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A halibut dish from Kingbird at the Watergate
A halibut dish from Kingbird at the Watergate
Watergate [official]

12 Budget-Friendly Hacks at Pricey D.C. Restaurants

A little luxury without a jaw-dropping bill

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A halibut dish from Kingbird at the Watergate
| Watergate [official]

D.C. has no dearth of fine-dining restaurants, and some of fanciest can feel unattainable. But luckily, many offer ways to enjoy typically pricey dishes at a discount. The best bargain seekers know to look for happy hour specials, pre-theater menus, and lunch deals. Here are some ways in which customers can go all out without spending an entire paycheck on one meal.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Gibson

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2009 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 232-2156
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On Mondays at this 14th Street speakeasy, guests can try out the “Legends Selection” at a discounted price. Bartenders make the off-menu lineup of classic cocktails with premium liquors and ingredients. For example, a French 75 might come with Grand Marnier Louis Alexandres instead of gin. Although cocktails are normally $20 to $25 here, on Mondays one of the premium drinks will run for $16-$18. 

Jai Williams [The Gibson]

2. Bourbon Steak

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2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 944-2026
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The high-end steakhouse offers a legendary, luxurious burger at the bar in its lounge during lunch. Available Monday through Friday from 11.30am to 2:30 p.m., the bar burgers menu includes a choice of burger with a side, a seasonal cookie, and a nonalcoholic drink goes for $22. Go with an oak-grilled prime steak burger and truffle parmesan fries. Or pay $3 more and can get the trio of duck fat fries.

3. Reverie

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3201 Cherry Hill Ln
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 808-2952
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This avant-garde kitchen in Georgetown has a menu of bar snacks that includes a smaller version of its famed burger, a fried chicken sandwich, and other seasonally rotating plates, all for less than $10.

Reverie burger
The burger from Reverie
Obi Okolo/For Reverie

4. Fiola Mare

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3050 K St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 525-1402
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This waterfront Italian restaurant in Georgetown is a special occasion place with all kinds of exorbitant seafood. But the health-focused “Maria menu” at lunch offers a three course meal for $28. That includes an appetizer, a dessert, and a main course that features lean protein. Unfortunately, the famed lobster ravioli does not come cheap.

5. The Oval Room

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800 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 463-8700
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This classy downtown restaurant from Rasika owner Ashok Bajaj offers a lunch menu at the bar that pairs one dish and one dessert for $20. It’s a great way to try out the refined yet unfussy dishes such as the prime short rib burger or spaghetti with truffle and parmesan. 

The front doors at the Oval Room
The Oval Room
Photo: R. Lopez

6. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

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750 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 489-0140
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From 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day, Joe’s has one of best happy hours in the city. Cocktail snacks, including Alaskan king crab rolls and lobster deviled eggs, can be all had for under $5. Prices are also cut in half for oysters on the half shell and a number of drinks.

The dining room at Joe’s
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

7. DBGB Kitchen & Bar

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931 H St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 695-7660
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DBGB in CityCenter has a L’Express Lunch option ($27) that comes with two courses and dessert that’s packaged to-go. A soup or a salad precedes entrees like orecchiette with cherry tomato, kalamata olives, anchovy, and basil, or the Frenchie burger, a 7-ounce patty piled high with pork belly, arugula, morbier cheese, a mustard-tomato-onion compote, and frites.

8. Kingbird

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2650 Virginia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20037
(866) 709-6910
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At the Watergate hotel’s posh restaurant, a three-course pre-theater menu (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) of French and Mediterranean dishes costs $56 per person. Appetizers include nougat de canarda combination of duck confit, foie gras, and almonds. One main course is rock fish with chermoula and cavatelli. Desserts range from an orange zest chocolate tarte to a lavender creme brulee.

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9. Ocean Prime

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1341 G St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 393-0313
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Happy hour Monday through Saturday (4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) at this downtown steakhouse includes deals for $1 oysters. There are small plates, starting at $10, like lobster croquettes and crab sliders.

Ocean Prime DC crab cakes Ocean Prime [official]

10. The Occidental

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1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 783-1475
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A downtown staple, the Occidental has a weekday happy hour (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) that includes half-price bar snacks and a $7 price tag for cocktails and wine. Jumbo lump crab croquettes, roasted corn and chile fritters, and a fritto misto of seafood and vegetables are all available.

The Occidental
The Occidental
R. Lopez/Eater.com

11. Live Oak Restaurant

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1603 Commonwealth Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301
(571) 312-0402
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This Southern restaurant in Del Ray takes cues from Charleston, South Carolina. The typical Restaurant Week deal of $35 for a three-course meal runs here every day. A half-dozen oysters followed by shrimp and grits or seared scallops with a dessert of buttermilk chess pie is a good way to go.

12. Brabo

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1600 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 894-3440
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This French brasserie in a Kimpton hotel has a three-course dinner priced at $40. The “menu du jour” includes a choice of soup or salad, a daily special entree, and either the “cheese of the moment” or crème brulee for dessert. The prix-fixe is available for dinner every day.

1. The Gibson

2009 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Jai Williams [The Gibson]

On Mondays at this 14th Street speakeasy, guests can try out the “Legends Selection” at a discounted price. Bartenders make the off-menu lineup of classic cocktails with premium liquors and ingredients. For example, a French 75 might come with Grand Marnier Louis Alexandres instead of gin. Although cocktails are normally $20 to $25 here, on Mondays one of the premium drinks will run for $16-$18. 

2009 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

2. Bourbon Steak

2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

The high-end steakhouse offers a legendary, luxurious burger at the bar in its lounge during lunch. Available Monday through Friday from 11.30am to 2:30 p.m., the bar burgers menu includes a choice of burger with a side, a seasonal cookie, and a nonalcoholic drink goes for $22. Go with an oak-grilled prime steak burger and truffle parmesan fries. Or pay $3 more and can get the trio of duck fat fries.

2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

3. Reverie

3201 Cherry Hill Ln, Washington, DC 20007
Reverie burger
The burger from Reverie
Obi Okolo/For Reverie

This avant-garde kitchen in Georgetown has a menu of bar snacks that includes a smaller version of its famed burger, a fried chicken sandwich, and other seasonally rotating plates, all for less than $10.

3201 Cherry Hill Ln
Washington, DC 20007

4. Fiola Mare

3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007

This waterfront Italian restaurant in Georgetown is a special occasion place with all kinds of exorbitant seafood. But the health-focused “Maria menu” at lunch offers a three course meal for $28. That includes an appetizer, a dessert, and a main course that features lean protein. Unfortunately, the famed lobster ravioli does not come cheap.

3050 K St NW
Washington, DC 20007

5. The Oval Room

800 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
The front doors at the Oval Room
The Oval Room
Photo: R. Lopez

This classy downtown restaurant from Rasika owner Ashok Bajaj offers a lunch menu at the bar that pairs one dish and one dessert for $20. It’s a great way to try out the refined yet unfussy dishes such as the prime short rib burger or spaghetti with truffle and parmesan. 

800 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006

6. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

750 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
The dining room at Joe’s
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

From 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day, Joe’s has one of best happy hours in the city. Cocktail snacks, including Alaskan king crab rolls and lobster deviled eggs, can be all had for under $5. Prices are also cut in half for oysters on the half shell and a number of drinks.

750 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

7. DBGB Kitchen & Bar

931 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

DBGB in CityCenter has a L’Express Lunch option ($27) that comes with two courses and dessert that’s packaged to-go. A soup or a salad precedes entrees like orecchiette with cherry tomato, kalamata olives, anchovy, and basil, or the Frenchie burger, a 7-ounce patty piled high with pork belly, arugula, morbier cheese, a mustard-tomato-onion compote, and frites.

931 H St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. Kingbird

2650 Virginia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037

At the Watergate hotel’s posh restaurant, a three-course pre-theater menu (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) of French and Mediterranean dishes costs $56 per person. Appetizers include nougat de canarda combination of duck confit, foie gras, and almonds. One main course is rock fish with chermoula and cavatelli. Desserts range from an orange zest chocolate tarte to a lavender creme brulee.

2650 Virginia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20037

9. Ocean Prime

1341 G St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Ocean Prime DC crab cakes Ocean Prime [official]

Happy hour Monday through Saturday (4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) at this downtown steakhouse includes deals for $1 oysters. There are small plates, starting at $10, like lobster croquettes and crab sliders.

1341 G St NW
Washington, DC 20005

10. The Occidental

1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
The Occidental
The Occidental
R. Lopez/Eater.com

A downtown staple, the Occidental has a weekday happy hour (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) that includes half-price bar snacks and a $7 price tag for cocktails and wine. Jumbo lump crab croquettes, roasted corn and chile fritters, and a fritto misto of seafood and vegetables are all available.

1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004

11. Live Oak Restaurant

1603 Commonwealth Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301

This Southern restaurant in Del Ray takes cues from Charleston, South Carolina. The typical Restaurant Week deal of $35 for a three-course meal runs here every day. A half-dozen oysters followed by shrimp and grits or seared scallops with a dessert of buttermilk chess pie is a good way to go.

1603 Commonwealth Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301

12. Brabo

1600 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314

This French brasserie in a Kimpton hotel has a three-course dinner priced at $40. The “menu du jour” includes a choice of soup or salad, a daily special entree, and either the “cheese of the moment” or crème brulee for dessert. The prix-fixe is available for dinner every day.

1600 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

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