San Diego Restaurant Week 2011

Experience cuisine that delights your palate and defines the art of dining in San Diego. Held twice annually, this beloved culinary tradition features discounted prix fixe menus from more than 180 of San Diego’s best  restaurants.

Check out  the full restaurant list and menus 

San Diego Restaurant Week

When: Sunday, Jan. 15 through Jan. 20

Where: Around the county, with many participants clustered downtown and in La Jolla and Del Mar

What: 180 restaurants offer special menus for fixed prices. Three-course dinners run $20, $30 and $40. An additional lunch menu is newly available, where almost 40 restaurants offer two courses for $10, $15 and $20 midday.

What’s new this year

Lunch at almost 40 restaurants. Restaurant Week has been defined as three dinner courses, offered at $20, $30 or $40 depending on the poshness of the restaurant. Now you can also do a midday meal in two courses for $10, $15 or $20. Two places doing a prix-fixe lunch only: Devine Pastabilities, where you can get spaghetti and meatballs inside a hollow garlic roll, with a soda and salad for $10. And Sheerwater at the Hotel del Coronado has a gourmet BLT filled with fried, Blue soft-shell crab.

New chefs to try

In an industry known for turning and burning through personnel, there’s often a new chef running an old favorite. See how a new or newish guy’s doing at 1500 Ocean, Cavaillon, the Cosmopolitan, Eden, El Bizcocho, Kensington Grill, Red Door Restaurant and the Shores Restaurant in La Jolla.

The flatiron steak at Roy's La Jolla.

Bice Ristorante in the Gaslamp Quarter will have a three-course dinner available for $40. — Courtesy photo

What’s dominating menus

All menus are subject to change. But if they’re to be believed online right now, there’s an orange tide of lobster bisque and tons of tiramisu coming this Restaurant Week. And scallops have become more of an appetizer than an entrée (see Bertrand at Mister A’s). The battle for most popular red meat is perhaps between filet mignon (some examples are at Pampas Argentine Grill, Morton’s, Truluck’s and Red Tracton’s, which goes with the 6-ounce petite) and the short-rib contingent (represented by Pamplemousse, Firefly and Cucina Urbana, which shreds it into a pappardelle pasta dish). Combining two other noticeable menu trends: Arterra makes its pork chop with roasted Mission figs. You’ll find both items appearing separately, too.

All diners welcome

For the gluten-free dessert crowd there’s flourless chocolate cake at places like Roppongi, Avenue 5, Hunter Steakhouse and Barrio Star. And vegetarians? For an entrée in a swank setting, try Bice Ristorante’s pear and Gorgonzola ravioli or the vegetable risotto at Mille Fleurs. Most menus say they’ll accommodate your meat-free needs, too.

The house specialty for Restaurant Week

Like a mascot, the signature dish captures a restaurant’s identity. The94th Aero Squadron has its Famous Beer Cheese Soup. At Market Restaurant, 2011 James Beard Award-nominated chef Carl Schroeder shows off his signature braised short rib, accompanied on the plate by a beef tenderloin.

The flatiron steak at Roy's La Jolla.

The Cabernet Braised Prime Beef Short ribs at Market Restaurant and Bar is a signature dish. — Sean M. Haffey

Locally sourced and sustainable

Local food suppliers get lots of love on Restaurant Week menus, from Brandt Beef’s prime hanger steaks at Argyle to the famous Chino Farm produce all over the Nine-Ten menu. Carlsbad Aquafarm clams are at Roy’s La Jolla, the upscale Asian fusion chain. If you’ve read about our threatened oceans in the book “Four Fish,” you’ve heard barramundi is a good, sustainable fish. And when it’s crusted with pomegranate and macadamia at chef Bernard Guillas’ Marine Room, we know it will be good and graze-worthy, too. (Consult your Seafood Watchpocket guide about fish to avoid for health or ecology reasons, ahem, monkfish and Chilean sea bass are on there. More

The whole menu is your oyster

Instead of limiting your dinner choices to a few specials as is the norm, Whisknladle and Jsix are giving you free rein. Combine any appetizer, entrée or dessert from their regular menus for the Restaurant Week fixed price.

How Restaurant Week started

The concept came from Ingrid Croce of Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar. It was implemented in 2004 by those dining-out architects at the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association. It’s a great marketing tool, said Bali Hai co-owner Susie Baumann, a member of the original team that launched Restaurant Week and currently our chapter’s treasurer. “And if you’re not comfortable going to a real high-end restaurant, this makes it less intimidating,” she said. In 2007 Restaurant Week became a twice-annual event happening every September and January.


Some restaurants charge for splitting plates. Call ahead to see if coupons and vouchers can be applied to the Restaurant Week menu.

The worst-kept secret about Restaurant Week

Everyone knows it gets extended by a week. Some restaurants may drop off the original list, but chef Chris Powell said his Bali Hai kitchen was planning on two furious Restaurant Weeks of its popular loco moco sirloin. • (619) 293-1541 Twitter: @kelidailey