Restaurant Week is back! This is one of my favorite culinary events of the year, for so many reasons. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington does an excellent job of getting a diverse, extensive selection of restaurants to participate in offering dining specials. I have discovered some of my favorite restaurants through restaurant week in years past!
With over 150 places to choose from, however, it can get pretty overwhelming to decide on where to go. Have no fear! I’ve poured over some of the names and menus to compile a list of 7 places I would recommend visiting during the summer 2018 restaurant week. My only request for supplying this information would be that you take me with you! I typically recommed 3 or more hours for a brunch/lunch/dinner date.
Nobu - 2525 M St NW, Washington, DC 20037; Make a Reservation.
- Why? A good deal. Dinner at Nobu on any other night could easily exceed one’s monthly “fun” budget.
- The same way people want to visit every baseball stadium in America, I want to visit every Nobu in the world. I have a long way to go… in terms of both miles and money. I am also ashamed to say that, although I have crossed 4 locations off my list in multiple locales (Miami, New York x2, and Las Vegas), I have yet to visit the D.C. location. Although we seemed to welcome the idea of a Nobu with open arms - seeing as it’s a chain whose introduction to a city's restaurant scene seems to signal “making it” - Nobu was not ready to welcome us. When it first opened in September 2017, the reactions from friends of mine ranged from underwhelmed to exceptionally disappointed. It seems that the tide has turned. After I recapped my date at the New York downtown location with a BFF, she raved of her visit to D.C.’s Nobu. That plug was just in time for restaurant week. Let’s see for ourselves, and help me cross this one off my list!
- What to get? Go for dinner and order the yellowtail jalapeno and the rock shrimp tempura.
- Why? It's perfect for a date.
- I have yet to go here, but a certain bachelor friend of mine takes all of his ladies (and there are many) here for dinner on the first date when he wants to impress with an often overlooked gem. The reviews seem to support his claims. According to patrons, the atmosphere is just right for a meeting of strangers: you'll be seated in a lively but romantic dining room and made comfortable by an enthusiastic but inconspicuous wait staff. The French-Asian restaurant is described by one woman as “gorgeous”, where food is neatly plated with colorful accents.
- What to get? The hanger steak, duck confit, or sea scallops for “savory”; the lemon semifreddo is the most interesting offering for “sweet”.
- Why? Try something new. Requin is one of the latest additions to the exciting new development at The Wharf.
- Requin has not yet posted its Restaurant Week menu but that’s no matter- it’s new and hot, and has already settled into a spot on Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Best Restaurants in D.C. It’s also a bit pricey, so it will probably be a great deal during restaurant week. The restaurant itself is beautiful: the fully glass facade is situated in prime position at the Wharf. You’ll watch the sun set over the water and cede its illuminating responsibility to the gigantic chandelier that commands the dining room. Meanwhile, a busy kitchen prepares staple dishes that have earned Requin the respect of many food writers.
- What to get? Assuming they are offered for restaurant week, try the escargot, roast chicken, or duck for dinner. Beignets or pavlova for dessert.
- Why? A good deal. Unless you go for happy hour or order a la carte (which means missing out on the experience), a visit to Sushi Taro for dinner will set you back at least $60.
- Do we really need to have this discussion? Sushi Taro is widely known as one of the best sushi restaurants in town. Consistently great remarks, a Michelin star, and an all-around fantastic experience have given it a reputation for excellence. The restaurant is small but rarely feels crowded. Waiters skillfully navigate dietary preferences, apprehensiveness, and moods. The food is freshly, and meticulously, prepared. As someone who is not quite a sushi lover, Sushi Taro makes me love sushi. And it also makes me want to eat a lot of it.
- What to get? The menu isn’t out, but definitely go for the yellowtail sashimi, black cod, or salmon caviar roll. Dessert usually includes an ice cream.
- Why? To Try Something New. This hotel and restaurant sits in plain sight, but keeps a low profile for those not in the "know".
- Morrison Clark is one of my favorite hotels in the city and a closely kept secret. Of course, that means the restaurant is, too! You will feel like a VIP as you walk up the steps of this restored 19th century Victorian mansion and the doormen usher you in. Waiters pull out your chair, skillfully recount the wine selection, and cater to your every wish. The setting is dated in a way that makes you feel like southern aristocracy, with its classic white tablecloths. The menu, however, is modern and curated.
- What to get? Morrison Clark Restaurant is offering lunch and dinner for restaurant week. I would recommend dinner - it's a tie between the toasted brussel sprouts or the red and yellow watermelon salad for the first course; sea bass and chocolate truffle cake.
- Why? Excellent Food.
- On any given night, you might spot me in Mi Vida. That’s how good it is and how much I enjoy it. I braved a snowy evening to eat here when I met Allison Rose for the first time back in January, and I have been a dedicated diner ever since. The wait staff is kind, patient, and attentive in an environment that tends to toe the line between all-out fiesta and date night lull. But the food, oh, the food! And the drinks… the drinks! I am not sure what Mi Vida gets wrong- trust me, I’ve ordered the whole menu.
- What to get? Anything you want. Really.
- Why? Excellent Food.
- The transformation of the Shaw area over the year has ushered in a trend of restaurants that are way too hipster, to the point of compromising quality. Fortunately. Hazel is not that place. Instead, it's a legitimately good, fun restaurant in this neighborhood that thinks too much of itself. The interior is decorated with colorful art that evokes interest, but the dining space is dimly lit so that your attention is directed to your date… until your food arrives, since the theatre of it all will inevitable draw you in. Each dish is its own production: a plated experiment of color, composition, and flavor. And, in a neighborhood where the wine and cocktail scene is sometimes too much of a “scene”, the drinks here are allowed to speak for themselves.
- What to get? The menu has not been released yet, but jump on the zucchini bread, crunchy sticky ribs, and gnocchi if given the chance.