Preview: 2016 José Andrés Dine-n-Dash

This year marks the fourth annual D.C. Dine-n-Dash, a coordinated effort of chef José Andés, his restaurant and brand company ThinkFoodGroup and World Central Kitchen. The event takes place Wednesday, June 15 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and features bites and drinks from nearly 30 restaurants and food trucks.

DND18Before getting too excited, the event is not free. There’s no skipping out on the bill – at least not in the way you’d think. Basic tickets cost $125 a person and grant access to unlimited appetizers and cocktails at participating restaurants. Each restaurant will have between five and eight dishes and four cocktails up for grabs. Just pick a restaurant to check-in at and start the night. After that, you’re free to roam.

The cost is more than a typical Wednesday night out, certainly, but it’s for charity (all proceeds benefit World Central Kitchen) and four hours is a lot of time to eat and drink if you do some planning. Some restaurants will definitely be crowded or less-organized, so if you find yourself stuck in a bad situation, don’t hesitate to mosey to a new location.

DND3In past years, Dine-n-Dash restaurants have been clustered around the Penn Quarter and Chinatown neighborhoods. Choices include the best of Chef José Andrés’ empire like Jaleo, Zaytinya, China Chilcano and the crowd-pleasing Mexican food at Oyamel, which has been voted the evening’s top restaurant three years in a row. There’s also Del Campo, an Argentinian steakhouse, Cuba Libre and Asian-fusion at Zengo.

DND15The good news for 2016 is that Dine-N-Dash is expanding to nearby 14th Street. The neighborhood is jam-packed with high-quality restaurants. Notable options include Spanish tapas at Estadio, Southern cooking at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Italian pizzas and fare at Ghibellina.

High-rollers and those willing to splurge can purchase VIP tickets for $300 a pop. The extra cash buys access to special VIP-only restaurants (with, you’d hope lower crowds) such as DBGB, Proof, Sotto, Cork wine bar and a pop-up from Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground fame. There will also be a special pre-party at Le Diplomate and an exclusive after party with Chef José Andrés and renowned French chef Eric Riper from Le Bernardin in New York City. The best benefit might be the free pedicab transportation, especially with the sad and slow state of metro lately.

DND9The most difficult part of the Dine-N-Dash experience might be finding the motivation to dash from spot to spot. I’m one to find a tempting bowl of guacamole or an tasty cocktail and carve out some space to hang for a while. But with nearly 30 restaurants and an upwards of 150 dishes, four hours will go by fast. Time (and booze) management will both by key to a successful 2016 Dine-N-Dash experience.

The event is still a couple of weeks out, but it’s a good time to think about buying tickets and plotting a strategy. Recruit a couple of food-loving friends who are down to support charity and prepare for a high-energy night on the city.

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