Most complaints about Restaurant Week target the crowds and limited menus, but another reason to scrutinize the twice-yearly event is this: $35.14 isn't always a great deal for dinner, especially in this day of small plates and shared appetizers. (Hint: The $20.14 lunches are the way to go.) $35.14 doesn't cover your drinks, tax or tip, either.

To prove the point, these build-your-own three-course meals from a variety of local restaurants will cost you less than a Restaurant Week "deal." Delicious irony: Some of these restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week, and it's still cheaper to go this way.


Toki Hakata Classic ramen with homemade endorphin sauce (Dakota Fine/For The Washington Post).

Doi Moi
Appetizer: Crispy pork and shrimp rolls, $10.
Entree: Stir-fried curried blue crab, $15.
Dessert: Soft-serve mango and sweet yam ice cream, $6.
Total: $31
You save: $4.14
-- Fritz Hahn

Oyamel
Appetizer: Chips and guacamole with green tomatillo and serrano chili peppers, $13.50.
Entree: Three seared fish tacos, $12.
Dessert: Rum-soaked tres leches cake, $7.50.
Total: $33.00
You save: $2.14
-- Margaret Ely

Domku
Appetizer: Fried pickled herring, $9.
Entree: Swedish meatballs with parsley mashed potatoes and lingonberry preserves, $16.50.
Dessert: Swedish almond cake, $6.
Total: $31.50
You save: $3.64
-- Maura Judkis

Red Hen
Appetizer: Smoked ricotta crostini, $6.
*Entree: Lamb meatballs with garganelli, tomato and smoked mozzarella, $16.
Dessert: Pecan tart with maple gelato, $8.
Total: $30
You save: $5
-- Alex Baldinger

Bombay Club
Appetizer: Bombay sev puri, $7.
Entree: Paneer makhni, $13.50.
Dessert: Mango creme brûlée, $8.
Total: $28.50
You save: $6.64
-- Stephanie Merry

Graffiato
Appetizer: Smoked beets with sheep’s milk ricotta, $7.
Entree 1: Roasted cauliflower, $7.
Entree 2: Roasted tomato agnolotti with smoked creme fraiche, $12.
Dessert: Chocolate budino, $8.
Total: $34
You save: $1.14
-- Lavanya Ramanathan

Toki Underground
Appetizer: Seasonal veggie dumplings, $5.
Entree: Toki Classic ramen with extra noodles, soft egg and endorphin sauce, $16.
Dessert: Warm cookies and milk, $7.
Total: $28
You save: $7.14
-- Fritz Hahn

Busboys and Poets
Appetizer: Hummus with pita bread, $6.
Entree: Blackened salmon with lemon butter sauce, wild rice and asparagus, $19.
Dessert: Flourless chocolate cake, $7.
Total: $32.00
You save: $3.14
-- Margaret Ely

* Dish was originally served with polenta and fresh basil for $15.