If you happen to find yourself in Bethesda between now and February 26, reward yourself with a great meal deal courtesy of the best bang for your buck Restaurant Week promotion in the area.
You’re also in for a surprise if you’re not a habitué of Bethesda, or if it’s been years since your last journey to the inner-Maryland suburb. “Over a short period of time, Bethesda has shed its dull dining reputation and quickly become an exciting hotspot to eat and drink,” wrote Eater DC in a 2022 overview of the area’s culinary and cultural renaissance.
The deals during this year’s “Savor Bethesda,” an annual Restaurant Week organized and presented by Bethesda Urban Partnership, should inspire a day trip or night-out jaunt to Bethesda all on their own. At least 34 restaurants are participating in the promotion, all offering specials at one or more price points, starting at the remarkably low $10.
For that price, you could score a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Soup plus soda, tea, or lemonade for lunch at the sports bar Caddies on Cordell (4922 Cordell Ave.), a Bratwurst with peppers and onions and a side of Broccoli Cheddar Soup for lunch or dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery (7900 Norfolk Ave.), or three RW Special Tacos for lunch or dinner from Chaia Tacos (7237 Woodmont Ave.). Alternatively, you could choose to have breakfast for lunch at the new Josephine Gluten-Free Bakery (4927A St. Elmo Ave.), where the $10 promotion is a Breakfast Waffle served with a free Americano or double espresso.
Not every participating restaurant offers a $10 option, and some only offer promotional specials at either lunch or dinner, not both. One of the newest and most buzzed-about Bethesda restaurants is the first area outpost of the Toronto plant-based chain Planta (4910 Elm St.), which earned a favorable review from the Washington Post‘s Tom Sietsema last spring. The restaurant is working hard to entice everyone, especially curious meat-eaters, to come in and try it, with two incredibly generous and unrestrictive RW offers, allowing guests to pick any two apps, two mains, and two desserts from the menu for a $20 lunch, expanding the choice to three apps and three mains for a $35 dinner.
Another growing national chain that also first put down roots in the area with an outpost that opened last year in Bethesda is Maman (7140 Bethesda Lane). The French-style café from New York took over a primo corner spot previously occupied by Le Pain Quotidien. Most famous for their Oprah-approved Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookie, the café offers a $10 Cookie Trio deal or for $20, choose a salad or sandwich, plus coffee or tea and a cookie.
Roughly 16 years ago, a man who had worked his way up the ranks to become a head chef at Jaleo decided to leave the José Andrés empire and set out on his own with the support of his wife. And Chef Nicolas Guardado’s (4918 Del Ray Ave.) namesake restaurant is still serving up a wide range of flavorful dishes with roots in Spain and Latin America from a quaint building in the Woodmont Triangle section of Bethesda. The establishment is offering a $35 RW dinner promotion granting your choice of 3 tapas from a special menu of nearly two dozen options, plus a glass of sangria and a dessert.
Meanwhile, it’s been nearly two years since Andrés decided to close Jaleo Bethesda and reopen the space as Spanish Diner (7271 Woodmont Ave.), offering a slightly elevated twist on comfort food from his homeland. During Savor Bethesda, choose 1 tapa and 1 main course and dessert for $20, or make it 2 tapas and 1 main and dessert for $35 at either lunch or dinner.
Three years ago, Silver Spring restaurateurs expanded with a second location of Cubano’s (4907 Cordell Ave.), and somehow managed to hang on during the worst of the pandemic. For $35 at dinner, the restaurant offers Arepitas de lechón-fried corn tortillas with roasted pork, peppers, and secret sauce and Ropa Vieja-shredded beef with tomato sauce, white rice, sweet plantains, and black beans and Coconut Flan.
Launched a dozen years ago in Manhattan by Luke Holden, a native of Maine and a 2007 graduate of Georgetown University, the seafood shack-inspired chain Luke’s Lobster (7129 Bethesda Lane) has been serving its signature lobster rolls in the area for over a decade now. Drop by for the $35 RW special of a 4-ounce Lobster Roll and 1 cup of Clam Chowder, plus one cheesecake slice at either lunch or dinner.
Savor Bethesda Restaurant Week runs to Sunday, Feb. 26. Visit www.bethesda.org for a full list of participating restaurants as well as their special promotions.
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