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O.C. restaurants start 2012 with special events

Several local restaurants are participating in California Restaurant Month

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: January 16, 2012 03:05 PM

California Restaurant Month takes place in January, and dozens of Orange County restaurants are stepping up to provide diners with new tastes and experiences.

Visit California, a media agency that promotes tourism to the Golden State, is presenting the second California Restaurant Month during January. Nearly 30 cities and regions are participating in the month-long event, either with weeklong promotions, or by offering discounts or menus throughout January.

 The first month of the year can be a slow one for the dining industry, and Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, said the event is building on its popularity in the previous year.

“Last year’s inaugural California Restaurant Month was a huge success, with 23 participating destinations and over 20 million media impressions. We’re thrilled to see the program grow to include even more destinations so we can continue to tell California’s amazing culinary story,” Beteta said. 

Eighteen of Costa Mesa’s restaurants are offering a full month of special promotions, including prix fixe menus, discounts on dine-in bills, or complimentary appetizers or desserts. Offerings include a $20.12 three-course lunch at Charlie Palmer, a complimentary half-bottle of wine with the purchase of an entrée at Pinot Provence, and a 20 percent discount off of lunch or dinner at Le Chateau Garden Bistro.

Paulette Lombardi-Fries, president of the Costa Mesa Conferenc & Visitors Bureau, said the event is a perfect opportunity for visitors and residents to learn more about the city and how much it has to offer.

“California Restaurant Month is a great opportunity for diners to experience some of the best wine and food in our city with discounts of up to 20 percent,” said Lombardi-Fries. “With our year-round sun, January is also a great time to come for a weekend to see everything Costa Mesa has to offer, from incredible Broadway shows and concerts at Segerstrom Center for the Arts to world-class shopping at South Coast Plaza.”

Irvine’s gastronomic contribution extends from Jan. 13 to Jan. 19, with sixteen of the city’s most popular restaurants turning out for a week of special prix fixe lunch and dinner menus, including Mastro’s, Bluewater Grill and Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails.

Also occurring in January, the sixth annual Newport Beach Restaurant Week runs Jan. 20 to Jan. 29. More than 55 of the city’s restaurants have put together special lunch and dinner menus of three or more courses. The prices range from $10 to $20 for lunch and $20 to $40 for dinner. A few of the establishments taking part include Brasserie Pascal, Five Crowns, Muldoon’s Irish Pub, and The Crow Bar and Kitchen.

Not to be left out, San Juan Capistrano is also getting in on the fun; in recognition of its first Restaurant Month and to commemorate the city’s 1776 founding, a number of local restaurants are offering prix fixe menus priced at just $17.76

The January dining festivities offer Southern California visitors and residents a taste of what’s available at O.C.’s best restaurants, but epicures will not be left waiting for their next gourmet experience for long. The fourth annual Orange County Restaurant Week returns in the spring, from Feb. 26 to March 3. One hundred of the best restaurants from twenty O.C. cities will once again promote discounted dishes and special prix fixe menus. The Orange County Restaurant Association is also planning its inaugural Golden Foodie Awards, set for some time in 2012.

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