“Restaurant Week” business and tourism marketing began in 1992. New York City hosted the Democratic National Convention that year, and renowned restaurant reviewer Tim Zagat and Manhattan restaurateur Joe Baum persuaded several of the city’s top restaurants to participate in a coinciding “$19.92 lunches” promotion. As they say on Broadway, it was a smash hit!
Building on that success but now typically repositioned as an event to increase business during what might otherwise be “slow” or “off-season” periods, many U.S. cities now offer their own versions of the promotion. As you might imagine, various California cities get in on the fun in a BIG way.
The tourism board for the State of California, in fact, kicked things up a notch in 2010 with a California Restaurants Month celebration. You can use the following California Restaurant Weeks list to get a general idea about which California cities and areas offer Restaurant Week / Restaurant Month events and when they do so (or, perhaps, when they are likely to do so should your visit fall between the time when a new year’s date is announced by a host city/county, when their website is updated with that information and/or when we hear about it and our website is updated).
If you’re interested in a specific area, you should definitely click through to follow the link to see if the host city/county’s website has been updated, as I’m not automatically notified when that happens. If you have a moment to pop me a message when you find information at a link has been updated, that would be awesome… but it’s certainly not necessary… planning your awesome California vacation is the important thing!
An email and/or phone call to the local (and, in my experience, very helpful) various Conventions and Visitor’s Bureaus for California’s cities/counties or even a stop at the state’s California Tourist Information and Hospitality Centers may also be useful to you for researching restaurants to try in a particular area.
We are in the process of updating the list for 2017 (as of December 20, 2016), noting any 2015/2016 dates for which there isn’t an update yet available with an triple asterisk (***) to avoid confusion.
Benicia – This Central Valley city (near Sacramento) celebrates Restaurant Week January 17-23, 2016***! [link]
Berkeley – While Chez Panisse isn’t on the list of participating restaurants, there is a goodly number of others that are outstanding. Check it out January 19-29, 2017. [link]
Claremont – This lovely LA-area city – known as The City of Trees – joins the January action this year. The Claremont event runs January 16-29, 2017. [link]
Costa Mesa – You can find some Costa Mesa restaurants participating in the Orange County Restaurant Week event March 5-11, 2017! [link]
El Dorado County – This county in California’s Sierras & Gold Country region plans to host a month-long 2017 Restaurant Month celebration in January. Check out the details! [link]
Encinitas – It looks like this North County San Diego city is rolling with the San Diego Restaurant Week celebration this year, which runs January 15-22, 2017. [link]
Escondido – Also in North County San Diego, this city calls its restaurant week event “Dine Out Escondido,” and it runs January 22-28, 2017. Cleverly, this event begins when San Diego’s restaurant week ends. Somebody had a “thinking cap” on! [link]
Humboldt County – Humboldt Bay in this northern California county is known for oysters, accounting for around 60 percent of the state’s production of this tasty delicacy. Accordingly, their celebration — running the entire month of January 2016*** — is a bit different. When you tour one of Humboldt Bay’s oyster farms (Aqua-Rodeo Farms is our favorite) and check in to/like the Humboldt Bay Tourism Center (which is actually half visitor’s center and half local-foods restaurant) on a social media platform (facebook, yelp, etc.), you can receive a free oyster and pint of beer. How cool is that? [link]
Inland Empire – You get two weeks to celebrate here in 2016 -– August 12-26, 2016*** so be sure to try out some restaurants in Ontario and the greater Inland Empire area. [link]
Irvine – Some of Irvine’s finest restaurants join in the festivities March 5-11, 2017. [link]
Lake Tahoe (South) – Combine an autumn getaway to Lake Tahoe with this opportunity to check out the area’s FAB restaurants. It runs September 16-23, 2016***. [link]
Long Beach – This California city hosts an event typical of other restaurant weeks but they call it Dine Out Long Beach. It’s scheduled for February 19-25, 2017. [link]
Los Angeles – Known as “DineLA,” this promotion runs January 13-27, 2017. [link] Remember, Los Angeles Restaurant Week extends to establishments in Pasadena, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Long Beach, etc. Check out the link for all the current details!
Mendocino – How fitting that one of our favorite northern California coast cities celebrates with a Crab, Wine and Beer Fest – three tasty culinary endeavors at which the culinary artisans in this North Coast beach town excel! It all happens January 20-29, 2017. [link]
Napa Valley – This popular Wine Country destination has selected January 22-29, 2017 for its Restaurant Week festivities. [link]
Newport Beach – Some spectacular restaurants participate in this Restaurant Week January 16-29, 2017. [link]
Oakland – Oakland is a GREAT place to enjoy fabulous food, and you get 10 whole days to do so this year. Check out its restaurant week offerings! January 19-29, 2017 [link]
Orange County – The very first Restaurant Week for this area was in 2009, and it’s been growing ever since. Now you can find participating restaurants in virtually every city in the county, whether you’re looking in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, San Clemente and more. In fact, the folks in Orange County are so on top of things they’re one of the first we’ve found to set the date for 2017: March 5-11, 2017. [link]
Oxnard – Click the link to learn what restaurants in Oxnard are taking part in the Restaurant Month festivities during January 20-29, 2017. [link]
Palm Springs – Enjoy Restaurant Week savings here June 2-11, 2017. [link]
Pasadena / Old Pasadena – Pasadena has a variety of offerings, and the first one is all about cheeseburgers. How cool is that? January 8-13, 2017 There’s quite an impressive list of participating restaurants, too. [link] If cheeseburgers aren’t your thing, the City of Roses’ restaurants also participate in the Dine LA Restaurant Month promotion. (See link at Los Angeles, above.)
Redondo Beach – This seaside city is getting in on the Restaurant Week action January 13-27, 2017. While there aren’t many restaurants participating, it looks like it might be a good time to snag a deal on some tasty treats. [link]
Redwood City – This Bay Area city, about midway between San Francisco and San Jose, will celebrate Restaurant Week between April 21-27, 2016***. [link]
Riverside – Looking over the offerings for these restaurants is bound to make you hungry, but you can join in on this Inland Empire city’s restaurant week celebration that runs June 17-26, 2016***. [link]
Sacramento – The state capital hosts several restaurant week events throughout the year to celebrate the area’s great bounty. The first event, focused on downtown restaurants, is Dine Downtown Restaurant Week and runs January 12-22, 2017. [link] Another is the Taste of Summer event that runs June 3-4, 2017 [link], and they wrap things up with a two-week, Farm-to-Fork celebration September 10-27, 2016***. [link]
San Diego – “America’s Most Beautiful City” typically hosts two Restaurant Weeks each year. This year’s dates are January 15-22, 2017 and September 25 through October 2, 2016***. [link] There are some North County San Diego restaurants on the list, as well. Check out the link!
San Francisco – In previous years, this was called “Dine About Town” here, but the Golden Gate Restaurant Association took over for 2015, and it’s now known as San Francisco Restaurant Week (even though it runs for 10 days). January 18-29, 2017 [link]
San Jose – Restaurant Week will be celebrated in downtown San Jose from January 16-26, 2017. [link] (See also the separate Silicon Valley Restaurant Week information below.)
San Luis Obispo County – This Central Coast county will celebrate annual Restaurant Month with a variety of restaurants in various cities (Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and more) offering a 3-course, prix-fixe menu for only $30. January 2-31, 2017 [link] There are even some wineries getting in on the fun this year!
Santa Barbara – In conjunction with the Santa Barbara Film Festival, this seaside community celebrates Film Feast February 3-13, 2016***. [link]
Santa Catalina Island (Avalon) – There may not be as many restaurants on this list as some of the other California cities, but it still looks like there’s a good time to be had on Catalina Island June 2-8, 2017. [link]
Santa Cruz – This seaside community celebrated the California Restaurant Month idea in January 2015***, and then it surprised us with an additional fall Restaurant Week celebration that ran October 12-19, 2016*** [link]
Santa Monica – You’ll want to check out the Los Angeles Restaurant Week link (above) for participating Santa Monica restaurants. Additionally, as Santa Monica is known as a health-conscious culinary destination, several of the city’s restaurants will offer a specially-crafted artichoke dish as part of Eat Well Week™, January 9-15, 2017. Throughout the week, diners can participate on social media for a change to win a wellness prize. Check out the details! [link]
Santa Ynez Valley – It started in Solvang in 2009, and now the whole valley is getting in the game! January 22-28, 2017. [link]
Sonoma County – 2010 was the first year for this foodie haven’s Restaurant Week, and it just keeps getting better. It looks like there will be two celebrations this year since they’re getting in on the January Restaurant Month action this year with a month-long event aptly titled Delicious. [link] The second event — a March Restaurant Week — took place on March 7-13, 2016*** and it says 2017’s dates are coming soon. [link]
Stockton – Enjoy this Central Valley city’s Restaurant Week offerings January 20-29, 2017. [link]
Suisun City – It’s good to see so many Central Valley cities celebrating this year! Check out the Suisun City Restaurant Week offerings January 20-29, 2017! [link]
Temecula – This Inland Empire city celebrates Restaurant Month throughout January 2017. [link]
Tri-Valley (Bay Area) – This area includes restaurants located in Dublin, Danville, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon and takes place the entire month of January 2017. [link]
Vacaville – This Central Valley city celebrates restaurant week January 13-22, 2017. [link]
Ventura – It looks like there are some Ventura County restaurants participating in the Los Angeles Restaurant Week festivities in 2017 (see link above).
Walnut Creek – More than two dozen eateries offer special prix fixe menus when this San Francisco Bay Area city (East Bay) celebrates Restaurant Week April 17-24, 2016***. [link]
Yosemite National Park – This California national park’s iconic Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly known as Awahnee Hotel) may offer the ultimate restaurant week – or month, to be exact – when visitors can enjoy special The Grand Grape Dinners that feature some of the state’s most interesting culinary masters. The promotion runs November 6 through December, 2016*** and includes special wine pairings. [link]
California Restaurant Week / Restaurant Month events offer a great opportunity to enjoy affordable “prix fixe” (set price) meals at some of the state’s top restaurants, so “bon appétit!” or “come and get it!,” whichever works for you. The events are so good, they’re almost worth planning a California vacation — or two — around them!
(Do you know of any California Restaurant Week offerings to add to this list? Please use the contact email address on our “About Us” page (see footer) to share it with us. We’d love to add it to our list.)
Note: Information in this article was accurate
when it was published, but hours, prices, etc.
change constantly. Please confirm details
with local contacts before traveling.