Brace yourselves. I worked on this article in mid-January to meet our print deadline, and I’m so hungry for the 6th annual Restaurant Week York, which isn’t until February 20-27. Mark your calendars.
Since its initiation in 2011 with 13 participants, Restaurant Week York has grown by leaps and bounds and pizzas (and lattes and donuts and cocktails). With more than 22 restaurants signed up to offer everything from $5 breakfasts to $40 dinners, there’s something for everyone, from casual takeout to the finest of dining. And it’s not just a matter of prix-fixe menus; it’s pop-up restaurants, changing daily specials, and other events.
“One of the coolest parts of organizing Restaurant Week has been getting all of the restaurateurs together in one room and hashing out ideas for menus and events,” says Meagan Feeser, co-organizer with Philip Given (both members of York City Independent Restaurant Association). “Whenever there’s food and drink involved, it’s always a good time.”
Some participating businesses are even upping the wow factor by offering Restaurant Week-only items, adding a sense of urgency for hungry consumers.
“We [organizers] eat out pretty much every meal during the eight days of Restaurant Week. This year, there’s actually a challenge going on among our friends to see who can hit the most places,” says Feeser.
In many ways, Restaurant Week York is similar to other regional restaurant weeks and true to the essential concept, with the notable exception of its name being stylishly flipped from the basic format. (We’re looking at you, Harrisburg Restaurant Week and Lancaster Restaurant Week.) Restaurant weeks promote local dining and community, and, in York’s case, increase business in a typically slow time of year.
But that doesn’t mean you can attend some other city’s restaurant week and call it a day—or week.
“One thing that sets York apart is our general collective feeling of being the ‘underdog’ town in the region,” says Feeser. “For me, I think that makes us all fight that much harder, and I think that’s why our small business owners and restaurateurs are doing such great things.”
Hit up rwyork.com now to start planning your elaborate meal schedule and route (and vacation days). We’ve rounded up just a smattering of specials here to whet your appetite.
19 N. George St.
Sample special: Besides food specials—of which there will be plenty—try one of the two homage cocktails to recently lost icons: the Major Tom Collins, for David Bowie, and the Lemmy, for Lemmy Kilmister.
“We are a true scratch kitchen, preparing everything on our menu in house, [including] fresh made juices, syrups and bitters for our modern cocktail bar,” says owner Rob Burrito.
101 S. Duke St.
Sample special: You can’t pass up the uber-meta hashtag donut, topped with #RW glaze that changes flavor every day. Plus, for the adults, says owner Rob Burrito, “We’re featuring a Kahlua and Frangelico Latte, which is a great way to start your day!”
251 N. George St.
Sample special: Choose one of three featured pizzas, plus a special Restaurant Week winter citrus salad. One of the pizzas features garlic confit sauce, whole milk mozzarella, sharp provolone, sautéed broccoli rabe and roasted pork, served with hot sauce on the side.
“The citrus salad is meant to wake up the taste buds. Then the pizza will satisfy the savory part of the palate,” says owner Jordan Chronister.
108 N. George St.
Sample special: For $15, pick up a lobster roll with small field greens for lunch. Or go big with a $40 three-course dinner.
“This will offer a great sense of who we are and allow our guests to experience the quality of locally sourced and of our scratch kitchen,” says Bryan Busch, general manager.
24 S. George St.
Sample special: With special evening dinner hours on February 21 and 27, you’ll have every opportunity to check out the tasty farm-to-table menus.
“Expect several vegan, vegetarian, and traditional offerings that reflect the best our region has to offer—all made from scratch, in house,” says Sarah Chain, chair of the Healthy World Cafe board.
34 W. Philadelphia St.
Sample special: Check out the Malaysian roasted Hainanese chicken entree: slow roasted bone-in chicken marinated in Shao Xing wine and a variety of delicate Chinese spices, on a bed of fragrant jasmine rice, and topped with fresh cucumber and coriander leaves.
Says owner Sharmini Goins, “With this dish, folks go crazy over the made-from-scratch chicken-ginger broth and the chilli-ginger sauce, which are all made from fresh, real ingredients.”
100 S. Beaver St.
Sample special: One of many drink specials is the Nutella Mocha, which is a dream of a drink that includes a sizeable dollop of Nutella (no imitations) and homemade whipped cream.
“The other specials all change every year, but we return the Nutella Mocha for one week only during restaurant week. And it is by far our most popular feature!” says the team at the Green Bean.
475 Pennsylvania Ave.
Sample special: With the $30 three-course dinner, you can get grilled rockfish on a bed of fettuccine with spinach and a lobster cream sauce, topped with crab meat.
“Everybody does salmon; I wanted to do something a little different,” says owner Ron Marquette.
34 W. Philadelphia St. and 201 Memory Lane
Sample special: Offering three $5 lunch options; one includes southern style chicken ‘n’ waffles drenched in syrup, with a brownie bite.
“Our chicken is pressure fried to keep the inside moist and delicious and the outside crispy,” says owner and chef Annette Fisher.
120 N. George St.
Sample special: Asian barbecue braised short rib with wasabi mashed potatoes and sesame vegetables.
“For $40, a three-course tasting menu at the Left Bank is a bargain, especially with the products and quality of food that we buy,” says David Albright, owner and chef.
34 W. Philadelphia St.
Sample special: For $10, the Seafood Extraordinaire, which consists of a 4-oz fish fillet, three jumbo fried shrimp, two fried oysters, and fresh cut fries.
The Fry Guys (Jesse Altland, Ron Jacobs, and Rob Stoner) say, “[Restaurant Week] is a chance to meet new friends and offer people a sampling of what we have to offer and a good deal for all the hungry customers.”
256 W. Philadelphia St.
Sample special: Decadent lattes like s’mores, cocoa peppermint, and raspberry, plus Mr. Stickey’s cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.
Says owner David Smith, “Every in-house drink customer will get a chocolate truffle. If we don’t have to pay for the paper cup, then we’ll give you a truffle!”
55 Richland Ave.
Sample special: $15 lunch special featuring a different gourmet grilled cheese every day. “They can throw together some really good combinations,” says Jordan Preston, front of house manager. One that will definitely be available features brie, baked apples, cheddar, bacon, and arugula; you’ll just have to go every day till they serve it (no great shame).
400 N. George St.
Sample special: “People always come back for our banana bread French toast,” says owner Carl Spangler. Get it along with choice of ham, bacon, or sausage for the $5 breakfast.
35 W. Market St.
Sample special: Steamed bao (not normally available): “It’s a dim sum dish, essentially like a clamshell bun that’s steamed and baked, and we put delicious things inside of it,” says owner Jordan Pfautz. Also pick a signature homemade drink, like a vanilla bean honey or ginger lemongrass soda with a $10 meal.
Confirmed 2016 participants as of Jan. 10 (* are new this year; note that deadline for restaurants to sign up is Jan. 15):
- Bair’s Chicken
- Baron Von Schwein
- Central Family Restaurant
- Coomb’s Tavern
- DiCarlo’s Pizza
- Esaan Thai Restaurant
- *Forno Bova
- Front Porch Cafe
- The Green Bean Roasting Co.
- *Healthy World Cafe
- J.R.’s Fries at CentralMarket
- The Left Bank Restaurant & Bar
- Offcenter Grill at the Yorktowne Hotel
- *Otto’s Kitchen & Cocktails
- Roosevelt Tavern
- Sharmini’s Kitchen
- York Blue Moon
- York City Pretzel Company