Dining Deals: 5 tips for making the most out of local restaurant weeks

Book early and research menus to get the most out of restaurant week specials.

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5 Restaurant Week Tips

Find the Most Expensive Restaurant
Restaurant weeks aren’t always a deal. If the entree price on the normal restaurant menu doesn’t match or exceed the full amount of the restaurant week price—which usually includes appetizer, entree and dessert—it’s probably not going to save you money. Thinking about it this way translates to getting the appetizer and dessert free, which makes it feel more like a deal.

Plan Ahead
Because not every restaurant partaking in a given restaurant week boasts a four-dollar-sign menu, it makes sense to make a reservation early at the most expensive restaurant. If dinner is booked, try the restaurant for lunch or brunch which usually knocks down the price by more than $10.

Region-Wide vs. Town-Specific
The restaurant weeks sponsored by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington span Washington, Maryland and Virginia, and follow the same price guidelines for appetizer-entree-dessert. But many cities with their own promotional celebration may let restaurants decide on individual specials, like two-for-one dinners or other couple-centric options, like a shared dessert. Make sure to research what each restaurant offers in the town.

Surcharges Happen
At those coveted most-expensive restaurants, options there are often surcharges for specific dishes. Though these places want to play the restaurant week game, they still want to offer a certain quality product and therefore will add a fee. Read the menu carefully to see if that ribeye with table-shaved truffle over risotto will add $15 to the check price.

Extended Specials
Because of the hectic nature of restaurant week dining rooms, it’s often a good idea to see which restaurants keep those specials for an extra week or, sometimes, through the month. Going to eat during the extension can mean less frazzled servers and a calmer kitchen, and still a cheaper night out.

Restaurant Weeks

Fredericksburg Restaurant Week
Winter (Jan. 12-21) + Summer (August)

Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week
Winter (Jan. 22-28) + Summer (August)

Winter (Jan. 26-Feb. 4) + Summer (August)

Winchester Restaurant Week
Winter (February 19-24) + Fall (September)

Shirlington Restaurant Week
Fall (October) + Winter (March)

Northern Virginia Restaurant Week
Featuring: Reston, Loudoun, Arlington and Prince William
Spring (March 19-26)

Falls Church Restaurant Week
Spring (March)

Culpeper Restaurant Week
Spring (March) + Fall (October)

Historic Manassas Restaurant Week
Spring (March) + Fall (September)

(Dining Deals 2017, December 2017)