01/09/2012 04:41 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

D.C. Restaurant Week Kicks Off With Dining Specials Across Town

WASHINGTON -- How often do you get to eat out? This week, area restaurants are hoping more often than usual: Restaurant Week kicked off Monday with $20.12 lunch and $35.12 dinner deals across the D.C. area.

Named for the eponymous event in New York City, which first began as a lunch promotion in 1992, D.C.'s version was kickstarted in 2001 and has since featured more than 200 restaurants. The deals last through Jan. 12, though several eateries are extending the bargain period.

For some Restaurant Week-related reading material, we suggest checking out Washingtonian's pro tips for this week's dining game plan and this piece by The Washington Post's Tom Siestema that asks if restaurants lose money during the deal-palooza.

We've selected some our favorite deals in the coming days, but you can see the full list of participating restaurants here.

  • Sou'Wester is really making sure you get your bang for your buck. Included in the three-course dinner menu is a choice of three decadent shellfish plates: Shrimp cocktail, oysters baked with crab or oysters pan-fried with a smoked-pepper aioli. You can also opt for other dishes like hush puppies with honey butter or roasted chestnut soup with caramelized pears and wild mushroom spoonbread.
  • For hearty Italian, Casa Nonna is a safe bet with three and four-course meals for lunch and dinner respectively. Choices include pastas like ricotta, spinach and prosciutto gnocchi with brown butter and grana plus entrees like wood-roasted Maine cod with escarole and a sea urchin sauce. At dinner, diners are treated to a starter of eggplant caponata, sheep's milk ricotta and coppa crostini. No need to worry if you can't make it here immediately -- the restaurant is offering both through Jan. 22.
  • Brunch isn't usually a meal covered by Restaurant Week, but that isn't stopping Urbana, which is also offering lunch and dinner deals. For the same price as a Restaurant Week dinner, weekend diners get a two-course brunch with a "Build Your Own Bellini Bar," which features fresh fruit purees of passion fruit, peach, mandarin orange or cherry mixed with Simonet Blanc de Blancs white wine.
  • Enjoy high-quality fish for a fraction of the price at Kaz Sushi Bistro, which offers a set sushi and roll menu for lunch and a choice of both for dinner plus some appetizers like grilled baby octopus and fried spicy jumbo shrimp.
  • Bibiana is offering a choice of seven appetizers, seven entrees and four desserts for its lunch and dinner items, which will be heavy on the comfort food. Expect dishes like meatballs and beef cheeks.
  • Indique is only doing a dinner special this week, but it's a good one. The three-course meal features items like the achari "taco," with hot-and-spicy chicken pickled in mustard seeds and curry leaves; braised pork belly flavored with fennel, mustard, hot chili, vinegar and curry leaves and served with granny smith apples; and mango cheese flan with a raspberry and mango coulis.
  • J&G Steakhouse is always a great spot to feel like a power player. The spot, located in the W Washington hotel, is extending its three-course lunch and dinner specials through Jan. 20. For lunch, that includes dishes like a flank steak sandwich; for dinner, seared cod with a scallion-chili sauce, basil and celery; and for both a parsnip soup with coconut foam, lime and mint.
  • For a midday indulgence, Top Chef star Mike Isabella is offering a three-course lunch at his Chinatown restaurant Graffiato. Choose from dishes like risotto with pumpkin, smoked provolone and pepitas; Jersey Shore-inspired pizza with fried calamari, tomato, provolone, and cherry pepper aioli; salmon with striped bass garnish; warm pistachio cake with candied pear and parsnip caramel and mascarpone gelato. To drink: Prosecco on tap and seasonal punch for $6.
  • Unlimited tapas? Sign us up: La Tasca is offering a bottomless tapas lunch or dinner at its five area locations. The list of tapas is lengthy -- 25 dishes -- although patrons are limited to one dessert.

CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to clarify that the shellfish plates at Sou'Wester are appetizer selections on its three-course dinner menu.