Residents of Charleston, whet your appetites: Restaurant Week is here. And whether you are looking for value, new cuisines or a night out, the talented chefs of the city are at the ready.

If you go

What: Charleston Restaurant WeekWhen: Through Jan. 20Where: Participating restaurantsPrice: $20-$40more:

What started off as a way to bolster restaurant attendance in traditionally slower months, January and September, has grown into a widely appreciated and longed-for event by the public and the chefs.

“We began with 40 participants and now have 140 signed up to participate,” said Monique Semper-Flynn, special events manager for the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association. “We feel the current list of participants is an accurate reflection of our strong and diverse membership. In addition, the timing in September and January could not be better, as those times are traditionally slower business-wise. We love that we fill the seats in restaurants and offer a great event for diners who can appreciate a creative menu for a great value.”

Semper-Flynn went on to share the background of the successful and popular dining event.

“The Charleston Restaurant Association wanted to adopt the trend of offering a local Restaurant Week here in Charleston. The timing was perfect to implement it when we did since Charleston was rising in popularity as a dining destination and the trend had, at that time, proven itself effective in other cities. We couldn’t be happier with the growth the event has had.”

“Restaurant Week is an excellent opportunity for people to try several restaurants that they may not have been to in a while for a reasonable price,” said TJ Parsell, president of Hospitality Management Group.

And local chefs are excited about the event, too.

Nico Romo, executive chef at Fish, loves to “see people excited about where they will dine, what new tastes they will discover during this great deal.”

Their enthusiasm inspires this French master chef to “celebrate the spirit of this food-forward town.”

Industry veterans Fred Neuville at Fat Hen and Marc Collins at Circa 1886 echo similar sentiments.

Neuville thinks Restaurant Week is “well worth it because it gives the guests the chance to try some items that they may not otherwise try.” He calls it a “win-win for all.”

Collins hears from his guests on the value side of the equation. “They all just keep saying what a bargain it is to be able to come into our restaurant and get the kind of dinner we serve.”

Restaurant Week also serves as a great opportunity to check out the new players in town, and this is not lost on executive chef Nathan Thurston at Stars Restaurant — Rooftop & Grill Room.

Thurston will showcase his signature dishes and celebrate the winter harvest and has even placed the “infamous smoked chocolate S’Mores pie” on the Restaurant Week menu.

For Johnny Williams, general manager at 82 Queen, Restaurant Week is “an experience of fun and energy” where he sees the “local community come out and support the efforts of chefs and restaurateurs.”

Over at J. Paul’z, owner Robb Walker finds it to be a “shot in the arm during the slowest time of the year.” He also says it is an opportunity for he and his wife to try the new restaurants in town.

For the operators at Social Restaurant + Bar, where the emphasis often is on the bar and wine program, Restaurant Week provides chef Jesse Sutton the opportunity to spotlight the food.

“One reason that Restaurant Week is great for is that people think of us as a place to drink, and this gives us a chance to show that we have a lot to offer beyond bar snacks.”

Though many diners find that Restaurant Week is an opportunity to “get a bargain” — they can get three courses for $20, $30 or $40, depending on the restaurant — many owners and operators see the week as a time to give back.

Jonathan Kish, chief financial officer at 82 Queen and Lowcountry Bistro, said “we are excited to open our doors and show our appreciation to the residents of Charleston. Restaurant Week is the perfect time for us to showcase our cuisine and our service at a bargain that is intended to say ‘thank-you’ to all the locals who have supported us and dined with us all these year.”

Patrick Owens, chef and owner of Langdon’s and Opal, enjoys the chance to “showcase the culinary excellence of the Lowcountry while reinvesting in our community. We believe in sustainability, freshness and creativity, and Restaurant Week is a great time to share our passion with old and new patrons.”

Folly Beach operator Mike Spinelli of Rita’s Seaside Grille said he sees more of his regular customers return for the value-priced meals, although his own assessment is that “it is a good way for people to try new restaurants out of their price range, which in turn spreads the word about the great choices in Charleston.”

Much attention is given to chefs and diners this week, but as pastry chef Lauren Mitterer of WildFlour Pastry points out, it is “a super busy time for us because normal restaurant dessert business is about 33 percent or so of their guests, Restaurant Week means 100 percent of their guests get dessert. The sheer volume is noticeable, but we love it because it does expose dessert programs offered and hopefully something new and exciting to restaurant guests. Many restaurants choose to ... showcase their most popular desserts while some take this opportunity to allow some extra creativity on our part. Either, way we love it!”

So is there a down side to Restaurant Week?

For some it is the high volume and demand at popular eateries. For others, being restricted to a special menu is a negative. Expect crowds, bring your patience and have fun.

If value is a resolution for your 2013 budget, here is where you can begin.

Charleston Restaurant Week participants

3 for $20

Al Di La

AW Shuck’s

Barbara Jeans Restaurant

Basil Thai Restaurant, downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant

Boone’s Bar (two people for $20)

Bricco Bracco

Caviar & Bananas Gourmet Market & Cafe

Charleston Crab House, downtown Charleston and James Island

Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House

Firewater Grille

Five Loaves Cafe, Charleston and Mount Pleasant

Fuel Charleston

Fuji Sushi Bar and Grill

Gilligan’s Seafood Restaurant, Johns Island

Harbor Breeze

How Art Thou Cafe

Hyman’s Seafood

J. Paulz, James Island and Mount Pleasant

Juanita Greenberg’s, Mount Pleasant (two people for $20)

La Fontana Authentic Italian Restaurant, North Charleston and West Ashley

Locklear’s Lowcountry Grill

Manny’s Neighborhood Grille

Mellow Mushroom, downtown

Mercury Bar

Nirlep Indian Restaurant (two people for $20)

Noisy Oyster Seafood Restaurant, downtown Charleston and North Charleston

Old Towne Grill and Seafood

Page’s Okra Grill

Queen Anne’s Revenge

Rita’s Seaside Grille

Saffron Cafe & Bakery

Sparians @ River Bowl

Swamp Fox Restaurant & Bar


TBonz Gill & Grill, Market Street

The Wreckfish


Tommy Condon’s

Tsunami, downtown

Virginia’s On King

West Ashley Crab Shack (three items for $18.99)

Wild Wing Cafe, downtown Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant (two people for $20)

Yamato Japanese Steakhouse

Yokoso Japanese Restaurant

Zeus Grill and Seafood

3 for $30

39 Rue de Jean

82 Queen

Alchemy Fine Food & Wine

Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar

Angel Oak Restaurant

Anson Restaurant


Barbadoes Room at The Mills House Hotel

Bistro 536


Blu Restaurant & Bar

Bocci’s Italian Restaurant

Burtons Grill

Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill

Butcher & Bee

’Cesca Ristorante & Trattoria

Coast Bar and Grill

Cork Neighborhood Bistro


Eli’s Table

Eurasia Cafe & Wine Bar

Fat Hen

Finz Bar & Grill


Fleet Landing Restaurant

Fulton Five

Gennaro’s Italian Ristorante

Gennaro’s Little Italy


High Cotton

Husk Restaurant

Iacofano’s Italian Bistro & Bar (two people for $30)

II Cortile Del Re

Jasmine Porch at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

La Fourchette

Lana Restaurant

Leaf Cafe + Bar

Long Point Grill

Lowcountry Bistro


Med Bistro

Mercato Italian Restaurant

Morgan Creek Grill

Mosaic Cafe

Ms. Rose’s

Muse Restaurant & Wine Bar


Old Village Post House

Opal Restaurant and Bar

Osteria La Bottiglia

Poogan’s Porch

RB’s Seafood Restaurant

Red Drum Restaurant

Red’s Ice House, John’s Island and Shem Creek (two people for $30)

Saffire Restaurant & Bar

Sea Island Grill at Wild Dunes

Sermet’s Downtown

Shem Creek Bar and Grill

Slightly North of Broad

Social Restaurant + Wine Bar

Southend Brewery

Stack’s Evening Eats

Stars Restaurant — Rooftop & Grill Room

The Boathouse at Breach Inlet

The Grocery

The Library Restaurant at Vendue Inn

The Macintosh

The Mustard Seed, Mount Pleasant

Tomasso at Turtle Point

Wentworth Grill

3 for $40


Carter’s Kitchen

Circa 1886

Grill 225

Halls Chophouse

Hank’s Seafood Restaurant

Langdon’s Restaurant and Wine Bar

McCrady’s Restaurant

Middleton Place Restaurant

Oak Steakhouse

Peninsula Grill

The Atlantic Room

The Ocean Room

Trattoria Lucca

Tristan (four courses for $40)