Restaurant Week originated in New York City in 1992. It was thought up as a way to reach customers who wouldn’t normally visit restaurants in their city. Restaurant Week offers a prix-fix menu for a two-course lunch and/or three-course dinner. Fast forward 20 years later and many cities and states have kept the concept of Restaurant Week alive.
For us foodies, it’s like a bi-annual Christmas. Depending on where you live it could be a tri-annual Christmas. I live in Baltimore City and we host a Restaurant Week twice a year, but Baltimore County also hosts Restaurant Week events. For me that means I can also drive 30 minutes to Baltimore County and participate in their Restaurant Week.
Because I have attended so many restaurant week events, I have a system and a way I like to plan my visits. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never participated in Restaurant Week. If you’d like to take full advantage of the event, follow my five quick tips to navigate Restaurant Week.
The Restaurant Week organizing committee always releases a list of participating restaurants in your city. The list usually comes out one week before Restaurant Week begins. Most lists are very detailed with information such as:
- Restaurant name
- Phone Number
- Cuisine Type
- Lunch, Brunch and Dinner menu items
- Parking Information
- Online Reservation Information
The aforementioned details are very helpful for your planning process. If you plan on visiting several restaurants you can map it out. If you have a taste for seafood, you can filter and sort through only the seafood restaurants. If you want to grab a quick lunch near your job, you can search by neighborhood and view the lunch menu and once you get there you’ll already know what to order.
2. Read – After you’ve researched and narrowed down the restaurants you would like to visit, take the time to read about them. There are various online platforms that give restaurant reviews – Zagat, Trip Advisor and Yelp, just to name a few. Read as many reviews as you can. There is nothing worst than visiting a restaurant and it’s not a good experience. Such a waste of time and money.
Don’t forget to make a dinner reservation. The same way you are researching and reading in anticipation for Restaurant Week, so is everyone else. Or they may not be researching or reading because they already know their favorite restaurant is on the list. Restaurant Week always has great attendance because it’s the perfect time opportunity for a group activity or date night. Everyone loves a reasonably priced meal at a fancy restaurant. Some cities extend their Restaurant Week for a few days after the week because there was such a great turnout with high demand. So please make a reservation because it will be crowded especially during dinner. OpenTable is a great reservation website to use.
My personal favorite of the list because I like to rally my friends together or separately to join me on my restaurant tour. I sometimes like to eat alone, but during Restaurant Week I like to eat in the company of others because my taste odds are better. I can order one dish, my friend can other another and someone else can order another…this way everyone can taste the different dishes that restaurant has to offer. Also there will be no confusion when the bill comes because the price is already preset and each person pays the same…unless of course cocktails are ordered.
5. Rest – So many choices, so little time. Restaurant Week can be overwhelming because I always want to visit every restaurant. Maybe you want to do lunch today, dinner tomorrow, lunch the next day, brunch on Saturday…whatever you decide, make sure you get some rest. A three-course dinner is a lot of food, take time to enjoy it and enjoy the experience before you move on to the next restaurant. Don’t go overboard and remember there will be another Restaurant Week in the future and you will have the opportunity to visit the places you missed.
Visit FindRestaurantWeeks.com for a full list of participating restaurant cities and states.
Please leave a comment below if you have any other tips or if you found these tips helpful.