I’m that person who follows every food related Facebook page on social media. Everyday I’m taunted by these pictures and articles of restaurants that are lauded for their amazing food, and all I can do is salivate while going through the wall of foodporn on my computer screen. I just keep torturing myself by looking at all of these food sites. I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to scrape together enough money so that one day I will be able to dine at one of these fine establishments.
Well, the time has come. DC Restaurant Week is just around the corner. Beginning on August 17th, you will have one week to figure out which restaurants you want to try out for a discounted price. When I say discounted, it’s no joke. Lunch will be $22, while dinner will be $35 and this is a complete meal which includes an appetizer, an entrée and dessert. This is the closest thing I have to Christmas in the summer. I’m legit going to be blowing all the money I’ve earned from my summer job on a food escapade all across the DC area.
So to help me plan my mini adventure in the capital city, I’ve created a list of the places I might want to eat at. On top of that I’m going to share my research with my fellow foodies with a little background on each so you have a little insight into the DC food scene. I’ve narrowed it down to fifteen restaurants thus far, so hopefully I can actually pick and choose a couple to actually go to when the time comes.
2941 Restaurant is a picturesque looking restaurant. Surrounded by beautiful wildlife and nature, the experience itself is very Zen like. The food is new American in nature and is just beautiful to look at. Definitely have your phone handy to Instagram your dining experience and make all your followers super jelly. Consistently listed as one of the best restaurants in the area, 2941 is not to be missed even if it is located a bit outside of the city.
No red Solo cups or Miller Lites here. Birch and Barley has a wall of draught beers instead. If you’re legal by the time Restaurant Week rolls around, you need to stop by. They have craft beers from literally everywhere around the world. Birch and Barley is a gastropub with the intent of showcasing their food and selection of whatever’s on tap. Depending on what you order, your server will know exactly what beer to pair with each dish. In addition to that, the menu is ever-changing depending on the season. You know you’ll be getting dishes made with the best ingredients.
If you have more time, check out ChurchKey upstairs for more beer and pub grub.
A major player in the fine dining scene for years, Chef Michel Richard has combined his refined French style with American comfort food at Central. You’ll find burgers and fried chicken here as well as more classic dishes like rotisserie chicken. Central serves up very recognizable food, while maintaining the impeccable quality expected from a chef of his caliber. If you’re into classic American food, Central will definitely please your taste buds.
Undoubtedly the king of Penn Quarter, José Andrés’ newest restaurant is Peruvian inspired. Each of his dishes are inspired from classic Peruvian dishes but have been elevated to new levels of awesome. Personally one of my favorite types of cuisine, it combines the food culture of China, Japan and Spain. On top of that, the restaurant is just awesome to explore with all of its creative decor. If you want to try something new, this is the place to go to. Trust me, it’s better than the Peruvian rotisserie chicken that is so popular in the area.
Are you a chocaholic? Yeah, me too.
As you can tell from the name, Co Co. Sala is known for their chocolatey desserts. Their menu is pretty easy to navigate with items like the Caesar salad, mac & cheese and beef sliders. When it comes to dessert, I highly recommend going for one of their chocolate creations. There’s a reason this place is named after the glorious cacao bean. May I suggest the chocolate onyx to finish off the meal? It’s legit a tasting of different chocolate bites to please your belly. You’ll be transported to chocolate nirvana.
Daikaya Izakaya is actually split up into two restaurants. The Izakaya portion of the restaurant is located upstairs serving Japanese small plates to share with everyone at your table. The other half of the restaurant is a ramen bar serving up the authentic version of the poor college kid’s diet food. Restaurant Week will be held upstairs in the izakaya. Not only will you be feasting on a bunch of Japanese bites, you have the chance to sample a number of different types of sake, shochu and cocktails. If you’re into sushi, expand your horizons and learn a little more about Japanese cuisine.
Del Campo brings you an unparalleled dining experience combining the classic steakhouse experience with South American flair.
Steak, Steak, Steak. Did I say that enough? That’s what you need to order here. Del Campo features an assortment of beef cuts. From the classic filet mignon to the restaurant industry’s favorite in the hanger and ribeye cuts, you can’t go wrong. Chef Victor Albisu actually beat Bobby Flay recently in a steak and eggs challenge. So if you have any doubts, know that this guy took down an Iron Chef at his own game.
Upon entering, you’re hit with the feeling of entering nonna’s home with every intention of eating mountains of pasta before leaving stuffed. All the pastas are made in house, and trust me when I say you’ll feel like a complete glutton once you see the portion sizes here. Filomena is very much the traditional Italian restaurant that you know and love. Dishes like lasagna and chocolate mousse are just a few of what you can expect at this Georgetown mainstay. Prepare for your incoming food baby when you dine at Filomena.
Known for his appearance on Top Chef, Mike Isabella has decided to build his restaurant empire in DC. He has opened a number of restaurants in recent years and it’s no coincidence that he is one of the most well-known contestants from the hit show. Building off the success of his first restaurant, Graffiato, he has continued to expand into the realm of Greek inspired dishes at Kapnos.
Graffiato is also participating in Restaurant Week as well. They serve up Italian food inspired by his Italian-American childhood upbringing. A great backup if you’re not into Greek food.
Looking for traditional French food with the added bonus of being transported to the French countryside? La Chaumière is the restaurant for you.
Tucked away in Georgetown, this restaurant prepares very traditional French bistro food. Everything from ooey gooey Gruyere topped French onion soup to even steak au poivre (aka steak with peppercorn sauce), it’s the French food that’s super rich made with copious amounts of butter. You may regret it the next day when you’ll be doing hours of cardio, but it’s so worth it. Butter makes everything better.
Quite possibly one of my favorite meals in recent times, Osteria Morini serves up Italian cuisine from the region of Emilia Romagna. Located in the redeveloped Navy Yard area, you can go from enjoying authentic Italian food to walking around the nearby riverfront. When I ate here I came for the pasta. Handmade in house, the pastas were unbelievable. From the simple tagliatelle with ragu to the bucatini with sea urchin and crab, the pastas are a must order. I dream about these pastas – no joke. So if you like authentic rustic Italian cuisine, Osteria Morini is the place to go.
A major hotspot in the capital city, Rasika is known for their killer Indian food. You’ll find everything here including a number of different curries and chutneys as well as a variety of grilled options as well. A number of chefs in the area have consistently placed this restaurant on their list of favorite restaurants and for good reason. Did I mention that the Obamas dine here pretty often too?
If you can’t get a table at Rasika, check out their sister restaurant Bombay Club as a plan B.
With its open kitchen, Tico is very much a dinner and a show wrapped into a single restaurant. At Tico, their food is influenced by Latin, South American and Spanish flavors. Most of the food here will be small plates including ceviches, grilled specialties and an assortment of tacos. If you’re into liquor, their elaborate tequila menu should be able to quench your thirst no matter what you’re looking for.
Another of José Andrés’ restaurants, Zaytinya serves up some of the best mezze in the area. Mezze is similar to Spanish tapas, but in this case it stands for small plates of amazing Mediterranean food. From the numerous plates you can choose from, Zaytinya will please everyone from meat lovers to vegetarians. A definite must try in our area, Zaytinya is a solid pick for standout food to close out the summer.
Try out Aggio if you want to see what Top Chef runner-up, Bryan Voltaggio, is doing at his new restaurant.
You’ll want to head to Cedar for a combination of fresh ingredients and New American cuisine.
The historic Old Ebbitt Grill serves up classic American fare with the added bonus of having one of the best raw bars in the area. Oysters here I come.
For a night away from the busy urban DC environment try Vermillion located in Old Town Alexandria.
NOTE: A bunch of the restaurants list their Restaurant Week Menus on their site so do a little research and take a gander at their menus. Reservations are a good idea too.
SIDE-NOTE: If I could read a book of restaurant menus, I probably would. It would probably be the best book for my foodporn ridden imagination. Happy Restaurant Week!
Just in case you needed more reasons to visit DC
- The Definitive Guide to Graduation Hotspots: DC-Baltimore Edition
- Blue Duck Tavern: A Fine Farm-to-Table Brunch
- I Have a Dream of Nomming on Half-Smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl