East Bay Restaurant Weeks Get a Facelift
Cities are adding some delectable new features to the annual foodie festivities.
Sample different plates during Oakland Restaurant Week’s progressive dinners.
Photo courtesy of Visit Oakland
January can be a challenging month for restaurants. Patrons often take a break from dining out after overindulging during the holidays; others set New Year’s resolutions to be healthier or save money—both of which usually require eating at home.
Enter “restaurant week,” an event many cities hold each January to encourage diners to get out and enjoy all things gastronomic in their communities. In years past, restaurant weeks have traditionally involved higher-end restaurants offering reasonably priced prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner. And while fixed menus are still the norm, some East Bay cities—such as Alameda, Berkeley, Concord, and Oakland—are getting more creative this year.
Berkeley’s 11-day event, for example, features specials at local breweries (Triple Rock Brewing) and wineries (Broc Cellars), and expands the deal to include breakfast and brunch options at eateries such as Doc’s Refresher (classic American), ZINO (upscale Mediterranean), and Henry’s (the recently reinvented gastropub in the Graduate Hotel).
Chris Kronner of Oakland’s Kronnerburger—who revamped the 90-year-old Henry’s—views restaurant week as a chance to show off the pub’s exciting updates, such as an innovative menu from executive chef Kristian Allen. “We have a new energy and more interesting food,” Kronner says. “We think this will get more [of our] neighbors into the restaurant.”
Oakland is also mixing things up a bit. For the first time, the Town will host a series of progressive dinners in different neighborhoods, such as Uptown and Temescal, in which diners can purchase tickets to sample bites and drinks at multiple restaurants over the course of a single evening.
“A multi-stop culinary experience is a fun way to showcase our diverse food scene and allow people to try a lot of restaurants in just one night,” says Allie Neal of Visit Oakland. “It’s also a chance for chefs to work together and bounce ideas around to make a cohesive pairing.”
On the east side of the Caldecott Tunnel, Concord celebrates its second annual restaurant week this month—and the city is putting a unique spin on the dining experience by giving it a “comfort food” theme. (Think fewer prix-fixe menus and more discounts at fast-casual spots like Super Duper Burgers and Bambino’s pizza, as well as the cookie dough dessert shop Out the Dough.)
“A lot of people don’t know how diverse a food scene we have here—more than 25 ethnicities [such as Brazilian, Burmese, and German] are represented,” says Serena DeChristofaro of Visit Concord. “Restaurant week offers so many great excuses to try something new.”
Weeks of Feasts
Eat your way through four local dining scenes this month.
Oakland Restaurant Week
Alameda Restaurant Week
Berkeley Restaurant Week
Concord Comfort Food Week