump from Restaurant Week. It cost us $2,000 a month [for OT]. Then it’s another $1,000 to be part of Restaurant Week, because we had to pay $500 to the Association and then another $500 to be part of the promotion [dues are based on the annual gross sales of the restaurant]. I finally got fed up with it and just said, hey, let’s be honest. It’s not a good deal.

Why do you think it’s less of a good deal now?

More and more people are doing it. You have a small group of people who do it right, with a full menu and so on. One comment today on a chat was if the restaurant doesn’t offer three choices, one of them being vegetarian, the restaurant isn’t doing right by Restaurant Week. I was like, “Whoa, three choices?” I don’t go to a restaurant for three choices. I might go for my favorite dish, but that’s not the way I dine in a restaurant.

It’s also part of the increase in the deal mentality—you have the LivingSocial, Groupon phenomenon. You’re bringing in people who like the culture of the deal sites, who aren’t going to pay full price. A lot of people are going to restaurants they wouldn’t go to because it’s Restaurant Week, which is part of the idea, but they’re less in tune with what those restaurants are doing.

Is there any way to tell at the outset if you’re going to have a good Restaurant Week experience in a restaurant?

You have to look at the menu. Look at their regular menu, and then look at what they’re offering you, and see if they match up. If the menu is very different, then you’re looking at a place that’s faking you out.

Did it used to be that more high-end restaurants participated, so diners felt they were really getting value?

More high-end restaurants are participating today than they used to. For the most part, it’s absolutely not what they’re doing on an everyday basis. It’s not what their food is about. There are restaurants that normally have very particular ingredients and offer really outstanding quality products, and then you come into Restaurant Week and it’s all very conventional.

If you had to go to a place for Restaurant Week, where would you choose?

Bastille; I think it’s really solid cooking. Very few restaurants are posting menus on the RAMW site, so it’s tough. Daikaya has an interesting approach, with a lot of different small plates. That, to me, because of the variety, would be a place I’d go.

Posted at 02:09 PM/ET, 08/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
How to get the best bargains, quality meals, cheap drinks, and more. By Anna Spiegel
Want to get more bang for your buck at a restaurant like Central? Try it for lunch. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Summer Restaurant Week starts Monday, August 11. While the premise is simple—three-course menus for $20.14 and $35.14 for lunch and dinner, respectively—getting the most out of the promotion is a little more complicated. Here are six pro tips to help you do RW right. 

1) Look for restaurants offering almost their regular menus

Chicken or fish? Yes, certain Restaurant Week menus are so limited they sound like airline selections. Still, many places go all-out, and even give near free rein of the regular offerings. Such spots include Al DenteArdeo+Bardeo, most of the Passion Food Hospitality restaurants (DC Coast, Acadiana), DGS Delicatessen, and G’s tasting menu.

2) But beware of surcharges

Larger menus like the ones above can also include surcharges for more expensive options such as rib eye, lobster, or signature dishes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if your goal is to explore the restaurant’s true talents. But if you’re deal-seeking, tacking on an extra $5 or $10 can add up to the price of a non-Restaurant Week meal.

 

3) Find true bargains at lunch

Restaurant Week isn’t always a bargain, and it’s often called “free dessert week” for a reason. The $35.14 price doesn’t include tax, tip, or alcohol. Add two moderately priced glasses of wine, the sales tax, and your 20-percent tip—yes, you should still tip well during RW—and you could be looking at a $120 tab for two. 

The best value is mostly found at lunch. A three-course afternoon meal for $20.14 is a bargain at pricier, fine-dining restaurants like Del Campo (menu), Sushi Taro (menu), Central (menu), Rasika (menu), Fiola (menu), the Source (menu), and others.  

Another lunchtime bonus: Reservations at top-tier restaurants like the ones above can be tougher to snag in the evenings.

 

4) Try unofficial “Restaurant Week” 

In order to participate in Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, eateries have to be a member of the RAMW association. But a number of nonmembers are offering corresponding specials, which are sometimes more eclectic or generous. Dino’s Grotto “anti-Restaurant Week” lists ten courses for $35. For a similar price, El Chucho serves a snack and cocktail, a flight of three tequilas, your choice of tacos, elote, and dessert. Sister eatery Jackie’s will offer a special menu and 50 percent off bottles of wine through August, while chef RJ Cooper dishes up the semiannual “Restaurant Week gone rogue” at Rogue 24.

 

5) Look for deals on drinks

Alcohol is the main culprit for higher Restaurant Week bills. Sure, offering booze at a discount provides a bigger incentive to drink/spend money, but if you’re planning to imbibe regardless, might as well do it for less. José Andrés spots like Jaleo and Zaytinya will have special wine lists with less-expensive bottles; Slate Wine Bar + Bistro serves $4 drafts, $7 cocktails, and discount wines during dinner; and Zentan offers $14 sake flights, typically priced at $20.  

 

6) Take advantage of extensions 

A warning for the crowd-adverse: Certain Restaurant Week scenes can feel like Valentine’s Day or (shudder) New Year’s. Many spots offer extensions, which typically thin out the hordes. Such spots include the Oval Room, Masa 14, Graffiato (lunch and brunch only), 2941, and Mintwood PlaceCheck back for a full roundup of extensions on the Best Bites Blog. 

Posted at 04:22 PM/ET, 08/06/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The options range from casual neighborhood eateries to celebrity chef-driven restaurants. By Anna Spiegel
José Andrés’s America Eats is one of the many new eateries participating. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

The Metropolitan Washington Summer Restaurant Week is upon us, starting Monday, August 11. More than 200 area eateries will offer a three-course lunch and dinner for $20.14 and $35.14, respectively. How to choose? One way: Try somewhere new. The places below have all debuted in the past six-odd months, including a number of summer openings. Whether you’re looking for a casual meal, a celebrity-chef-driven restaurant, or an anti-summer Restaurant Week promotion, you’ll find plenty of options.

Aggio DC

5335 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Chef Bryan Voltaggio goes modern Italian with this separate restaurant inside Range. Think Caesar salad with oyster croutons, and prawns over sweet corn polenta with fra diavolo sauce.

When: dinner

Al Crostino

1926 Ninth St., NW

This former U Street Italian recently relocated to Shaw, with a few new menu items. Expect the same homey feel and dishes like stewed meatballs and gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce.

When: dinner

America Eats Tavern

1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean

José Andrés’s American eatery inside the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner is one of the biggest summer debuts, serving a mix of local and regional dishes such as fried chicken and soft-shell crab jambalaya.

When: lunch and dinner

Dino’s Grotto

1914 Ninth St., NW

The new Dino’s in Shaw isn’t participating in the official RAMW Restaurant Week, and they’re pretty honest about why. According to the website: “3 courses at $35.14 simply IS NOT a great deal at Dino’s Grotto. It comes out to a half-priced dessert, which IS NOT a savings in our minds.” Instead you’ll find ten plates of antipasti, pasta, eggplant Parm, and more for $35.

When: dinner

I-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar

3003 M St., NW

Georgetown’s newest Thai-and-sushi spot offers fare from both cuisines during Restaurant Week, including mixed seafood rolls and drunken noodles.

When: lunch and dinner

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

750 15th St., NW

The Washington branch of the iconic Miami original is a pretty pricey spot, so Restaurant Week may be a good time to try it. Though you won’t find the iconic claws, other options include fluke ceviche and marinated skirt steak.

When: lunch and dinner

Menu MBK

405 Eighth St., NW

Look for seasonal European cooking at chef Frederick De Pue’s Penn Quarter restaurant/market, such as escargot in garlic-butter sauce and bass bouillabaisse.

When: lunch and dinner

Roofers Union

Ripple’s more casual Adams Morgan sibling focuses on house-made sausages, smoked meats, and drink-friendly small plates. You may want to hit the rooftop for a cocktail before your four-course dinner.

When: dinner

Rural Society

1177 15th St., NW

The first Washington restaurant from celebrity chef Jose Garces focuses on Argentinian specialties such as thick-crust fugazza pizzas, Wagyu belly empanadas, and plenty of options from the wood-burning parrilla grill.

When: lunch and dinner

Sona Creamery and Wine Bar

600 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

Get your cheese fix at this Eastern Market creamery, which makes fresh fromage on-site. Dishes include cheddar-tomato pie, mac and cheese, and a variety of burgers.

When: lunch

STK

1250 Connecticut Ave., NW

Dupont’s “female-friendly” steakhouse goes into its first Washington Restaurant Week with tuna tartar, strip loin, and market fish. Given that two Wagyu sliders normally go for $19 in the evenings, a whole lunch for $20.14 is a deal.

When: lunch and dinner

Toro Toro

1300 I St., NW

Restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s pan-Latin steakhouse offers the likes of bay scallop ceviche, churrasco grilled steak, and ancho-chocolate brownie sundaes for its first Restaurant Week.

When: lunch and dinner


Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 02:03 PM/ET, 08/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
More than 30 eateries in our new issue offer dining deals. By Anna Spiegel
Vidalia is one of the many 100 Very Best Restaurants returning to our list and Restaurant Week. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

Just like the holidays, Washington’s Winter Restaurant Week snuck up on us—the official seven days of dining discounts run January 13 through 19*. More than 200 participants around the area offer $20.14 lunches and $35.14 dinners, plus some extra perks such as brunch, beverage pairings, and more. With so many options, it’s hard to decide where to go. To help, we’ve rounded up the spots listed in our recent 100 Very Best Restaurants issue. If you haven’t booked a table yet, it’s best to do so as soon as possible.

Please note that the linked reviews are from the 2013 guide. The latest edition is on newsstands now—get it before it’s gone!

Ardeo + Bardeo

Pick any three courses from the regular dinner menu at this buzzy Cleveland Park brasserie.

Serving: Dinner

Bastille

Alexandria hosts its own Restaurant Week, but Christophe and Michelle Poteaux also offer special menus for this version, with many classic French offerings. 

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Birch & Barley

You’ll find a number of options for each course, as well as tempting add-ons such as a beer pairing and truffled mac and cheese.

Serving: Dinner

BlackSalt

Jeff and Barbara Black’s Palisades restaurant/fish market serves up seafood for lunch.

Serving: Lunch

Bombay Club

Ashok Bajaj’s first restaurant is still going strong—it’s among the top ten on our list in its 25th-anniversary year.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Daikaya

It’s business as usual in the ground-floor ramen shop, so head up to the izakaya for Restaurant Week.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Del Campo

In addition to the traditional Restaurant Week set menus, you’ll find a fancier $55 option for dinner and bottles of wine for $35.13.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

DGS Delicatessen

The afternoon picks include an array of soups and sandwiches (matzo! corned beef!), while dinner brings a choice of more traditional entrées.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

G by Mike Isabella

Isabella does sandwiches by day and a set, sit-down menu similar to the Restaurant Week one in the evenings.

Serving: Dinner

Graffiato

Signatures like chicken thighs with pepperoni sauce and the crispy calamari pie are on offer for Restaurant Week.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Jaleo DC

All three area locations of Jaleo offer Restaurant Week, but it’s José Andrés’s Penn Quarter standout that made our top list.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Johnny’s Half Shell

Crabcakes, fried oysters, barbecue shrimp, and more are among the seafood-centric options at this Capitol Hill classic.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Kapnos

You’ll find Restaurant Week extended through January 26 at Mike Isabella’s Greek-inspired spot.

Serving: Dinner

Kaz Sushi Bistro

Miso soup, sushi, and rolls are on tap for Restaurant Week, though you’ll have to pay more for certain premium pieces.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Liberty Tavern

Dine at this rustic American in Clarendon on pastas, pizzas, roasted meats, and more.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Lyon Hall

One of our favorite Arlington stops for sausages, schnitzel, and other European treats for Restaurant Week.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Mintwood Place

The wedge salad, bacon cheeseburger, and other Mintwood classics are among the menu picks, along with extras such as a supplemental cheese course.

Serving: Dinner

NoPa Kitchen + Bar

Drop into the Penn Quarter brasserie for everything from a sandwich to an indulgent steak dinner.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Oval Room

Take advantage of Restaurant Week just blocks from the White House with a range of New American dishes like duck confit tater tots.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

PassionFish

As with most of chef Jeff Tunks’s eateries, you can pick any entrée off the main menu (some supplements may apply), as well as dishes from a selected list of appetizers and desserts.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Rasika and Rasika West End

The original is one of the more popular Restaurant Week spots and tends to fill up quickly, so be sure to book for both locations.

Serving: Lunch and dinner (sample menus from West End)

Ris

The days of chicken and salmon as your only options are gone, at least here. Think dishes like grilled quail and Icelandic cod with green papaya and rice noodles.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

1789

Looking for a white-tablecloth Restaurant Week option? This Georgetown stalwart is among the few.

Serving: Dinner

701

Ashok Bajaj’s downtown New American spot boasts a number of options for each course.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

The Source

If you’re tired of heading to Wolfgang Puck’s first-floor lounge for a dining deal, try the three-course Restaurant Week lunch menu.

Serving: Lunch

Sushi Taro

Head to one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city for sushi, sashimi, and small plates.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Table

Head to chef Frederik de Pue’s Shaw spot for offerings such as tiger prawns with black garlic and wild-boar Bolognese.

Serving: Dinner

2941

Braised-veal pappardelle and milk chocolate panna cotta are among the dishes on the Restaurant Week menu.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Vermilion

One of our favorite spots in Alexandria serves the likes of roasted squash soup with chicken cracklings and roast sirloin with root vegetables.

Serving: Dinner

Vidalia

You’ll find another white-tablecloth option at Jeffrey Buben’s classic Southern spot.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Westend Bistro

The window-walled dining room of this Ritz-Carlton spot provides a serene mealtime experience.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Woodward Table

This downtown American spot has plenty of options for each course, plus Restaurant Week brunch for the weekend crowd.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

Zaytinya

Make a meal of Mediterranean mezze like dips and spreads, lamb meatballs, and more.

Serving: Lunch and dinner

*This post has been updated from a previous version. 

Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 01/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Dining deals continue as late as mid-September. By Anna Spiegel
Ardeo + Bardeo, maker of dishes such as this fried-egg-topped burger, extends Restaurant Week deals through September 1. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Don’t worry if you missed the official Washington Summer Restaurant Week, which ended Sunday. Plenty of eateries are extending the offer of multi-course $20.13 lunches and $35.13 dinners through Labor Day weekend and beyond. (Restaurants with an asterisk appear on our 100 Very Best list.) If none of the following piques your interest, consider a few alternatives: Alexandria continues its Restaurant Week through September 1. In the District, Rogue 24 chef R.J. Cooper “goes rogue” through Friday, August 31, with a special menu for $55, or you can reserve the Spirits Bar for three drinks and bites ($35 per person) through September 5. And don’t forget about our roundup of 24 inexpensive tasting menus to try around Washington.

Read More

Posted at 11:43 AM/ET, 08/26/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()