When friends ask me where to dine before the theatre I try to respond authoritatively. But, alas, my brain turns to porridge as I mentally scroll through the limitless options. I try to hone it down by asking which theatre you’re going to? What kind of food do you prefer? Do you need parking or Metro nearby? Want something hip and trendy or white linen gourmet? As an early diner you’ll have great three-course menus to choose from before the swells arrive. Here are four dazzling spots to dine before the curtain rises on the evening’s entertainment. I‘ll be adding and updating restaurants to this new series in the coming months, so stay tuned to this site.
The award-winning Rasika Penn Quarter and its sister restaurant, Rasika West End, close to The Kennedy Center, offer a three-course, pre-theatre menu priced at $35 (excluding tax and gratuity). It’s available at both Rasika Penn Quarter and West End from Monday – Thursday, from 5:30 pm till 6:30 pm, and Friday and Saturday, from 5 pm till 6:30 pm.
Executive Chef Vikram Sunderam who oversees both spots will offer guests signature dishes such as Palak Chaat, with crispy baby spinach, sweet yogurt, tamarind and date chutney; Tandoor Salmon, with cinnamon and black pepper; and Lamb Rajasthani with almonds, green cardamom and ginger. Dessert options are Gulab Jamun with ice cream; Carrot Halwa with cinnamon sabayon and cinnamon honey ice cream, or Rice Pudding.
A short walk to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall, the Lansburgh Theatre, Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, Theatre Lab, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Rasika Penn Quarter, at 633 D Street, NW, offers validated valet parking with dinner service for $8.
Rasika West End is located at 1190 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. Valet parking is available during dinner service for $8. For the Penn Quarter location call (202) 637-1222. For the West End location call (202) 466-2500, or visit their website.
nopa Kitchen + Bar offers a three-course, pre-theatre menu prepared by newly appointed Executive Chef Matt Kuhn. This special dinner is priced at $35 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and is served Monday through Friday, from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, from 5pm till 6:30 pm. Standout dishes include Peppery Asian Greens Salad with honey crisp apples and candied pecans, Grafton cheddar and cider vinaigrette; Farro & Black Quinoa Risotto with sage pumpkin seed pesto, Kabocha squash, baby sweet potatoes and truffle pecorino; and Beef Coulotte Steak Frites with crispy fingerlings, Winterbor kale and a smoked blue cheese sauce.
For dessert, guests have a choice of Pastry Chef Ja’s Profiteemil Gaderoles, Gianduja chocolate ice cream filled choux pastry, caramel banana puree and a praline crunch, or the Lime Bar with lime curd, Meyer lemon lavender sable, roasted pineapple, white chocolate powder and prickly pear sorbet, The chef also offers a daily selection of sorbets. nopa Kitchen + Bar offers valet parking for $10 per car with dinner validation. The restaurant is located a few steps from the Verizon Center at 800 F Street, NW. For reservations or additional information call (202) 347-4667, or visit their website.
A Washington institution, 701 Restaurant offers modern American cuisine created by Executive Chef Benjamin Lambert. A three-course, pre-theatre menu is priced at $35 per person from 5:30 pm till 6:45 pm Monday – Saturday, and from 5 pm to 9:30 pm on Sunday. Guests have the choice of Roasted Beet Salad with labne, walnuts and pomegranate vinaigrette; Braised Green Circle Chicken with chickpeas, kabocha squash and preserved lemon; Skuna Bay Salmon with mustard spaetzle, pecans, pomegranate and broccoli; Potato-Coconut Soup with lemongrass oil, mussels and cilantro, as well as Butternut Fonduta Agnolotti with Brussels sprouts, brown butter, and cranberry gastrique.
For dessert, choose from Chocolate Pots de Creme with salted caramel, mint ice cream and brownie bits; Sticky Bun Parfait with candied pecans, brown butter ice cream and streusel, or seasonal sorbets served with fruit and chocolate biscotti.
Located at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC, 701 offers valet parking Monday – Saturday for $8 with dinner validation. For reservations or information, call (202) 393-0701, or visit their website.
Station 4 offers a three-course, pre-theatre menu Tuesday – Sunday, from 5pm till 7pm, with dishes that feature a Mediterranean twist on Modern American cuisine.Helmed by Executive Chef Orlando Amaro, the restaurant is two blocks from Arena Stage and the Waterfront Metro.
Guests can enjoy a three-course menu for only $35 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and walk to the performance. Standout dishes from Station 4’s pre-theatre menu include Crab Fritters with charred scallion emulsion and caramelized lemon; Honey Crisp Apple Salad with baby arugula, shaved stilton cheese, pecans and pomegranate vinaigrette; Lamb Neck Rigatoni with roasted Colorado lamb sugo, fresh sweet peas and pecorino romano; Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon with ragout of chorizo, chickpeas, kale, button mushrooms, served with a green olive vinaigrette and artichokes; or Mushroom Quinoa with oyster and button mushrooms and white truffle oil.
For dessert, guests can indulge in sweet treats such as Pecan Pie with vanilla gelato or Wild Strawberry Tart, with crème anglaise and aged balsamic vinegar. For those too full for dessert with dinner, Station 4 invites you to return for your dessert course after the show. Located at 1101 4th Street, SW, you can walk there from the theatre, which offers valet parking, or use the nearby parking garage. For additional information and reservations call (202) 488-0987, or visit their website.
Masala Art is the new kid on the block – a few doors down from Station 4 and two blocks from Arena Stage. This stylish Indian restaurant opened last July and is a unique experience. The three-course menu is $35 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and must be ordered before 6:30 pm. Main courses are served with pulao rice and bread.
Appetizer choices are Kafir Lime and Basil Chicken Tikka-marinated with spices and flavored with basil and kafir lime leaves; Mutton ki Nizami Pudina Seekh (lamb flavored with jalapenos and mint); Pyaz ki Bhaji (onion rings in chickpea batter); Broccoli; and Peas Tikki (patties of broccoli and peas stuffed with drunken raisins). Entrée choices range from Murg Tikka Labdbar (chicken tikka in chunky onion tomato sauce); Elaichi Gosht (lamb in green cardamom sauce); Alleppie Fish Curry (Southern Indian style fish curry in chili coconut sauce and kokum); Gobhi Tak a Tin (cauliflower tossed with onion and bell pepper flavored with fenugreek leaves); and Bhindi Amchoori (okra flavored with onion and mango powder).
These last two dishes are served with dal makhani and baingan bharta. Dessert choices are Gulab Jamun with cardamom ice cream; Litchee Gulkand ki Kheer rice pudding with litchee and sweet rose petal preserve; or your choice of ice cream or sorbet. Located at 1101 4th Street, SW, there is a parking garage nearby. For reservations, call (202) 554-1101.