It's the best time of the year for many Houstonians -- Houston Restaurant Weeks!
From August 1 through September 1, Houston restaurants will prepare special multi-course menus that show off some of their best and most popular dishes for a low, fixed price. People wait all year to try out new restaurants during HRW because they know they'll be getting a great value and a portion of the money they spend will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.
Last year, Houston Restaurant Weeks raised more than $1.2 million for the food bank, while the estimated economic impact on the greater Houston area was more than $13 million. It's turned what used to be a slow month for restaurants into one of the busiest months of the year.
The dates for this year's event were announced last month, and just yesterday, HRW revealed the restaurant lineup for 2014.
Get ready, guys. It's gonna be delicious.
Along with the announcement of participating restaurants comes a newly designed site that's easier to navigate and more aesthetically pleasing. The restaurants are listed on a scrolling menu on the left, and which meal or meals they're serving is indicated by a symbol, so you don't have to click through to find all the brunch options, for example.
The pricing format has also been streamlined for 2014. Dinner is either $45 or $35, brunch is $25, and lunch is $20, with corresponding food bank donations of $7, $5, $4 and $3, respectively.
"As one who reports on restaurants and chefs in our city, I am so grateful for the outpouring of support by Houston's restaurant industry and diners for Houston Restaurant Weeks, benefiting the Houston Food Bank," founder and chair Cleverley Stone says in a press release. "Houston Restaurant Weeks has become one of the most anticipated times of the year for local foodies and visitors to our city."
We're certainly anticipating some great meals this year from the 165 participating restaurants, many of which are joining the event for the first time.
Newcomers this year include Bradley's Fine Diner, Caracol, Cook & Collins, Coppa Osteria, Fish & the Knife, Grace's, Harold's at Heights General Store, Osteria Mazzantini, Punk's Simple Southern, Sal y Pimienta and 60 Degrees Mastercrafted. (Click to read recent reviews of some of these new restaurants.)
Old favorites that boast a major bang for your buck are back, too. Artisans, Brasserie 19, Brennan's of Houston, Étoile, Quattro, Spindletop, Tony's and a slew of steakhouses are among the pricier Houston restaurants that have created special $35 and $45 tasting menus for the month of August.
Another new addition to HRW is a photo contest. This is for all you folks out there who love to photograph your food. Bank of America is offering a $100 restaurant gift certificate to one winning photo per week. The photos must include a caption with the name of the restaurant and be posted to Twitter using the hashtag #HRWFoodiePhotoContest to be eligible.
As always, Eating...Our Words will be handicapping the list of HRW restaurants and menus for you, suggesting best bets and eateries to satisfy all tastes. Keep an eye out for our guide, coming soon.