annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week
will kick off this Friday, Feb. 17, in a 10-day competition between downtown restaurants for the title of Restaurant of the Year, as well as a chance for diners to shake off the winter blues and get out to enjoy discounts at some of Cleveland’s best and newest restaurants.
“The whole reason we produce Downtown Restaurant Week at this time of year is because February tends to be a slower month,” says Heather Holmes, marketing and public relations director of event host Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA
). “It gives people the opportunity to get out to downtown and try something new.”
Fifty-six downtown restaurants will participate in Restaurant Week this year — with both the old favorites and some newcomers to the scene — and will offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus for $15, $20 and $40.
“Some of the restaurants even use those prices for dinner-for-two specials,” says Holmes, adding that Rose’s Braai
in the Arcade plans to offer a two-for-$15 lunch special. Many newcomers, like Parker’s Downtown
in the Kimpton Schofield, Nuevo Cleveland
, Raving Med
and the Burnham
— just to name a few of the 12 new restaurants that opened downtown last year — will also be participating.
Another newcomer, Chicago’s Chicken and Waffles
, at 1144 Prospect Ave. in Playhouse Square, chose not to participate this year.
This year, local chefs and restaurateurs in six districts — Public Square/Tower City, Gateway, Playhouse Square, Campus District, Warehouse District and the Flats — will also compete in The Hungry Games: Battle of the Districts for the title of Best Dining District.
"It’s a fun thing for the chefs to get behind, and what’s better than a little friendly competition” says Holmes of the battle. “I thought it would be fun to see the Zach Bruell [places] bringing their game and competing against the Michael Symon places.”
The winning district earns bragging rights, says Holmes, as well as a mention in an upcoming issue of Cleveland Magazine
Other categories during Restaurant Week are Judge's Choice, Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year. Diners can view the participating restaurants
and their menus, as well as vote for their favorites. For every vote cast, diners earn a chance to win free downtown dining for a year.
Last year, judges chose Johnny's Downtown
as their favorite, while diners picked Elements Bistro
and Cleveland Chop
took home Restaurant of the Year. The Rusty Anchor at Music Box Supper Club
claimed the award for “most mouthwatering,” says Holmes.
Additionally, DCA will host a kick-off party
this Thursday, Feb. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Cleveland
in the Arcade
, 401 Euclid Ave. Attendees can sample selections from more than 30 participating restaurants, enjoy cocktails from the cash bar and shop the Arcade’s retailers.
“Sponsors will parachute gifts off the balconies,” promises Holmes, and a panel of celebrity judges will name the Judge’s Choice establishment.
are $25, with all proceeds going to DCA’s GeneroCity Cleveland
, an organization dedicated to helping the city’s homeless population find permanent housing, get job training and other assistance. The Kick-off party is for people ages 21 and older.