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Marcel's
Marcel's
R. Lopez

12 Pre-Theater Specials That Deliver Deals at High-End D.C. Restaurants

Early-bird diners, take note

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Marcel's
| R. Lopez

Dreary winter days are the perfect time for heading indoors to take in a movie, play, or any kind of art performance. Most evening shows start during prime dinner hours, and no one wants to sit in a theater on an empty stomach.

Pre-theater specials especially come in handy at high-end institutions like Fiola Mare or Marcel’s. These menus, typically offered between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., are designed to be quicker, cheaper, and lighter than a full restaurant meal — but still feel a little more special and substantial than happy hour fare. Early-bird diners who aren't planning to take in a show can take advantage, too.

Here are 12 places, all located near the city’s biggest theaters, to grab an early, special dinner.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Macon Bistro & Larder

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5520 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20015
(202) 248-7807
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This Southern-leaning bistro in family-friendly Chevy Chase is walking distance to the Avalon movie theater. The three-course “Pre-Theater and Pre-Homework” menu ($35 per person) runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with options including French onion soup, mushroom risotto, and a chocolate chip cookie with bourbon milk.

Macon Bistro & Larder in Chevy Chase
R. Lopez

2. Rasika West End

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1190 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
(202) 466-2500
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Snag some high-quality Indian food with a $37 menu, served until 6:30 p.m. Choices include their famous palak chaat (fried spinach) along with tandoori salmon, chicken makhani, and desserts like black rice pudding with cardamom ice cream. The menu is also available at the original Penn Quarter location.

Dramatic booths at Rasika West End
Dramatic booths at Rasika West End
R. Lopez

3. Ristorante Piccolo

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1068 31st St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 342-7414
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This little Georgetown charmer serves a “Sunset Menu” from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Monday through Thursday). For a reasonable $25, guests select from a large menu of familiar Italian primi and main dishes like chicken Parm and spaghetti carbonara, followed by tiramisu for dessert.

4. Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier

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2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
(202) 296-1166
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It might not seem like it, but the three-course pre-theater menu for $72 is a relative bargain at this fine French restaurant in the West End. The special menu is available daily from a generously early 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the menu changes frequently. As an added bonus, the restaurant can also arrange an executive car service to the nearby Kennedy Center.

5. Fiola Mare

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3100 K St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 525-1402
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This elegant Georgetown waterfront restaurant from Fabbio Trabocchi may be best known as a watering hole for District power brokers and see-and-be-seen types. But the restaurant also offers a $45 pre-theater menu from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Dig into some pasta, then catch a movie at neighboring AMC, or a performance at the Kennedy Center.

6. Kingbird

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2650 Virginia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20037
(866) 709-6910
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Sleek Kingbird in the Watergate hotel is walkable to the Kennedy Center. The restaurant offers a $56 pre-theater menu between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., with a wine pairing for additional $35. The three-course menu features sophisticated, French-influenced American food like tuna carpaccio and lamb shoulder confit.

Salmon with salad or sexy fries? You tell us!

Posted by Kingbird on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

7. Ristorante TOSCA

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1112 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 367-1990
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Upscale northern Italian stalwart Tosca serves a three-course, pre-theater menu for $45 Monday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Diners can choose from a broad selection of soup, salads, risotto, multiple pastas, plus gnocchi, fish, chicken, and dessert before heading to nearby Ford’s Theater, The Warner Theater, and other venues.

Ristorante Tosca [Official]

8. Café du Parc at The Willard InterContinental

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1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 628-9100
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The Willard Intercontinental’s Café du Parc is within a block of the Warner and National Theaters. The classic French brasserie offers a three-course pre-theater menu ($52) full of familiar favorites. Current dishes include French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon, roast chicken, and sesame-crusted yellowfin. There is a nice patio in good weather.

9. Dirty Habit

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555 8th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 783-6060
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Diners at the former Poste space at Hotel Monaco can order a $39 three-course pre-theater menu before heading to a show at nearby Ford’s Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Shakespeare Theatre Company, movie theaters, and Capital One Arena. Served daily between 5 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., the seasonal, Asian-influenced menu always includes a variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

10. Jaleo

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480 7th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 628-7949
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José Andrés’s Jaleo is still one of D.C.'s go-to spots for Spanish tapas. The $30 pre-show menu includes three tapas like shrimp, scallops, and sausage, as well as a dessert. It's available Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Official

11. Central Michel Richard

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1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 626-0015
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This modern French bistro offers both pre- and post-theater menus. The three-course menu ($40) goes from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. to close. Enjoy options like the popular goat cheese caesar, wild mushroom stroganoff, and the restaurant's famed fried chicken.

Official

12. Masala Art

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1101 4th St SW
Washington, D.C. 20024
(202) 554-1101
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Head to the Southwest Waterfront before 6:30 p.m. to take advantage of this Indian restaurant's special for $35. Try the makrut lime and basil chicken tikka or the baby eggplant and jalapeno in peanut and sesame sauce. Round it out with a choice of Indian dessert. As a bonus, all bottles of wine are half price with the pre-theater menu.

#TreatYourselfThursday

Posted by Masala Art on Thursday, December 10, 2015

1. Macon Bistro & Larder

5520 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20015
Macon Bistro & Larder in Chevy Chase
R. Lopez

This Southern-leaning bistro in family-friendly Chevy Chase is walking distance to the Avalon movie theater. The three-course “Pre-Theater and Pre-Homework” menu ($35 per person) runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with options including French onion soup, mushroom risotto, and a chocolate chip cookie with bourbon milk.

5520 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20015

2. Rasika West End

1190 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20037
Dramatic booths at Rasika West End
Dramatic booths at Rasika West End
R. Lopez

Snag some high-quality Indian food with a $37 menu, served until 6:30 p.m. Choices include their famous palak chaat (fried spinach) along with tandoori salmon, chicken makhani, and desserts like black rice pudding with cardamom ice cream. The menu is also available at the original Penn Quarter location.

1190 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

3. Ristorante Piccolo

1068 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007

This little Georgetown charmer serves a “Sunset Menu” from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Monday through Thursday). For a reasonable $25, guests select from a large menu of familiar Italian primi and main dishes like chicken Parm and spaghetti carbonara, followed by tiramisu for dessert.

1068 31st St NW
Washington, DC 20007

4. Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier

2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20037

It might not seem like it, but the three-course pre-theater menu for $72 is a relative bargain at this fine French restaurant in the West End. The special menu is available daily from a generously early 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the menu changes frequently. As an added bonus, the restaurant can also arrange an executive car service to the nearby Kennedy Center.

2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

5. Fiola Mare

3100 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007

This elegant Georgetown waterfront restaurant from Fabbio Trabocchi may be best known as a watering hole for District power brokers and see-and-be-seen types. But the restaurant also offers a $45 pre-theater menu from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Dig into some pasta, then catch a movie at neighboring AMC, or a performance at the Kennedy Center.

3100 K St NW
Washington, DC 20007

6. Kingbird

2650 Virginia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037

Sleek Kingbird in the Watergate hotel is walkable to the Kennedy Center. The restaurant offers a $56 pre-theater menu between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., with a wine pairing for additional $35. The three-course menu features sophisticated, French-influenced American food like tuna carpaccio and lamb shoulder confit.

2650 Virginia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20037

7. Ristorante TOSCA

1112 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Ristorante Tosca [Official]

Upscale northern Italian stalwart Tosca serves a three-course, pre-theater menu for $45 Monday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Diners can choose from a broad selection of soup, salads, risotto, multiple pastas, plus gnocchi, fish, chicken, and dessert before heading to nearby Ford’s Theater, The Warner Theater, and other venues.

1112 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004

8. Café du Parc at The Willard InterContinental

1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

The Willard Intercontinental’s Café du Parc is within a block of the Warner and National Theaters. The classic French brasserie offers a three-course pre-theater menu ($52) full of familiar favorites. Current dishes include French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon, roast chicken, and sesame-crusted yellowfin. There is a nice patio in good weather.

1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004

9. Dirty Habit

555 8th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Diners at the former Poste space at Hotel Monaco can order a $39 three-course pre-theater menu before heading to a show at nearby Ford’s Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Shakespeare Theatre Company, movie theaters, and Capital One Arena. Served daily between 5 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., the seasonal, Asian-influenced menu always includes a variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

555 8th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

10. Jaleo

480 7th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Official

José Andrés’s Jaleo is still one of D.C.'s go-to spots for Spanish tapas. The $30 pre-show menu includes three tapas like shrimp, scallops, and sausage, as well as a dessert. It's available Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

480 7th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

11. Central Michel Richard

1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Official

This modern French bistro offers both pre- and post-theater menus. The three-course menu ($40) goes from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. to close. Enjoy options like the popular goat cheese caesar, wild mushroom stroganoff, and the restaurant's famed fried chicken.

1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

12. Masala Art

1101 4th St SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Head to the Southwest Waterfront before 6:30 p.m. to take advantage of this Indian restaurant's special for $35. Try the makrut lime and basil chicken tikka or the baby eggplant and jalapeno in peanut and sesame sauce. Round it out with a choice of Indian dessert. As a bonus, all bottles of wine are half price with the pre-theater menu.

1101 4th St SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

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