The best time to celebrate the wonderful foods in The City of Brotherly Love.
As many of you know, the past few weeks in Philadelphia were some of the happiest of the whole year. Yes, yes, I know it wasn’t Christmas or the mummers parade or Made in America. But it was Restaurant Week. A glorious time where dozens of fantastic restaurants offer 3 course meals for $35. I know you’re thinking, “wow, what a great deal” because if you weren’t you’d be wrong. Let’s just say during the past weeks I’ve been mucho full and had a plethora of to-go boxes provide my lunch (aka plenty of leftovers too!) All that being said, some restaurants are certainly better than others and some strategies can help you to truly win the week or weeks if you’ve noticed I’ve been saying that... which leads to my first piece of advice.
1. Restaurant week is actually a misnomer! You have TWO weekS to enjoy restaurant week deals so make sure you mark both weeks in your calendar. 2018 restaurant week went from Sep 23 through Oct 5.
2. Make reservations! I hope that this one is obvious, but I saw so many people waiting at everyplace I went! Every restaurant participating in restaurant week is linked with OpenTable so you don’t even have to interact with a human to avoid lines. PRO TIP: make reservations before you even know how many people can go / what nights your free. OpenTable makes it so easy to cancel (again without human interaction) that it’s never bad to at least have the option before tables fill up! Also it’s a great excuse to get a group of people together - “hey guys I have a table for 6 at Butcher and Singer on Thursday, who’s in?”
3. Make sure to check the menu online before you make that reservation, though! Some places do restaurant week family style, so if you have picky eaters or people with dietary sensitivities in your group then that could be a no go. Also, while on the whole all the menus I saw were AMAZE, some places *cough* capital grill *cough* left something to be desired on their menus.
4. Arrive early and hang at the bar! Many of these restaurants have killer happy hours and what they don’t tell you is the $4 drinks you order at the bar can be taken to your table once it’s time for your reservation! Plus, who doesn’t love a heads start.
5. Ask for a box during the appetizer course. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t usually order a personal app, entree, and dessert every time I go to a restaurant that already serves large portions (... or do I but that’s another story). So, if you want to make it to the dessert round, don’t be afraid to wrap your app (ha ha rhymes ha) after you start feeling satisfied. I’m looking at you massive Barbuzzo meatballs.
6. Remember lunch! If you think the 3 for $35 is good, how does 3 for $20 sound? If you have the pleasure of working in Center City, then break up your day with the fanciest meal you’ll ever have on your lunch hour. Oyster house anyone?
7. Check for wine pairing menus. Some restaurants like Jamonera and Little Nonna’s offer wine pairing menus. For an additional $25 you’ll get a glass of wine with each of your courses. Still $60 total, but if you like wine it’s soo worth it!
8. While we’re talking about booze, several restaurants also offer special restaurant week drinks! Make sure to check out these unique concoctions in celebration of the event or just the same classic drinks they always offer, but for cheaps. And if you’re on a budget in true Philly style several participating restaurants are always BYOB, so you can wine and dine at the $35 price point.
9. Get your parking validated! We don’t all have the luxury of living downtown, but another perk of restaurant week is $9 center city parking at participating lots. Just ask your waiter about the parking deal / bring your dinner receipt to the lot and wah-lah!
10. Check for exception dates! Some restaurants don’t offer their restaurant week menus on Saturdays and Sundays which can be a real buzz kill.
With these tips you’ll be sure to win restaurant week, so get excited because it comes TWICE a year. See you in January you hungry champions.
**Note: All images are from Little Nonna's Restaurant Week special.