What to Eat During Summer Restaurant Week

Travel the world through your taste buds Aug. 28-Sept. 3, with specials ranging from Persian meatballs and Balkan goulash to Japanese-style fried chicken.
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A Persian feast at Joon in Tysons (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Looking for a little comfort food to ease you out of summer and into fall? Just want to sample some gastronomic greatness? The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington will host Summer Restaurant Week from Aug. 28-Sept. 3, with participating restaurants offering three-course lunches and brunches for $25 and dinners for $40 or $55.

More than 150 DMV restaurants are participating in this biannual event (click here for the full list), many of them in Northern Virginia. Here are a few to check out without having to cross the river.

Alta Strada

If you’re indecisive, good luck making a selection from the menu at this Mosaic District restaurant, curated by executive chefs Kurt Boyea and Michael Schlow, a James Beard Award winner. Think slow-cooked meatballs with whipped ricotta cheese and pomodoro sauce; tiger prawn scampi; and grilled octopus with chickpeas, black olives, pickled fresnos, red onions and smoked paprika aioli. And those are just the dishes under the antipasti heading. The entrees include options such as short rib, zucchini and eggplant parmesan; and tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and truffle. // 2911 District Ave., Fairfax (Mosaic)

Sudzuk sausage flatbread with tomato sauce, smoked beef sausage and mozzarella at Ambar in Clarendon. (Photo courtesy of Ambar)

Ambar Clarendon 

This Clarendon outpost of the Michelin-starred Capitol Hill location has already gotten a head start on Restaurant Week, with specials running for two weeks, through Sept. 10. Sample Balkans-inspired fare such as cauliflower with parsley-tahini spread and pine nut crumble; Sudzuk sausage flatbread; slow-roasted lamb; beef short rib goulash; and baklava, a layered pastry dessert.  // 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)

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Salmon with roasted corn puree, smoked bacon and fava beans at Bar Ivy (Courtesy photo)

Bar Ivy

Hit the patio of this easygoing, West Coast-inspired restaurant for a taste of the season. Chef Jonathan Till’s lunch and dinner specials include small plates of tomato and lentil dip with pepitas; burrata with heirloom tomatoes and toasted sourdough; or tuna tostada with avocado and red shiso. If you’re still hungry, try big plates of salmon, rockfish, pork chop, flat iron steak, or rigatoni with pecorino, dandelion greens and fennel pork sausage. // 3033 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)

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Buena Vida Clarendon (Courtesy photo)

Buena Vida Gastrolounge

Raring to show off its recent revamp, this Mexican restaurant—a sister to Ambar, also owned by the Street Guys Hospitality restaurant group—is doubling down with two weeks of deals, now through Sept. 10. The lunch menu has guacamole, chips and salsa; your choice of tacos (fish, cheese or chicken) on house-made flour tortillas; and Mexican truffle enchiladas. At dinnertime, you’ll have to decide among options such as mussels a la diabla with garlic butter tequila-wine sauce; enchiladas; and Acapulco salmon with poblano cream sauce with roasted veggies. // 2900 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)

The Cacio E-lote at Ellie Bird is made with spaghetti alla chitarra, charred corn esquites and pecorino. (Photo by Albert Ting)

Ellie Bird

This welcome new addition to the Little City dining scene is the second avian-themed restaurant in the DMV from owners Carey and Yuan Tang. (The first is Michelin-starred Rooster and Owl in D.C.) Selections from Ellie Bird’s $55 three-course Restaurant Week menu include salmon poke; blistered shishito peppers; and a kale salad with fried chickpeas and yuzu pickles as starters. Entrées include cacio elote (a fusion play on cacio e pepe); branzino with Carolina gold rice and a grilled pork chop. For dessert, there’s chocolate cake, crème fraiche panna cotta or house-made seasonal sorbet. Note that the restaurant is closed Mondays. // 125 Founder’s Ave., Falls Church

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Kabobs, dips and house-made flatbread at Joon (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Joon

A collaboration between chef and cookbook author Najmieh Batmanglij and chef Christopher Morgan (a NoVa native who previously cooked at Maydan in D.C.), Joon opened two months ago, dishing up fine Persian cuisine. Its premier Restaurant Week lunch menu includes options such as lamb sanbuseh; pistachio soup; beef or chicken kabobs; lamb and pistachio meatballs; and chicken salad. The latter three are served on house-made Joon noon, or flatbread. The $55 dinner menu adds more kabob options, plus duck legs, roasted barramundi and dessert. Najmieh’s baklava with cardamom ice cream and brandied almonds is a must. Closed Mondays. // 8045 Leesburg Pike, Tysons

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Quiche Lorraine is among the classic French dishes on the menu at La Côte d’Or Café in East Falls Church (Courtesy photo)

La Côte D’Or Café

LCD for short, this little French bistro has been around for more than 30 years, and for Restaurant Week, it’s going all in, offering lunch, brunch and dinner menus. Expect to find edamame hummus; panisse chickpea with basil aioli; quiche Lorraine; omelets; swai (a flaky white fish) with caper white wine tomato sauce; and banana flambé with vanilla sauce. Note that LCD is closed Mondays and closed for lunch on Tuesdays. // 6876 Langston Blvd., Arlington (East Falls Church)

The whole menu is up for grabs as part of Restaurant Week at Liberty Tavern (Photo by Scott Suchman)

The Liberty Tavern

Dishing up American cuisine in Clarendon since 2007, this restaurant is lending its entire lunch and dinner menus to Restaurant Week. Patrons can choose from starters such as wood-smoked chicken wings and grilled octopus, wood-oven pizzas like The Dude (spicy vodka sauce, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and basil), house-made pastas, and entrees or daily specials, including seared salmon and fried chicken. Note that some entrees carry an upcharge. // 3195 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)

Lyon Hall

A sister restaurant – and neighbor – to Liberty Tavern (both are part of the Liberty Restaurant Group), this brasserie is also offering its full lunch and dinner menus with some upcharges. Channel Paris with escargots or French onion soup. Try a mussel pot full of the shellfish with vin blanc (garlic, crème fraiche, spinach, shallot and parsley) or Marseille (seafood broth, braised fennel, tomato, saffron, chili and white wine). Entrees here include seafood risotto and orecchiette (braised lamb). // 3100 Washington Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)

Osteria da Nino

A staple of Italian food at The Village at Shirlington since 2015, Osteria da Nino—aka “Nino’s Tavern”—is serving up a $40 prix-fixe dinner menu. Prep your palate with Caesar salad, arancini, crispy calamari or carpaccio before diving into spaghetti with seafood, chicken piccata or marsala, or branzino with shaved fennel, spinach and olives. The restaurant also offers a tempting choice of desserts, including tiramisu, chocolate mousse, cannoli and gelato (pistachio and vanilla). // 2900 S. Quincy St., Arlington (Shirlington)

The Salt Line in Ballston offers oysters as part of its Restaurant Week specials. (Photo by Jennifer Chase)

The Salt Line

Keep the beach vibes going at this coastal-themed Ballston  spinoff of the original next to Nats Park. The three-course dinner menu has crowd-pleasers like creamy clam chowder, pimento crab dip, baked cod, a lobster roll and passionfruit guava sorbet. Or, stop by for a lunch order of coddies (salt cod and potato fritters) to start, followed by a plate of linguine and clams; a crispy fish sandwich; or a New England smash burger. From the bar, try a frozen Del’s Shandy (vodka, lemon and Narragansett Del’s Shandy), frozen DC Crush (vodka, triple sec, orange, DC Brau Orange and Crush spiked seltzer) or an espresso martini for $10. // 4040 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Ballston)

SER

The Spanish hospitality at Javier Candon’s Ballston restaurant is top notch, and the Restaurant Week specials (which you can upgrade with wine pairings for an additional $25) extend an extra week, through Sept. 10.  Try dishes such as chilled melon soup topped with crispy jamon Iberico; beet salad with citrus and goat cheese; fried calamari with honey aioli; grilled swordfish; hanger steak with chimichurri; and duck confit with roasted peaches. The sweet finishes include chocolate flan and caramelized rice pudding. //1110 N. Glebe Road, Arlington (Ballston)

Sfoglina’s summer fusilli features house-made pasta tossed with basil pesto and burricotta cheese. (Photo courtesy of Sfoglina)

Sfoglina

The Italian fare at chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Rosslyn pasta house is delightfully seasonal, with dishes such as arugula and radicchio salad with peaches and mint; chilled corn gazpacho with rosemary popcorn; house-made fusilli with pesto; olive oil poached Icelandic cod with squid ink-eggplant puree; and grilled top sirloin. Top it all off with vanilla or blueberry-balsamico sorbetto (or a swirl of the two) or cookies. Note that the restaurant is closed on Sundays. // 1100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Rosslyn)

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Gyro sandwiches (beef and lamb or falafel) are among the Restaurant Week specials at Whino in Ballston (Courtesy photo)

Whino

This 6,200-square-foot restaurant/event space/art gallery in Ballston Quarter is offering two four-course Restaurant Week dinner menus at different price points ($40 or $55). Sate your appetite with dishes such as toasted vegetable and grains salad; Wagyu beef sliders; secret spiced fried chicken; olive oil doughnuts; and crème brûlée. Check out the space’s events calendar for overlapping experiences, such as National Red Wine Day on Aug. 28 and DJ-spun music Sept. 1 and 2. // 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Ballston)

Wren’s Tokyo Chicken—Japanese-style fried chicken thighs with cabbage slaw (Photo courtesy of Wren)

Wren

Inspired by the Japanese concept of “izakaya,” meaning a gathering place with good food and drink, this picturesque restaurant on the top floor of the Watermark Hotel delivers on that promise, with great views. For $40, patrons can choose starters such as bao buns, oysters and hamachi carpaccio; Tokyo chicken, a wagyu burger or miso ramen as a main course; and several desserts, including house-made ice cream. For $15 more, the options expand to include appetizers like tuna tartare and corn kakiage, and mains such as jidori (seared chicken breast with English peas, tomatoes and brown butter miso) and kakuni kushi (grilled miso short ribs). // 1825 Capital One Drive South, Tysons

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