Eat fancy for $31: Dine Downtown kicks off Thursday

For local foodies who can’t afford to splurge at restaurants too often, Dine Downtown Restaurant Week might just be the most joyful time of the year. It’s a boon for restaurants too—with New Year’s resolutions and post-holiday hibernation in play, January is notoriously one of the slowest times of the year.

This year, 26 grid restaurants are offering three-course dinners for $31. One buck goes to the California Food Literacy Center. Start making reservations Thursday through January 24.

Some of these participating restaurants are among the fanciest and priciest in town: Ella Dining Room & Bar, Grange, Biba, the Firehouse Restaurant. Grange put its coffee-braised zabuton—the little-known, tender cut between the chuck and the rib eye—on its Dine Downtown menu, and the dish usually goes for $28 all on its own.

That dish, by the way, was featured in the Saveur 100. Big deal. 

Many restaurants tout vegetarian-friendly options. Be careful though, as the designations on the Dine Downtown website appear to mean there is at least one vegetarian-friendly option, but not necessarily three courses. (Unless you’re—ahem—someone who counts fish as vegetarian…)

Ella is offering an enticing all-vegetarian menu for the second year in a row. Good luck choosing between hand-cut pappardelle with a poached egg, melted leeks, meyer lemon and mimolette and cauliflower gratin with roasted beets, harissa and smoked gouda for your entree. Yum.

Vegans should eye Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery for its all-vegan truffle mushroom soup, risotto burger and dessert. Capital Dime has a vegan bolognese over egg-free pasta on its menu as well, and perhaps the restaurant could skip the cheese on its salads to achieve the full spectrum.

Note that the $31 doesn’t include tax or gratuity, and definitely not booze. Wine pairings are available at some spots for an additional cost. For the full list of restaurants and menus, click here.

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