Washington’s annual summer restaurant week returns Aug. 13-19, offering multicourse $22 brunches and lunches, as well as $35 dinners. Sifting through the sea of participants can seem overwhelming, especially since not all of the more than 250 menus are created equally. Many rely on dishes that are outside of their normal offerings or aren't that great of a deal. Others are gracious in both variety and value.
Here are five restaurant-week meals worthy of your attention — and a reservation.
Dinner at Spoken English
Few dining rooms in the city are as different as chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s standing-room-only Spoken English inside the Line hotel. The restaurant, which is open for dinner only, draws inspiration from Asian street foods for such dishes as fermented durian curry and chicken-skin dumplings. The restaurant week deal includes a choice of three small dishes from a dozen options followed by a course of cold soba noodles with ponzu and two possible desserts. Reservations for the cozy space can be made online. Bruner-Yang’s other Line Hotel restaurant, Brothers & Sisters, is serving restaurant week lunch and dinner.
Lunch at Momofuku CCDC
Chef Tae Strain took over the kitchen at the CityCenter location of David Chang’s celebrated Momofuku and launched a revamped menu that ditched the restaurant’s signature ramen and bao. Strain also recently rolled out a new lunch menu, and many of the plates appear on the restaurant week spread, giving you the perfect opportunity to try his creations. Highlights include bing bread with salted chili pimento cheese, a half branzino Ssäm and a vegetarian summer bap with pickled shiitake mushrooms, wakame, gochujang and a poached egg. Dinner is also offered, but for value-seekers, lunch is the way to go.
Dinner at Unconventional Diner
Unconventional Diner chef and owner David Deshaies gives comfort foods a creative twist, and many of his staples are up for grabs during restaurant week. First course picks include two millennial favorites: avocado toast and an everything lox bagel. Both come with an egg on top. Entrees include chicken Parmesan, a double cheeseburger and miso salmon. Dessert caters to both fans of decadent (chocolate or carrot cake) and lighter (passion mango sorbet) treats. This is the summer restaurant week debut for Deshaies’s solo project, and it’s a deal considering that appetizers are typically priced around $11 to $14, while entrees hover in the low $20 range.
Lunch at America Eats Tavern
An afternoon meal is an especially smart opportunity to visit José Andrés's newest D.C. spot, which relaunched in Georgetown earlier this summer after a nearly two-year hiatus and stints downtown and in Tysons Corner. The tavern’s lunch menu features recreations of historical American recipes that include hush puppies, Caesar salad, dry-rubbed and smoked pulled pork, a crispy catfish sandwich and Martha Washington’s chocolate cake, among other things.
Brunch at BlackSalt
BlackSalt isn't new, but restaurateur Jeff Black’s Palisades spot remains an anchor for all things seafood — take note of its popular Addie’s mussels and its house-cured Atlantic gravlax. Brunch is imbued with Southern flare through plates of eggs “Pontchartrain,” topped with blue crab, Tasso ham, and crawfish, and Texas shrimp and grits with sage sausage gravy. A slice of Key lime pie or chocolate Chambord truffle cake make for a sweet ending. It's a bargain: An entree any other day would almost be enough to crack the $22 price tag for the three-course meal.