Dine Out Boston — formerly Restaurant Week Boston — kicks off on March 1. For two weeks, restaurants offer special multicourse menus and prices at lunch and at dinner, in conjunction with the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Lunch prices range from $15 to $25; dinner prices run from $28 to $38.
Of course, you might spend far less than $25 for a tasty lunch under normal circumstances at some of these places. So why pay more now? That’s why you need a strategy, my friends: Savvy Dine Out-goers target their restaurants with care, with an eye to both deliciousness as well as experimentation and value.
Ahead, seven excellent options for Dine Out Boston. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list; they’re merely my favorites. And it goes without saying: Check hours and availability before embarking upon your meal.
This is one of the North End’s best, coziest red-sauce affairs. Roaring ovens. Flattering, low lighting. Brick walls. You get the picture. I recommend ducking in at lunch, when it’s far less crowded. They traditionally offer a choice of salads, meatballs, or arancini; pasta or fish; and a dessert like tiramisu. Portions are husky. You’ll feel full — and like you got some bang for your buck.
93 Salem St., Boston, 617-723-6733, www.anticofornoboston.com
In a neighborhood that sees new restaurants open seemingly every week, Barbara Lynch’s seafood haunt is still a classic. Dinner ($38) appears to be the best value here, though the menu is tight: two choices per course. But Hamachi crudo, squid ink tagliatelle, and chocolate mousse at a Lynch establishment really isn’t bad at all. You’d pay nearly that for a main course under regular circumstances.
550 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-0550, www.bandgoysters.com
Bistro du Midi
This magical hideaway across from the Common feels like the sort of spot you could conduct a secret affair, seal a major book deal, or greet an elderly uncle who’s about to bestow a handsome inheritance. It’s the kind of place where urban stories unfold. And, hey, the food is terrific! (Executive chef Robert Sisca was sous chef at Le Bernardin in Manhattan). I’m going to recommend the $25 lunch here mainly for atmosphere — you’ll feel like you’re stealing away for something special. Venison terrine and chocolate cheesecake at noon? Oh, why not?
272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-426-7878, www.bistrodumidi.com
Boston Chops, South End
I’m a big fan of this weirdo steakhouse, which serves traditional cuts but unusual things, too; there’s a “rarely celebrated” menu section with stuff like braised tripe and grilled tongue. Their dinner ($38) lets you try oxtail croquettes (and you should) and has a larger-than-average menu that mixes seafood and various types of steak. It also encourages you get creative with additions like bone marrow and bacon-roasted Brussels — for a surcharge, of course. If you want a little room to roam, consider this.
1375 Washington St., Boston, 617-227-5011, www.bostonchops.com
Tim Wiechmann, who came of age in Europe, is one of the city’s most talented chefs. He flies ever-so-slightly under the radar, but his T.W. Food in Huron Village was a true Old World gem. Now he’s decamped to Union Square with German beer hall Bronwyn (he also runs gourmet pizzeria T&B next door). The man is a meat maestro, and for $28 at dinner — less than some of his Boston counterparts — you can sample charcuterie, house-made sausages, apple strudel, and more. You won’t leave hungry. There’s also a $15 beer or wine pairing, a nice value (and Wiechmann takes his pairings seriously).
255 Washington St., Somerville, 617-776-9900, www.bronwynrestaurant.com
Boston’s coziest, truest French restaurant, on the ragged edges of Beacon Hill. Feels like the kind of place where you might complete your first novel on pages stained with French onion soup (if that cheesy, molten cauldron doesn’t put you to sleep first). Regal waiters in black and white glide through the room like elegant Dalmatians. They’re serving a multi-course menu for $20, which is nice, since entrees ring in at that under everyday circumstances. Extra points for people-watching.
272 Cambridge St., Boston, 617-725-8855, www.mamaisonboston.com
This North End seafood lair earns my approval for offering plenty of seafood selections on the Dine Out menu. Tuna crudo, sautéed mussels and clams, surf and turf, seared salmon and swordfish — at $33 for dinner, you’re getting a fine deal. A heated patio and fire pits don’t hurt, either.
223 Hanover St., Boston, 617-723-6273, www.mareysterbar.com