As if we needed another excuse to eat local, Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week (DineDowntownRaleigh.com) is upping the locavore ante in its third year. If you haven't made reservations for the rest of this week's special prix fixe, you still have time to savor the specials through Sunday. Twenty-eight restaurants in the downtown vicinity are offering three-course dinners for $20 or $30 depending on the venue. According to Downtown Raleigh Alliance Marketing and Events Manager Ellen Fragola, the menus are "intended to be valued at 30 percent higher than what they are charging."
The event's time frame was calculated specifically to boost the local economy.
"When selecting the dates, we strategically followed the Wake County food and beverage tax to identify a time of year when sales were slower than average," Fragola says. "We wanted the event to create awareness and attract a critical mass downtown during a period when people are traditionally not dining out as often as usual. It's great for the restaurants because it brings them business and for diners because they get to take advantage of fantastic deals!"
For the first time this year, some restaurants are offering drink pairings for each course for just a $10 upcharge. Most are doing wine, but Busy Bee Cafe is pouring beer for each course, Cantina South is shaking up specialty cocktails, and Dos Taquitos Centro is offering high-end tequila pairings. For a complete list of participating restaurants, their menus and to make reservations, visit the event website.
Wednesday at the Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market (raleigheatlocal.com) at City Plaza, sample carefully crafted farm-to-fork dishes during A Taste of Restaurant Week. Participating chefs have paired up with the local farmers to create a sampling of the week's menus. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Indy's Hopscotch Music Festival sponsors a live show by Jack the Radio, too, with a chance to win free festival tickets.
Vegetarians have embraced The Remedy Diner (theremedydiner.com) since it planted roots on Hargett Street two years ago. The Indy touted its homemade vegan coconut pies as one of our favorites during a Trianglewide pie hunt in 2009. Now the Raleigh diner has gained national recognition after PETA voted the Tempeh Tantrum as one of the top five vegan sandwiches in the country. The animal-friendly organization "swoons" over the pesto and avocado on the sandwich, which also includes marinated tempeh, veggie bacon and lettuce on sourdough bread.
On the food truck beat, we've got some local favorites participating in the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race competition. Celebrity chef Tyler Florence's reality show throws the nation's best food trucks into a competition to win $100,000. Right now, these local trucks are in the running to be voted "America's Favorite": Captain Poncho's Tacos, Klausie's Pizza, Pie Pushers, OnlyBurger, Blue Sky Dining, KoKyu, Valentino's, Olde North State BBQ and Slippin' Sliders. Visit foodtrucks.teamdigital.com to vote for your favorite, or visit the trucks' respective Facebook pages to find the number to text. Voting ends Sept. 12.