Forget that New Year’s diet, it’s Restaurant Week.
During this tasty time of year, participating restaurants feature special menu items, promotions and discounts to encourage dining out during the post-holiday winter slowdown.
In its seventh year, more than 200 restaurants are taking part in Restaurant Week statewide, with 53 of those restaurants in Columbia, according to Douglas O’Flaherty, director of operations for the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, which sponsors the event.
The dining extravaganza kicks off Thursday, Jan. 7 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 17.
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The promotions offer a set price, usually for a three-course meal, although that doesn’t always include beverages. Reservations are often suggested.
When designing a special Restaurant Week menu, M Kitchen owner Michelle Wang said she thinks about what dishes will delight her customers.
“We want to give them something they’ve never had before,” she said of the restaurant’s Asian-inspired dishes made with healthy ingredients.
Wang is the owner of the Miyo’s franchise. M Kitchen, opened four months ago, is her newest restaurant.
Restaurant Week “will give people a great idea about our food,” she said.
To give you an idea of the wide array of dining options, we sorted the restaurants into categories to suit all your Restaurant Week needs.
Just remember: Forget the diet, and bring your appetite.
The Melting Pot: On a normal night, one fondue entree at Melting Pot can set you back 20 bucks. During Restaurant Week, you can dip your way through four courses for $30.
Yesterday’s Restaurant: For $17, get a soup or salad, one of four entree options and one of three desserts. There are also discounts on craft beer selections.
M Kitchen: Dinner for two is $50 and includes two cocktails or a bottle of wine; an appetizer to share (Pro Tip: Get the stuffed avocado.); miso soup or kale salad; an entree; and a choice of mochi ice cream or green tea cheesecake.
Best expensive places you can afford to eat now
Ruth’s Chris Steak House: You know where it is in the Vista, but have you ever been in? Now’s your chance. Enjoy a three-course meal for $40 per person.
The Oak Table: Some of us can’t even afford lunch at Oak Table. Now, $40 gets you a three-course meal. Bonus: There’s a $15 lunch deal, too.
Motor Supply Co. Bistro: You never know what deliciousness will be cooked up on any given night. Take a chance on any three courses from Motor Supply’s always-changing farm-to-table menu for $40.
Best outdoor seating
Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar: It is January, but with the weather lately, who knows if it will be cold? Solstice is a fun spot with a big outdoor patio.
Pawleys Front Porch: Sit outside and watch Five Points go by, or direct your attention to the mounted TV screens. Three courses for $30 per couple.
Motor Supply Co. Bistro: The restaurant’s new patio is screened-in and climate-controlled, so you get the view even if it’s chilly.
Best places to get a table without reservations
Persona Pizzeria: There’s usually a line at this new pizza joint on Main Street, but it moves quickly. The deal is $28 per couple and includes one speciality pizza, two salads and two drinks.
Chicago Tap Room: Plenty of seating and three courses for $30 per couple. A two-course lunch is $25 per couple.
Publico Kitchen & Tap: River Rat Brewing Company is making a special brew, Habanero Mango Kolsch, exclusively for Publico’s Restaurant Week menu. Grab a Kolsch, two tacos and a side for $11.99. If you’re not 21, you can substitute an appetizer for the beer.
Gervais & Vine: The wine and tapas bar is always a good bet for a glass of vino or a specialty cocktail.
Lizard’s Thicket: Can you beat 99-cent desserts anytime during Restaurant Week? The answer is no. Available at Beltline Boulevard, Broad River Road, Blythewood Southern, Elmwood Avenue, Forest Drive, Garners Ferry Road and Two Notch Road locations.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House: Because mini bread pudding with whiskey sauce sounds like something we’d want to inhale.
Pawleys Front Porch: Yes to fried oreos, fried bananas or a chocolate chip cookie ice cream.
Best date spots
Il Giorgione Pizzeria & Wine Bar: The Italian eatery has a cozy atmosphere, intimate seating and delicious food. Three courses for $25 per person.
Gervais & Vine: The small room in the back offers privacy and the tapas are ideal for sharing.
The Melting Pot: The dim lighting and cushy booths offer a romantic setting, and every date should end with chocolate-covered strawberries.
Find menus at www.restaurantweeksouthcarolina.com
Alodia’s, Blue Fin, Blue Marlin, Cafe Strudel, Capital City Take-Out, Carolina Ale House (Columbiana and Vista), Carolina Strip Club, Cellar on Greene, Columbo’s at the Doubletree by Hilton, Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse, Exclusive Berries and Treats, Gervais & Vine, Harper’s, Henry’s Restaurant and Bar, Il Giorione Pizzeria & Wine Bar, Jillian’s, Liberty Tap Room and Grill, Lizard’s Thicket (Airport, Beltline, Sunset boulevards; Augusta, Broad River, Garners Ferry, St. Andrews, Two Notch, and 1-20 and Two Notch roads; Blythewood; Elmwood Avenue; Forest and Knox Abbott drives; West Main Street), M Grille, M Kitchen, Midland’s Restaurant at the Marriott; Motor Supply Company Bistro, Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe; Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom; Pawley’s Front Porch; PDQ; Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria; Publico Kitchen & Tap; Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse; Ristorante Divino; Rosso Trattoria Italia; Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Social Grill, Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar, Terra, The Melting Pot, The Oak Table, Tijuana Flats-Columbia, Tombo Grille, Yesterday’s, Za’s Brick Oven Pizza, Villa Tronco, Terra, Saluda's
By the numbers: Restaurant Week
First year of event: 2010
Restaurants participating in 2010: About 15
Restaurants participating in 2016 statewide: 223
Columbia restaurants participating in 2016: 53
Columbia restaurants new to event in 2016: 11