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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Downtown Dining Week

Time To Tempt Your Taste Buds

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Leave the brown bag lunch at home and skip the leftovers for supper—it's time for Milwaukee's Downtown Dining Week. 2013 marks the eighth year for this tasty annual event, and with more than 40 restaurants to try, there is something for every palate. Events like this have been organized all around the country since New York hosted the first official Restaurant Week in 1992. Judging from the success of past years, Milwaukeeans seem to agree that it's a great way to bring people to the heart of our city.

"The prime goal of Downtown Dining Week is to acquaint area residents with the downtown dining scene, says Leah Thomas, marketing & events coordinator for Milwaukee Downtown Inc. "Each year about two-thirds of diners are trying a restaurant for the first time."

The lure of good food at great prices encourages lots of "trying" too. Restaurants on the list offer special prix-fixe menus that typically include a starter, entrée and dessert. Meals are usually valued much higher than the $10 lunch and $20 or $30 dinner Downtown Dining Week pricing reflects. It's the excellent deals that really help draw the crowds. "You can take part in a three-course meal at a fine dining establishment for about half the normal price," says Thomas.

Every year, new restaurants join in Downtown Dining Week. New participants this year include Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub, John Hawks Pub, Kanpai, Karma Bar & Grill, Lucille's Piano Bar & Grill, Safe House, Turner Hall Restaurant and the Upper 90 Sports Pub. Other participating restaurants include places like past crowd-pleasers Capital Grille, Carnevor and Mason Street Grill, as well as long-time Milwaukee favorites like Karl Ratzsch's and Mader's.

Several restaurants have menu selections taking into account locavores, gluten-free requirements and vegetarians, including Bistro 333, Kil@wat, Metro, and Ryan Braun's Graffito. 

After eating, event organizers request that diners take a brief survey about their experiences. Thomas says, "It helps make the event even better next year and offers a chance to win $500 in dining certificates."

Annually this event attracts around 50,000 diners, so Thomas strongly recommends making reservations if they are accepted at the establishment you wish to visit. 

Downtown Dinning Week runs June 6-13. For a complete list of participating restaurants and special menus, or more information in general, visit www.milwaukeedowntown.com.

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