Lunching Like a King in ‘This Town’

Posted July 9, 2013 at 4:29pm

Local media is up in arms about the dismissive treatment of D.C. dining — harshing most fiercely on our pizza and sandwiches corps — in reviews of Mark Leibovich’s bubble-bursting tell-all, “This Town.”

We were more fascinated by this not-so-subtle jab David Shribman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette executive editor and former D.C. bureau chief for the Boston Globe, slipped into his New York Times review of the too-cool tome:

“Mr. Leibovich will never be able to have lunch in This Town again, not that there is a respectable nonexpense-account lunch to be had in those precincts.”

This town (couldn’t help it) is flush with amazing dining opportunities that won’t necessarily burn a hole in your pocket.

In the spirit of helping Shribman score a decent meal the next time he’s around, here’s a handful of crazy good, sit-down meals for less than $27.95 — the cost of Leibovich’s scathing score-settler.

Munch like Michel Richard! The gregarious gourmand has carved out a standing three-course special ($21) featuring your choice of appetizer (warm spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette, anyone?), a hearty entree and, of course, world-class desserts.

Dirksen Southside Buffet
Favored by pols (current and alumni). Priced (at $16) for everyone. And don’t get us started about the fried chicken.

Granted, award-winning toque Fabio Trabocchi only offers his “Presto!” package — $19 for a select cocktail and your choice of entree (pancetta-topped burger, roasted organic chicken, artisan pastas) — at the bar. But this is a drinking town, so you’ll be in good company.

Kenny’s Smokehouse
Sure it’s a hole in the wall. But it’s good enough for President Barack Obama and iconic enough to inspire the creators of the Americanized “House of Cards.” A full rack of tender baby back ribs runs just shy of $20, while a generously loaded combo plate can be had for less than $15.

Kushi Izakaya & Sushi
The sushi is good. But the real draws here are all the flame-licked goodies. We’re partial to the four-skewer deal ($15) loaded up with savory duck breast, unctuous pork belly, smoky grilled corn and juicy chicken thighs.

Renowned restaurateur Jeff Buben practically gives his gourmet wares away at lunch. The jaw-dropping 1990 menu ($19.90 for three-courses) plies lucky patrons with the likes of braised game, roasted seafood and expertly seared steak, all accompanied by seasonal vegetables and decadent sweets.