A record number of Brooklyn restaurants are taking part in New York City Restaurant Week — kicking off Jan. 25 and running through Jan. 31 — offering deals on exclusive entrees and appetizers as part of the biannual event.
The first restaurant week of 2021 has been reimagined for the moment in order to stimulate the local industry at a time when indoor dining has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and cold weather is hampering outdoor options.
Across Brooklyn, 78 restaurants will provide an entrée and at least one side for takeout or delivery for the bargain price of $20.21 (get it?). Plus, if you purchase your meal with your registered Mastercard, you’ll get $10 back.
The week features the highest-ever number of Brooklyn restaurants in a New York City Restaurant Week, which has been running annually since 1992. A whooping 570 restaurants are participating citywide. The fact that NYC & Company (New York City’s marketing and tourism agency) waived the typical $1,800 fee for restaurants to take part in the event is undoubtedly a factor.
Lisa Fernandes, executive chef and owner of Bushwick’s Sweet Chili, said the waived fee was a game-changer.
“When the opportunity came up, and I saw the fees were being waived, especially right now, it is usually very expensive, that was a great draw for me and many others,” Fernandes said.
Her restaurant, which opened just four months ahead of the citywide coronavirus-driven shutdown in March, specializes in creative Thai and Vietnamese food. This week, patrons at Sweet Chili can get honey-chili glazed pork dumplings, Vietnamese coffee tiramisu and a choice of either wok-sautéed sweet chili chicken or general chili’s tofu for the $20.21 price tag.
“We’re going to order every day to the restaurant while we’re working just to support our neighbors,” Fernandes said. “This is the time for the people in the neighborhood who have never tried us before to come try it out, support us the same way we support our community.”
Over the course of the pandemic, Sweet Chili provided free and ‘pay-what-you-can’ meals, in addition to giving out toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other essentials items to neighbors in need.
At Williamsburg’s de Mole, a small family-owned restaurant specializing in Mexican cuisine, chefs are cooking up an exclusive meal only available during Restaurant Week.
“This year we wanted to put our best foot forward,” owner Jose Luis Flores said.
“Our special this year is a dish we made that can travel well since that is so important right now.”
De Mole is offering a nuanced flavorful experience with a cast iron chicken with red Guajillo salsa served on a bed of mashed plantains with bacon and a bright kale salad on the side. Flores said community support meant a lot to his restaurant, now more than ever.
“Our community knows we’re family-owned and we make everything from scratch,” he said, adding it took three days to make the restaurant’s signature mole.
“We were one of the few businesses still open in Williamsburg. We’re proud of that.”
For a full list of participating restaurants, visit the NYC Restaurant Week site here.