By Seth Fera-Schanes
New York City restaurant week occurs twice a year; once in the late winter/early spring and a second time during late summer. Due to the popularity of these events, each restaurant week runs approximately three weeks which definitely helps with getting reservations.
The premise is simple, participating restaurants offer a special three course menu and prices are set at $25 for lunch and $38 for dinner. Note that many places will also offer wine pairings or “supplements” to a meal which will increase the cost. For the uninitiated, a supplement to a meal is basically ordering a ceviche from the set menu and then for an extra $12 you can have a dollop of caviar on the top. It is your call if you want to add more items to your meal.
Restaurant week is great because it allows individuals to try new types of food or a restaurant that might otherwise be more cost prohibitive. I am a fan of both the lunch and dinner options (but if you have time why not do a nice lunch on the weekend and save a few dollars.)
I had 5 friends in town and was looking for a restaurant to take them. I decided on Calle Ocho which is named after the street in Little Havana in Miami. Calle Ocho is known among locals as a great brunch spot specifically for their unlimited sangria special. The restaurant offers a range of sangrias from white to rose to dark red. If you decide to try the brunch option at some point rest assured it will turn into a Sunday Funday really quickly.
Aside from brunch, the restaurant features a nice selection of Latin American dishes, can accommodate a large group and has a relaxed feel which was great for my party. If you would like to make a reservation for restaurant week, I would suggest using Open Table which allows you to filter by neighborhood and cuisine so you can easily find a place you and your friends would like to try.
Below is the three course dinner option I selected at Calle Ocho. It was a great meal and I would recommend the restaurant the next time you are in the city.
Calle Ocho is located at 45 West 81st Street inside the Excelsior Hotel.