Annual dining deal heats up

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Gulf shrimp and fish in coconut broth with mushrooms and bok choy, a lunch special at Iris.
  • Ian McNulty
  • Gulf shrimp and fish in coconut broth with mushrooms and bok choy, a lunch special at Iris.

One of the city’s great dining deals begins today. From now until the end of August, dozens of local restaurants will participate in the city’s COOLinary promotion, with two- or three-course lunches for $20 or less and three-course dinners for $35 or less.

The annual event is organized by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the idea is to help fill dining rooms during the typical summer lull in tourism and convention business. For locals who take up the offer, it can boil down to a summer restaurant tour on the cheap.

With some 58 restaurants signed up, this year’s COOLinary looks to be the biggest yet. The options range from old-line restaurants, including the city’s very oldest restaurant, Antoine’s, to some of the newest, like Criollo Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone (the restaurant has been serving breakfast and lunch for a few months but just added dinner in July).

Some of the restaurants seem to come a bit out of left field (did you know that the Bourbon Street night club Bourbon Heat doubles as an eatery? I didn’t, but there it is serving catfish Lafayette and Breaux Bridge blackened chicken).

Scallops with apple and green onion salsa, at One Restaurant & Lounge.
  • Ian McNulty
  • Scallops with apple and green onion salsa, at One Restaurant & Lounge.

But, as usual, the COOLinary list includes plenty well-known and highly-regarded restaurants. A few examples from my own personal A list that are serving COOLinary menus this year include Brigtsen’s Restaurant, GW Fins, One Restaurant & Lounge and Iris, where the dinner special is just $25 (note that Iris will be closed for vacation Aug. 5-15).

There are plenty of other noteworthy options too. Check out the full list of participating restaurants and their COOLinary menus here.

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