By Lee Musho
The 14th annual Syracuse Downtown Dining Weeks are ending next Wednesday, February 28th. That means you have less than a week to try out every restaurant in Syracuse you’ve been drooling over, for a cost that even we college kids can afford.
There are a record number of restaurants participating this year, 40 in total. For the first time, restaurants which are only open for lunch will be included in the partnership, hoping to boost the downtown economy by encouraging students and people who work downtown to go out for their midday meal.
20 restaurants are offering a lunch special, or 3 courses for 10 dollars or less. 35 restaurants are also offering a dinner special, or 3 courses for 25 dollars or less.
The Syracuse Downtown Dining Weeks have taken place since 2004. They were founded to give the downtown economy a boost during the dining lull of the winter months. The deals “continue to attract as many as 50,000 people to downtown Syracuse over its two-week run. They come from all over Onondaga County as well as Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, and Oswego counties,” says Merike Treier, the Executive Director of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse.
Terry Alvarez, the manager at Modern Malt in Armory Square, says the Downtown Dining Weeks are good for business. “Dining weeks and Winterfest hit at the same time and we always see a big surge, it’s kinda like the winter thaw hits and everyone’s finally willing to come out of their houses a little bit, it’s a great two weeks for us.”
Alvarez from Modern Malt says their Dining Week menu reflects the menu they currently have. “We like to really like push the envelope, take things that people aren’t doing or taking classic ways of doing something and turning them on their head.” One of the lunch offerings, a chicken sandwich with Cheeto breading, mimics their popular Barney Rubble, a French toast, which is coated in blended Fruity Pebbles cereal. “We’re offering future specials to see if they’ll hit home in our next menu,” Alvarez says. For lunch there is the option of a soup or salad, and for the second course a choice of grilled cheese with candied bacon, strawberry shortcake pancakes, or the chicken sandwich.
For dinner, there is a choice of chicken riggie poutine, foie gras deviled eggs or a chicken fried tofu and waffles appetizer. For the main course, there is a choice of chocolate praline waffles with a peach compote, a turducken omelet with turkey bacon, duck confit and chicken sausage, or a breakfast burger. The burger is crusted in coffee and served on a waffle with candied bacon and a sunny-side-up egg.
Modern Malt has a delivery option for its dining week specials, as many college students order delivery once or twice a week. Syracuse student Annabeth Mann says she goes out to restaurants rarely. “I don’t go out super often, mainly because it’s a journey, and two, it’s expensive. But Downtown Dining Weeks sound like a great solution and gives me incentive to travel.” Alvarez of Modern Malt recognizes the need to appeal to students, “We love the students and we always give them a 15% discount, and that will be on top of dining week.”
Take the bus, jump in a friend’s car, heck, even walk to Armory Square and try out these specials before they’re gone on the 28th!