Foodies, this should make your bellies happy: San Diego Restaurant Week is back, the ultimate dining event showcasing more than 180 eateries across our county over the course of eight delicious days.
This edition of SDRW – its second and final round of 2019 – runs from Sept. 22 to Sept. 29.
The scrumptious set-up is familiar: participating local restaurants will offer special two and three-course, prix fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner. Two-course lunch menus are priced at $10, $15, $20 or $25 per person, while three-course dinner menus are priced at $20, $30, $40, $50 or $60 per person.
New this time, however, is a “customizable” option that allows diners to mix and match items on the prix fixe menus.
So, for instance, if a restaurant is offering several choices of appetizers, entrées and desserts on its SDRW menu and a diner is maybe only in the mood for small bites and sweets, the diner can pick two appetizers and a dessert instead of the entrée, or two desserts and an app. Or, maybe no appetizer and instead an entrée and two desserts – whatever combo suits their taste – all for the same SDRW price.
Estefania Cerda, marketing director with McFarlane Promotions, the company that represents on SDRW, said organizers hope this customizable option entices even more foodies to try restaurants around San Diego.
“(San Diego Restaurant Week) is just kind of like an introduction (to local restaurants), so that people can try new things,” she told NBC 7 Wednesday. “Try more of Restaurant Week – explore more.”
And explore they shall.
As always, the popular culinary event spans eateries across more than a dozen regions in San Diego County: Coronado, downtown San Diego, uptown San Diego, East County, La Jolla, Little Italy, Central San Diego, Mission Bay and Beaches, North County Inland and Coastal, South Bay, Point Loma/Harbor Island, Old Town and Hillcrest.
Cuisine varies, too, with every type of food imaginable on the SDRW menus: from American and California fare to Argentine, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, French, Italian, Greek, and even gluten-free options.
“San Diego loves to eat, and we have a lot of amazing food options,” Cerda said.
By the way, no special passes are required to attend SDRW but reservations are recommended. Just pick the participating restaurant that sounds good to you, go there and ask for the SDRW menu. Really, it’s easy as pie.
A small sampling of eateries in different neighborhoods participating in SDRW September 2019 include:
- Serea Coastal Cuisine (Coronado; $60 dinner option)
- The Butcher's Cut (Downtown San Diego; $50 dinner option)
- Crest Cafe (Uptown San Diego; $15 lunch and $20 dinner options)
- Farmer's Table La Mesa (East County; $40 dinner option)
- The Shores Restaurant (La Jolla; $30 dinner option)
- Puerto LA Boca Argentinian Restaurant (Little Italy; $15 lunch and $40 dinner options)
- Harley Gray Kitchen & Bar (Central San Diego; $10 lunch and $20 dinner options)
- PB AleHouse (Mission Bay and Beaches; $15 lunch and $30 dinner options)
- International Smoke (North County Coastal; $25 lunch and $60 dinner options)
- Gravity Heights (North County Inland; $10 lunch and $30 dinner options)
- SEA180 Coastal Tavern (South Bay; $20 lunch and $30 dinner options)
- Kanda Thai Cuisine (Point Loma/Harbor Island; $10 lunch and $20 dinner options)
- Casa Guadalajara (Old Town; $15 lunch and $30 dinner options)
- BO-Beau Kitchen + Cache (Hillcrest; $30 dinner option)
Inside tip: Two of the restaurants above are brand-new, high-profile spots, Serea, the new anchor restaurant at the iconic Hotel del Coronado, and International Smoke, Ayesha Curry's new eatery at One Paseo in North County.
Serea will offer a three-course appetizer, entree, and dessert deal for $60 during Restaurant Week.
International Smoke will offer a $25 lunch deal that includes a starter, main dish and dessert from some of the eatery's most popular items, and a $60 "Fuego-Style" dinner menu that includes smaller tastings of 12 unique dishes, including starters, entrees, sides and desserts.
The Butcher’s Cut on Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego is also new in town. The spot – a sister restaurant of Greystone right next door – opened about three months ago, so this will be its first time participating in Restaurant Week.
Sara Arjmand, director of operations for The Butcher’s Cut and Greystone, told NBC 7 her staff is looking forward to being part of the beloved San Diego event.
The Butcher’s Cut will offer a $40 or $50 three-course dinner deal. The SDRW menu includes appetizer options like Burrata Bruschetta and Avocado Toast, and entrées like Salmon with Spinach Risotto, Lobster Ravioli and Angus Filet Mignon. For dessert, foodies will find Cannoli and New York Cheesecake, to name a couple of options.
As its name suggests, The Butcher’s Cut specializes in steaks, many dry-aged for 21 days. The meats are displayed in a case at the back of the eatery, glowing under a light, in their perfectly butchered glory.
“(What I love about Restaurant Week is that) it gives the locals a chance to actually come out and get a great deal while experiencing a new restaurant that they’ve never been to,” Arjmand told NBC 7. “This is your chance to go to another area.”
Arjmand said The Butcher's Cut will give a freebie to its SDRW diners, too: locals who eat there during Restaurant Week will be given a $20 gift card to come back and try the restaurant again.
The long list of participating SDRW eateries, along with photos and mouthwatering menus, can be seen in full on the SDRW website.
Cerda said SDRW has been running for 15 years. Each time, the event attracts both repeat patrons and newcomers.
In the end, Cerda said Restaurant Week is all about bonding and making memories over the universal language of good food.
“I think it’s so important because I think it just brings together a community over food. And we all love food – we all love dining and laughing and, you know, cheering and making new memories and talking about those memories,” she added.
She said seeing big names like the celebrity-led International Smoke on the list of SDRW participants is an “indication of how big San Diego Restaurant Week has gotten and how important it is to the San Diego community.”
Cerda also said SDRW’s strong showing round after round helps to solidify American’s Finest City as a “food hot spot of America”
“I think we have an amazing culinary culture,” she said.
For Arjmand and her crew, the growth of San Diego’s food scene lights a fire.
“Everybody’s trying to come up with the new best thing – the new next thing,” she explained, adding that 10 years ago, most restaurants would revamp their menu once a year but, today, the menu revamps come more often.
“We’re always trying to stay ahead of the game,” Arjmand said. “Now we literally have to redo our menu three, four times a year just to stay with the trend – because, if you don’t do it, someone else will.”
“(Food) culture is definitely expanding in San Diego,” she added.
And, with that, when do we eat?
Here’s to hoping you enjoy San Diego Restaurant Week – every last bite of it.