Dinner bell: Cleveland Independents Restaurant Week serves up three-course deals at 33 eateries

Local restaurateurs traditionally have seen business slow down in March, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made that financial hump even harder to hurdle. But diners will get that extra nudge to go out, starting next week, when Cleveland Independents launches its spring Cleveland Restaurant Week.

The twice-yearly event, which takes place every March and November, aims to promote the many praised restaurants in the Cleveland area and sends one central message—Eat. Drink. Local—with prix fixe three-course menus for $36. 

This spring’s Cleveland Restaurant Week runs from Monday, March 14 through Friday, March 25, with 33 restaurants located throughout greater Cleveland, from downtown and city neighborhoods, stretching into suburbs in the East, West, and South sides.

“Cleveland Restaurant Week is the largest promotion of dinners sponsored by Cleveland Independents, and it’s a two week campaign,” says Myra Orenstein, executive director of Cleveland Independents. 

The prix fixe menus showcase the best of what each restaurant has to offer, says Orenstein, and include favorites like Batuqui, Fahrenheit, Michelangelo’s Italian Restaurant, Pier W, and Taste

Orenstein says one of the main goals of Cleveland Restaurant Week is to combat the growth of large-chain restaurants in the city with local options. 

“That was the initial concept for Cleveland Independents, which originally started as Cleveland Originals, which was an umbrella organization for Dine Originals,” says Orenstein. 

For the past 16 years, the event has offered local options to diners and to compete with other foodie cities across the country.

“The reason we introduced it to Cleveland is, every major metropolitan area had a restaurant week and Cleveland did not,” says Orenstein. “It was at a time when Cleveland was making breakthroughs on the culinary scene nationally. So to make a statement, we had to do a Restaurant Week.”

Mallorca RestaurantThe three-course meals are meant to give a true taste of the restaurant. For example, Fahrenheit in Tremont offers Thai chili calamari with kimchee, miso greens, and Thai chili vinaigrette for the first course (as well as three other options); Kobe beef short ribs with Teriyaki lo-mein noodles, bok choy, roasted mushrooms, and ginger in a soy-apple glaze as the second course (with three more options); and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream strawberry chutney, or seasonal sorbet, for the third course.

The offerings are diverse, and many establishments have vegetarian options on the menus.

Due to COVID-19, Cleveland Independents has made some changes to how participants can get their meals.

“What we decided to do the last couple of years was expand so it’s available for carryout,” says Orenstein. “We’re anticipating we’ll still see high carryout numbers, but we believe guests will welcome in-restaurant dining this year.”

Cleveland Independents also sells merchandise for those who want to support Restaurant Week and the restaurants. Options include gift cards that can be used at any of the listed restaurants, certificates that provide 30% discounts, and a playing card deck in which each card offers $10 off food purchases of $30.

Read more articles by Evan Gallagher.

Evan Gallagher has always loved writing and using his creative side for a career is a dream come true. A self-proclaimed news junkie, Gallagher passionately keeps up with current events. When he’s not writing, he enjoys running, playing guitar and keyboard, and spending time with friends.  Gallagher is a journalism major, specializing in news and information, at the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Gallagher is the director of PR/social media for The New Political, one of OU’s online publications, and writes for All Campus Public Radio (ACRN).