And while restaurant meals may not be as cheap as the alternatives, these five spots — recognized by critics such as the Michelin Guide and The Post’s Tom Sietsema — offer lunch prices that fall closer to the range of bespoke salad and grain bowl counters than white tablecloth steakhouses. Even kitchens that prioritize small plates during dinner have switched things up for sharing-averse groups or solo guests.
During the daytime, Doi Moi’s South Asian-influenced dining room transitions into Bird’s Eye cafe, where you can quickly place an order at the bar and settle in to watch the bustle of 14th Street NW outside. The banana blossom salad ($13) bursts with tropical notes of coconut poached chicken, fresh herbs and shallots. Vegetarians will enjoy the chickpea tofu hoagie ($9), served with tamarind sauce on a toasted roll, and those craving meat can dig into marinated Thai-style steak sandwich with sriracha jus ($17). 1800 14th St. NW.
Spanish tapas are meant for sharing, often while lingering over drinks and conversation. That’s great for dinner but challenging for a get-in-and-get-out lunch. At Boqueria’s two D.C. locations, tapas share the midday menu with Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches, salads and grain bowls. Options include grilled tuna, forbidden rice and a poached egg ($18) and a roasted chicken sandwich with patatas bravas ($18). 1837 M St. NW; 777 Ninth St. NW.
Chef José Andrés brings together Peruvian and Chinese flavors (known as “Chifa” cuisine) at this colorful Penn Quarter restaurant. While many of the dishes here are served as small plates, the lunch menu offers full entrees including several hearty donburi bowls that are packed with rice, proteins and vegetables. The “Ji Song” mixes stir fried chicken and soy sauce ($11), while the “Maestro Wong” ($14) highlights wild Pacific shrimp, fermented black bean and wood ear mushrooms. Sandwiches range from egg salad on brioche ($11) to rotisserie chicken with chimichurri and shoestring potatoes ($11). Andrés’s other Penn Quarter spots — Oyamel, Zaytinya and Jaleo — also offer sandwich specials at lunch. 418 Seventh St. NW.
It’s a rough day if mezcal is on your noon agenda, but Espita offers more than just quality agave. The “loncheria” — a lunch counter at the bar — features tacos (three for $12, or $3 apiece on Tuesdays, excluding lamb barbacoa) and other gussied up Mexican bites such as fried yucca ($7) and a mushroom tlayuda ($14) for building a meal, large or small. Options include shrimp tacos with cumin crema, jalapeño and tomatillo salsa, and carnitas tacos with salsa picante, onion and cilantro. 1250 Ninth St. NW.
D.C.’s first Georgian restaurant wants to make the quick business lunch something achievable. The $20 deal is available Tuesday through Friday and promises to wrap up within an hour. It comes with two courses along with a glass of wine — maybe it’s a slow afternoon in the office? — or a dessert. Start off with eggplant stuffed with walnuts and cilantro or one of the restaurant’s spreads. Khachapuri — the classic boat-shaped bread filled with egg and cheese — is offered as a main, along with sandwiches (mushroom, lamb and chicken, among others) and other hot dishes. A glass of house white, amber, rosé or red wine (all from Georgia) is fair game, too. 1205 11th St. NW.