From Jan. 21 to Feb. 3, almost 120 restaurants participating in Philadelphia Restaurant Week are offering either a three-course meal priced at $45 per person or a two-course lunch for $20, with select locations offering three courses for $60. Center City District, the organization responsible for Restaurant Week, shared some history behind this long-honored Philadelphia tradition.
Restaurant Week started in the fall of 2003 when an employee of Smith and Wollensky, a steakhouse in Philadelphia that has since closed, discovered Restaurant Week in a different city and partnered with CCD to bring it here. It has been recurring and growing every year since, celebrating its 20th anniversary this past November.
“We started with… just over 30 restaurants, and now, today, we have 118 in the program, with… the most we ever had in the 130s,” Giavana Suraci, the senior manager of retail marketing and events at CCD reports.
As a restaurant week lover herself, she recommends The Morris, a newly established neighborhood steakhouse, which she credits for having excellent vegetarian options.
Sara Chiaravalloti, Drexel University alumna and current team member of CCD, shared her experience with Restaurant Week during her time as an undergraduate: “It gives you an experience with friends, especially people that you go to class with. I remember usually doing it with the women in business at Lebow. There were a group of great girls that I met from [Restaurant Week], and we did it practically every fall.”
Chiaravalloti especially recommends these deals to students who are new to the area and are looking to meet people, explore Philadelphia cuisine and support local businesses, all at an affordable cost. Chiaravalloti suggests Giuseppi & Sons (Italian cuisine), Forsythia (French cuisine) and Miss Saigon (Vietnamese influenced cuisine).
Cailey Ruderman, class of 2024 majoring in materials science and engineering, is a Restaurant Week frequenter and expressed, “Restaurant Week in Philadelphia is a great opportunity for me as a college student to access the high-end food scene in the city without breaking the bank. I’ve visited a number of different restaurants throughout the city over the years and I’m excited to try more!”
Ruderman also mentioned that these three-course, fixed-menu options give her the rare opportunity to enjoy dessert with her meal.
Alternatively, Allie Lenz, class of 2025, operations and supply chain management, recently enjoyed her first Restaurant Week experience this year: “It was such a great deal… It was $45… and I was with one other person. We ended up just splitting everything.”
At La Nonna’s, the staff lets guests share their three courses, allowing them to cut costs on the already reduced $45 per person fee, providing a favorable opportunity for students on a strict budget.
“I feel like [Restaurant Week] comes up so fast, and then I don’t realize it’s happening. I love the Philly food scene, so I most definitely [would return] if I could remember when it was about to happen,” Lenz confessed.
Brianna Heidenreich, class of 2023 majoring in environmental science, added a unique perspective as a new Drexel graduate who stayed local to Philly after commencement.
“It gives us a reason to catch up [with friends] and see how everything is going post-grad. It allows me to keep in touch with people who stayed in the area,” Heidenreich articulated.
Restaurant Week can provide an opportunity to set aside time for connections over an inexpensive meal at typically unaffordable places.
Drexel students can benefit from Restaurant Week regardless of their participation in the actual dining experience. Continued support of the CCD and its programs, such as SIPS, park maintenance and the homeless outreach program Ambassadors of Hope, helps to promote safety and unity within the Philadelphia community.