Food

Our Food Editor’s Top Picks for DC Summer Restaurant Week

New hotspots, delicious classics, and great looking deals.
Eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, and burrata at Punjab Grill. Photograph courtesy of Punjab Grill.
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Summer Restaurant Week starts Monday, August 12 and hundreds of restaurants around Washington are offering three-course lunch and brunch menus for $22 and $35 dinners. Here are top places we’d check out, including new hotspots, tried and true classics, and good-looking deals.

1789
1226 36th St., NW
The Georgetown institution hasn’t released its menu yet, but it has a promising new team in place—chef Tracy O’Grady (formerly of Willow) and manager Brian Zipin, who ran the bustling dining room at Central for many years. Dinner only.

Bistro Bis
15 E St., NW
The stately French dining room—which will soon be veteran chef Jeff Buben‘s sole remaining restaurant when Woodward Table closes—has always been generous with its RW menu. The long list of choices includes longtime hits—French onion soup, beef bourguignon, one of the loveliest beet salads in a town full of them—with only a few upcharges. Brunch, lunch, and dinner. 

Bresca
1906 14th St., NW
Restaurant Week may be a great time to try chef Ryan Ratino’s avant-garde 14th Street eatery. The seasonal menu is small yet interesting and doesn’t skimp on ingredients—think scallop crudo with snap peas and buttermilk or roast chicken with confit peaches and foie gras jus. Dinner only.

Centrolina
974 Palmer Alley NW
Chef Amy Brandwein doesn’t post her Restaurant Week menus early. That’s true to her seasonal approach and weekly changing regular menus. Look for a mix of interesting vegetable dishes, homemade pastas, and wood oven-roasted meats and seafood. Dinner only.

Cherry
515 15th St., NW
The W Hotel near the White House just underwent a $50 million revamp, and this wood-fired restaurant helmed by former Vermillion chef William Morris is part of the new lineup. A 15-foot wood-burning grill and oven centers the restaurant. Menus aren’t currently available, but given the regular high-end hotel prices, we’d be curious to check it out for Restaurant Week. Lunch and dinner.

At Convivial in Shaw, Washington, DC, diners can share plates of scallop boudin blanc with snow peas and trout roe (opposite left) or pickled rockfish with green papaya and winter radish. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Convivial. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Convivial
801 O St., NW
It’s a promising sign when a Restaurant Week menu closely reflects the regular menu. That’s the case at chef Cedric Maupillier’s Shaw brasserie, where guests can pick three dishes from five generous categories (including cheese and dessert). Another perk: the extended promotion runs through August 25th (plus the regular free parking applies). Note that sister bistro Mintwood Place also offers a wide range of choice. Lunch and dinner.

El Sapo
8455-1 Fenton St., Silver Spring
Get a free mojito with your three-course Restaurant Week dinner at Havana native Raynold Mendizábal‘s lively Cuban restaurant. The lineup also features versions of dishes from the regular menu—a good sign—including a Cuban street food sampler, ceviche, and ropa viejaDinner only.

Iron Gate
1734 N St., NW
Looking for a Restaurant Week date spot? This romantic Mediterranean restaurant in Dupont regularly checks the box when it comes to both ambiance and food. They’re serving special menus for brunch and lunch—usually the better deals—as well as dinner, and you can enjoy it all on their wisteria-covered patio. Brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Gravitas
1401 Okie St., NE
Dinner at chef Matt Baker’s Ivy City tasting room typically starts at $90 for five courses, so the $35 Restaurant Week option looks like a great deal. Guests can typically build their own tasting by mixing and matching dishes with plenty of vegetarian items alongside meats/seafood. Plus the restaurant just debuted a lovely rooftop garden and bar (hello, date night).  Dinner only.

Gravitas strawberry shortcake
Strawberry shortcake at Gravitas. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Kaliwa
751 Wharf St., SW
Chef Cathal Armstrong’s vibrant Filipino/Thai/Korean restaurant is one of our favorite spots on Wharf that’s participating in Restaurant Week. Menus haven’t been posted yet, but we’re fans of the bright, bracing flavors in dishes like kinilaw (a ceviche-style Filipino dish), crunchy lumpia spring rolls, or comforting Thai curries. Lunch and dinner.

Officina
1120 Maine Ave., SW
Chef Nick Stefanelli’s Italian emporium at the Wharf isn’t easy on the wallet—all the more reason to visit for Restaurant Week. The standard $35 option comes with a choice of antipasti or pasta, an entree, and dessert—plenty to pick from in each category. A $53 four-course option adds an extra savory course. Whichever you choose, make it a night with a drink on the atmospheric rooftop. Lunch and dinner.

Olivia
800 F St., NW
Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s newest restaurant in Penn Quarter channels summer vibes with an airy Mediterranean feel. Chef Matt Kuhn’s dishes are given a creative twist, such as tzatziki with dill and trout roe, or warm burrata smothered in zhug and crispy crumbs. Lunch and dinner

The Prime Rib
2020 K St., NW
Sick of jarringly loud dining rooms and millennial pink? This throwback—complete with cheetah-print carpet, a jackets-for-men policy, and a live pianist—is your antidote. There’s pretty much one major draw: You guessed it, prime rib. It’s available for a $5 surcharge—and totally worth it. Dinner only.  

Burrata at Olivia. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Punjab Grill
427 11th St., NW
One of DC’s glitziest restaurants (seriously, check out that mirror-covered private room on the way in) is opening their ornate doors for lunch. The menu hasn’t been announced, but chef Jaspratap Bindra is particularly skilled with lush curries and offbeat appetizers, like an Indian spin on burrata. Lunch only.

RPM Italian
601 Massachusetts Ave., NW
We’d hit this slightly Vegas-y Italian spot for lunch, which offers a similar menu to its nighttime roster. Our go-tos: spaghetti pomodoro (the best pasta on the menu), chicken parm’, and the lush chocolate budino. Lunch and dinner. 

Sushiko
5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase
This Friendship Heights sushi standby offers a slight menu with different choices at lunch and dinner—there’s chicken teriyaki and tempura during the day, and salmon at night. Chef-chosen spreads of sashimi or nigiri are available whenever you visit. Lunch and dinner.

Best restaurants DC summer restaurant week
Chicken Parmesan at Unconventional Diner. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Unconventional Diner
1207 Ninth St., NW
True to name, chef David Deshaies’s modern diner near the Convention Center defies convention. Some of our favorite regular dishes are on offer, including the chicken parm Florentine, double cheeseburger, and chocolate cake (Restaurant Week calories don’t count, right?).  Lunch and dinner.

Sushi Taro
1503 17th St., NW
We love the sublime sushi at this stalwart Japanese restaurant in Dupont Circle. Menus aren’t currently available, but past years have brought tasty nigiri and roll combinations rounded out with appetizers like tofu agedashi and mochi for dessert. Lunch and dinner. 

Whaley’s
301 Water St., SE
Get your seafood fix by the water in Navy Yard. Some of chef Daniel Perron’s Restaurant Week dishes are classic (half-dozen raw oysters), while others are good-looking riffs on regular menu items like the mussel (regularly mixed seafood) risotto. For brunch, the restaurant offers a choice of cocktail instead of dessert. Dinner and brunch.

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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.

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.