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Culinarily Curious: Dine in style (but save some cash) during Boston Restaurant Week

Posted by Alex Pearlman  March 5, 2012 08:41 AM

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boston restaurant week.jpgBy Anthony Howard

Fellow foodies, mark your calendars: One of the most exciting times of the year begins in just under two weeks. That's right, the winter/spring iteration of the bi-annual Boston Restaurant Week takes place March 18-23 and March 25-30.

The original Restaurant Week took place in New York City in 1992 "as a goodwill gesture to the 15,000 reporters coming to cover that year's Democratic National Convention," writes Tim Zagat, Restaurant Week's co-creator (and, yes, that Zagat). "Frankly, [co-creator and restaurateur Joe Baum and I] thought it would be a short-term money loser but have long-term PR benefit for New York and the restaurant industry."

Except that they were wrong. The idea was a smash success -- "a win-win" Zagat writes, as both the customers ("principally younger people and retirees who might hesitate to try such restaurants without the assumption of an affordable bill") and the restaurants benefit from the bargain-price prix fixe menus, which "mean you can walk in and out of a restaurant with dignity, at a price that you know in advance is acceptable" -- and, in the 20 years since, has caught on across the country.

This year, Boston diners can enjoy a two-course lunch for $15.12, a three-course lunch for $20.12, or a three-course dinner for $33.12. The prices don't include beverages, tax, or gratuity, but the offer is still an absolute steal, especially if you're lucky enough to snag a seat at that swanky spot you've been dying to try but just can't afford on a regular night.

Your Restaurant Week dining options are endless. Craving French? I recommend the honey-thyme half chicken at Petit Robert Central or the beef sirloin carpaccio at Mistral in Back Bay. If Italian is more your thing, you should grab lunch at Chef Barbara Lynch’s Sportello; their ricotta cheesecake is especially enticing. Or you could even sample authentic Moroccan fare at Charlestown’s Tangierino. I’ve been eyeing the boneless short ribs; they're braised in figs and apricots and served with seven-vegetable couscous, and they sound delicious! And if you're not in the heart of the city, chefs at suburban restaurants will be showcasing their talents, too.

Restaurant Week is a great way to go on a nice date with your significant other or spend a nice evening out with your friends without spending a fortune, but reservations are strongly encouraged, as restaurants fill up quickly. Remember that the menus are prix fixe, so you may not be able to try a specific dish you’ve had your eye on -- unless you're ready to pony up some extra cash and order a la carte -- but you can easily find out in advance, and reserve your table at the same time, via the Boston Restaurant Week website.

With hundreds of restaurants participating, you could make lunch and dinner reservations every day for all 10 days of Restaurant Week and not even make a dent in your restaurant bucket list (but make a significant one in your bank account). Good thing there’s always the summer Restaurant Week in August!

Where are you looking forward to eating during Restaurant Week?

'Culinarily Curious' is TNGG Boston's column on all things food, written by Anthony Howard.

About Anthony -- I'm a 22-year-old Massachusetts native -- grew up in the 'burbs and now spend my young adult life in the city. I am passionate about cooking and currently assistant manage a restaurant kitchen in Kendall Square. Let's just say that when I invite friends over for dinner parties, no one ever turns me down.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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