Sometime in August, I might just read in my Google alerts that DFW has set a record for the most filet mignons consumed in a single week. The news will say that in the process, restaurants found new customers and two DFW charities reaped the benefit. Trust me, this scenario isn’t (completely) made up. DFW Restaurant Week is almost here – participating restaurants have been announced Monday, July 16th. Dining will once again take place in August. Consider this your heads-up!

Last August, DFW Restaurant Week celebrated its 20th anniversary, and I expect their next 20 years to be just as exciting. Whether you’re a first-timer or just need a refresher, this guide is here for you with everything you need to know about visiting restaurants in Dallas, Fort Worth, and all of DFW during DFW Restaurant Week.

What’s the Buzz About

The annual charity event was originally initiated to give Dallas restaurants a boost during the slower summer months. It has grown to include all of DFW and the restaurant list and offerings get bigger and better every year. As a result of the annual event, 90,000 Dallas area diners have donated $800,000 to the charity beneficiaries – and that’s just from 2017. That’s right, those numbers are just from one year of the program. In the full 20 years, the event has generated $8.3 million in donations.

The two charities that receive these generous donations are the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas and Lena Pope in Fort Worth.

When Are the Dates?

July 16th – Reservation Day Participating restaurants are announced and simultaneously open up their block of reservations for the run of the event.

August 13th through 20th – Dining takes place during official DFW Restaurant Week. Many restaurants offer a preview weekend. Those dates for 2018 are August 10th through 12th. Other participating eateries offer an additional week of dining or even extend the event through Labor Day.

How it Works?

Participating restaurants offer three-course or four-course course meals for either $39 or $49 per person. These prix fixe offerings have a fixed price for your choice of items on a limited special menu. (Pricing is not based on the number of courses. Restaurants can offer three or four courses and set the price at $39 or $49 at their own discretion.)

Some restaurants offer a 2-course lunch for $20.

20% of the proceeds from these lunches and dinners will be donated to the charity beneficiaries.

What’s New This Year?

In the past, DFW Restaurant Week has focused largely (though not exclusively) on fine dining and more formal dinner experiences. This year for the first time, a wide variety of other types of restaurants will join the festivities with something new – specialty bites.

Specialty bites are restaurants’ specialty dishes or creations made exclusively for restaurant week. Prices vary, and 10% of the price will go to the charities. All of Kenny’s Restaurants (Kenny’s Smokehouse, Kenny’s Burger Joint, Kenny’s Italian Kitchen, and Kenny’s East Coast Pizza Joint) will offer specialty bites.

Which Restaurants Are Participating?

The event website suggests that more than 150 North Texas restaurants will participate, some for the first time. Many of the participants are on the list year after year, happy to do their part in raising money for charity and raising visibility for the area’s dynamic restaurant scene.

Tip: After the Reservation Day announcement, many restaurants will spotlight DFW Restaurant Week on their websites. If you know of a place you want to go, you can go straight to their website and look for a Restaurant Week menu or reservations link.

Is It Just In Dallas?

Absolutely not. In 2017 there were more than 15 choices in Fort Worth, multiple options in Plano, Frisco, Addison, Arlington, and Southlake, and a couple each from Flower Mound and Denton. Colleyville, Highland Village, McKinney, Richardson, Roanoke, and Rockwall each had one participating restaurant. My guess is that there will be more options than ever in Frisco and Plano this year. New additions from Roanoke and McKinney wouldn’t surprise me either.

Whether you live in Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, or Collin county, you’ll find a participating restaurant that’s not a long-haul drive. Of course, if you want to take this opportunity to visit the happening food neighborhoods of Cowtown or the newest and most popular Dallas restaurants, this is a great chance to do so.

What’s the Food Like?

For the most part, dinner menu options are created and selected to appeal to a wide range of diners. Offerings usually stack up as follows:

First course: You’ll be offered two or three soups, salads, or appetizers to choose from.

Photo courtesy of Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine

Second course: You’ll have three or more entrees to choose from. Entrees will generally have a specified accompaniment or include a choice of sides.

Third course: Menus will include a single dessert or a few options to choose from.

Photo courtesy of Ocean Prime (Dallas)

Fourth course: At restaurants that offer a fourth course, this is usually an appetizer served first, making soup/salad the second course, your entrée the third, and dessert the fourth course. Keep reading to find out more about fourth course specials in the section about other ways to save.

Most restaurants post their Restaurant Week menus on (or very soon after) Reservation Day so you can get a peek at the dishes they’ll be preparing.

Here’s an example of selections from an Italian Restaurant from 2014. You choose one item per course.

First Course, Antipasto – Caesar Salad, Bosco Salad with spring mix, pears, pine nuts, and Gorgonzola

Second Course, Primo Piatto– Pancetta Roasted Jumbo Shrimp, Orecchiettecon Salsiccia (Sausage), Filet Mignon, Chilean Sea Bass

Third Course, Dolce – House “Chelsea” Cheesecake, Chocolate Stefano, Tiramisu

Another example from 2014 with the “fourth course”

“Fourth Course” choices – Tenderloin Crostini, Bacon Wrapped Dates

First course choices – House Salad, Caesar Salad, Tomato Soup, Lobster Bisque

Second course choices – 14 oz. Ribeye, 9 oz. Filet, Sea Bass, 28 oz. Double Bone Hand Cut Pork Chop, Lemon Caper Chicken, Salmon Meuniere

Third course – Dessert Duo – Kahlua Cake and Mocha Mousse

Do I Have to Pay When I Reserve?

Nope. Except for the required reservations and special menus, dining during DFW Restaurant Week works just like dining out in Dallas, Fort Worth, and the rest of the metroplex.

What Costs Extra

If your DFW Restaurant Week outing is a budgeted splurge (and I definitely think it should be) you’ll want to plan ahead for the full cost of the evening. Here are some extras you should expect to pay for.

Parking – Dallas restaurants in popular food neighborhoods like Oak Lawn and Bishop Arts may not have free parking. Plan on paying for parking, whether valet or self-park. Many restaurant websites will offer details about their parking situation, and you can always call and ask.

Beverages – Beverages aren’t included. The restaurant’s full beverage selection will be available to you to order. At some participating restaurants, wine pairings and themed cocktails will be offered with costs specified on the Restaurant Week menu.

Fourth Course – Many restaurants offer an optional fourth course which you can purchase at additional cost.

Premium Entrees and Add-Ons – In addition to three or more entrée options, some restaurants will also have premium options (with a designated price on your menu.) One example might be a restaurant serving chicken, pork, and salmon dishes as entrees and offering a prime steak as a premium entrée for a slight up-charge. Adding a lobster tail or preparing your steak Oscar-style are common add-on items.

Tipping – I hope this goes without saying but leave your server a nice tip. Also plan on tipping valets if you use their services for parking.

Are There Other Ways to Save?

The Fourth Course certificate has become a traditional part of DFW Restaurant Week Menus. You can get a certificate by shopping at a sponsoring partner and use it at the participating restaurant of your choice. (Note: Not all restaurants offer a fourth course option.)

Past sponsoring partners have included Central Market and Calloway’s Nursery. This year, spending $10 or more at any local FedEx store will get you a free fourth course certificate.

Use the certificate at any restaurant offering the fourth course and enjoy an appetizer or other specially prepared dish at no cost.

If you’re asking yourself, “What can I possibly buy at FedEx if I don’t need to ship a package?” Well, I’m here to help. (I’m not your go-to gal for DFW Restaurant Week for nothin’.) Besides package shipping, FedEx also offers shredding services, packing services, self-service printing, faxing and scanning services, CD/DVD Duplication, passport photos, boxes and packing materials, and office supplies. I’m sure there’s more.

Be sure to double check the sponsor details on the fourth course program at the Restaurant Week website. The fourth course certificates are offered at DFW FedEx locations until they run out, so while you kinda need to hurry, I’d advise checking the menu of your chosen restaurant to see if you think you need one.

I’m In. What Do I Do?

Now that you know everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about this special summertime dining event in DFW, here’s what you have to do to make it happen. This part is important.

  1. Visit the DFW Restaurant Week website on Monday, July 16th or as soon as possible after that date to check out the full list of participating restaurants. (If I recall correctly the list reveal happened at 10:30 AM in the past, but there’s no harm in checking earlier in the day. Some very small and/or very popular restaurants will book up fast.) The list will include links to the restaurant websites where you can view the menus and find out how to make reservations.If Reservation Day flew by before you saw this, don’t despair. With around 150 locations participating, you’ll still have some great choices when the event gets closer, and some restaurants will have reservations you can claim through the August dining dates.
  2. Choose a restaurant (or a few) and make reservations. You may be able to book directly on a restaurant’s website or through Open Table. Most restaurants will also accept reservations by phone. Be sure to indicate that your reservation is for Restaurant Week.
  3. If you want a free Fourth Course Certificate, go do a little shopping at a local Fedex. Check with the location to make sure they have certificates on hand and then spend $10 or more to receive this special certificate.
  4. Wait patiently (or impatiently – both are good) for the date of your reservation to arrive.
  5. When you check in for your reservation, be sure to mention Restaurant Week and get the special menu. Enjoy a great dining experience, save a little cash, support the DFW restaurant scene, and know that your participation is providing funds for some well-loved and deserving area charities.

Tips for Choosing

As of this writing, participating restaurants for 2018 have just been announced this morning. Based on prior year participants and a little bit of insider knowledge about Dallas restaurants, I’ve made a few suggestions for participating restaurants you’ll want to add to your bucket list. Most of my mentions are in Dallas, but look for Sarah Blaskovich of Guide Live and Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star Telegram to be among those making suggestions for Tarrant, Denton, and Collin counties after the reveal.

My best suggestion is to look at menus to decide whose food you most want to eat. But you can get a head start on which menus to peruse based on your ideal dining experience.

Got FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)?

Gorji (formerly Canary by Gorji), Tillmans Bishop Arts, Dee Lincoln Prime, Nora Restaurant and Bar

Very small and very popular restaurants will max out their reservations quickly. Jump on these or you won’t get a spot.

Splurge at a Savings

Tei-An, The Mansion Restaurant at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, The French Room

Get a great value when you dine at some of the most expensive restaurants in the city: Don’t expect to get a $300 meal for $50, but you may save as much as 30% on an extravagant night out. Tei-An, The Mansion Restaurant at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek) and The French Room at The Adolphus are all prior participants.

An Invitation to a Dallas Fine-Dining Classic: The Landmark in the Warwick Melrose

A feast for the eyes as well as the tongue.

A truly remarkable black angus ribeye an inch thick

Editor’s Note: We were recently invited to indulge in a very special dinner at The Landmark inside the classic Warwick Melrose hotel. While this poignant dinner encompassed several outstanding courses, there’s always one that stays with you forever. For me it was as delicious as it was visually stunning: Roasted Yellow Tomato Bisque. While it seems so simple, there’s not a single thing I would change. Luckily, you’ll get the chance to try their Brandy Scallop Bisque during Restaurant Week, and you’d better. Here’s their special menu for the occasion.

As for Renee, a connoisseur of fine beef, she is still raving at the texture, flavor and cut of the The Landmark 12oz Black Angus Ribeye—rich, flavorful and … she even made it the background image of her smartphone for a few days. She was THAT impressed. Make your reservation here.

All that Fancy Stuff is a Little Intimidating

Stampede 66, Salum, True Food Kitchen, House of Blues

Photo courtesy of Stampede 66 by Stephan Pyles

At Stampede 66, the atmosphere is rustic meets contemporary, with plenty of country charm thrown in. The thoughtful, yet approachable foodis as fine as any fine dining you’ll ever have. Chef/owner Stephan Pylesis one of only two James Beard Foundation Best Chef-Southwest award winners from Dallas. (The other is Dean Fearing.)

Salum has a white-tablecloth dining room and fine-dining-worthy service, but the menu is more appealing than it is intimidating.

At True Food Kitchen, you can eat well and put away the pretense. Their cheery and casual dining room is the perfect place for some elevated nutrition-conscious food.

A new participant this year, House of Blues is offering a Cajun-inspired menu with optional wine pairings for each course.

Take the Scenic Route

Five Sixty, Asador, Dakota’s, Saint Ann, Savor Gastropub

Photo courtesy of Five Sixty

If the ambience and the view are as important to you as the food, you’ll find a wide selection of options on the list. Enjoy sky-high luxury at Five Sixty (at the top of Reunion Tower) or on the rooftop terrace at Asador. Dakota’s décor is beautiful, complete with an underground multi-tiered waterfall. Their steaks are great too, and in previous years, they’ve offered a Restaurant Week lunch option. Catch the views in a park-like garden at Saint Ann or in Klyde Warren Park at Savor Gastropub.

Steak Steak and More Steak

Photo courtesy of Del Frisco’s Grille

Al Biernat, III Forks, Pappas Brothers, any of the Del Frisco’s locations, Kenny’s Woodfired Grill,

My joke about filet mignon at the beginning of this guide wasn’t that far off the mark. Look for great steak options at any of these restaurants. The first four are star performers (largest charitable donors) of 2017. I personally can’t mention steak without thinking of Kenny’s Woodfired Grill, where even the steak sandwich is incredibly tender and where reservations are always a must.

Cowtown Classics& More

Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, Grace, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, (Tim Love’s) Lonesome Dove Bistro

I’m not as familiar with the Fort Worth restaurant scene but all of these have caught my eye (or my taste buds) at one time or another. Any or all of these are worthy of a Restaurant Week visit.

Try Some New Tastes

Photo courtesy of Abacus Restaurant

BoinaBraza, Cadot, Lavendou, Bawarchi Biryanis (Richardson) Abacus

You’ll find a number of Brazilian/churascarriasteakhouses on the list as well as a number of choices for French Cuisine (like Cadot and Lavendou.) Italian choices will abound, but you’ll also find Indian food at Bawarchi Biryanis. Elevated globalcuisine at Abacus is always a good option with Chef Chris Patrick at the helm.

Visit a New City

The Classic at Roanoke, Prime Farm to Table Restaurant (Flower Mound), Kirby’s Steakhouse (Southlake)

Roanoke, Flower Mound, and Southlake are smaller towns with growing food scenes, and they may burnish their creds with even more participating restaurants this year. I’m hoping McKinney has a few options too. I’ll also be curious whether more or fewer Arlington restaurants participate based on the anticipated August opening of some Arlington Live! eateries.

If I’ve left any of your questions unanswered or when you’re ready to make reservations, please visit the DFW Restaurant Week website. I’d really love it if you’d share your thoughts and DFW Restaurant Week experiences (past, present, and planned) in the comments.

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