The following content is created in consultation with Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington’s editorial staff. To learn more about Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, visit RWDMV.com.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, many of us vow to eat less. But perhaps a more fruitful resolution for 2018 is to eat better.
After all, it was none other than Julia Child who once proclaimed, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” We concur. From the conviviality of gathering around a restaurant table with friends, to an exposure to different flavors, different cultures, even a different way of thinking, a great meal has benefits that go well beyond dessert.
Which is why we love Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week. With over 250 participating restaurants in DC and nearby Maryland and Virginia, it’s the largest culinary event in the region, and by booking through RWDMV.com you’ll get exclusive deals like a three course lunch for $22 or a three-course dinner for just $35. Taking place from January 22-28, it’s the perfect excuse to get out of the house in the middle of winter and sample all the food this celebrated city has to offer.
And what a food forward city it is. Named Bon Appetit’s 2016 Restaurant City of the Year and Zagat’s Hottest Food City of 2016, DC is brimming with flavor that is as delicious as it is diverse.
So what restaurants should top your list during Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week? Read on for a list of our favorite spots.
Where: Del Mar at The Wharf
Why: The brainchild of husband and wife team Maria and chef Fabio Trabocchi, this 240-seat waterfront spot is DC’s new ne plus ultra Spanish restaurant. A tribute to Maria’s native Mallorca, the dazzling dining room is the work of Barcelona-based interior designers, and the seafood-driven menu — from the raw bar to the paella, all of which is meant to be shared — is equally exotic.
Where: Voltaggio Brothers Steak House at MGM National Harbor
Why: Maryland natives and Top Chef alums Bryan and Michael Voltaggio pulled out all the stops to deliver one of DC’s best steak houses. The rib-eye here is melt in your mouth good, while the retro-futuristic decor — designed to evoke the homey 70s rec rooms of the brothers’ youth — is almost as inventive as other details, like a shrimp cocktail sauce infused with bananas.
Where: TenPenh Tysons
Why: The once go-to pan Asian eatery of the aughts returns with a reincarnation in the Tysons Center. Grab a seat in the semi-circular booths of the sleek dining room, then enjoy everything from dim sum to crab rangoon dip to bao buns stuffed with mushrooms, our personal favorite.
Why: Updated takes on classic cocktails and Southern comfort food? Yes please. The work of burgeoning chef and restaurateur Hamilton Johnson, Honeysuckle is a subterranean spot that embraces its contrasts. From a frescoed ceiling that mirrors Johnson’s own heavily tattooed flesh, to a pork tenderloin encrusted with Icelandic seaweed and wings with roots in both Kentucky and China, here’s a buzz worthy eatery that both reveres the classics and reimagines them with a punk rock sneer.
Where: Kingbird at the Watergate Hotel
Why: From the beautiful and expansive bar (order the Negroni) to the beautiful and expansive views of the Potomac, Kingbird has been turning heads and delighting palates since opening its doors in 2016 — part of the Watergate Hotel’s $200 million renovation. The bold, modern decor — spiral chandeliers, twisted steel columns — lends the dining room a vibe that is as rich as Chef Michael Santoro’s menu.
Where: 1789 Restaurant
Why: An institution of fine dining, this Georgetown icon received an update in 2016. Expect the same historic atmosphere (wood beams, crackling fireplace) and crowd-pleasing staples like the rack of lamb, alongside nods to more contemporary and innovative cuisine — roasted lobster uni jar, anyone? — thanks to Chef Samuel Kim.
Where: 2941 Restaurant
Why: With its soaring glass windows (replete with lake views) and scaled-back aesthetic, 2941 might feel modern, but its menu is a classic example of fine dining. Expect everything from foie gras to scallop ceviche, all lovingly and deftly prepared by Chef — and Daniel Boulud devotee — Betrand Chemel.
Where: RPM Italian
Why: Forget red sauce and picture the cool, breezy, La Dolce Vita vibe of Italy when you imagine RPM Italian. Owned by Giuliana and Bill Rancic (she of E! News fame) and helmed by Gabe Thompson (an alum of primo NYC Italian eatery L’Artusi), this spot is one of DC’s sleekist and tastiest. Grab a semicircle booth or a seat at the bar, then nosh on pizzettes, homemade pastas and savory steaks.
Where: Momofuku CCDC
Why: Culinary rockstar David Chang brings his Asian-inspired comfort food party to CityCenter. The minimal aesthetic and vaulted ceiling makes for a boisterous space, so prepare to order plenty of food and be cool with sharing all of it among your friends — from the fried chicken to the pork buns to the crispy yet spongey (and oh so, so delicious) rice cakes.
Hungry? Make your reservation now by visiting RWDMV.com. You can book a table, plus enter to win a slew of cool prizes like tickets to food events, cookbooks and gift cards to your favorite DC-area restaurants.