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Why you should get out for Seattle Restaurant Week

A chef's choice sushi platter is among the delectable offerings at John Howie's Seastar, one of the 168 restaurants taking part in the annual Seattle Restaurant Week (Seastar image)

If you’ve ever wanted to try one of the Seattle area’s finest restaurants without breaking the bank, there’s no better time than the annual Seattle Restaurant Week, running April 7-11 and again April 14-18.

The event features 168 restaurants around King County offering three-course dinners for $28. And many of them are featuring three-course lunches for just $15.

It’s an excellent opportunity for diners to sample a place they’ve never been before, and for local restaurants to expose themselves to new customers, local restaurateur John Howie told KIRO Radio’s Let’s Eat.

“They have the potential probably of meeting a thousand new guests over the two week period. We want to take care of those people. We want them to say ‘I’ve got to go back,'” Howie said.

The list of participants is a who’s who of area restaurants, from four-star establishments to more casual neighborhood joints. But Howie, whose John Howie Steak, Seastar and Sport are among those taking part, said they all have one thing in common: delivering a screaming deal to diners.

“We got together as chefs and decided we want to make it inclusive,” he said. “The one caveat is they have to provide value for $28.”

That means at the very least, each restaurant is offering a choice of three starters, three entrees, and three dessert choices. Howie says many, including his own, will offer far more. A number also feature vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free options as well.

“We look at it as an opportunity to give back to our guest. Something that is sort of a gift to them, a couple of times a year. Where they can come in and get a really great three course meal for $28. You know, that’s pretty amazing in fine dining restaurants,” he said.

The idea for the special week sprung from the recession, as most restaurants saw dramatic downturns along with the rest of the economy, Howie said.

“We wanted people to get out and get back into restaurants. People were cutting their budgets and that’s where they were cutting them.”

Things have improved since then, and Restaurant Week continues to grow. Perhaps the toughest decision now isn’t whether to go out, it’s where to go. Howie and Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero both insist you can’t go wrong with any of the choices, but if you can only pick one, Cicero’s list of favorites includes Tilth, Art of the Table, any of the Tom Douglas Restaurants, and Luc.

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