During my rant last night (see below post), it completely escaped me that there is ONE thing to look forward to during January and February in New York: Restaurant Week!
I really shouldn't have to explain RW at this point, but basically it's an opportunity to try many of New York's greatest restaurants for a fraction of the price. Prix fixe menus are offered for lunch ($24.07 for three courses) and/or dinner ($35 for three courses). It's important to check out the RW site to see which restaurants are participating in both because a lot of the popular/expensive spots only offer lunch like Alto, Aureole, DBGB, Milos, Lupa, and Maialino. I'd still take a 3-course lunch at Maialino for $24 over a $13 Chopt salad though.
In the past few years I have made it to quite a few restaurants during RW, and I think one of my all time favorites was Centro Vinoteca. The fresh pasta there is amazing; I can actually still remember what I ordered and I think I went 2 years ago (tagliatelle with rock shrimp and fresh corn – boom!). The one that was the most underwhelming had to be Megu Midtown. Surprising, considering it's supposed to be one of the best sushi spots, but it was completely forgettable and the bathrooms were disgusting. It was just a bad experience altogether.
A few that I would recommend to try this year would be Betel, the Southeast-Asian spot in the West Village – they make these amazing "son-in-law eggs" and their dishes are just really tasty with interesting flavors. I would also recommend The Hurricane Club – it's a fun atmosphere and the coconut shrimp and ribs are delish. If you want to try to keep the bill at prix-fixe though, I would stay away from the drinks here because they are pricey. Lastly, an oldie but a goodie: The Red Cat in Chelsea. Always consistent and they usually have very good offerings on the prix fixe menus.
Fortunately some of the restaurants allow you to make your reservations via OpenTable (click here for listing), but personally I like to use that ancient device we call the telephone to make a reservation. Because sometimes the restaurants participating are listed incorrectly, so it's always good to double check whether or not they are offering RW menus.
Click here for the official RW website. Dates are 1/24 – 2/6 (but they usually extend it so keep your eyes out for that..)