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San Diego Restaurant Week - the sequel

You simply can’t have too much of a good thing.

Says who?

Says the local chapter of the California Restaurant Association and the 130-plus restaurants participating in the latest incarnation of San Diego Restaurant Week … that’s who!

The most successful dining event in our county’s history, San Diego Restaurant Week will take place for the second and final time this year from Sunday, June 22 through Friday, June 27. Restaurants of all sizes, statures and cuisinal varieties will offer special three-course fixed-price menus to diners for the discount price of either $30 or $40 per person.

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By now, most of our region’s dining enthusiasts have not only heard of, but had the pleasure of experiencing San Diego Restaurant Week. Its longevity (it is now in its fourth year and going stronger than ever) and growth (2008 marks the first time the promotion is being offered two times in one year) are a testament to its value and widespread appeal. But as any businessperson worth their salt will tell you, if something isn’t new than it’s through, especially in the trendy and uber-progressive hospitality industry.

As a result, restaurateurs work tirelessly to keep their establishments moving forward and chefs constantly strive to evolve their cuisine in tandem with contemporary dining culture and the times. This mentality applies to every facet of the restaurant business, including promotions such as San Diego Restaurant Week. It’s not enough to simply keep up with the Joneses (or perhaps the Colicchios in this case). With dining rooms booking solid from Escondido to Chula Vista, restaurants must set themselves apart.

But how?

San Diego Restaurant Week was developed by members of the local CRA, the majority of which are proprietors of local eateries. It was a group effort to bolster the entire San Diego dining scene rather than simply look out for individual interests. As such, it was of the utmost importance that this promotion provide a level playing field for all of the dining establishments involved.

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Because of this, it was decided that the primary promotional vehicle for San Diego Restaurant Week would be an informational.

Web site where participating restaurants would be listed along with the menus they would be serving specifically for the promotion. Three courses, three dishes per course - nothing more and nothing less. And, in that original spirit of fairness and equality, that is how it has remained.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to each of these eateries’ menus than meets the eye. In many cases, there is more than the standard trio of edible offerings on the bill of fare, but unearthing add-ons such as additional courses, extra menu options, premium beverage pairings and discounted wine pricing will require a little investigation on the part of diners. Fortunately, restaurants offering the aforementioned enhancements will be more than happy to tell potential customers about them. The only reason for their covertness is their noble dedication to fair competition.

Bonuses are great, but when it comes down to it, San Diego Restaurant Week is about culinary exploration and learning what our dining scene has to offer. Start your search at www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com, where you can view all of the participating restaurants and take on the difficult task of selecting which ones to visit. Once you have, call the individual restaurant reservation lines … and don’t forget to see if they have anything special up their sleeve.

But don’t delay. Reservation books are already filling up quickly and you wouldn’t want to wait until next January to revel in the rapture of San Diego’s most delectable time of year.