Local media is up in arms about the dismissive treatment of D.C. dining — harshing most fiercely on our pizza and sandwiches corps — in reviews of Mark Leibovich’s bubble-bursting tell-all, “This Town.”
We were more fascinated by this not-so-subtle jab David Shribman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette executive editor and former D.C. bureau chief for the Boston Globe, slipped into his New York Times review of the too-cool tome:
“Mr. Leibovich will never be able to have lunch in This Town again, not that there is a respectable nonexpense-account lunch to be had in those precincts.”
This town (couldn’t help it) is flush with amazing dining opportunities that won’t necessarily burn a hole in your pocket.
In the spirit of helping Shribman score a decent meal the next time he’s around, here’s a handful of crazy good, sit-down meals for less than $27.95 — the cost of Leibovich’s scathing score-settler.
Central Munch like Michel Richard! The gregarious gourmand has carved out a standing three-course special ($21) featuring your choice of appetizer (warm spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette, anyone?), a hearty entree and, of course, world-class desserts.
Dirksen Southside Buffet Favored by pols (current and alumni). Priced (at $16) for everyone. And don’t get us started about the fried chicken.
Fiola Granted, award-winning toque Fabio Trabocchi only offers his “Presto!” package — $19 for a select cocktail and your choice of entree (pancetta-topped burger, roasted organic chicken, artisan pastas) — at the bar. But this is a drinking town, so you’ll be in good company.
Kenny’s Smokehouse Sure it’s a hole in the wall. But it’s good enough for President Barack Obama and iconic enough to inspire the creators of the Americanized “House of Cards.” A full rack of tender baby back ribs runs just shy of $20, while a generously loaded combo plate can be had for less than $15.
Kushi Izakaya & Sushi The sushi is good. But the real draws here are all the flame-licked goodies. We're partial to the four-skewer deal ($15) loaded up with savory duck breast, unctuous pork belly, smoky grilled corn and juicy chicken thighs.
Vidalia Renowned restaurateur Jeff Buben practically gives his gourmet wares away at lunch. The jaw-dropping 1990 menu ($19.90 for three-courses) plies lucky patrons with the likes of braised game, roasted seafood and expertly seared steak, all accompanied by seasonal vegetables and decadent sweets.