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.Read More
12 Budget-Friendly Hacks at Pricey D.C. Restaurants
A little luxury without a jaw-dropping bill
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Oval Room
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.
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
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.
DBGB Kitchen & Bar
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.
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 canard, a 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.
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.
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.
Live Oak Restaurant
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.
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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.