About 150 restaurants across the county are participating in this year’s event. Each will feature a special three-course menu for $20, $30 or $40 depending on location (tax, beverage and gratuity not included, wine and spirit pairings available at some locations for an additional fee).
The $20 menu is an addition this year and is offered by restaurants such as Mr. Tiki in the Gaslamp Quarter.
“Our hope is to inspire guests to walk through our doors and into the South Pacific,” said Christopher Penta, general manager of the island-inspired eatery. “Enjoy a swanky slice of paradise at a price that can’t be beat.”
Last year, about 250,000 persons participated in restaurant week activities, designed to promote the local dining industry. Many use the opportunity to try new restaurants that normally would be too pricey. From Chula Vista to North County, restaurants of all varieties participate in this event.
“While they are getting a three-course meal for just $40 per person, they can expect the exact same quality, preparation style and service they would expect on any other night dining,” said Leslie Araiza-Lorenzo from Nine-Ten restaurant in La Jolla. Araiza-Lorenzo also said Nine-Ten will offer $2 valet parking during restaurant week.
Sam Kim at Rice, in the W Hotel, said the eatery will be hosting celebrity guest chef Kevin Harry from New York and will showcase a special menu specifically for Restaurant Week.
Other local restaurants participating this year include Phil’s BBQ and The Brigantine in Point Loma, The French Gourmet in Pacific Beach, the Marine Room in La Jolla and the Gaslamp’s Nobu at the Hard Rock Hotel.
There are nearly 7,200 restaurants in San Diego County, with $4.2 billion in annual taxable food and beverage sales, according to figures on the California Restaurant Association website. Many of these are feeling the pinch in the current economy as San Diegans struggle with rising unemployment rates and home foreclosures. Many potential patrons have put their fine dining habits on ice as of late.
A special partner of this year’s restaurant week is the Girl Scouts of America, which will promote its trademark cookie sales campaign that begins at the end of January. Several restaurants will feature special dessert recipes integrating Girl Scout Cookie favorites like Thin Mints and Samoas.
“Tom Ham’s Lighthouse is definitely excited to partner with Girl Scouts and to get access to something we can’t have year round —Girl Scout cookies,” said executive chef Erik Sarkisian. “I’ve always loved Thin Mints and always loved ice cream, so it was a happy marriage of all my favorite things. It’s been so fun to get my daughter involved in the process … I get a lot of my food ideas from her.”
Now in its fifth year, San Diego Restaurant Week is sponsored by the California Restaurant Association San Diego Chapter, the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and San Diego magazine. Not only does it serve to highlight America’s Finest City’s finest restaurants; it’s been very good for business, packing out eateries during normally slower weeknights (events run Sundays through Fridays) in a slower time of the year.
No special tickets or passes are required for Restaurant Week. However, reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling the restaurants directly or by visiting www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com. The website also lists all participating restaurants by price and geographic region. A fall restaurant week is scheduled for Sept. 13 to 18.
IF YOU GO
Here are some of the eateries participating in San Diego Restaurant Week:
• Phil's BBQ
3750 Sports Arena Blvd.
• Bali Hai Restaurant
2230 Shelter Island Drive
• Boathouse Restaurant
2040 Harbor Island Drive
• Brigantine Seafood Restaurant - Shelter Island
2725 Shelter Island Drive
• Humphrey's by the Bay
2241 Shelter Island Drive
• Tom Ham's Lighthouse
2150 Harbor Island Drive
• Nick's at the Pier
5083 Santa Monica Ave.
• Thee Bungalow
4996 W. Point Loma Blvd