Restaurant weeks seem to occur so regularly, you could be forgiven for thinking, “Again?” But next Monday marks the start of East Passyunk’s week, and there’s no better opportunity to explore the hotbed of well-respected eateries, boutiques, and bars on the cheap.
Twenty-six restaurants along the buzzing diagonal are participating in the 12-day event (Feb. 25 to March 8), which has lunch and dinner options priced at $15, $25, and $35. From James Beard nominees to BYOBs, here’s eight of the top deals to check out.
Possibly overlooked as among the best restaurants in town, Fond’s restaurant week menu has options for the vegetarian (roasted mushroom and hazelnut risotto), the pescetarian (skate in a brown butter sauce), and the kosher carnivore (chicken with gnocchi and spinach). There’s also wild boar pâté, pork belly with sweet potatoes, and crispy pork rillettes for pig-lovers. Entrees here are typically priced around $30, so no matter which first-course and dessert offerings you choose, dinner is a deal at $35. Make a reservation — the dining room fills up fast.
1537 S. 11th St., $35, 215-551-5000, eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com/fond.html
Although the normal menu at this creative corner spot maxes out at $20 for a caramel pork shank, your tab grows quickly as you rack up orders for items like hot lamb dumplings ($8), Mongolian beef rice bowl ($16), and sweet and sour Brussels sprouts ($10). The $25 restaurant week menu leaves off the caramel pork but includes the other items, as well as mapo tofu rice cakes, a fiery cucumber salad, and smoked salmon and edamame rangoon. For $5 more, add on dessert. For $12, get the cocktail special.
1648 E. Passyunk Ave., $25, 215-279-7702, eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com/bing-bing-dim-sum.html
Anchored by its wood-fired oven, this Passyunk mainstay churns out some of the best Southern Italian fare in the city, and it’s not limited to pizza. Order burrata with marinated figs, fennel sausage-studded orecchiette, and salted caramel chocolate budino — a meal that would normally run close to $40 — for $25. And if pizza is what you really want, there’s still a deal to be had: Two of the four pies on the restaurant week menu usually cost $18 a pop.
1520 E. Passyunk Ave., $25 267-318-7341, eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com/brigantessa.html
James Beard Award semifinalist Christopher Kearse worked at the French Laundry and Lacroix before opening this small BYOB in 2012. Since then, he’s served up modernist French fare that’s earned three bells from Craig LaBan. During restaurant week, pay $35 for a three-course meal that would typically come in at close to $60. Come for rich and elegant eats like escargot, braised short rib, and chocolate bouchon, or opt for more seasonal, local dishes like sweet potato and apple soup or roasted Pennsylvania trout. Careful, though: The restaurant week menu is only available Mondays through Thursdays.
1911 E. Passyunk Ave., $35, 215-271-7683, eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com/will.html
One of East Passyunk’s banner restaurants, Townsend’s French-inspired food has earned three bells since the beginning and maintained the rating over time. Enjoy salad Lyonnaise with confited potatoes, seared cod with white beans, or thyme cavatelli with black trumpet mushrooms. For an extra $5, upgrade to seared scallops with French lentils and bacon, or a petite filet mignon and short rib duo. Dessert options include a cinnamon creme brulee and a cheese plate with local finds from Valley Milkhouse Creamery.
1623 E. Passyunk Ave., $35, 267-639-3203, eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com/townsend.html
Small plates are the name of the game at this relative East Passyunk newcomer, and as at other tapas joints, the check can add up to a large total. That makes the $25 restaurant week menu a good option already, but Barcelona sweetens the pot by offering four menu items for $25. Options include pricier dishes like crudo (usually $12.50), hanger steak ($11.50), and clams, mussels, and garlic shrimp ($9.50) alongside more affordable crowdpleasers like patatas bravas with aioli ($7) and spiced meatballs ($8.50).
1709 E. Passyunk Ave., $25, 215-515-7900, eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com/barcelona.html
Flavorful Filipino food defines the menu at this BYOB, where you can indulge in a hearty pork shank stew or lemongrass-scented stuffed sea bass (normally priced around $30). Restaurant week starters include classics like paksiw, featuring vinegar-braised pork belly, and Spanish octopus. Dessert offerings skew tropical, too, with chocolate-coconut panna cotta, a purple yam-based mousse, and the coconut cake bibingka. Perla offers family-style dinners — which includes six dishes — on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.
1535 S. 11th St., $35, 267-273-0008, eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com/perla.html
Hand-cut pasta and house-butchered meat are the stars of this fine-dining spot showcasing Abruzzo influences. The $35 restaurant week menu includes favorites like lobster spaghetti (normally $22), grilled lamb skewers ($15), and scrippelle ($24) — ricotta-filled crepes ladled with broth that helped Le Virtu earn its three bells several years ago. Dessert also comes in the form of Italian classics. Think panna cotta or parrozzo, a chocolate-covered almond cake infused with citrus zest that’s hard to find anywhere outside Abruzzo.