Plan your vacation around restaurant weeks, offered in many U.S. cities, to experience top restaurants without paying top prices.
Love them or hate them, restaurants weeks can be a great way to taste your way through a new destination, and there are an increasing number of cities and culinary regions now offering these dining discounts. Typically a city will set aside a week or two where several top or popular restaurants offer a special three-course prix fixe menu at a good discount, often incorporating the year into the price, such as a $20.08 lunch deal.
One of the first restaurant week events started in New York City in 1992 as a marketing campaign during the Democratic National Convention. Restaurants offered a 3-course meal for $19.92 for the week the delegates were in town. It proved so popular, the event now takes place twice a year for two weeks at a time.
There are pros and cons to visiting dining establishments during designated restaurant weeks, however.
It can be difficult to get reservations at the most popular places; prices aren’t as much of a bargain once you add in extras, like beverage, tax and tip; the venues are more crowded as restaurants want to maximize then number of tables on the floor and turn them over relatively quickly to make up for the reduced prices; the best servers usually take the week off because of the reduced potential for tips.
You get to experience new restaurants that otherwise might cost a lot more money. If you like it, you can return for the full experience. If not, you haven’t blown a lot of dough. So if you’re a food lover from out of town and you happen to be in one of these locales during a restaurant week event, it’s worth checking out the participating venues.
Baltimore Restaurant Week
July 26-August 3, 2008
Hudson Restaurant Week
July 28-August 8, 2008; January 2009 dates TBD
Lunch: Starts at $13 (prices vary according to restaurant)
Dinner: Starts at $23 (prices vary according to restaurant)
Restaurant Week Boston
August 10-15, 17-22, 2008
Hagerstown Restaurant Weeks
August 10-23, 2008
Washington, D.C. Summer Restaurant Week
August 11-17, 2008
Philadelphia’s Center City District Restaurant Week
September 14-19, 2008
San Francisco’s Dine About Town
Held semi-annually for two weeks each January and July; 2009 dates TBD
NYC Restaurant Week
Held semi-annually each January and summer; 2009 dates TBD
dineLA Restaurant Week
January 2009 dates TBD
Lunch: $15 (Deluxe dining); $22 (Premier dining)
Dinner: $25 (Deluxe dining); $34 (Premier dining)
Denver Restaurant Week
February 2009 dates TBD
Dinner: $52.80 for two; $26.40 for one
San Diego Restaurant Week
June 2009 dates TBD
Dinner: $30 or $40, depending on restaurant
Providence Restaurant Weeks
July 2009 dates TBD
Miami Spice Miami also has a great month of dining for just $36 at participating restaurants. It includes app, entree and dessert. Just know menus are subject to change and what's online isn't always what's on the menu once you get there.
NYC Restaurant Week Extended New York has extended its Restaurant Week for the summer through Labor Day 2008! More than 130 restaurants participate. Bon appetit!