That Houston's restaurants slow down in July is an undisputed fact, but the primary reason is a subject of some debate. Is it because people who typically dine out are away on vacation, or is it because they are saving up to go crazy in August?
After all, that's when Houston Restaurant Weeks occurs, and the month-long charity event creates a certain frenzy.
For those who haven't experienced the dining phenomenon that is HRW, the formula is simple. Restaurants all over the Houston area prepare special, multi-course menus at a set price — $25, $35, or $45 for dinner and $20 for lunch or brunch — and donate a fixed dollar amount for every menu sold to the Houston Food Bank ($3 to $7) during the month of August. Those prices typically represent a bit of a discount from a restaurant's regular pricing, which means diners pack popular spots looking to both eat well and do good.
Fueled by the collective efforts of over 200 restaurants and five full weeks of dining, HRW raised a record-breaking $1.9 million in 2015. Every dollar raised yields three meals from the Food Bank for hungry Houstonians, so it does a lot of good for the city.
New for 2016, the $25 dinner option will be a key component in breaking last year's record, since Labor Day is a couple of days earlier in 2016 than it was in 2015 (HRW traditionally lasts through the Labor Day weekend). It also opens up the event to casual restaurants where a $35, three-course dinner wouldn't represent a discount over its regular offerings. Which restaurants the new price point attracts remains a mystery until the full lineup is revealed on July 15.
"As one who reports on restaurants and chefs in our city, I am so grateful for the outpouring of support by Houston’s restaurant industry and diners for Houston Restaurant Weeks," said founder and chair Cleverley Stone in a statement. “Houston Restaurant Weeks has become one of the most anticipated times of the year for local foodies and visitors to our city.”
Don't be intimidated by the prospect of trying to find the best deals. CultureMap will be running plenty of guides all month to point out newcomers and highlight the best options.