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Mention Restaurant Week and discounted fine dining quickly comes to mind. But not many know of its origin: Back in 1992, it was created as a way of enticing delegates and media representatives in town for the Democratic National Convention to dine at restaurants with three-course menus priced at $19.22. Today, this clever marketing ploy has evolved into what we commonly know as a celebration of good eats that’s easy on the wallet and satisfying for foodies on a budget.
This summer, there’s even more reason to partake in the feasting. From now through the end of September, you can take advantage of the Chase Freedom Card’s 5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points) on restaurants (activate Q3 bonus here), saving you precious dollars in addition to multi-course meals as affordable as $15.
American Express is also jumping on the savings bandwagon, offering $5 off each meal for some of the Restaurant Week events, although the terms vary between them. You must register each of your Amex cards for them to be eligible, and the more cards you register, the more you’ll be able to take advantage of the $5 statement credits. Instead of paying for a $100 dinner bill with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card or Chase Freedom to earn 3x and 5x points on dining respectively, go ahead and split the bill between the Platinum Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express for a total savings of $15.
With that in mind, here are five great restaurant week events around the country to put all that savings to good use — click here for a full list of similar events happening across the country.
1. New York City Restaurant Week
When: July 24 – August 18.
What: three courses from $29 for lunch, $42 for dinner.
Who: 390 participating restaurants, 34 diverse cuisines across 42 neighborhoods, featuring notable establishments like Cafe Boulud by Daniel Boulud, Perry St by Jean-Georges and CUT by Wolfgang Puck. Visit this page to see a full list of participating restaurants.
Why: For the first time, diners can attend four NYC Restaurant Week Summer Tasting Series events featuring exclusive menus and chef-selected wine pairings for $75 per person — Bâtard Tribeca (Lower Manhattan) on July 24, Buttermilk Channel (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn) on August 1, Maiella (Long Island City, Queens) on August 6 and Amada (Lower Manhattan) on August 14. Proceeds will go toward local charities City Harvest, Citymeals on Wheels and Food Bank NYC. Tickets are limited and on sale here from July 13. American Express is also offering $5 off for $35 or more spent, up to 4x for a total of $20 savings when you dine.
When: July 14 – July 28.
What: Lunch (2+ courses): $15, $20, $25. Dinner (3+ courses): $29, $39, $49, $95+ (dineL.A. exclusive series)
Who: More than 300 participating restaurants, including hot spots Alimento by Zach Pollack and Bouchon Bistro by Thomas Keller. Visit this page to see a full list of participating restaurants.
Why: dineL.A. is once again partnering with the California Avocado Association to feature California avocado-centric dishes from some of the best chefs in the city, including Charcoal Venice by two-Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin and The Bellwether by Ted Hopson. Another returning program is the Exclusive Series, offering diners a chance to dine at some of the city’s swankiest restaurants, starting from $95. Instagram users should also upload snaps of their meals and hashtag #DineSnapWin for a chance to win 100,000 AAdvantage miles. American Express is also offering a deal that lets you save $5 for every $25 or more spent. There is no limit to the number of times you can use this offer.
3. Dallas-Fort Worth Restaurant Week
When: August 7 – August 26.
What: Lunch (2 courses): $20. Dinner (3 courses): $39, $49.
Who: From the list of more than 130 participating restaurants, PaperCity magazine recommends checking out Lavendou, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Nonna, Tei An and III Forks. Visit this page to see a full list of participating restaurants.
Why: This is the 20th anniversary of DFW’s Restaurant Week. This year, 20% of all proceeds will go toward the North Texas Food Bank and the Lena Pope Home, which has since raised more than $8 million to support the organization’s life-changing work in various communities. According to Simon Powell, North Texas Food Bank interim president and CEO, “every dollar donated from your meal provides another three meals for hungry North Texans.”
4. Georgia Restaurant Week
When: July 17 – July 23.
What: $15, $25, $35, $45, $49 (varies across restaurants).
Who: More than 70 participating restaurants throughout Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recommends paying a visit to Alma Cocina, Davio’s, Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar, Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery and recent newcomer Public School 404. See here for the full list of the participating restaurants.
Why: Now is a good time to check out restaurants that made it to Georgia Tourism’s list of 100 Plates Locals Love. Be sure to try the white corn grit fritters at Seed Kitchen & Bar and boquerones at The National. Steak lovers should also consider attending; participating restaurant Kevin Rathbun Steak was recently named The Best Steakhouse in Georgia by The Daily Meal.
5. Dine Out Boston
When: August 6 – 11, 13 – 18.
What: Lunch (2+ courses): $15, $20, $25. Dinner (3+ courses): $28, $33, $38
Why: Get a chance to dine at restaurants that you once considered too expensive to even set foot in — or hot spots headed by star chefs, including Barbara Lynch, Ming Tsai and Jody Adams. If securing a reservation at these restaurants are an issue, Boston Discovery Guide suggests checking out Beacon Hill Bistro, Lala Rohk and the Hungry I among others.
Are you booking a table during Restaurant Week? Let us know where in the comments, below.
Featured image courtesy of Hero Images via Getty Images.