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Aliya Schneider / senior staff photographer

Need a break from the blandness of dining hall eggs? Craving gourmet food but don’t want to break the bank? Have $26 in your pocket? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Spectrum’s guide to NYC Restaurant Week 2019 is for you.

What is Restaurant Week?

First, a little background. Restaurant Week is a biannual event that takes place across over 380 restaurants in New York (usually highly rated restaurants with a four-star average). What makes Restaurant Week so popular are the meal deals: $26 for brunch or lunch (an appetizer and main course) and $42 for dinner (appetizer, main course, and dessert). These meals can also include one drink, depending on the restaurant. Although Restaurant Week is called Restaurant “Week,” it’s actually three weeks. This year, Restaurant Week goes from Jan. 21 to Feb. 8, so there’s still a whole week to enjoy NYC’s finest dining spots!

There are so many options! Where should I go?

First, check out the official website to browse through all the different cuisines offered. Because there are so many restaurants participating, the toughest part is deciding where to go. Make a decision on the basis of the cuisine you’d like or the location you’re most comfortable visiting. Only a few locations offer more affordable lunch options during weekdays, so it might be good to consider doing a weekend brunch instead.

How do I plan for this?

Reserve a table. Use OpenTable to make reservations once you’ve decided where you’d like to dine. This is especially important during Restaurant Week since places get booked fast. OpenTable sends you a text reminder the day before and the morning of your reservation so you can be on time. If you’re more than 15 minutes late, however, your reservation no longer stands. It’s also important to plan smartly; for example, lunch on a weekday will more likely be available than dinner on Friday.

How do I get more information?

Look up Restaurant Week on Instagram, pour through Yelp reviews, and call the restaurant in advance if you have any questions! Spectrum stalked Lido, the Italian restaurant our staff writer visited in Harlem, on every platform possible before making the commitment. The #aesthetic platters on Instagram were too hard to resist.

What if I don’t have the time to go downtown?

A few spots that won’t require you to be stuck on the train for forty-plus minutes are Rosa Mexicano at Lincoln Center, Lido in Harlem, and Sarabeth’s on the Upper West Side. Spectrum staff actually hit up two of these spots to give you the inside scoop.

Lido offers, among the many options, a delicious chicken burger with chipotle aioli and apple carrot slaw, with honey and sherry vinegar, and chili with a side of zucchini fries with lemon seasoning. The zucchini fries especially were mouthwatering and crispy with a surprising zesty aftertaste. If you decide to go for dessert, we recommend the flourless molten lava cake with Turkish gelato. It was heavenly.

Rosa Mexicano at Lincoln Center has a stylish, sleek ambience that is ideal for dinner. As the name suggests, it serves authentic Mexican food. Don’t miss the guacamole here, which ceremoniously comes to your table in a molcajete with fresh warm corn tortillas.

Before you go…

Be open-minded. Try out new cuisines. If you’ve never tried Indian food, head to Junoon. If you’ve always wanted to go to Fig & Olive but have never eaten hummus, there’s always a first time (the olive tapenade is recommended). Take a friend and take the plunge. You might just find your new favorite spot.

Staff writer and foodie Naina Lavakare can be contacted at naina.lavakare@columbiaspectator.com! Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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