Restaurant Week, which occurs in 25+ major cities nationwide, offers the epicurious a chance to enjoy local restaurants at reduced costs. With the leadership of Ingrid Croce, 30 San Diego restaurateurs took a page from New York’s restaurant week (which has now grown to a month-long event!) and spent four months organizing the 1st Annual San Diego Restaurant Week. Seventy-five restaurants participated in the inaugural event between January 30-February 4, 2005* and has grown to include over 180 places, ranging from small mom and pops to mega-restaurant groups. Its overwhelming success spawned another week-long event in September, making it a bi-annual event. Meals vary in price between $10-50 per person.
Although the official SDRW will be from Sunday, January 18 through Saturday, January 24, many restaurants will extend their specials another week just for your enjoyment. The main website usually releases a list of extensions, but some do it unofficially, so give your special place a call.
I have three tips for success for any first-timers (or even old dogs can learn new tricks):
* Make reservations! For the more popular locations (ahem… any Cohn Restaurant Group venue), walk-ins fail because they will be so booked. In fact, chances are, reservations were full weeks ago.
* Download the app! There’s a list of all participating restaurants, menues, a bill splitter… because math; and a chance to win meals for a year just by uploading those food pictures I know you take.
* Go for lunch! It’s cheaper, and compared to the respective dinner menus, most are the same, and if not, portion sizes and menu items may vary. Last year, I went to Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse for lunch and ate just as much as I would have for dinner at a fraction of the cost.
Wherever you choose, the most important part of the meal is those around you. You may or may not end up liking the dishes you choose, but at least you’ll be surrounded by loved ones who’ll share in your joy or misery. Happy fooding!