RESTAURANTS

Iowa City plans Restaurant Week, Foodie Festival to pair with Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week in February

Chef Hicham Chehouani of Crepes de Luxe (right) grinds fresh pepper while Monty Mohamed adds smoked salmon to L'ocean cr
Chef Hicham Chehouani of Crepes de Luxe (right) grinds fresh pepper while Monty Mohamed adds smoked salmon to L’ocean crepes during Top Chef, the Iowa City Downtown District’s annual culinary competition, at hotelVetro in Iowa City on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. Top Chef will wrap up the new Iowa City Restaurant Week in 2020. A new event, the Foodie Festival, will kick off the week on Feb. 15. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

February is for food lovers.

That’s the message Think Iowa City — The Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau — is promoting with a new Iowa City Restaurant Week and corresponding Foodie Festival planned for this winter.

“Restaurant Week is something our restaurant community has been talking about and asking for for a while now,” said Monica Nieves, Think Iowa City vice president of special events. “We have such a robust culinary scene in our area, it makes sense for us to bring some light to our local eateries.”

Iowa City Restaurant Week will be Feb. 15 to 24, with participating Johnson County restaurants offering prix fixe menus for lunch, dinner or both. Prices will be set at $15, $25 or $35 per meal, with businesses encouraged to include multicourse meals. Details are online at a new website, foodiefebruary.com. Restaurants still are being added to the Restaurant Week lineup, and interested businesses can contact Nieves at (319) 337-6592.

The week will start with a new event, the Foodie Festival, 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 300 E. Ninth St., Coralville. Tickets will go on sale Jan. 6, with proceeds benefiting the CommUnity Food Bank, Coralville Community Food Pantry and North Liberty Community Food Pantry. Restaurant Week will wrap up with a return of the Iowa City Downtown District’s event Top Chef Iowa City on Feb. 24 at the Graduate hotel, 210 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Tickets for both events are $55 and will be available through littlevillagetickets.com. Top Chef tickets go on sale Jan. 1.

Both events will feature food and drinks from Iowa City restaurants. Whereas the Downtown District’s annual Top Chef features only downtown and Northside Iowa City eateries, the Foodie Festival will be open to a wider range of restaurants.

Think Iowa City planned Restaurant Week for February to encourage business in a traditionally slow time of year for restaurants.

“It’s winter, and we want to make sure our restaurants stay busy when it’s cold outside. I think all of us know when it’s dark and cold, it’s easy to stay home,” she said.

Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week

Iowa City isn’t alone planning a February restaurant week. Cedar Rapids has had a restaurant week for several years and will again this year from Feb. 21 to 29. Nieves said the overlap in dates was intentional, with the hope of making the whole Corridor feel like it is part of “Foodie February.”

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The Metro Economic Alliance will kick off its week with its own food and beverage sampling event, the Fork & Knife Feast, on Feb. 20, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the former Smulekoff’s Warehouse, 411 Sixth Ave. SE, floor 3. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door and are on sale now at cedarrapids.org/restaurantweek.

Restaurants interested in participating in Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week, including Fork & Knife Feast, can apply by Jan. 8 to participate. Visit cedarrapids.org/restaurantweek or contact the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance for additional information. A full list of officially participating restaurants for Restaurant Week will be available in early February.

Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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