We just got an update from the folks at RAMW with a list of fourteen sixteen restaurants that have announced their participation in DC Winter Restaurant Week 2011, and we’ve wasted no time adding them to our map.

The list includes a few of the area’s recent openings as well as several long-time participants who would have been sorely missed.  What does it mean for you?  If you move quickly, you may be able to snag a coveted Friday or Saturday night reservation before everyone realizes these places have signed on.  Quick – head to OpenTable and lock it in!

Click on the image to go to our Google map that locates every restaurant participating in DC's Winter Restaurant Week 2011.

You can see the full list of participants at the official site, and we’ll continue to keep an eye out for additions as they come up between now and the 17th.  The newest participants are:

Asian Spice – Lunch and Dinner
Charlie Palmer Steak – Lunch and Dinner
Circle Bistro – Lunch and Dinner
Cityhouse – Lunch and Dinner
Columbia Firehouse – Lunch and Dinner

Current Sushi & Lounge – Dinner Only

Floriana Restaurant – Dinner Only
Fire and Sage – Lunch and Dinner

Kushi Izakaya & Sushi – Lunch and Dinner

The Landmark at the Melrose Hotel – Lunch and Dinner
MASA 14 – Dinner Only
Notti Bianche – Lunch and Dinner
Sea Catch Restaurant and Raw Bar – Lunch and Dinner
Siroc Restaurant – Lunch and Dinner
Tabaq Bistro – Dinner Only
Vento Restaurant – Dinner Only


Twice a year, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) <<EDIT: and the folks over at Destination DC – sorry for the omission!>> give DC diners a good incentive to head out and try one of those places they’ve been meaning to check out: Restaurant Week.  Whether you love these discount dining days or hate them, it’s a safe bet you’re just as quick to check out who’s participating as soon as you hear the next round is public.

Well it’s time.  Just a few minutes ago, RAMW posted the announcement of the dates and participants for DC Winter Restaurant Week 2011 to the official Restaurant Week site.  This year the foodfest will run from Monday, January 17th through Sunday, January 23rd and more than 210 restaurants have already signed on.  OpenTable may have spilled the beans on the dates a bit early, having updated the header on the Restaurant Week page last week before it was officially supposed to talk about 2011, but otherwise RAMW has done an admirable job of keeping the details of Restaurant Week under wraps.

As we’ve done in the past, we wanted to help you visualize just what 210+ restaurants look like – not to mention map out your plan of attack.  Click on the image below to go to our semi-annual, color-coded Google map to figure out where you’ll be lunching and dining from the 17th through the 23rd.  And be on the lookout for some of our fellow bloggers’ usual contributions, like DC Foodies’ and Dining in DC’s menu roundups and lists of restaurants that will be extending their deals even further into the new year.

If you’ve got additional questions – like “Why isn’t that restaurant I’ve been dying to try on the list?” – visit the official site and ask the folks at RAMW.  They anticipate additional participants between now and Restaurant Week, so be on the lookout for updates.

Click on the image to go to our Google map that locates every restaurant participating in DC's Winter Restaurant Week 2011.

IMG_8798Sure, DC Restaurant Week is just around the corner, but we couldn’t wait.  So when we heard that Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week was taking place last week, we decided to check out one of the participating restaurants that had come highly recommended: Grapeseed American Bistro and Wine Bar.  It didn’t disappoint.

As it turns out, Grapeseed is extending their Restaurant Week special through August 9th.  For those of us living in DC, it’s a great excuse to head up to Bethesda and check them out.  For those of you who live in the area, it’s an opportunity to enjoy some of the best of what your local wine bar has to offer at a substantial discount.  In short, this is exactly the kind of Restaurant Week experience we wish more participants would deliver.

A word of caution, though: Grapeseed isn’t out to impress you with their decor.  There’s little to Grapeseed’s exterior that hints at the depth of its wine list or the strength of its cuisine.  Walking in the front door, the same can be said of the host stand and the main dining room (which can get rather noisy during busy times).  It isn’t until you walk down the hallway past the row of cozy two-top booths and the Wine Room that you get a sense of refinement and quality.

IMG_8814Even so, our eyes lit up when we were seated and handed the wine list.  Boasting 500 selections, including almost a hundred by the glass and/or the ‘taste’ (half glass), this was a list to be taken seriously.  I noticed a few of our favorites as I flipped through the pages and smiled at the fact that my favorite reds (Zinfandels) rated their own section of the list.  But we were there for dinner, so we limited ourselves to the wines by the glass – a Zinfandel for me (anticipating big flavors) and a Cava for Elizabeth (what doesn’t go with sparkling wine?).

We were off to a good start, but we were getting a bit hungry.  And that’s when they hit us with their secret weapon…a dip of roasted tomatoes and garlic in olive oil that turned decent bread into a craveable pre-appetizer.  Talk about a pleasant surprise!  A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou sounds great; just make sure you remember the dip for the bread.  Already impressive, and we hadn’t even placed our orders yet.

A menu paired to wine (instead of vice-versa) and vegetarian options to make a carnivore reconsider after the jump. (more…)

Click on the image to go to our Google Map that locates all of the restaurants participating in Alexandria's Inaugural Restaurant Week.

Click on the image to go to our Google Map that locates all of the restaurants participating in Alexandria's Inaugural Restaurant Week.

Even after all of the festivities surrounding today’s Presidential Inauguration finally draw to a close and the District’s bars and restaurants revert back to their standard operating hours, local foodies will have a reason to celebrate: in an effort to lure diners across the Potomac, 30 Alexandria restaurants have come together to offer Alexandria’s Inaugural Restaurant Week.  The best part: the deals run through Sunday, so you can still take the opportunity to enjoy Restaurant Week prices without having to compete with visitors for a reservation.

The participating restaurants have taken an interesting, two-tiered approach to their promotion.  Most restaurants are offering a traditional Restaurant Week-style special: a three course, prix fixe menu for $35 per person.  But some of the more casual options among the participants have opted for an even more budget-friendly deal: dinner for two for $35.

A run-down of participating restaurants and some tried-and-true advice for restaurant weeks after the jump. (more…)

stimulus08_490x170Finally, a bailout we can all get behind!  OpenTable has turned the Restaurant Week concept into a nationwide event with its “Appetite Stimulus Plan” promotion.  From Monday, November 17th until Friday, November 22nd, you can enjoy three course lunches and dinners at participating restaurants for $24 and $35, respectively.

As if you needed more incentive to take advantage, OpenTable has further sweetened the deal by offering double points  on any reservations made through this promotion.  You’ll get your usual 100 points when you make and keep a reservation, and then they’ll credit you an additional 100 points as “Appetite Stimulus Plan Bonus Points” 72 hours after your reservation.  Just remember to make your reservation through the Stimulus Plan landing page at OpenTable to be sure you get the proper credit.

Because this event is being organized by OpenTable instead of a single local tourism organization, it is occurring simultaneously in thirteen cities across the country.  If you happen to be heading to Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, or Seattle, you’ll still be able to take advantage of the deals!  Or you could just tell your friends in other cities and score some points for being in the know.

With almost 150 restaurants to choose from (including some in places as far-flung as Leesburg, Sterling, National Harbor and the Plains – yeah, the site of Gold Cup), you’re going to want to approach this as though it were Restaurant Week – pick and choose a few key places, keeping in mind that some of the participating restaurants regularly offer deals that are as good as this or better.

A few suggestions, some new and notable participants and our signature map of all participating restaurants after the jump. (more…)

Just wanted to let you all know that DC Foodies has put up their semi-annual post compiling the special menus from establishments participating in Restaurant Week.  You can find their list here – it makes a great resource when used in tandem with our map of the participating restaurants if you’re still trying to decide where to go.

Click on the image to go to our Google Map that locates every restaurant participating in next month's DC Restaurant Week.

To our knowledge, this is the only place to find all of this year’s participating restaurants on one convenient map. Check each placemark for addresses, phone numbers, and OpenTable links (when available). Blue marks are lunch and dinner, red marks are dinner only, and green marks are lunch only.

And if you’re having a hard time accessing it through the image, you can simply click here to go right to the map.

We hope you’ll find this map useful as you plan out your dining destinations – please let us know if you notice any errors or if anything needs to be updated!

If you took our advice last week and pre-booked some reservations for the week of August 11-17, you may want to check and see how your predictions did as soon as you’re able: the list of participating restaurants is now up!

We went 1-for-3 on our reservations: though we were able to lock in a dinner at Cafe Atlantico, we had speculated on whether or not CityZen and 1789 would participate (they have on several occasions in the past).

At this point, though, it seems like news is just starting to get out that the list is up.  There are still plenty of choice reservations available for participating restaurants on Saturday, August 16th – likely to be the most sought-after reservations of the week.

So whether you made advance reservations and now need to adjust them or you opted to wait until the list was posted, it’s go time.  Head to OpenTable and start making your reservations now!

I’ll be updating this post later today with some recommendations based on our past experiences, but please feel free to chime in with any of your own.  There are some places that do Restaurant Week REALLY well and others that just don’t seem to get it.

He’s got a great poker face.

Twice a year since November of 2001, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and the DC Convention & Tourism Corporation have teamed up to present Restaurant Week.

For participating restaurants, it’s officially a chance to boost sluggish sales during historically slow periods (mid-August and mid-January).  But Restaurant Week has come to take on a number of additional meanings as we approach the Thirteenth Washington Restaurant Week August 11th – 17th.

For diners, it’s a way to test-drive new restaurants at a manageable price ($20.08 for a two-course lunch, $35.08 for a three-course dinner).  This single dining experience, despite being conducted under less-than-ideal conditions, can cement our opinions for years to come.

For restaurateurs, consequently, it’s an opportunity to show off the best they have to offer…or else it’s a burden that forces them to cater to bargain-hunters who aren’t likely to come back anytime soon.  It’s pretty easy to tell which way the establishment sees things as soon as you take a look at what’s on their Restaurant Week menu.  Lots of choices selected from their regular menu?  A very good sign.  Numerous upcharges, poor selection or ‘specials’ that aren’t part of the normal repertoire?  They’re not exactly out to blow you away.

We here at Capital Spice humbly offer a bit of advice for everyone who is eagerly awaiting the announcement of the participating restaurants…after the jump. (more…)