9 DC Restaurant Week Best Bets

By Rina Rapuano  |  January 13, 2014
Credit: Ken Goodman Photography

DC’s winter Restaurant Week is upon us, and we know how tough it can be to choose a spot from among the more than 200 participating restaurants. This year's prices: a three-course lunch for $20.14 or a three-course dinner for $35.14. Here are our choices for where to spend your deal-seeking dining dollars, including places we think are outstanding values and those with menus that cater to often under-represented diners. (In addition, we've assembled a handful of our picks for Alexandria Restaurant Week, which starts Friday. You can find our list here.)

  • For those who like a little food with their wine…

    Thankfully, Vinoteca excels at both food and wine, and the restaurant is offering a fun optional upgrade to the traditional Restaurant Week deal by adding wine pairings to each course for only $15 extra. An amuse bouche and a choice from six appetizers and five entrees allow for more choices than usual.

    Chef Lonnie Zoeller’s top picks: Red cabbage and beet salad appetizer; an entree of bison with salt-roasted rutabaga, mushroom gravy and horseradish cream; a playful take on pumpkin pie.

    Vinoteca; 1940 11th St. NW; 202-332-9463

  • Where to take that vegan friend…

    Equinox is possibly the only fine-dining restaurant offering a vegan tasting menu in addition to its omnivore options during Restaurant Week. Vegans - and the vegan-curious - can order a set veg menu with only one choice per course - but in a town with very few vegan options, we like that the downtown fixture is doing something different.

    Chef Todd Gray’s top picks: Heirloom radish, shaved fennel and blood orange salad; housemade spinach rigatoni with mushrooms, salsify and smoked onion cream; and a walnut spiced sticky cake with banana-caramel ice cream and salted sesame-seed brittle.

    818 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-331-8118

  • For the gluten-free crowd…

    Lincoln has crafted gluten-free menus for both lunch and dinner, going the extra mile beyond just offering one gluten-free option per course. And since it’s small plates, the restaurant is offering four courses instead of three, with choices like smoked salmon deviled eggs; NY strip steak with black garlic gelée and duck-fat potatoes; and a burnt-banana sundae.

    Executive chef Demetrio Zavala’s top gluten-free picks: The poke-style yellowfin tuna; the beet salad with creamy horseradish dressing; the NY strip; and the brown-butter fudge cake.

    1100 Vermont Ave. NW; 202-386-9200

  • Where to get the most for your money…

    Many places offer tempting menus this week, but it just makes good, plain sense to choose a restaurant that is normally beyond your price range. This reasoning makes Charlie Palmer Steak, where entrees run as high as $65, a great choice. Plus, we can vouch for the fact that you don’t have to be a senator or a high roller to get the VIP treatment here.

    Chef Jeffery Russell’s top picks: The braised pork shoulder with cavatelli appetizer; the roasted Amish chicken breast entree with celeriac, chanterelle mushrooms and farro risotto; and the green-apple consommé with cinnamon panna cotta and almonds.

    101 Constitution Ave. NW; 202-547-8100

  • When a choice of three just isn’t enough…

    Woodward Table is bucking the “choice-of-three” tradition and offering its entire dinner menu “to really give diners a feel for the restaurant,” according to co-owner Sallie Buben. That translates into a choice of 11 salads or appetizers, 10 entrees and eight desserts - but who’s counting?

    Chef Jeffrey Buben’s top picks: Fried chicken livers to start; Carolina trout for his main; and pineapple upside-down pound cake for dessert.

    1426 H St. NW; 202-347-5353

  • Credit: Ken Goodman Photography

    Time to check in on that celebrity chef…

    With a new cookbook set to come out in 2014, celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio - who rose to national fame on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters - is hotter than ever. His Chevy Chase gem, Range, offers the same Restaurant Week menu for both lunch and dinner, adding different price points for three levels of dining: three courses for $35.14; four courses for $45.14; and five courses for $55.14.

    Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s top picks: Roasted baby carrot salad with hazelnuts, honey and goat Cheese; hanger steak with salt-roasted potatoes and charred green tomato; and five cheese selections from Atlantic creameries served with seasonal fruit compotes, jams and walnut-raisin toast.

    5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-803-8020

  • That place you’ve been meaning to try...

    If we had a tough time keeping up with the restaurant blitz of 2013, we’re guessing some restaurants got lost in the shuffle for you too. And if Malmaison is one of them, now is a good time to check out the French spot, which opened in June and happens to have a two-Michelin-star chef Gerard Pangaud in the kitchen. In addition, Pangaud instituted some menu changes when he transitioned from a consulting capacity to head chef mid-November, so you’ll find plenty of new items if you’ve already been.

    Chef Gerard Pangaud’s top picks: Roquefort terrine with frisée salad, celeriac and beets; lamb with dry figs, braised red cabbage with chestnuts; and the Napoleon for dessert.

    3401 K St. NW; 202-817-3340

  • Treat your parents, for once...

    If you’re like most college students or Hill interns, you can’t wait for your parents to visit and foot the bill for you to try the hot new restaurant. If they’re visiting during Restaurant Week, you can treat them to an opulent dinner at 1789 for a fraction of the normal cost - and win many brownie points that will keep you in free dinners for at least another year.

    Chef Anthony Lombardo’s top picks: Crispy pork terrine; the lamb-shoulder entree with crispy bone-marrow grits; carrot cake with purple carrot sherbet.

    1226 36th St. NW; 202-965-1789

  • When you’re in the mood to go rogue…

    You can’t put chef-owner RJ Cooper in a box, even with something as straightforward as Restaurant Week - and for that, we’re glad. At Rogue 24, he’s offering a secret menu broken into two categories: the 10-course Jaunt for $54.14 per guest and the 24-course Journey for $104.14 per guest. (The Journey menu usually costs $120 per person.) In addition, a SpiritsBar menu for $44.14 per guest features four bites and four cocktails.

    Chef RJ Cooper’s top pick: Why go on a jaunt when you can go on a journey?

    922 N St. NW; 202-408-9724