San Diego Restaurant Week is back — here are 6 places I’d like to splurge on
After being canceled last winter during the pandemic surge, San Diego Restaurant Week returns in full force this weekend, with local restaurateurs offering eight days of discounted prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at more than 70 restaurants countywide.
Restaurant Week runs Sunday through Oct. 3, with choice of prix-fixe lunch menus priced at $15, $20 and $25, and dinners priced at $20, $30, $40, $50 and $60.
The twice-yearly Restaurant Week promotion was created by the California Restaurant Association to help member restaurants stay busy during the usually slow times after summer tourist season and in the post-holiday January doldrums. Last winter’s event was canceled as a result of the COVID surge lockdown. In past years, the popular event has drawn up to 180 local restaurant participants, but many local restaurants are still in recovery mode this month and are not staffed or prepared to participate.
Many of the restaurants registered for this month’s event (all details can be found at sandiegorestaurantweek.com) have posted the special two- and three-course menus they’ll be serving during the promotion days. The website offers a searchable database of restaurants by neighborhood, cuisine, menu prices and choice of lunch or dinner.
To help take some guess work out of choosing, I picked six options that I’m tempted to splurge on in the coming week.
Allegro, Little Italy
One of Little Italy’s newest restaurant is this sunny, indoor/outdoor modern Italian restaurant that opened in February in the former Indigo Grill space. Its three-course $40 menu includes appetizers and entrees that normally cost $16 to $26 on their own, so the prix-fixe menu offers about a 25 percent discount on options like truffle burrata caprese salad, bucatini carbonara and limoncello cheesecake.
Carte Blanche, Oceanside
Owners of this French-inspired Mexican bistro, which opened a block from the Oceanside Pier in February 2020, hadn’t posted their Restaurant Week menu when I filed this column, but chef Alex Carballo’s cooking is endlessly creative and flavorful. It has a colorful farmhouse dining room, an extensive patio and an imaginative menu that includes French-Mexican items like chile verde moules (mussels) and escargot tostada, as well as other cross-cultural items like lamb birria pappardelle, Mexican hot pot and vegan huitlacoche risotto. If dessert is offered as an option, don’t miss the cooked-to-order beignets.
Coasterra, Harbor Island
If you’ve been wanting to try the Cohn Restaurant Group’s stunning modern Mexican floating restaurant on San Diego Bay, this $40 three-course menu should get you off the couch. Two of its entrée choices usually sell for $30 apiece. Options include ceviche classico, rainbow trout a la plancha and coconut panna cotta.
Cori Trattoria & Pastificio, North Park
Chef Accursio Lota’s multi-award winning North Park Italian restaurant has a three-course $40 menu that’s another bargain, offering some entrees like slow-braised Angus short ribs that usually sell for up to $30. Lota is famous for his house-made pastas, so the dish that caught my eye is the saffron-infused fettuccine with fennel pork sausage, tomato sauce and orange zest.
Duke’s, La Jolla
The Hawaii-inspired Duke’s has one of La Jolla’s best coastal views, with lots of outdoor and window seating to enjoy it. The $25 two-course lunch menu includes some of the chain’s best comfort dishes, like Korean sticky ribs, macadamia nut-crusted fish and Kimo’s Hula Pie. The $40 three-course dinner menu is a great deal, with some of its entrées — Prime sirloin steak, ribs and chicken plates — normally retailing for $27 or $28. But it’s worth the splurge to add on a Duke’s mai-tai ($15) for the full island experience.
Eddie V’s, Downtown San Diego
This old-school steak and seafood restaurant excels in service, and if you want to catch a concert at the new Rady Shell amphitheater on the Embarcadero after your meal, it’s just a 15-minute walk away. Eddie V’s $50, three-course Restaurant Week dinner menu is a steal. For example, one of the prix-fixe dinner’s entrée choices, the 8-ounce filet mignon, regularly sells for $44 on its own, so if you ever wanted to try Eddie V’s, now’s the time.
Kragen writes about restaurants for the San Diego Union-Tribune. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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