Quick, change your dinner plans: Dine Out Boston, the twice-yearly event formerly known as Restaurant Week, is back for another 12 days of dining deals in the Greater Boston area. Dozens of restaurants have crafted special lunch and dinner menus for the occasion, with the hopes that you might divert from your regularly scheduled dining program.
And why shouldn’t you? With both fine-dining restaurants and neighborhood standbys offering reasonably-priced meals, these two weeks are a great way to explore new options throughout Boston — as well as take part in Dine Out Boston’s charity auction. Diners may bid on $100 participating restaurant certificates, which are then auctioned off at DOBauction.com; proceeds from the auction go toward Future Chefs, a learning program that helps young chefs prepare for success in the workplace.
If you weren’t able to participate in Dine Out Boston in March — or if you need a refresher on what it’s all about — here are some need-to-know details about August’s event.
When is it? Should I make reservations now?
Dine Out Boston takes place Sunday, Aug. 18 to Friday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 25 to Friday, Aug. 30. And yes, you should certainly make reservations now, as most places are filling up quickly. Check each restaurant’s website to find out the best way to reserve a table, or make a reservation through the Dine Out Boston website.
How much will I be spending?
That depends! Participating restaurants are offering multi-course lunches for $15, $20, and $25, and dinner for $28, $33, and $38. Some places offer both lunch and dinner, some offer one or the other. Be prepared to spend more than the set price to account for beverages, tax, and tip.
How many courses am I getting?
That also depends. Most restaurants are serving three- or four-course meals, with some offering upgrades on ingredients for an additional cost. Expect to see dessert included as one of those courses.
Are all of the participating restaurants located in Boston?
It may be called Dine Out Boston, but the included area stretches outside of the city, too. Restaurants in Cambridge, Concord, and Chestnut Hill are participating, as are places in Milton, Stoughton, Braintree, Burlington, Medford, and Woburn. Worried about driving after having a couple drinks at dinner? Dine Out Boston has partnered with Lyft to offer 25% off rides to or from participating restaurants with the code DOB2019.
So where should I go?
Great question. There are more than 130 restaurants involved in Dine Out Boston this year, and while you should use the website’s restaurant search tool — which allows you to filter by region, price, and cuisine — it can still be a little overwhelming. To help narrow down the list, here are five Dine Out Boston menus that caught our eye:
Bar à Vin 1855
Located above French bistro La Voile on Newbury Street, Bar à Vin 1855 is one of Dine Out Boston’s newest additions. The wine bar, which opened in February, is offering a $38 dinner that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, with some of their signature dishes like sage risotto, salmon fillet, beef skirt steak, and chocolate parfait. Of course, it is a wine bar, so you should plan on splurging on a couple of glasses of red, white, or bubbly as well. (259 Newbury St., Boston)
Somerville’s German beer hall is offering a three-course, prix-fixe dinner menu for $28, with starters that allow diners to choose between chilled corn soup and a charcuterie plate packed with smoked kielbasa, rabbit liver mousse, fried beef tongue, and toast. Main entrées feature a giant krauterwurst and vegetarian pierogi, but those eating in pairs should consider the konigsteller for two, which includes beer-braised pork shank, frankfurter, bratkartoffeln potatoes, and sauerkraut. There’s an apfelstrudel for dessert, plus the option to add beer and wine pairings for $15. (255 Washington St., Somerville)
Dining out with a group? Estragon, a tapas bar in the South End, was made for this. The $33 dinner menu features a vast selection of small plates: serrano ham croquettes, warm goat cheese and tomato on toast, grilled baby octopus, salmon belly and sofrito empanadas, and braised pork cheeks, plus flan, churros, Spanish almond cake, and olive oil chocolate mousse for dessert. If you still need more for the table, splurge on one of Estragon’s massive paellas. (700 Harrison Ave., Boston)
For the ultimate power lunch, head to chef Lydia Shire’s Beacon Hill hot spot, Scampo. The $25 lunch menu includes starters that range from yellow summer gazpacho to beef carpaccio, after which diners can choose from swordfish, corn risotto, and a grilled chicken BLT plate as a main dish. Finish off the meal — and close your deals — with Lydia Shire’s tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake, or house-made cookies. (215 Charles St., Boston)
This cozy Cambridge restaurant, run by husband and wife team Conor Dennehy and Danielle Ayer, is perfect for a date night — especially if you’re looking for something beyond an expensive cut of steak or pasta doused in truffles. Case in point: the starters feature dishes like chilled watermelon soup with cured fish and cucumber carpaccio with caperberries. Choose from local hake, Rohan duck breast, and tofu with sweet and sour broccoli rabe, among other dishes, as a main course, followed by dessert options that include the cantaloupe panna cotta with lemongrass gel — all for $38. (377 Walden St., Cambridge)