With 28 eateries participating in Fredericksburg’s semi-annual Restaurant Week, locals could skip the grocery store altogether for every meal—and still have exciting food experiences to spare during the event.
Winter Restaurant Week 2020 runs from Jan. 17 through Jan. 26. Each participating restaurant will feature menus at specific price points, allowing all customers, even those on a budget, to have a taste of what local chefs are cooking up, according to Fredericksburg Visitor Center Manager Danelle Rose, who coordinates the event.
Options for Winter Restaurant Week include breakfast, lunch and dinner specials at price points in the “20 in 2020” range of $6.20, $10.20, $20.20 and $30.20 at participating restaurants.
Sunken Well Tavern has been a participant since the event began. Owner Steve Cameli said, “Restaurant Week allows us to reach a larger part of our community and gives members of our community a chance to sample who and what we are… [and] planning the Restaurant Week menu is a team effort. We consult with both our front- and back-of-the-house team leaders.”
Chef Paul Stoddard is planning on a menu with several different soups through the week along with a crispy rib-eye steak, pork loin roulade, seafood bruschetta and homemade winter pasta, among other options.
Cameli said he hopes visitors come away with a sense that, “We are a small locally owned business that puts a lot of care and time into what we do, and of course that the food was really good, too.”
There are options throughout the city offering just that: local hard work and really good food. Participating coffee shops include 25-30 Espresso, Agora Downtown Coffee Shop, Italian Station and Katora Coffee.
Restaurants offering specials include Alpine Chef Restaurant, Bistro at the Courtyard by Marriott, Brock’s Riverside Grill, Capital Ale House, Castiglia’s, Cork & Table, Dark Star Saloon & Café, Deutschland Downtown, Eileen’s Bakery, Fahrenheit 132, Foode, J. Brian’s Tap Room, Juan More Taco, Kybecca, La Petite Auberge, Orofino, Pimenta, Sammy T’s Restaurant, Sedona Taphouse, Soup and Taco, Soup and Taco 2, Sunken Well Tavern, Tapa Rio and Vivify Burger & Lounge.
The first Saturday of Restaurant Week this year is Foode’s nine-year anniversary, and it will be the restaurant’s ninth year participating in Winter Restaurant Week. Owners Beth Black and Joy Crump have also been at the helm of Mercantile for four years and will be hosting the fourth Winter Restaurant Week there.
“Fredericksburg’s Winter Restaurant Week isn’t just an opportunity for restaurants, it’s a huge window of exposure for the entire downtown scene,” Crump said. “At a time when folks might be more reluctant to take a road trip because of the weather or trying to curb their post-holiday spending, Restaurant Week in January gives them another really viable reason to visit historic downtown.”
This time, they picked the theme of “family” for both restaurants. She said the staff always tries to create a Restaurant Week experience that is memorable, and said that the whole scene in Fredericksburg ups the stakes each year.
“So, we’ll highlight some of my family’s recipes like the biscuits at Mercantile or Rosie’s Fried Chicken at Foode. And we’ll celebrate dishes that are special to our staff ‘family,’” including craft cocktails and pastries created in-house or some the items their pitmaster smokes. Foode is even planning to serve some of the plates family-style, so people can sample multiple dishes.
For those visiting for the first time, Crump said, “We look at first-timers like a first date. Meaning, we want to put our best foot forward always. We want to check all the boxes that they expect because diners in this region are incredibly savvy … And hopefully, if we all do our jobs, they’ll want to see us for a second date.”
And for the locals, she said, “Restaurant Week is a great entry way into maybe trying out a new spot you’ve been meaning to visit or sampling something unique from one of your favorite spots. Bottom line, everyone wins. If you walk downtown for a few hours, you might hit the canal path, swing by Dog Krazy, get a massage at Skin + Touch.”
This will be the second time Juan More Taco is participating in a Restaurant Week event. Owner Maria Martin said the weeklong celebration of local food allows Juan More Taco to gets its name out and welcome new customers. And the price point allows them to offer the wide array of what they do in one meal. One option for $20.20 there allows customers to get two tacos, chips and salsa, rice and beans and a dessert.
“We aren’t solely Mexican-styled dishes,” she said. “We are a mix of Latin America, but with prominent touches of Honduran flavors.”
Rose said the city is bringing back its popular passport program for Winter Restaurant Week. Those who eat at five or more participating restaurants during the event are eligible to win $250 worth of downtown gift cards. Diners can print one online or pick a passport up at the Visitor Center, and have it stamped after eating at participating restaurants. Completed passports should be returned by the end of the event to the Visitor Center to be eligible.
“Dining is such an integral part of the downtown Fredericksburg experience,” said Rose. “For many, Winter Restaurant Week provides a wonderful introduction to downtown’s many top-notch restaurants. You’ll be amazed at the variety and quality of menu items available. Our dedicated chefs embrace this opportunity to showcase their talents to both new and returning customers.”