Dine on a Budget at Grand Street Restaurant Week in East Williamsburg

Anna van der Heijden

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There are few things better than exploring new restaurants. Having someone cook you delicious dishes while someone else pours you a glass of wine is simply fantastic. Unfortunately, our wallets don’t always agree. That’s why a restaurant week is a great way to dine and not break the bank. From August 12 to 25, Grand Street Business Improvement District (BID) organizes Grand Street Restaurant Week. Fifteen restaurants will join and offer menus for a discounted, fixed price. 

Sounds yummy! What can we expect? 

From fine dining to comfort food, Grand Street has something for everyone. Whether you want to try out one of the new restaurants on the block or finally step inside that neighborhood staple, this is the time to do it. Best thing: it won’t break the bank. Fixed menu prices run from $12 to $35 for three course dinners. 

Great deals! But why would restaurants lower their prices like that? 

The end of summer is a notoriously slow time for the restaurant industry. Being part of a restaurant week draws customers in on otherwise quiet days. It can also be that final push for people to finally try a place they’ve wanted to eat at for ages. If they fall in love with the place, the restaurant gains new fans.  

Chicken wings from Mad for Chicken.

Okay, that’s great for the restaurant owners, but what’s in it for the customers? 

Apart from being able to dine out at affordable prices, a hyper-local restaurant week like this is a great way for people to connect with their community.

“The advantage of doing a community or neighborhood-specific restaurant week is that it brings together and showcases the diversity that is in that neighborhood, and gives people an opportunity to experience that,”  said Erin Piscopink, Executive Director at Grand Street BID. “They get to explore and do something a little bit different. We all get stuck in our routines and need a little push sometimes.”

Are there any vegetarian or vegan options? 

Absolutely. The entire menu at Dar 525, a Mediterranean restaurant, has meatless options. Think tabbouleh, vegetable kebab, and baklava. Indian is always a great choice for vegetarians, so definitely check out Indian Kitchen. Thai restaurant Thip Osha leaves a lot of room for you to decide which dishes you want to include in your prix fix, so you can go for their vegetarian options as well. At the Sandwich Shop you can get any type of sandwich—bowl or wrap, too—so it’s up to you to choose something without salami. And Mexican diner Grand Morelos has some delicious vegetarian options, too. 

Are there any dishes we should definitely try? 

Erin mentions that there are almost as many Restaurant Week days (14) as there are participating restaurants (15), so if you plan things correctly, you could (and according to her should) try them all. However, if you don’t have time for that, these are some of the places she’s excited about: 

“Thompson Brooke is fun for Restaurant Week, because they often offer items that you can’t get on their normal menu. So you get a unique experience when you visit. Los Primos is joining us this year—they haven’t done restaurant week for the past several years, so we’re excited to have them back. They have been in the neighborhood for about 30 years. Having a restaurant like them with such a long history in the neighborhood is really great. I’m also excited to check out Mad for Chicken. They just opened a few months ago, so are new this year. AmmazzaCaffe is great, because they have a beautiful backyard. And the pupusas from Bahia are insanely good. They’re a Salvadorian restaurant, of which there aren’t many of in this area.”

AmazzaCaffe’s backyard.

Getting hungry over here! Who are the people responsible for this? 

That would be the Grand Street Business Improvement District (BID). The BID has chapters all over the city that are the voice of local businesses. Grand Street’s one represents all businesses on Grand Street between Union Avenue and Bushwick Avenue. They organize events like this, promote businesses, and help them out wherever they can. This is their fifth annual summer Restaurant Week—they recently started a winter version, too, due to the event’s popularity.

Anything else we should know? 

If you’re a competitive person and love free meals, then, yes. During this Restaurant Week, BID launches an Instagram competition. During Restaurant Week, post a photo of yourself, your meal, your table partner, or the restaurant you’re at, and tag it with #DineOnGrand. The winner will be chosen randomly and will receive a $50 gift card for their restaurant of choice. 

Put on some pants with an elastic band and make a reservation or two. Bon Appetit!

Cover image courtesy of Thompson Brooke.

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