2012 DC Restaurant Week Newcomers

Eleven first-timers jump on the dining-deal train for the event’s winter session.

Fiola, restaurant week newbie. Photographs by Scott Suchman

Yup, it’s that time of year again. The winter session of DC Restaurant Week begins January 9, and if you need a fresh approach to the semiannual dining-deal event, consider one of these 11 eateries, all of which are offering the deals for the first time ever. Three-course lunches and dinners are $20.12 and $35.12* respectively, unless otherwise noted.

Degrees Restaurant

The Ritz-Carlton’s recently revamped bistro-lounge offers a pretty standard RW lineup for lunch (Caesar salad! Grilled chicken penne!), but things get a bit fancier at dinner. Specialty cocktails may run close to the price of an afternoon meal, but they’re typically worth it.

District Commons
The newest Passion Food Hospitality restaurant (Ceiba, DC Coast, Acadiana, PassionFish) from chef Jeff Tunks selects favorites from the regular lunch and dinner menus. Tip: If your meal leaves you hankering for a boozy-happy food coma, visit Burger, Tap & Shake next door for a spiked shake.

Chef Enzo Fargione just debuted Elisir in late November, and the RW menu boasts courses that are reminiscent of his à-la-carte offerings. Given that a lunch/dinner entrée alone could set you back $20 to $35, the special three-course lineup could be a deal.

In the top ten of our 100 Very Best Restaurant list (number eight, to be exact), Fiola is typically a tasty bet. Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s lunch menu will change daily, but expect signatures from the regular menu like meatballs with a sunny-side-up egg, smoked potato gnocchi, and grilled branzino with littleneck clams.

Ford’s Fish Shack
This New England–style seafood house in Ashburn has been open since September 2010, but it’s joining RW for the first time. Think family-friendly more than date-night for the lunch and dinner menus, which feature lobsters steamed, stuffed into rolls, or tucked into mac and cheese.

Mike Isabella’s first restaurant is usually packed, so you should probably expect the same during Restaurant Week—meaning reserve early. The vaunted Jersey Shore pizza, topped with fried calamari, and crispy Brussels sprouts with pancetta and egg are among the offerings on the lunch menu.

The Lounge at Citronelle
No, you won’t be getting a $35 dinner in Citronelle’s main dining room anytime soon (read: ever). But the dinner menu in the lounge boasts Michel Richard favorites like heart of romaine stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with Caesar dressing, and the famous lobster burger (add $15 for this option); and the cocktails are as playful as the food.

Mala Tang
One of our favorite Szechuan hot-pot spots is rolling out its inaugural Restaurant Week menu for both lunch and dinner. Details are still being finalized, but expect a choice of appetizer and hot-pot dipping ingredients during afternoon service, and an added dessert for the evening.

Market Tavern
Formerly a Harry’s Tap Room, this Clarendon eatery broke from the national chain and reopened as an independent chophouse/tavern this fall. The dinner menu has more options than your average RW selection, from pork chops to paella.

Like your meal with a side of burlesque? This ornate (think urban Versailles) Penn Quarter dinner club has dancers cavorting on a glass-enclosed stage above the dining room. The acts get racier as the evening progresses, so book appropriately.

2100 Prime
Dishes speak for themselves at the Jockey Club replacement in the Fairfax Embassy Row (literally—check out the Web site). The dinner menu has pretty typical RW fare (chicken, salmon), but there are possible perks, like a strip loin au poivre and pumpkin gnocchi.

*This post originally said Lunch was $20.11 and dinner was $35.11. We regret causing any confusion.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.