Choices for vegetarians during restaurant week can range from skimpy to pretty darn good, and they don’t always reflect the restaurant’s regular service options or offer much of a deal. We’ve put together our picks for Summer Restaurant Week, which starts on August 13 (with some restaurants extending).
Our list is only based on currently available menus. We’ll update as more come out so check back!
Top picks so far:
Bibiana (August 13-26)
Bibiana’s restaurant week menu includes three veggie antipasti and two pastas, which is among the most choices you’ll get this week. The roasted wild mushroom appetizer with mushroom crumble (?) sounds delicious, as does the ravioli (we’ve confirmed that the risotto and minestrone are not vegetarian). Add in the fact that Bibiana’s regular prices make restaurant week here a good deal, and you’ve got a winner.
Willow (August 13-25)
At Willow in Ballston, your choices for starters include two soups: a tomato, basil and almond gazpacho or corn chowder, and a basil pesto gratin (why did I never think to put those two things together?!). There’s only one entree but when it involves ratatouille, ricotta, and squash blossoms, you have no reason to look further. Plus it’s not currently on the regular menu so restaurant week might be your only chance to try it out.
Dino (August 1 – September 5)
Dino’s whole menu is available during restaurant week, which is actually restaurant month, at this Cleveland Park institution. You can choose from any of the starters or a half order of one of the pastas for your first course, plus a full order of pasta for your entree. I went this winter and had a good meal and extra-friendly service topped off with complementary house made ‘blood-orange-cello’ (like limoncello but made with blood oranges).
Tosca (August 13-19)
Tosca offers its full menu during restaurant week, making it another great choice. Tosca isn’t offering its full menu this time, but it’s still pretty good. We’ve struck and added as necessary:
The appetizer salads are well above average with components like a gorgonzola terrine,
bellini dressing and burrata with cantaloupe, but it’s going to be hard to see past the ‘Imported Buffalo Mozzarella with roasted tomatoes and a creamy garlic-basil sauce’. Pastas include housemade whole wheat spaghetti and tortelli filled with ricotta and tomatoes, and risotto with Barolo wine and black truffle can be made with veggie stock on request. As for dessert, I’m pretty sure I’m going to assign each dining companion’s choice so we can be sure to sample as much as possible – there’s the signature modernized tiramisu, rosemary shortbread with lemon and blueberry, chocolate cake with passionfruit caramel and vanilla gelato, and selections of gelati and cheese. carrot cake with carrot ganache, espresso panna cotta, banana tart tatin with creme fraiche ice cream and nutella…you get the idea. Reservations are dwindling so hop to it and grab one of the last remaining slots.
Other fine Italian restaurants like Fiola and Filomena are likely good choices as well. No luck with menus yet but that hasn’t stopped the stampede – reservations are long gone at Fiola. You can still grab a table at Filomena though.
Good, but better during regular service:
1905 (August 14-19)
Check out 1905 on 9th near U St Northwest for its boudoir-like setting, newish roof and seriously good food. But since there’s usually only one (never disappointing) vegetarian entree on the menu, you might as well go outside of restaurant week to get the full set of first course options. If you do end up at 1905 during restaurant week, you’ll choose from a halved avocado, bibb salad or bruschetta (made vegetarian on request) for your starter, with an entree of rosemary and ricotta gnocchi with grilled portobello.
Rasika (August 13-19)
Rasika is of course delicious all year round. But if you didn’t snag a restaurant week reservation – we hear they went fast! – don’t despair. While restaurant week menus at Penn Quarter and West End include the celebrated palak chaat appetizer, the vegetarian entree consists of staples like paneer mattar and dal makhani. You won’t be disappointed (the dal is flavorful and much-loved), but you also won’t get to sample some of other more inventive dishes offered on the full menu. Same goes for dessert, which doesn’t include the can’t-miss ooey gooey date and toffee pudding.
Graffiato (August 13-19)
Graffiato’s restaurant week menu is veggie-heavy, with three vegetarian first and second course options. Dessert choices include my favorite, the sweet and salty pretzel panna cotta. The two reasons it doesn’t make our top picks list are 1) none of the vegetarian combinations add up to the $35 price tag, and 2) the raved-about sweet corn agnolotti, only offered in summer, isn’t available.
Mintwood Place (August 13-19)
Go to Mintwood Place for the beet and goat cheese mountain (one of the Washingtonian’s favorites) and the spot-on rhubarb and strawberry crumble. Since neither makes the restaurant week menu, we’ve put it here. If you’re going, the menu still sounds solid: you can look forward to gazpacho and a tomato terrine to start and the vegetably five grain risotto as your entree.
Agora (August 13-26)
Restaurant week at Agora, just like its normal service, is dominated by vegetarian and vegan dishes. Three of the four savory courses have several veggie options, including their famous Imam Bayildi stuffed eggplant and the Chef’s Börek goat cheese phyllo roll. The meal doesn’t quite add up to the restaurant week price tag though, so unless you’re dying to do restaurant week and are going with a group of vegetarians or vegans, you’re better off waiting for the regular menu.
Got any other suggestions? Let us know!