Eating out is a luxury.

While I enjoy this back-and-forth we have — I tell you where I ate this week and you suggest a better spot around the corner — I also know restaurant-hopping is not the norm. Many of you have a favorite spot for special occasions, but the practice of venturing from eatery to eatery is time-consuming, and for most, unaffordable.

For me, the process of finding a restaurant worth dumping out my wallet for is painstaking. I stare aimlessly at online menus and Yelp reviews. An hour of scrolling goes by; then I pull out Google Maps. How far am I willing to go for a taco? Will there be a pitstop for gas, or maybe groceries? Does that defeat the point? Would a responsible food reporter opt for home cooking?

If this anxiety at all applies to your pre-restaurant routine, I have good news. Friday marks the beginning of Charm City’s winter Restaurant Week — a promotion run by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore since 2006. The event aims to boost local business and make the act of eating out more accessible.

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For 10 days, dozens of restaurants across town will offer deals on prix fixe lunch, brunch and dinner deals, according to the website.

As a newer Baltimorean, here are three restaurants I haven’t tried yet that I’m excited to pop into this week.

BLK Swan

From the neon signs to the chic velvet booths, BLK Swan appears to be the spot for the perfect night out. I have wanted to venture into the Harbor East eatery since reading about the laughter and late-night conversation at the restaurant’s Rare Bird Supper Club.

For restaurant week, the business promises a $35-per-person brunch menu, stocked with funfetti chicken and waffles, short-rib eggs Benedict and buttermilk pancakes. A three-course lunch for $25 is also available, with hot honey pepperoni pizza, a signature BLK Swan burger made with a half-pound of Angus beef, and a roasted caulilini — an Asian-style baby cauliflower — and cheddar soup.

On the dinner menu, customers are able to pay $55 per person, with options ranging from a turkey meatloaf and coffee barbecue grilled salmon, to a vegan pasta pomodoro, paired with chive oil and bucatini pasta.

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Mera Kitchen Collective

The North Calvert Street eatery is a favorite of Banner readers. Many have praised the worker-owned cooperative for its falafel; I’m very excited to delve into a gluten-free version.

The Collective is offering a $17-per-person deal on lunch during restaurant week. Patrons will be able to choose between the famous falafel sandwich with house-made pickles and cilantro-jalapeno dressing; a chicken shawarma wrap, with meat marinated in cardamom-infused yogurt; or tacos dorados, fried corn tortillas stuffed with Oaxacan queso and potato. All come with a side of either spicy garlic fries or fattoush salad. For dessert, the eatery has toasted filo wrapped with pistachios and rosewater simple syrup. (Unfortunately for me, the dessert is the only option that doesn’t have a gluten-free option.)

Sotto Sopra

The fine dining Italian eatery appears to offer delicious food for a fancy night out. Who doesn’t want to celebrate the weekend with cheese and red sauce?

The North Charles restaurant is offering three-course meals for $45 per person. For the first course, guests can decide between a smoked tomato soup, Maryland-style mussels, lamb meatballs and much more.

For the second course, Sotto Supra is cooking up options like a classic carbonara, chicken cacciatore and an il cioppino di sotto supra, a dish that comes with lobster, mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, a seasonal fish and Tuscan bread.

Bon appétit.

Matti Gellman is a Food Reporter for The Baltimore Banner. 

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