Hot Plate: Lunch Specials Spice Up Recess

Posted June 30, 2010 at 4:19pm

Now that the July Fourth recess is almost here, staffers have time to sit back, relax and enjoy a nice leisurely lunch. This short week offers the opportunity to get out of the office and experience some of D.C.’s best restaurants, many of which offer budget-friendly lunch specials.

[IMGCAP(1)]Chinatown is an easy jaunt from the Senate side of Capitol Hill and is home to one of the best lunch specials in town. For $12, customers who visit Proof (775 G St. NW) can sit in the bar area, which also includes a few high-topped tables, and choose an entree and a glass of house red or white wine. Teetotalers can substitute a glass of iced tea or a soft drink for the wine. The menu, prepared by chef Haidar Karoum, rotates regularly but always includes six entrees, including three sandwich options. The restaurant’s noteworthy shrimp burger is often on the menu as is a bowl of gnocchi with wild mushrooms and Parmesan. The shrimp burger is normally sold for $15, making this a steal.

While Ashok Bajaj may own some of the nicest, most expensive restaurants in town, he is always keeping the cash-strapped customer in mind. Earlier this year he announced a lunch deal at his swanky Pennsylvania Avenue restaurant, 701 (701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). Guests who sit in the newly renovated bar and lounge area can enjoy an entree and a glass of wine for $15. The menu will feature five options including goat cheese cavatelli, chicken cobb salad and the 701 classic burger. The wine menu offers a choice of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir.

Hot Plate’s favorite lunch deal is at Bajaj’s Italian eatery, Bibiana (1100 New York Ave. NW). Chef Nicholas Stefanelli will be whipping up specially priced pastas all summer. For $15, customers can choose from five dishes including the delicious bucatini alla matriciana, made with guanciale, red onions, chili, pecorino and tomato, or the scrumptious fusilli alla Siciliana, a combination of eggplant, tomato and ricotta salata. The pastas are available only in the bar and lounge area, and the lunch price includes a glass of house red or white wine and a scoop of sorbet.

With many of the bosses in Congress out of town for recess, staffers may even have time to hop in a cab and head to Georgetown for Bourbon Steak’s lunch deal. The bar of this swanky restaurant — located in the posh Four Seasons Hotel at 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — has a special lunch menu featuring a burger, brownie and nonalcoholic beverage for $21. Diners can choose from six burgers ranging from the traditional steak burger to the Korean barbecue salmon burger. The price also includes a side dish, with choices of duck fat fries, beer-battered onion rings or a market greens salad.

For those who still have no time to dine out for lunch, consider the bag lunch option at Oya (777 Ninth St. NW), a Chinatown restaurant where $10 goes a long way. Customers get their choice of sushi, an entree salad or a sandwich, all served with a bag of chips or choice of dessert. Spicy crunchy shrimp and spicy tuna are among the sushi choices, while the chicken mai thai salad and the teriyaki salmon sliders are also offered. For dessert, diners choose from banana bread pudding, carrot ginger bars, or a fresh fruit and granola parfait.