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Itís no coincidence that Restaurant Week comes along just as Washingtonís pace is slowing from a dead sprint to an ambling mosey.
The weeklong event, in which local restaurants offer a three-course lunch for $20.11 and for dinner $35.11, is aimed at boosting traffic in area eateries at times when tables would otherwise sit empty.
Fortunately, it also comes just as those few people left on Capitol Hill are looking for any excuse to leave the office.
Best of all, there are plenty of places within walking distance of Hill offices to enjoy a Restaurant Week meal ó which means you can spend more time lingering over a glass of wine (we wonít tell the boss) and less time hauling across town.
Here are a handful of spots on Capitol Hill offering Restaurant Week deals:
Art & Soul
This elegant dining room offers a mashup of modern American and Southern cuisines. The Restaurant Week menu includes the restaurantís popular fried chicken, served with black pepper gravy.
415 New Jersey Ave. NW. 202-393-7777. www.artandsouldc.com
This weekís three-course deal offers diners a chance to experiment, but one canít go wrong with a classic moules frites ó plump mussels and crackling, skinny fries with a gob of good mayo ó at this airy Belgian spot on Barracks Row.
514 8th St. SE. 202-544-0100. www.belgacafe.com
Senate staffers donít have to travel far for authentic French fare. Sipping a cool glass of rose and digging into a salad Nicoise makes the view of Massachusetts Avenue feel a lot more like the Champs Elysee.
320 Massachusetts Ave. NE. 202-546-473. www.bistrocacao.com
Charlie Palmer Steak
Even a lowly staffer can dine like the fanciest of lobbyists at this light-filled steakhouse. The special menu includes a flavorful hangar steak for those red-meat cravings, alongside more refined dishes like a blue crab-studded gazpacho.
101 Constitution Ave. NW. 202-547-8100. www.charliepalmer.com
Johnnyís Half Shell
If you canít be on vacation at the shore, eating like you are is the next best thing. If it swam, itís probably on the menu at this seafood temple. Pick a spot at the cool marble bar (stare at the big fish tanks and pretend youíre by the ocean) or on the shady patio, for an extra summery feel.
400 North Capitol St. NW. 202-737-0400. www.johnnyshalfshell.net
No matter the year, itís always old-school Washington at this Senate-side classic. Just be sure not to sit under a photo of your boss (the walls are lined with the mugs of just about every VIP in town) so you donít feel guilty about that two-martini lunch.
107 D St. NE. 202-546-4488. www.themonocle.com
The overachieving cheese plate (raisin compote to pair with a tangy goat?) is enough enticement to try a leisurely lunch at this House-side wine bar. The cheese plate is among the RW specials, along with toothsome house-made pastas. And during Restaurant Week, a daily special bottle of red or white is just $25.
223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 202.544.8088. www.sonomadc.com