Santa Fe Restaurant Week Returns to Town, March 4-11

- February 22, 2012

"This year, Restaurant Week includes 'Let's Do Lunch,' where some of the participating restaurants serve two- or three-course prix-fixe lunches as well as dinners"

Santa Fe is prepping for  the 3rd Annual Restaurant Week, when nearly 60 restaurants offer discounted prix fixe three-course meals from March 4 through March 11.

This culinary event is part of the month-long New Mexico Restaurant Week, which includes more than 100 restaurants in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Taos and Santa Fe. More Santa Fe restaurants participate in Restaurant Week than in all the other New Mexico cities combined.

This year, Restaurant Week includes "Let's Do Lunch," where some of the participating restaurants serve two- or three-course prix-fixe lunches as well as dinners.  The meals are priced in four tiers, ranging from less than $20 to $40 and more, per person. Restaurant Week Sweepstakes include prizes, dinners and getaways at Santa Fe hotels. And many hotels offer discounted packages and specials during this time, too.

Special events during Santa Fe Restaurant Week include a sake seminar and tasting presented by Shohko Café's Ayame Fukuda and Dinner and a Movie, hosted by Epazote's Fernando Olea, with a screening of "Like Water for Chocolate" and a serving of recipes featured in the novel.

James Campbell Caruso will create some of the recipes from his new book, "Espana: Exploring the Flavors of Spain," at a cooking demo at his restaurant La Boca on March 10 at 3 p.m. (The book will be published in May.)  Phillip Muller of the new Swiss Bakery & Bistro will demonstrate How to Make Croque en Bouche, and Xavier Grenet of Ristra and Azur will present two seminars—The Cutting Edge: How to Cut Meat and Vegetables Like the Pros, and The Art of Table Setting and Serving.

The Restaurant Week concept got its start in New York City in 1992 as a lunch event, and expanded to include dinner. It's now held in many cities around the country as a way for diners to try restaurants they haven't eaten at before, and for restaurants to showcase their signature foods.

In New Mexico, Michele Ostrove co-founded Restaurant Week with Lucien Bonnafoux a few months after moving here from San Diego, "where we had watched their Restaurant Week grow to phenomenal proportions in just a few years," Ostrove says. "It was a veritable feeding frenzy.  We were surprised to see that it had never been attempted here.  We spent some time researching the concept and talking to people who organize Restaurant Weeks in various cities around the U.S. and thought it could work well in New Mexico."

During last year's Restaurant Week, restaurants in Santa Fe increased business by 60 percent, on average.  "Some did nine times the amount of business they normally do," Ostrove says. "It really depends upon the individual restaurant and the perceived value of their Restaurant Week offering.:

According to Ostrove, New Mexico's first Restaurant Week in 2010 brought in total of more than $2.6 million in revenue, and nearly half the participating restaurants sold out at least one night during the week-long event. Also in that first year, nearly 40,000 people visited the Restaurant Week website from mid-February to mid-March, generating 96,000 page views for participating restaurants.

Reservations are recommended  for Restaurant Week as many restaurants tend to fill up.

For more information, visit the website.