Photo of Aeropuerto at China Chilcano by Laura Hayes

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Few things draw more love or hate feelings than Restaurant Week, except that new movie Suicide Squad. Or ketchup. The week of deals organized by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) is divisive because it often draws amateur diners who want to go sharesies on one three-course menu. Meanwhile, some restaurants put their best stuff on the back burner to meet the low price point.

For the uninitiated, Restaurant Week is when restaurants offer a three-course lunch menu for $22 and a three-course dinner menu for $35 to attract new diners. Not all Restaurant Week menus are worth skipping to stay home crying over a box of Blue Apron. These nine picks don’t suck. Dine today through Aug. 21.

Ambar

523 8th St. SE; (202) 813-3039; ambarrestaurant.com

Go for: dinner

Why: They’re not boxing dinner into courses. Rather, for $35 you can order unlimited small plates inspired by Balkan cuisine. Pay $14 more for bottomless drinks.

Art and Soul

415 New Jersey Ave. NW; (202) 393-7777; artandsouldc.com

Go for: dinner

Why: Art & Soul is showcasing it’s finest quality: super season cuisine and fried chicken. Start with something summery like heirloom tomato gazpacho dotted with avocado, move on to fried chicken served alongside spicy collard greens, and finish with a peach hand pie.

Casa Luca

1099 New York Ave. NW; 202-628-1099; casalucadc.com

Go for: lunch

Why: Lunch can be pretty hearty for $22 if you order right. Main courses include grilled Arctic char, fusilli studded with smoked mozzarella, and cornish hen picatta.

China Chilcano

418 7th St. NW; (202) 783-0941; chinachilcano.com

Go for: lunch

Why: China Chilcano was kind enough to put their greatest hits on its Restaurant Week menu, including a fried rice dish called “aeropuerto,” ceviche clásico featuring snapper swimming in leche de tigre, and ají de gallina (Peru’s signature dish).

Indique

3512-14 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 244-6600; indique.com

Go for: dinner

Why: Indique is serving both a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu for Restaurant Week with five selections each for the first and second courses. That amount of variety makes it a match for vegetarian diners.

Kaz Sushi Bistro

1915 I St. NW; (202) 530-5500; kazsushi.com

Go for: dinner

Why: For $35 diners get an appetizer, a selection of premium nigiri such as tuna dotted with truffle, two maki rolls, and dessert.

Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd. NW; (202) 234-6732; mintwoodplace.com

Go for: dinner

Why: The Restaurant Week menu is not unlike the regular menu, and it includes some of the restaurant’s hit dishes, including escargot hush puppies, steak tartare, and the wood-grilled bacon cheeseburger.

Proof

775 G St. NW; (202) 737-7663; proofdc.com

Go for: lunch

Why: Proof is under new Executive Chef Austin Fausett, and his Restaurant Week menu is more creative than most. Think ahi tuna tartare, white grape gazpacho, garganelli pasta with lamb, and almond milk panna cotta.

Zaytinya

701 9th St. NW; (202) 638-0800; zaytinya.com

Go for: dinner

Why: Instead of three courses, Zaytinya asks Restaurant Week diners to select one dish from five sections (four savory, one sweet). Try a harissa-rubbed sirloin, seared Skuna Bay salmon, and the Brussels sprouts capable of converting any sprout hater into a sprout fan. 

For a complete list of participating restaurant click here.