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Posted at 1:43 PM ET, 07/22/2008

Restaurant Week Restaurants Announced

By Julia Beizer

Today, Destination D.C. and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington announced the list of restaurants participating in this summer's Restaurant Week (Aug. 11-17). You can find the full list of restaurants here.Tables fill up fast for the twice-yearly promotion, so if you want to get in on the deal, make your reservations soon and be sure to mention Restaurant Week when reserving a table.

This year, the dinner price jumps to $35.08, a $5 increase over previous years (lunch is priced at $20.08, in line with past Restaurant Weeks). Fair enough -- we're all sympathetic to the rising costs of gas and groceries and since restaurants are also feeling the pinch, it makes sense for them to adjust prices accordingly.

For my money, though, even at the $30 price, Restaurant Week has never seemed to be that great a deal. If you order a glass of wine -- and who wouldn't want to at such fancy establishments? -- dinner for two usually ends up in the $80 to $90 range, not including tip. But at places like Tabaq Bistro, Les Halles and Zaytinya-- all on the Restaurant Week list -- I've been able to score great meals for two under $110. Okay, maybe I've split dessert or an appetizer with my dining partner to shave off a few dollars, but for me, that experience beats Restaurant Week by a long shot. I find that these restaurants are worth the extra $10 to $20 per person to enjoy a place on my own time and being able to take advantage of the establishment's full menu and best service. The Tabard Inn is often thought of as one of the most romantic places in town, but it will probably never feel that way to me. I was hustled in and out so quickly a few Restaurant Weeks ago, that I never really felt the desire to go back.

I think the best use of the promotion is to try some of the city's more expensive places -- like, say, The Prime Rib -- or some place that you'd never seek out on your own. Right after I graduated college, the Hill's swanky Bistro Bis wasn't exactly on my must-try list. But I had such a delicious lunch there during Restaurant Week a few years ago that it encouraged me to go back for dinner.

What do you think of the promotion? How do you make Restaurant Week worth your dining dollars? Love it or hate it, let us know in the comments below.

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | July 22, 2008; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Comments

Julia - well stated. My wife and I went to Les Halles for restaurant week last year. In the end, we ordered off the regular menu as the options were more appealing and the cost comparable. Still, it's a good idea to get people out in the dog days. We'll have to give another go.

BB

Posted by: Fairlington Blade | July 22, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Do you know which restaurants are expanding it beyond a week? Thanks! :)

Posted by: LC | July 23, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Dino will be doing the entire month of August. Cafe Atlantico, Zaytinya, Jaleo extend one more week - from August 18 to August 24.

Posted by: Arlington | July 23, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Julia, I agree for the most part. I'm very fortunate that I can go out to eat regularly, so Restaurant Week is mostly a nuisance to me. My favorite places packed to the gills with the masses.
Additionally, even if it was a restaurant I wanted to try for the first time, I wouldn't go during RW for the shabby treatment I often hear about. I hear and read about far more complaints of poor or rude service during RW than I hear about the food or the rest of the experience.
I'm not a fan and will enjoy Lean Cuisine druing August RW!

Posted by: C. Cooper | July 23, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Agreed Julia. It usually costs about $80 anyway when my bf and I go out to dinner.

Posted by: Jen | July 23, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I have dinner reservations for a friend and I in town only on one night during Restaurant Week but am hoping to order off the regular menu, and not the "Restaurant Week" choice. I've had mediocre service at best, and the feeling you're being rushed out the door is definitely there. The servers are more than resentful of the practice at the places I have been to in the past. Hopefully, avoiding the Restaurant Week menu will send the message that we are there to take in the surroundings and enjoy our meal slowly!

Posted by: BDR | July 23, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

RW is hit or miss. I have had both good and bad experiences. I always recommend choosing a place you wouldn't normally go to but have wanted to try. When a restaurant takes RW seriously and provides the same level of service and quality of food it does make you want to return for dinner or another occassion. I have discovered and recommended many places this way.

I have also found that if a place I wouldn't normally go to doesn't live up to expectations (food was just ok, service was lacking etc.) then I rarely return and definitely don't recommend the place.

Lunch by far is usually the better deal. It is an easy way to not deal with as many crowds and still try something new and different. The trick is being able to sneak away from the office for a nice long 2+ hour lunch. Not easy around here!

All in all, it is a great concept and you can have some fabulous meals, but choose wisely. Hopefully, the restaurant is intersted in gaining your future business and recommendations.

Posted by: Lovisa Williams | July 24, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Last year my boyfriend and I went to Les Halles for lunch and we love it. The price was really good and the food was great. It's definitely a good deal. We had a great time. Our only issue was to find parking; we spend around 40 minutes searching for parking.

Posted by: Pitufa | July 24, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Willow in Ballston is extending Restaurant Week one additional week.

Posted by: GloverPark | July 24, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Hi. I think RW is good in theory; often, the reality makes it a less-than-savoury experience I hate to say. In the beginning when RW was new, I thought it was a terrific idea--one that I was able to also experience in cities other than DC. It allowed me to try new places that either were out of budget at the time or were places I was curious about but never knew if my money would be well-spent. In the early days, participating restaurants did what I think they should do--both in theory and in reality--let people fully experience the artistry of the place: wonderful food, wonderful service, wonderful ambience--all at an inviting price. How ingeniously designed! After all, what a great way to expand your client base and perhaps gain loyal patronage. Now that RW has survived a few annual runs, RW seems to be running away from these virtues--and the ensuing follies seem to be humorous (or not so) accounts of what-not-to-do, so-not-worth-it,huge disappointment, and so on. Based upon the last couple of cycles of RW here in DC, I am less inclined to try it again now. I'll even accept an abbreviated menu so long as it truly represents the artistry and mastery of what the restaurant really is about--not some shorthand of pedestrian items such as a wilted pile of greens on a salad plate. And no, I don't underestimate the ability of a plate of salad to transform. I have had this happen in great dining establishments. I'm tired of shoddy service dished up in condescending tones. Of course, there have been marvelous exceptions and I think that for the waitstaff, RW is not fun for them, either. Perhaps their shifts become mobbed and I'm sure there are some less-than-stellar patrons but that can happen any day, right?

Posted by: Lee of DC | July 24, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the point exactly -- I'll do it to go to Ruth's Chris, Charlie Palmer or Sam & Harry's for dinner (restaurants that are far more expensive than the $35, and I probably wouldn't go to but for RW). Otherwise, many of the restaurants on the list are on my list already, and a few times years back I ended up ordering off the regular menu anyhow.

I will say, I have not seen poor service very often. Sounds like I've been lucky.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

for someone who loves a good steak - but lives on a hill staffer salary, RW is the perfect time to hit up Ruth Chris or other restaurants known for their steaks. I always make reservations for 2 at RC and go with someone else who will enjoy the steak as much as I do. The mistake alot of people make is to try restaurants they wouldn't love even if they had access to the whole menu, or go in large groups. Keep the reservations small and get a good steak, and its worth it. I've had great experiences at RC for the past 2 years everytime RW comes around, and have branched out to try new "it" restaurants as well. Stick with the Steak and for 35 dollars and a glass of wine you will not be disappointed.

Posted by: bw | July 24, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

We find restaurant week unappetizing and rushed with a menu off-par from the norm, smaller portions, and a just plain poor experience. Along with Valentine's Day and other too busy nights, the best thing to do during restaurant week is to dine at home.

And as for restaurants who extend the torture for another week or month, bah humbug! This is merely indicative of their inability to draw diners otherwise.

Posted by: Peg H., a frequent downtown diner | July 24, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Restaurant Week is great in theory. However, the last two RW's that my husband and I participated in have been extremely disappointing. I found the service and food mediocre. I also found that many resturants offer subpar menu choices for the RW menu. We will try RW again and I am hoping for better service and menu items...we'll seee how it goes.

Posted by: Food lover | July 25, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I like it! I go out to restaurants anyway, but RW is a chance to try new ones or an excuse to return to old favorites while saving a little money. I like the places that give lots of choices for the menu, like the Ten Penh Acadiana Ceiba group of restaurants, and that avoid too many up-charges. I've also had great RW experiences at Willow, Tosca, iRicchi, Zaytinya and Ps7s and returned to those restaurants afterward. OTOH, I've had a few disappointments where even a famous chef's restaurant seemed to be phoning it in -- limited boring menu, snooty service etc. I have not returned to those places after trying them during RW.

Posted by: Ann | July 25, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Something for all of you to take into consideration, we in the restaurant industry are not trying to give you bad service. We ARE however dealing with people who don't know anything about the restaurant or it's cuisine. (True story, people just pop in and have a seat having NO idea whatsoever as to what kind of restaurant they are in) Inane questions, people on power trips because they ain't been to no better restaurant than Ruby Tuesdays before and now they are important to the very survival of Earth. (Whar's the salad bar). Then there are the people who actually TRY to make lives miserable because they think they are going to be slighted and want to make the 1st assault themselves and just exacerbate the exchange.

Posted by: RW | July 26, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Check the restaurant web sites. Some of these restaurants have comparable good lunch or dinner deals all the time, not just during Restaurant Week. For example, Tosca has a $35 pre-theater menu, 3 courses from 5:30-7. It's great -- we just went there last night.

Posted by: Dolly | July 26, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I've been taken at 2941 during RW, treated well at Persimmon and given the opportunity to remember why I hadn't gone to Old Angler in a long time.

Posted by: Barbara | July 29, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

There's another restaurant week going on - Bethesda Restaurant Week. And they are still charging $30 for the three course dinner. I'm going tomorrow night, and will it in my blog at www.youngandmarriedindc.com.

Posted by: Almost 30 in DC | July 29, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

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