Just after the last glitter from New Year’s has been swept up, a new holiday – this one for foodies – is ushered in.
January kicks off Restaurant Week celebrations across the country, and there are plenty of places in Virginia to dine out and sample the great cuisine scene the state has to offer.
Many Restaurant Weeks are held in the winter, looking to have diners come in during historically slower months, but because of the success of the event, others are held later in the year; we’ve got a list to help you navigate your tastebuds around the Old Dominion.
Restaurant Week works like this: in a city, town or other geographic area, participating restaurants offer prix-fixe multi-course meals at dinner and/or lunch.
You don’t need any kind of coupon or pass to participate.
Lunch prices are typically $10 while there are often two tiers of dinner, usually $20 and $30, although prices do vary from event to event.
This is a great time to get out and try new dishes at a favorite restaurant, or to sample some restaurants that you’ve been wanting to try.
It’s also a great foodie holiday – take a couple of days off and explore different regions and restaurants – you are bound to find plenty to please the pocketbook and the palate.
— RESTAURANT WEEKS IN VIRGINIA —
Virginia Beach Restaurant Week – Celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year, Virginia BeachRestaurant Week is Jan. 10-19
Downtown Roanoke Restaurant Week – Restaurant Week is Jan. 16-25
Fredericksburg Restaurant Week – Two restaurant weeks will be held in 2015: Jan. 16-26 and a summer one that traditionally ties in with National Farmer’s Market Week in early August.
Newport News Restaurant Week – Restaurant Week is Jan. 17-31
Downtown Norfolk Restaurant Week – Restaurant Week is Jan. 18-15; there is traditionally one held in July.
Williamsburg Restaurant Week – Restaurant Week is Jan. 18-24
Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week – This regionwide event features many restaurants in Virginia cities, counties and towns just outside the nation’s capital, such as Arlington and Fairfax. Two restaurant weeks will be held in 2015: Jan. 19-25 and another traditionally in August that is still being planned.
Alexandria Restaurant Week – Two restaurant weeks will be held in 2015: Jan. 23-Feb.1 (to kick off as Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week ends) and one in the summer, traditionally August.
Charlottesville Restaurant Week – Two restaurant weeks will be held in 2015: Jan 24-31 and July 18-25
Smithfield Restaurant Week – Each menu at participating restaurants features a healthy choice selection to celebrate Smithfield On The Move’s “Order Healthy Project”: Jan. 30-Feb. 7
Lexington Restaurant Week – This year’s theme is “Knock the Chill Off” with restaurants featuring unique warming treats like soups, stews and hot beverages. Feb. 22-28
Harrisonburg: Taste of Downtown – Two restaurant weeks will held in 2015: March 9-15 and Nov. 9-15
Suffolk Restaurant Week – Two restaurant weeks will be held in 2015: March 14-21 and traditionally in November
Nelson County Restaurant Week – A new twist includes area bed-and-breakfasts: March 23-26
Historic Manassas Restaurant Week – There are two restaurant weeks, traditionally in March and again in September; planning for 2015 is under way
Winchester Restaurant Week – Traditionally in March; planning for 2015 is under way
Richmond Restaurant Week – Traditionally in April and October; planning for 2015 is under way
Henrico Restaurant Week – This is first year for this event; planning is under way for April
Lynchburg Restaurant Week – This is the fourth year for this restaurant week. Restaurant Week is June 20-27.
Blacksburg Restaurant Week – Traditionally in June; planning for 2015 is under way
Culpeper Downtown Restaurant Week – Traditionally the second week in October to coincide with the Columbus Day holiday; planning for 2015 is under way
— MAKING THE MOST OF A MEAL —
Here is some advice to make the most of Restaurant Week:
– Know how it works: the menu offerings are prix fixe; lunch has one price while dinner has another. These offer you a selection of dishes, but don’t typically include beverages, including bottled water. Generally, tax and tip are also not figured in the price.
– Go in with a game plan: look at the Restaurant Week website and individual restaurant websites to plan your meals out. Pick a selection of restaurants that give you a good taste of the city/region.
– Visit a favorite restaurant or two and try a dish that’s new to you. Try a new restaurant or two that you’ve been wanting to visit.
– Be flexible with your selections; restaurants usually offer three or four choices per appetizer, entrée and dessert, so there should be something there to suit your palate. If not, remember this is a special prix fixe menu and substitutions are usually not allowed.
– Make reservations, and make them sooner rather than later.
– Remember that your meal is discounted, and to tip your server generously when the check comes.
Patrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.