San Diego Restaurant Week: Is It Really A Bargain?

Prix-fixe menus abound at participating eateries. While patronizing and supporting local businesses keep an eye on the bottom line
The classic burger. (By Edward Franklin/Unsplash)

The 20th annual San Diego Restaurant Week begins on Sunday, September 24, and runs through Sunday, October 1. More than 100 San Diego County restaurants are participating, including nearly a dozen downtown eateries.

The number of participating venues often increases right before the promotional event begins.

Traditionally, Restaurant Week has been an opportunity for foodies to sample from prix-fixe menus at new eateries and old favorites. 

The San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association organizes our city’s Restaurant Week. Support of the local industry is widely encouraged. It’s been battered by issues ranging from COVID to rising food-and-beverage costs to availability of work staff.

Indeed, restaurateurs deserve a break and all the business they can get.

However, don’t expect deep discounts everywhere you sit down for lunch or dinner during Fall 2023’s San Diego Restaurant Week.

An analysis of downtown restaurants’ prix-fixe offering show the promotional event might be more accurately titled Free Dessert Week.

A few prix-fixe lunch menus are priced as low as $20 per person. Dinners are generally more expensive and may run up to $40 or $50 per person. Unless noted, most deals do not include alcoholic beverages.

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A simple salad. (Louis Hansel/Unsplash)

In a menu-item analysis of several of downtown San Diego’s Restaurant Week offerings, most offered savings of a few dollars, or in some cases, the equivalent price of a menu dessert item. A few others offered more significant savings.

The Sun has decided not to name the restaurants it analyzed.

In one case, a Gaslamp Quarter mainstay is offering a three-course dinner for two people at $80. There’s one shared main-course option ($56). If you select the most expensive appetizer ($17) the prix-fixe bill will save you the cost of one dessert. Wine (not included) can run upwards of $20 per glass.

On the other end of the savings spectrum, a restaurant in Little Italy is offering a $40-per-person, three-course dinner that would give you the dessert for free on top of a $21 savings (provided you selected the most expensive appetizer and second-course options). Again, alcohol is extra.

Diners can go to the SDRW website to find participating restaurants listed by food type (Italian, French, Asian, etc.) courses (dinner, lunch, brunch, “drink as a course”) or neighborhood (33, from South Bay to Oceanside).

Bottom line: If food is your passion, Restaurant Week is your Coachella. Get out there and pick your spots. If a budget is guiding your choices, research first and choose wisely.  SDSun


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