Washington DC Restaurant Week Tips

Washington, DC Restaurant Week happens twice per year – in January and in August. Restaurants are seasonal businesses. Some times of the year are great for business. Other times, it’s a struggle to fill seats. January is the post-holidays dead of winter and August when families in DC take vacation. Washington, DC Restaurant Week is designed to entice people to visit restaurants when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Tips for Washington DC Restaurant Week

What comes with your meal during Restaurant Week?

Most restaurants opt for a 3-course fixed price dinner menu and 2-course fixed price lunch menu. This might be a good deal, or it might not. The only way to know is to compare what’s on the Restaurant Week menu with what’s on the regular menu. For example, many Restaurant Week dinner menus wind up costing about the same as an appetizer and entree on the regular menu. In other words, when you dine during restaurant week you get a free dessert. If you like free dessert, great! If you’re not a dessert person, it might not be a great deal.

Go for lunch instead of dinner

For many people, the lower priced lunch menu is the better option. Many restaurants push alcoholic beverages heavily during Restaurant Week dinner as these beverages have high profit margins and aren’t included in the fixed price. You probably won’t get the same pitch for alcohol during lunch. Another bonus to lunch is that it’s easier to get a reservation for lunch than dinner.

Restaurant Week quality can vary

This tip comes from a Washingtonian article quoting a chef who is not a big fan of Restaurant Week. He warns that some restaurants use cheap ingredients and low quality cuts of meat during Restaurant Week in order to make a profit. He also warns that they can get away with it because customers who are attracted to Restaurant Week are not the customers that visit the restaurant otherwise. So, they do not even know what they are getting or what they are missing out on. The best you can do is compare the regular menu to the Restaurant Week menu and see if it looks the same or you can spot big differences.

Make your reservation as soon as possible

The most popular restaurants book up quickly. Friday and Saturday nights book up quickly. The popular 7-8pm time slot books up quickly. So, if you wait too long, you will have limited choices and less than ideal dining times. Make your reservation as soon as you can!

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Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation's Capital.

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