Restaurant Week: Better Make Those Reservations Quickly

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Today's the official start day of KRLD Restaurant Week's reservation season, a surprisingly meaningless date to some of DFW's most serious gourmands.

Although the list of 132 participating restaurants was officially unveiled today, prospective diners who accessed the list through the Open Table online reservation system this weekend discovered all the boldface name restaurants were already booked. As of last night, it was impossible to score a Restaurant Week table at eateries including Abacus, Charlie Palmer, Fearing's, Five Sixty and Lonesome Dove.

"Here's the thing," sighs coordinator Marianne Howells. "People who have been doing Restaurant Week for years sort of intuit and start calling early."

Howells says her pleading with restaurants to hold off on accepting reservations has been mostly for naught.

"Either they don't listen to me or the people who answer the phones don't get the message," she says.

While this year's restaurant list includes almost two dozen new entries, Howells says diners who've been participating in the festivities for 13 years know which restaurants are considered mainstays. "People know The Mansion's going to do it," she says.

Although KRLD doesn't have data to prove it, Howells suspects many veteran Restaurant Week diners eat out on multiple nights, making it harder still for diners who wait until the official start date to nab a sought-after seat.

"I know I have to run into the arms of Weight Watchers when it's done," Howells says with a laugh.

Restaurant Week is an annual fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope Home. The agencies receive $7 for every $35 three-course prix fixe meal purchased at a participating restaurant August 16-22. According to Howells, organizers hope to generate $550,000 in charitable contributions.

The event has proved so popular in previous years that a number of restaurants have extended the promotion, offering prix-fixe deals in the weeks before and after Restaurant Week. But Howells warns diners with designs on celeb-helmed restaurants that those reservations also get claimed quickly.

"I've had people call and cry to me about a certain restaurant they want to go to," Howells says. "But we have 132 fabulous restaurants. If your favorite's gone, you can try something new. I promise we'll make our goal and we'll all have a good time."

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