DC Restaurant Week 2012: Readers Weigh In

We’re looking to you for insights, experiences, and the best/worst of DCRW.

We’ve fielded a lot of Restaurant Week questions in the past few days, not to mention years. With hundreds of choices, where should you go? Which places deliver a top-notch experience like any other night, and who calls in the B Team (and ingredients) for the week?

We’d love to hear about your experiences. Particularly wonderful meal? Swearing off Restaurant Week forever? Leave a comment in the “Question” section below.

Downtown, DC:

I haven’t been but was wondering if anyone’s had a good RW walk-in experience downtown? Would love to go to a good place tonight but don’t have reservations, obviously.

Jessica Voelker

Good question, downtown. Hope there will be some good suggestions from other diners. One thing to consider: there are often seats at the bar when the dining room is full, as we learned recently while collecting DCRW procrastinator’s tips.

Atlas District Andrea:

Had poor service at Carmine’s on Tuesday. Not crowded for lunch, but our server was inattentive, not to mention inexperienced and simply incompetent. We weren’t given any menus at first. When we asked for a RW menu, one was reluctantly brought over. One. Only one was made available to our party of six. The server said they didn’t have many and they were on other tables. He then proceeded to dissuade us from the RW menu, mumbling that it wasn’t such a good deal for $35 and we were better off ordering family style off the regular menu.

A member of our party pointed out that it was $20.12 for lunch. We all ordered off the RW lunch menu and the food was fine and plentiful for the price.

Jessica Voelker

Sorry to hear you didn’t have a good service experience, Andrea. At least the food was okay!

Ryan in Arlington:

The district gets plenty of RW deals, as does Bethesda and other MD burbs, but what about Arlington (north or south)? Any good spots for us NOVA folks?

Jessica Voelker

Hi Ryan,
We’re fans of Liberty Tavern and Tallula, both offering deals. Here’s a
list of all the NOVA places doing DCRW through OpenTable.

Anyone had any good or bad Virginia experiences this week?


Bar Pilar is one of my regular spots, and I went in on Monday forgetting it was Restaurant Week. What I loved: it didn’t feel like Restaurant Week. Granted it was on the late-side (8:30ish) and Monday, but it had the same cozy neighborhood vibe as always. They’re also offering any three choices (small plate, entree, and dessert) from the regular menu, which was a nice change from the limited selection you get on most RW menus. Our server explained the promo, but didn’t push either way. Everything was delicious, as always (if you go, take advantage of the tomatoes on grilled bread. Simple, but the kind of thing you can only get in summer).

Does anyone else know of Restaurant Week experiences like this, that are basically business-as-normal with the added bonus of a discount?


Mintwood Place:

Had a very very very good meal at Mintwood Place last night. The food there is amazing. I wish they were open for lunch as well.

The only negative is that there is no real value in going for restaurant week during dinner time. As Todd has stated on many occasions that the real value is at lunchtime. That being said Mintwood Place would be the exception to the rule it is that good!

We had the Heirloom tomato gazpacho and Peruvian style ceviche as appetizers. Main courses were the Salmon, basil pistou broth (one of the best fish dishes I have had this year) and the Moules a la mariniere.

For dessert we had the Fresh blueberry tart and the Brownie sundae.

Jessica Voelker

Thanks for weighing in Naeem and Logan. Glad to hear there are some good deals out there.


Good value in VA would be to go to 2941 for lunch during RW.

Jessica Voelker

Are you listening, Ryan in Arlington?

Tysons Corner, VA:

At the last minute, my husband and I looked for a RW option in the Tysons area. It came down to the steak houses, 2941 or Legal Seafood.

2941 was my pick but my husband wanted steak, and so we headed to Ruth’s Chris. Not exactly haute cuisine, but I will say, it was very good. We were accommodated without reservations graciously, had wonderful service and a really good petit filet, with salads, a side each and a dessert. Way too much food, really, and I brought the dessert home. The steak itself was delicious, as was the creamed spinach. For $35, it is a heck-of-a meal.

Jessica Voelker

A rave for Ruth’s! Thanks for sharing, Tysons. I think the beauty of DCRW is that sometimes it inspires you to try a place that might surprise you.

DC Vegetarian:

Both Tosca and Willow were fantastic! Great choices for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

Tosca’s service was extremely gracious and didn’t suffer at all because of RW. The tortelli, risotto and desserts blew us away, plus the chef prepared the risotto with veggie stock just for us.

Willow’s vegetarian entree of stuffed squash blossoms on top of a corn zucchini pancake – not on the regular menu – was delicious, as was the gazpacho with almond, basil and radishes.

Jessica Voelker

Thanks for sharing, DC Vegetarian. We always love great meat-free options. Tosca is known for being a RW superstar, glad to hear it’s living up to its reputation.


Went to Vidalia for dinner with some friends on Wed. night. The hostesses were extremely helpful and accommodating, however our dining experience was far from my personal Restaurant Week expectations. Service was minimal (to echo the amount of effort put towards our table), and food portions were painfully small. My swordfish tasted like it had been frozen, thawed (improperly), then overseared. I understand that Restaurant Week “conditions” may impact a restaurant’s typical operating levels, but this should not be an excuse for poor quality food. Our waiter always acted too busy to notice us, and frantically flagging him down every time he ran by was rather irksome. Sticking to Baltimore Restaurant Week from now on.

Jessica Voelker

Thanks for weighing in Michelle. You seem sensitive to the fact that DCRW can be tough on restaurants, which is nice.

Truth is though, guests will leave it with a lasting impression of the place—good or bad. Sorry to hear yours left some things to be desired.