Restaurant Weeks offer a great excuse to visit some of the nation’s best dining establishments. This winter, cities across the country are hosting food festivals that will allow you to sample the classic, signature dishes of a Startle Tastemaker or savor the modern seasonal fare of an up-and-coming star. Participating restaurants are dishing out prix-fixe lunches and dinners that are full on flavor and easy on the wallet. (Note: Prices exclude tax, tip and beverages.) Popular restaurants fill up fast, so make reservations early. Some places will extend promotions an extra week, so it’s best to call ahead.
January 14-February 8
The ever-popular Restaurant Week is supersized in New York City, since it’s two weeks long and held twice a year. Sample some of the best of the Big Apple, from modern masterpieces like Morimoto to old-world institutions like Delmonico’s. Many of the city’s culinary heavy hitters are taking part: Have a weekday lunch at chef Mario Batali’s Lupa Osteria Romana or check out Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud or Tom Colicchio’s Craftbar. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is serving dinner at both The National and The Lambs Club Bar. Reincarnated mainstay Le Cirque is offering lunch and dinner. Take the water taxi to the Water’s Edge for some romance and killer views. Three-course lunches cost $25 and dinners are $38.
January 21-February 1
Experience Los Angeles’ dynamic, international dining scene during dineLA’s Restaurant Week. From standbys like Water Grill to new hot spots like UMAMIcatessen, choose from a selection of prix-fixe lunch ($15, $20, and $25) and dinner ($25, $35, $45) menus at more then 250 eateries. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Tastemaker Thomas Keller’s sprawling French Bouchon Beverly Hills or chef Ricardo Zarate’s intimate, modern Peruvian Picca (dinner only). Grab dinner downtown at the new English gastropub The Parish, or try the lighter fare at trendy Fig & Olive or The Redbury Hotel’s Cleo. The 12-day, twice-yearly extravaganza offers plenty of opportunities to dine hillside or oceanside in the City of Angels.
Through January 31
Even though this culinary collection technically lasts longer than seven days, you won’t find anyone in Wine Country complaining. With exquisite entries like Four-Star Meadowood Napa Valley’s The Grill and Four-Star Auberge du Soleil Restaurant participating, most polished palates will be pleased. More laid-back but equally delightful eateries like Pacific Blues Café and BarBersQ will satisfy casual patrons. And the easily digestible prices (lunches start at $15, dinner $20) will make everyone happy.
Winter is a great time to indulge in a hearty fine-dining deal in the Windy City, especially one where prix-fixe lunches are $22 and dinners are $33 or $44. From contemporary American BOKA to the eclectic, Asian-inspired Aria, more than 250 restaurants are taking part in the 10-day culinary event. Some two dozen relative newbies to the foodie fun include City Tavern, Nellcôte and Untitled. Try staples like upscale gastropub The Gage and modern new American Blackbird (lunch only). Savor a memorable contemporary American meal at The Lobby, the opulent restaurant at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Peninsula Chicago. For a good taste of the offerings, head to the First Bites Bash, the official kick-off event at Union Station on January 24. More than 50 top local eateries will participate. Tickets cost $95, and a portion of the proceeds benefits a children’s charity.
Head to the valley of the vines again for a seven-day foodie fest you won’t forget. In its fourth year, Sonoma County Restaurant Week allows you to pair seasonal, farm-fresh fare with a glass or two of vino at any number of local favorites — from the cozy trattoria Della Santina’s to the French country-influenced the girl & the fig to the eclectic farm-to-table Barndiva. Nearly 90 Sonoma restaurants will serve special three-course dinners priced at $19, $29 or $39.
Photo Courtesy of Blackbird Restaurant, Mercadito Hospitaliy, Caulfields Bar and Dining Room and Picca