Later this month, about two dozen eateries in York will tempt regulars and visitors alike with lunch and dinner specials.
Anyone who does the math might notice changes to Restaurant Week York this year.
In the past, the event has kicked off after A Taste of York City, which was typically held near the end of February. This year, A Taste of York City will be held Friday.
But Restaurant Week will kick off Feb. 23 so it doesn't overlap with Valentine's Day, which is a busy time at area restaurants, said Meagan Feeser, event organizer and director of PR for Gavin Advertising. The idea is to bring people back downtown during the midwinter, which is usually a slow time for businesses.
The event also coincides with the March First Friday and several other food-related events in the city, including the Feb. 28 There's Guinness In It! - an event that serves beer-flavored bites to benefit the York Saint Patrick's Day Parade. "It's a culmination of foodie events," Feeser said of Restaurant Week.
Last year, about a dozen eateries participated in Restaurant Week. This year, that number has doubled.
The variety of food - from French-inspired offerings to fried chicken - will be similar to previous years. Price points will range from $10 to $30. But Restaurant Week 2013 will feature a whole new category to suit snackers and on-the-go customers.
Feeser said that the event opened up to cafes and sweet shops, which didn't have the ability to put together a full menu. These spots will offer "nosh" items for about $5 or less.
Another addition to Restaurant Week will be the new Passport of Flavors Series at YorKitchen, the shared kitchen incubator in Central Market. A thee-course menu, which features vegetarian options, will offer Malaysian dishes Feb. 23. Passport of Flavors will be a recurring pop-up - a dining establishment that's open for a night or two in an existing commercial establishment.
Feeser said that the concept might cross over to pop-up retail spaces that could temporarily operate in vacant storefronts downtown.
But food is the focus of Restaurant Week, of course, and a lot of people are already buzzing about that online.
Feeser said the event's Facebook page reached 700 likes a few weeks after it's Jan. 1 launch. The page is used to offer updates and collect suggestions and feedback from followers in York County as well as Lancaster and Harrisburg.
"It's exciting to me to look through the people who liked the page," Feeser said. "It's not the usual suspects who I know will be downtown."
Another online feature of the event's website is a blog, restaurantweekyork.com/blog. Guest posters will be reviewing dishes and offering advice, like which eateries are vegetarian-friendly and which offer a BYOB option.
Each Restaurant Week location was able to craft it's own menu as long as it stuck to the price points, Feeser said.
One option at the Yorktowne Hotel is a three-course dinner, including salad, a surf and turf entrée and dessert, for $30. J.R.'s Fresh Cut French Fries in Central Market will offer two combo meals of pulled pork or hamburger barbecue sandwiches, fries and beverages for $10. Tanzania Seafood and Jazz will open specially for Restaurant Week York Feb. 27.
"For a lot of people, this will be the first impression," Feeser said. "Most (restaurants) are going to do their signature menu items. It's the restaurant's discretion whether to feature the dishes throughout the week or to switch it up each day."
If you go
Restaurant Week York offers foodies, locals and visitors the chance to try prix-fixe meals for $10, $20 or $30 per person at several city restaurants. Restaurants feature special lunch menus and/or dinner menus. This year, a "nosh" category was added to include local spots that serve snacks and beverages for about $5 or less. For menus, updates and more, visit restaurantweekyork.com.
During the event's kick-off night Feb. 23, Smart will host a happy hour 4 to 6 p.m. in The OffCenter Grill at the Yorktowne Hotel, 48 E. Market St., York. For details, visit smartmagpa.com. And YorKitchen hosts a Passport of Flavors Series pop-up dinner 6 p.m. in Central Market. Cost is $40 to $45. For details and tickets, visit yorkitchen.com.
Read Cheap Eats - FlipSide's column on frugal food finds - online at www.yorkblog.com/flipside/eats.
Restaurant Week York participants include:
White Rose Bar and Grill, 48 N. Beaver St. (Casual/contemporary fare)
Yorktowne Hotel, 48 E. Market St. (Casual or fine dining)
The Left Bank Restaurant and Bar, 120 N. George St. (Fine dining)
The Roosevelt Tavern, 50 N. Penn St. (Pub fare or fine dining)
York Blue Moon, 361 W. Market St. (Fine dining)
Maewyn's Irish Pub and Restaurant, 110 N. George St. (Pub fare)
Central Family Restaurant, 400 N. George St. (Family dining)
Viet Thai Market Street Café, 917 E. Market St. (Casual/Thai cuisine)
Mudhook Brewing Company, 34 N. Cherry Lane (Pub fare)
Bair's Fried Chicken, Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St. (Fast food)
J.R.'s Fresh Cut French Fries, Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St. (Fast food)
New Grounds Roasting Co., 284 W. Market St. (Café)
The School of Culinary Arts Student-Run Bake Shoppe, 44 W. Philadelphia St. (Café)
Varsity Smoke Shack, 39 W. Market St. (Sandwiches)
Simply Soup, Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St. (Soups and sandwiches)
NAMA Sushi, Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St. (Sushi/Japanese cuisine)
Tanzania Seafood and Jazz, 29 E. Princess St. (Fine dining/seafood)
Stage Deli on George, 26 N. George St. (Sandwiches)
The Stadium Grille of York, 133 N. Duke St. (Fast food)
Nuts About Granola, 46 W. Philadelphia St. (Snacks and desserts)
Just Cupcakes, 9 W. Philadelphia St. (Snacks and desserts)
Take Five Expresso Bar, Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St. (Café)
Sharon's Sweet Shop, 39 W. Market St. (Snacks and desserts)
The Green Bean Roasting Co., 100 S. Beaver St. (Café)