Following nearly a year and a half of dining restrictions and the permanent closure of more than 1,000 New York City restaurants, NYC & Company’s five-week-long Restaurant Week celebrates the diverse and delicious New York food scene. Diners can take advantage of Restaurant Week advantages from nearly 530 restaurants until August 22, 2021.
Restaurant Week premiered 29 years ago as a way to welcome the Democratic National Convention to New York City. Creator of the Zagat Survey, Tim Zagat, and restaurateur Joe Baum wanted to entice visitors to visit local restaurants. As delegates and journalists roamed 1992 New York City, 95 restaurants opened their doors with dining deals. As long-time New York City residents joined the festivities, Zagat and Baum decided to continue Restaurant Week as a tradition. Other cities have followed suit with their own version of Restaurant Week.
“It’s extraordinary, the greatest restaurants in the world — an opportunity for you and me to go out there and experience them… even if you don’t have a lot of money, great, great, deals,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday. “We know the restaurant community went through so much during the pandemic, but people fought back. The restaurant owners, the employees, they fought back, they kept their businesses going, and now Restaurant Week is going to give them more customers, and a whole lot more energy.”
Today, Restaurant Week occurs semiannually and encourages New Yorkers to push past their comfort zones by trying new cuisines and exploring the five boroughs. During NYC Restaurant Week To Go which occurred early 2021, more than 800 restaurants participated to try to recover from COVID-19-induced economic issues.
Now, with almost 60 percent of New York City’s population vaccinated, Restaurant Week can return with indoor and outdoor dining along with takeout. This is the first time the event has lasted longer than a week. When traveling between the 75 neighborhoods in which Restaurant Week eateries reside, diners can try more than 50 cuisines. Additionally, restaurant categories include “NYC Classics,” “Date Night,” “As Seen on TV,” “The Slice is Right,” and “Editor’s Picks.”
Diners can choose either a dinner or a lunch priced at $21 or $39. Deals vary between restaurants, with some offering both lunch and dinner for $21 and others offering only dinner for $39. Some restaurants offer a signature dining experience for $125, which includes at least three courses and exclusive “dining enhancements.” Mastercard cardholders can register to receive a $10 statement credit on each transaction of $39 or more while dining on-site during the event.
Participating restaurants include Greenwich Village‘s White Horse Tavern frequented by Beat Generation writers, and two of Daniel Boulud’s eateries — Bar Boulud and Epicerie Boulud — along with more than 500 others. Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, a Black-owned ice cream store in Harlem, will serve pop-culture inspired ice cream. Flavors include Ice Ice Mikey and Pink Floyd. Leuca, an Italian venue in Brooklyn, will serve house-made pasta and wood-fired pizzas out of its corner shop in Williamsburg. Veselka, a Ukrainian diner in the East Village founded in 1954, will serve pierogis and sweet cheese blintzes.
Whether one is craving Beijing chicken from Philippe on the Upper East Side or sticky pork rib tips from Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue in Gowanus, Restaurant Week deals leaves no room for excuses to stay at home. Leap out of your comfort zone by dining at a Restaurant Week joint.
Next, check out the definitive food guide to New York’s many China towns!