It’s Restaurant Week time again.
As is now tradition, the “week” will stretch across 11 days and two weekends, from Jan. 19 to 29, giving enthusiastic restaurant-goers plenty of time to eat as many prix fixe meals as possible. The most serious among these have likely already started planning, as Berkeley and Oakland’s Restaurant Weeks will occur simultaneously this year, which will likely require a little extra stomach space in order to fit in all of the meal possibilities. Indeed, counting both events together, over 110 restaurants are participating this year, so there are more than enough dining destinations from which to choose.
As is also tradition, many restaurant week “deals” aren’t actually any cheaper than eating off the regular menu. Or the kitchen will churn out cheap, yet boring entrées that really don’t give diners a good sense of the restaurant any other week out of the year.
Luckily, there are participating restaurants serving up interesting menus and good deals — here are our top picks, in alphabetical order by city. (Note: Not all participating restaurants have posted menus online as of press time.)
Participating Berkeley restaurants offer prix-fixe lunches for $20 and/or prix fixe dinners for $25 or $35.
AJANTA The Solono Avenue Indian restaurant regularly serves an excellent, abundant chef’s tasting menu every night at dinner. During restaurant week, Ajanta will offer basically the same menu for $25 — a $2 to $5 discount (you’ll save more money eating meat) — which includes an appetizer, entrée and dessert plus rice, naan, chutneys, pickles, papadam and a vegetable side dish.
GATHER One of the best deals in Berkeley is at Gather. Its $35 Restaurant Week menu (crispy Brussels sprouts, choice of a half chicken or chickpea panisse, and ice cream or sorbet) is worth $48 on the regular menu. So if you, like this author, find Gather’s everyday prices a little steep, consider it a good night out during the event.
LA MARCHA Another win for an interesting and good-value meal is at La Marcha, which is serving a nine item tasting menu for $25 per person. It’s an excellent deal for single diners or those on a date, as it offers an opportunity to taste far more tapas than is practical in a small group. With three or more diners, the value fades a bit, but the menu still does offer a good breadth of options at the restaurant.
LONGBRANCH SALOON If you’re interested in sampling whiskeys alongside your meal, Longbranch’s $35 dinner menu seems intriguing. It’s got four courses and includes dish options such as butternut squash flan with bacon vinaigrette and red beet linguine with roasted fennel, beets and sheep’s milk cheese. The menu also appears to be much cheaper, around $20 cheaper in fact, than a similar meal at other times of the year.
LUCIA’S PIZZERIA One of the newest restaurants on the list, Lucia’s, also appears to be a solid deal; its $25 dinner menu is around $10 less than regular price. While the included pizza options are limited to three choices, Restaurant Week may be a good time to go and see what all of the wood-fired fuss is about.
MISSION: HEIRLOOM The gluten- and grain-free restaurant is offering a lunch special for the second year in a row, and it’s a good one — three courses, including an Instagram-friendly Brazilian cheese waffle and the restaurant’s signature grain-free chocolate chip cookie. You’ll save close to $15, depending on what you order.
SAHA Also recently opened is Saha, which is offering a three course $35 dinner menu for Restaurant Week. It’s a fairly limited menu, but will provide an opportunity to save $10 to $15 while trying a few dishes from what is quickly becoming a favorite restaurant from professional critics and Yelpers alike.
Participating Oakland restaurants offer prix fixe lunches and/or dinners for $20, $30, $40 or $50.
ALAMAR Uptown’s alaMar just debuted its new streamlined quick service menu of poke and Dominican rice bowls, which are included in its $20 Restaurant Week menu. Alongside, you can choose either Cajun tater tots or the restaurant’s signature Parmesan Tornado Ribbon fries and a glass of wine or beer.
BROTZEIT LOKAL If you’re looking for a beer with a view, head over to Brotzeit Lokal for its $20 Scheinshaxe and beer deal. You’ll get a braised pork shank with sauerkraut, potatoes, and a salad, plus a mug of beer. Or, if you’d like a little more choice, the $30 menu is also a great deal — it includes three courses plus a glass of wine or beer.
CLOVE AND HOOF The Temescal butcher shop/restaurant has a simple Restaurant Week menu this year — $20 for a cheesesteak, fries, a cookie and special lemonade. It’s a decent value (you’ll save around $5) and just offers a good excuse to eat a big lunch and take a nap.
EVE’S WATERFRONT RESTAURANT Other great option with a view is the new Eve’s Waterfront, which is serving a $40 three course meal complete with a beer or wine pairing with each dish (additional $20). They’re not skimping on the food — there’s a foie gras appetizer option as well as a duck breast entrée — so even without the booze, it’s a pretty good deal.
HOG’S APOTHECARY The not-yet-fully-determined $40 three course chef’s tasting menu at Hog’s Apothecary isn’t necessarily going to be the cheapest around, but it will be designed specifically for Restaurant Week, which means you’ll get a unique dining experience out of it. We’d recommend splurging for the $10 beer pairing addition as well — that’s what Hog’s does best. (Reservations strongly recommended for this one, says Hog’s.)
HOMESTEAD For about the same price as its weekly Sunday Supper, Homestead’s $50 three-course restaurant week menu isn’t exactly a cheap dinner. But, we’d argue, it’s a great value for excellent food and gets a nod for creativity: Each course is made using duck, even dessert. Plus, as with any meal at Homestead, the price includes service, so all you’ll need to tack on is tax.
JUHU BEACH CLUB Juhu’s $20 dinner deal — a bhel salad (puffed rice, black chickpeas, fuyu persimmon, red grapes, peanuts, JBC chutneys), a choice between curry leaf coriander shrimp (sustainable shrimp, tomato sauce, sweet peas, lemon rice) or tamarind coconut curry (kabocha squash, toybox eggplant, seasonal greens, lemon rice), and a beer — is around half the cost of its regular dinner menu. Get it while you can.
MISS OLLIE’S While there’s no fried chicken on the Restaurant Week menu at Miss Ollie’s, there is oxtail, complete with pigeon peas and sweet potato. There’s also rice porridge with uni, cardamom bread pudding, and a welcome cocktail. All for $30. This is one not to miss.
OHGANE The charcoal-fired Korean barbecue restaurant’s special menu offers an array of dishes, from soondoobo to pork belly wraps, plus a shot of soju, banchan and a dessert drink for only $20. If you’ve never been to Ohgane, now’s the time.
PARLOUR If you’re a beef eater, Parlour’s $40 dinner offering is an excellent deal. Order the rib-eye, which normally runs $37, and you’ll walk away with two extra courses basically for free. Vegetarians who order the broccoli agnolotti, on the other hand, will just about break even.
ROSAMUNDE SAUSAGE GRILL Both Oakland locations of Rosamunde are offering a $20 two for one restaurant week deal: two sausage combo plates, each with two sides and two toppings, plus a soda or beer. The only downside is the offering includes sausages from a limited list (chicken habanero, beer sausage, cheddar bratwurst, or vegan apple-sage). Bring a friend!
TAMARINDO ANTOJERIA This Old Oakland Mexican restaurant is offering a very flexible $30 dinner deal — your choice of a small plate, large plate and a dessert, plus a house cocktail, beer or wine. Any way you slice it, that’s an excellent deal.
THE HALF ORANGE Back at it again with excellent Restaurant Week deals is the Half Orange. The Fruitvale restaurant has seven different $20 meal options: There’s “Cheese upon Cheese” (fried cheese curds, spicy grilled cheese sandwich, fries, Nutella parfait and a non-alcoholic drink), two burger combos (one vegan and one meat-filled), and more. Those who want a buzz with their meal can substitute a beer for the beer-free for an extra $3.80.
THE TRAPPIST Old Oakland’s Belgian beer bar’s simple restaurant week offering — shepherd’s pie with salad and a beer pairing for $20 — will just about break even in terms of cost, but we’re including it in our list for its sheer ease of ordering. Plus, you’re guaranteed to have a well-balanced meal and a slight buzz afterwards. Not a problem.