Some of D.C.’s top dinner destinations are actually better by day. You can score a table without waiting in line or throwing elbows on OpenTable to land a reservation. Some offer weekday lunch items that best much of the dinner menu, while others offer daytime deals even when it’s not Restaurant Week. Our recommendations for when you deserve a break from your nine-to-five.
1250 9th St NW
Despite being open more than a year, Shaw’s pizzeria still gets as crushed as a can of San Marzano tomatoes during dinner. But reservations are easy to come by for weekday lunch, and there are lunch-only specials such as a memorable eggplant parmesan sandwich ($14). Dine from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
DBGB Kitchen + Bar
931 H St. NW
The best part about DBGB’s “L’Express Lunch” is that the two-course meal comes with a dessert neatly packaged to take back to the office to get over that 2 p.m. slump. The $26 lunch includes a soup or salad appetizer followed by an entree such as pasta, salmon, or a gussied-up burger. Dine from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
1503 17th St. NW
Prices can creep up at Sushi Taro after the sun sets, but lunch is a different story. The Japanese restaurant with a Michelin star to its name serves $14.95 bento boxes with cuts of sashimi, tempura, a main dish, and more. Another steal is the $22 bara chirashi set that has so much fish splayed out over rice that it could easily feed two. Dine from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
523 8th St. SE
Barracks Row Balkan restaurant Ambar serves weekday lunch that’s a steal. For $16 you can pick two open-faced sandwiches plus a glass of wine, beer, or lemonade. Sandwiches include beef tartare, Vienna schnitzel, and lamb salami. A similar lunch deal is available with the choice of a salad ($13), and, as an added bonus, Ambar displays calorie counts. Dine from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Joselito Casa de Comidas
660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Ordering the menú del día at a restaurant in Spain and taking advantage of the nap it necessitates is a right of passage. Try it locally at Joselito. The three-course lunch menu ($25) includes a soup or salad starter and a choice of protein for your main course (chicken, beef, or the fish of the day). The meal ends with a dessert plus your choice of a glass of wine, beer, or coffee. Dine from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
301 Water St. SE
Take a break with a waterfront view and comforting pasta at Osteria Morini, where $26 during lunch gets you a choice of any appetizer plus a pasta, sandwich, or entree. A la carte pastas are priced between $20 and $24, so it almost feels like getting a free appetizer, which include picks like prosciutto and mortadella meatballs baked in tomato sauce (normally $13). Dine from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.