It's High Time For a Proper Lunch Break; Here are 9 New Midday Menus

Plus: two more in the works.

Jaleo has a new look and a new lunch menu on the way.

It’s easy to forget that there’s a middle ground between a two-hour luncheon and grabbing a sandwich at Potbelly (again). Buzzy restaurants like Bourbon Steak and Adour are offering quick-service, mid-afternoon meals at gentler prices than you’ll find at dinner, and lunch at a popular new eatery is a prime chance to sample the fare without fighting evening crowds. Check out these nine newly debuted lunch options for your afternoon escape, plus two coming-soon menus to keep on the radar.

Daily, 11:30 AM to 2 PM
Alain Ducasse’s elegant
restaurant in the St. Regis Hotel offers lunch starting today, with an eye
towards lightening both the menu and formal ambiance you’ll find at
dinner. The
lineup of
seasonal dishes includes many from Ducasse’s latest cookbook, Nature,
which focuses on healthy, vegetable-forward items such as farro risotto
with basil and olives, spring vegetable tartines, and asparagus salad.
If you’re pressed for time, the waitstaff can have you out the door in
under an hour.

Monday to Friday, 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM
The newest Spanish tapas joint in
Washington just debuted its lunch menu, along with an outdoor
patio perfect for dining al fresco. You’ll find many of the same classic
tapas searched at dinner–tortilla
Española, hanger steak a la
–but there’s an additional menu of hot and cold sandwiches
filled with Spanish meats and cheeses, a hamburger, and
entrée salads. 

Boundary Road
Tuesday to Friday, 11 AM to 3 PM
Many H Street eateries aren’t open for
lunch, but President Obama’s recent dinner visit prompted this two-month-old spot to add daytime service. The
menu changes frequently, but you can expect seasonal American bistro-ish
fare like Maryland crab soup, Wagyu cheesesteak with horseradish and
bacon, and poached shrimp-farro salad. 

Bourbon Steak
Monday to Friday, 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
You can spend hours and some serious
dough in restaurateur Michael Mina’s sceney dining room at dinner, but
the new “B Line” lunch menu
is designed to save both time and money with speedy service and a $25
price tag for an appetizer,
entrée, and takeaway oatmeal cream pie.
Order a bacon-y iceberg wedge, steak tartare, channel Don Draper, and
try to resist a Manhattan (though the zero-proof West Indian Limeade
with ginger and Angostura bitters is a craveable stand-in). 

Curious Grape
Tuesday to Sunday, 7:30 AM to 6 PM
The Shirlington wine shop just reopened
as a market-restaurant-cafe-event space, making it a good choice for
those looking to grab lunch, wine, and grocery items like chocolate and cheese
all at once. The cafe offers sandwiches such as chicken salad and a
p.l.t (prosciutto, lettuce, and tomato), calzones, and pastries, as well
as coffee and tea. In the coming months,  full lunch service
with wine will debut at the restaurant, which is currently serving dinner in the

Monday to Friday, 11:30 AM to 2 PM
Lunch at Equinox is nothing new, but now
there’s a special “Power Hour” menu for those who know to ask. The set
two or three-course offering ($19 for an appetizer and entree, $25 with
added dessert) changes frequently, but you can see a sample on the
restaurant blog. An added
incentive: executive chef Karen
  just earned a place in Food & Wine magazine’s prestigious “Best New
Chefs 2012”


La Forchetta
Monday to Friday, 11:30 AM to 5 PM
This brand-new Foxhall Road Italian
quietly opened for lunch, and is serving continuously throughout the day
(see a sample of the menu
Chef Roberto Donna offers a lineup of pastas and Neapolitan-style pizzas
similar to those at dinner, plus panini reminiscent of the sandwiches
that gained a cult-like following at Donna’s shuttered Galileo Grill.
There’s also a $15 “Piatto Express” menu that includes caponata; a
choice of panini or one of two pastas; and zuppa Inglese for dessert.

Rasika West End
Monday to Friday, 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Tables at the original
in Penn Quarter are notoriously tough to snag at all hours, so fans
welcomed the debut of a sister restaurant just over two weeks ago. The
window-enclosed dining room is pleasantly light and airy for lunching,
and while much of chef Vikram Sunderam’s menu is the same, there are new
items such as crispy black bass with a yoghurt dipping sauce and shrimp

Sugar Magnolia
11 AM to 8 PM
You’ll have to wait for dinner-time to dine at 
but there are
five different to-go sandwiches at its new boutique market in
the adjoining storefront. Try one stuffed with
smoked mackerel, porchetta, or prosciutto, along with snacks like potato salad
and chef
Logan Cox’s addictive
and plenty of dessert options from pastry chef Alison Reed. There is also a
whole menu of cookie ice cream sandwiches, just in time for summer. 

Coming Soon 

Green Pig Bistro
Opening for lunch early May
Scot Harlan’s nose-to-tail bistro just
debuted, but they’re planning on adding lunch in early May.  The meaty,
nose-to-tail menu will be the same in the afternoon and evening, with
dishes like duck confit, frisée, and poached egg salad; trotter tots;
and twice-baked potato gnocchi. 

Jaleo Penn Quarter
Opening for lunch mid-June

José Andrés’s

Jaleo just got a face-lift after 19 years, and more than the décor is
different. Over a quarter of the
menu includes
new items like toasted bread topped with sea urchin and grilled Ibérico
pork ribs, plus there’s a first-time lineup of sandwiches and
flautas for lunch like grilled Spanish cheeses, tuna salad, and Jamón Serrano with Manchego cheese. If June is too long to wait, pick up lunch at Pepe, Andrés’s new food truck.

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.