Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week starts today and runs through January 31. It’s a delicious way for you to mix up your dining routine, explore blossoming neighborhoods, and experience some of the area’s best restaurants – at a hefty discount. Three-course, prix-fixe meals cost $22 for lunch and $35 for dinner (excluding tax and gratuity). Given the chill that’s in the air, we wanted to suggest to you 9 of our favorite warming and winning dishes that you can try during D.C. Restaurant Week Winter 2016. So start planning where you want to go and what you want to eat. And, act quickly – these tables will go fast.
Founding Farmers, Tysons Corner, Virginia
You’ve never had eggplant marinara quite like this. Rounds of the purple veg are deep fried then stacked up in a mini cast iron skillet with layers of ricotta cheese and mushroom cream and finished off with plenty of nonna-style ragu. It’s comfort incarnate. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Founding Farmers.
Zentan, Washington, D.C.
There are few dishes more warming on a winter’s day than a bowl of ramen. A spicy miso broth cradles circlets of char siu pork, a slightly runny boiled egg, a handful of golden corn kernels, and bean sprouts. Remember: slurping isn’t just acceptable; it’s considered a compliment. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Zentan.
Evening Star Café, Alexandria, Virginia
How could you pass up a dish called the Fairytale Pumpkin? We couldn’t. A ring of roasted pumpkin wedges accented with brown butter and a speckling of rye crumble sits atop sunchoke puree. You’ll leave feeling certain you’ll live happily ever after. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Evening Star Café.
Penn Commons, Washington, D.C.
These ravioli pair the rich earthiness of wild mushrooms with the sweetness of caramelized onions. Coronated by a mélange of onions, carrots. and other root vegetables, the flavor-packed pasta is lavished with a ladle full of rich sage cream. We like to sop up the last of the sauce with the restaurant’s rightfully adored pretzel baguettes. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Penn Commons.
Pennsylvania 6, Washington, D.C.
When temperatures dip, we love filling up with a big bowl of carbs. This mezze maniche rigate bolstered by lamb shoulder ragu will do the trick nicely. Frankly, we’re getting hangry just thinking about it. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Pennsylvania 6.
Tico, Washington, D.C.
Slightly spicy and gloriously gooey, this Manchego rich mac ‘n’ cheese warms the belly and the heart. Everyone at the table should get their own portion because it’s too good to share. It might sound like we’re promoting greediness, but we’re just being pragmatic. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Tico.
Jackie’s Restaurant, Silver Spring, Maryland
This is the last Restaurant Week you’ll be able to dine at this long-loved eatery, which is sadly set to close in March. So get in there while you still can to enjoy executive chef Adam Harvey’s cooking, such as this sublime Arctic char bolstered with mussels, grilled romaine, and squash (Don’t worry, Harvey will be heading up the kitchen at Little Coco’s, which will open this spring on 14th Street in D.C.). Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Jackie’s Restaurant.
NoPa Kitchen + Bar, Washington, D.C.
Executive chef Matt Kuhn has hit his stride at this Penn Quarter favorite. Case in point are his pan-roasted scallops. The plate is brightened with purple cauliflower, white and magenta swirled beet slices, and a Szechuan peppercorn emulsion. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at NoPa Kitchen + Bar.
Casa Luca, Washington, D.C.
Take a flight-free trip to Italy’s Marche region. Executive chef Erin Clarke evokes the area’s rich culinary traditions with her cacciatore-style poussin. It’s accompanied by wild mushrooms and sweet ‘n’ sour agrodolce cippolini onions on a bed of creamy polenta. Make a D.C. Restaurant Week reservation at Casa Luca.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Marissa Bialecki (Evening Star Cafe).