Hamden Restaurant Week to bring meal deals, live music

HAMDEN — Folks hungry for a deal can expect a host of dining specials as the annual Restaurant Week comes to town.

Hamden Restaurant Week kicks off its 10th year Sept. 21 and runs through Sept. 26, with much to offer patrons in dining choices and live music.

Joining this year as new businesses are Funcle’s Café, Bomb Wings & Rice Bar, and Fresh Greens & Proteins.

Fresh Greens & Proteins opened its takeout establishment in January and co-owner AJ Cooney said the business has been “insanely busy” all summer.

Cooney said even heading into the pandemic as a new business, the restaurant already had loyal customers who pulled Fresh Greens & Proteins through, and with school back in session at nearby Quinnipiac University, it’s gotten an extra boost.

Right now they’re strictly takeout serving custom salads, rice and acacia bowls, wraps, protein shakes and smoothies.

Some returning Restaurant Week staples include Aunt Chilada’s, Eli’s on Whitney, Freskos, Ibiza Tapas & Wine Bar, Ixtapa Grill, Mickey’s Restaurant & Bar, Ristorante Luce, Side Street Grille, The Playwright Irish Pub, Mikro, TexiKo and Café Amici.

Nancy Dudchik, president of the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce, said operating during the pandemic has been hard for restaurants, but the businesses have been resilient.

“They’ve pivoted into a new way of normal,” she said. “The resilience of these business owners is amazing.”

The chamber has assisted business owners, working with town and Planning and Zoning to allow for dining on sidewalks and converted parking lots, she said.

“To see these restaurants transform a parking lot to wonderful fine dining is amazing,” Dudchik said. “The restaurant owners, this is what they do, what they know. When they’re faced with a crisis they make it work.”

With the exception of a few participating eateries that are only serving takeout — Bomb Wings and Rice, Fresh Greens & Proteins — most of the restaurants offer outdoor seating.

Many of the participating restaurants will be featuring live entertainment thanks to a partnership this year with the Hamden Department of Arts and Culture.

“This is the first time we’re incorporating live entertainment and that’s a really wonderful partnership that the Arts and Culture Department came up with,” Dudchik said. “It’s the perfect synergy to have outside dining and live performances.”

About 11 of the participating restaurants will have live performances, the majority of which will take place Friday and Saturday, Dudchik said.

Dudchik said some of the participating businesses are ones that have been joining Restaurant Week yearly since it started.

“If you were ever going to come out, if you’ve been too busy before, I’m begging people to come out this week,” she said. “Not only will you be supporting the businesses owners but you’re getting a great dining experience.”

The eateries are offering either a $9 to $15 prix fixe lunch, a $20 to $35 prix fixe dinner, or both, or a buy-one-get-one option.

To see menu options and offerings from participating restaurants and a list of the local musicians, visit iloverestaurantweek.com.

Restaurant week is presented in partnership with Bankwell.

“We’re glad to have them join us in showcasing all our diverse and unique eateries,” Dudchik said. “It’s wonderful to have Bankwell support the community in this way.”

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