We Love Food: August 2011 Restaurant Week

Photo courtesy of
‘Watershed- Washington, DC’
courtesy of ‘Plantains & Kimchi’

It’s that time of year again: restaurant week. For those in need of a quick refresher, restaurant week this summer runs from August 15 to 21, and at restaurants across the city, you get three-course lunches for $20.11 per person and three-course dinners for $35.11 per person. So dial-up that OpenTable app, expand your stomach and click through for some tips on what to do and where to eat for summer 2011′s restaurant week.

Photo courtesy of
‘……..drink man woman’
courtesy of ‘LaTur’

Here are some of my tips:

1. Go for the big bucks. What I mean is, restaurant week is the time to try the places that would normally stretch your wallet. What’s the point in going to a restaurant and paying $35 for dinner when you could do that any other time of the year? Also, don’t go for the places that are extending restaurant week. Those specials will be around for a little longer, so try those later in August.

2. Use restaurant week to try the place that’s been on your list forever. Some people argue that restaurants slack off during restaurant week because of the influx of people, the lowered prices of food, etc. etc. From talking to chefs all the time, I can safely say that the good chefs think of their reputation and their food’s reputation. They’re not going to let a few extra covers derail their dinner service or the fact that some diners during RW might come in once and never again. I’d argue one of the goals of RW is to get people in the door who don’t normally come to a certain restaurant and get them to come back again. Knock wood, I’ve never had a restaurant week meal at a place with a stellar reputation that didn’t live up to the expectations.

3. Don’t forget that beverages, tax and gratuity are not included. Just because you’re getting a bargain, doesn’t mean it’s time to stiff your server. Tip accordingly, people, and tip well for good service.

4. Let them eat lunch. So you waited too long to get reservations for the week (somehow that happens to me almost every year…) and now you’re all grumbly over the fact that you’re missing out. Opt for lunch. Some restaurants will carry a few of the same dishes during lunch service, so you’ll still get a taste of what you would have ordered for dinner. Some restaurants only do lunch for RW. Think of it as a good way to escape the office for a bit.

5.Reservations help, but aren’t required. To be honest, it’s kind of late in the RW game. It’s a week away, and usually that doesn’t bode well for securing your table for three at 7 PM. A lot of people ask me, “Where do youuuu have reservations for RW?” And reservations certainly make your night easier to plan, but what’s the worst that can happen if you walk into a place without one? You sip a drink at the bar? You walk down the street to the other place you wanted to try that’s also participating in RW? Life could be tougher, folks.

Photo courtesy of
‘The art of dining well is no slight art…………..’
courtesy of ‘LaTur’

As for restaurants I’d pick to go to this year? Right off the bat here are my picks: Bibiana, Birch & Barley, Bourbon Steak (they only do lunch for RW), Bombay Club, DC Coast, The Oval Room, Rasika, Ris, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (chain restaurant I know, but their steaks alone usually cost $30), Tosca Ristorante, Vidalia, West End Bistro and Zaytinya. That list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good mix of places I like and places that I know are pricey. You can find a full list of participating restaurants on OpenTable, and you’ll find that some restaurants have posted their menus for the week.

Leave me a comment for where you’ve had a good meal during RW or where you’ve picked to go next week. Bon appetit!

Marissa was born and bred in New Jersey, but moved to DC for undergrad at GWU (Go Colonials, go!), fell in love with the District and learned that there was life and civilization beyond New York City. She loves eating at white-tablecloth-three-forks-at-your-place-setting restaurants, but she’ll also be the first to suggest we scarf down some chili dogs at 2 am. Simply put, she loves all things food. You can also read about why she loves DC. Follow her on Twitter and email her at mbialecki (at) welovedc.com.

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