Recession Specials: Restaurants Roll Out the Dining Deals

The recently opened Art and Soul is offering a $24 three-course lunch and $35 dinner this week.

This week, restaurant-reservations Web site is spearheading a promotion to get all you cash-strapped diners back into the city’s banquettes: Now until Friday, over 150 restaurants (click here for the full list) are offering $24 three-course lunches and $35 dinners. So if you’ve been jonesing for a meal at Poste, PS7’s, Rasika, or Corduroy or are looking to try new spots such as Art and Soul or Passionfish, here’s your chance. If you can’t make it out this week, plenty of other restaurant deals are going strong.

$19.90 lunch at Vidalia
This airy new-Southern downtown dining room is known for generous Restaurant Week specials. Its latest offering is a three-course lunch that lets you choose any appetizer, main course, and dessert from its regular menu. The portions are “tasting-sized” (Read: shrunken), but it’s still a deal.

$15 lunch at Mio
This lowlit, mahogany-toned restaurant is offering a $15 three-course lunch at its bar weekdays between 11:30 and 2:30. The menu is pretty limited: a mixed green salad to start, then a pizza with such toppings as slow-roasted tomatoes and salami, then sorbet for dessert. Still, now is a good time to hit Mio: Though the kitchen has been in flux, well, pretty much since the place opened, Maestro alum Nick Stefanelli is still at the helm.

$13.50 Lickity Split lunch at Restaurant Eve

The cozy, comforting Eve, one of our favorite spots in the area, has been running this fabulous lunch deal for years. Weekdays at the bar between 11:30 and 4, you can choose two items from a generous menu that might include the Irish BLT and beet salad served in the more expensive bistro, the terrific bacon, egg, and cheese salad, the pink-iced birthday cake, and Todd Thrasher’s Granny Smith apple cocktail, which puts other sticky-sweet green drinks to shame.

$40 dinner at 1789

This matronly Georgetown institution has been given a shot in the arm by talented new twentysomething chef Daniel Giusti. His three-course, prix-fixe menu changes often, but might include a duck-confit-and-frisée salad with a coddled duck egg; pappardelle with chicken livers and sage butter; a pork chop with a warm turnip salad; and braised shortribs with sweet-potato purée. Travis Olson’s desserts are impressive too. We recently loved his freeform take on apple pie, which also pops up on the bargain menu.

$50 bar tasting menu at CityZen

You’d never guess it, but this dazzler of a hotel dining room, which our 100 Best Restaurants issue ranked the second best in the city, has one of the best deals in town. Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30, you can get a three-course dinner special at the bar. The menu changes frequently, but expect a small array of Eric Ziebold’s often revelatory dishes, such as yellowtail tataki with pickled-shallot vinaigrette; braised shoat with housemade chorizo; and pan-seared Atlantic stone bass with chanterelles and gnocchi. You get all the crisp pampering—the amuse bouche, the excellent bread service—and you don’t even have to dress up.

$10 burger special at Ray’s Hell-Burger

When Michael Landrum opened this tiny grill this summer, he was dishing out free sides of watermelon and corn on the cob with the craft-your-own burgers. Now, sides such as mac and cheese cost $1.25 each, unless you order the $10 special, which includes a Vermont cheddar-topped burger with gratis toppings (sherried mushrooms, blistered jalapeños, etc.), one side, and a 16-ounce Dominion root beer. And if you finish with any appetite left, grab a cup of the free hot chocolate.


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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.