As soon as the banners go up downtown, I get excited for Turlock Restaurant Week. TRW is a time each year that I make the most of my meetings, lunches, and evenings to support local businesses and try new things. My friends and I use the week as an excuse to visit our local favorites to try the “this week only” menu items, for work I use it as a way to invite others to meet me over lunch and see our great town, and as a foodie… well let’s just say it made a great excuse for a cheat week!
TRW is only 10 days long and I am not the sort of girl to print out the calendar and see “how many I can get in,” despite that, I managed to optimize my plans to try nine great places this year. The best part of restaurant week is the excuse to maximize your budget and eat out as many times as you can in the same week. Great people and great food… what else could a girl ask for?
The first night of TRW we decided to eat dinner at a place we rarely go. Center Street Grill was offering a special four-course menu so we invited out another couple for a steak dinner and drinks. The place was packed. Despite having reservations we sat in the bar area. We made a great first choice; the dinner was amazing. The steak was cooked perfectly and the sauce on it was heavenly and rich.
We decided to take the party on the road and walk around downtown. We skipped our usual watering hole (as they weren’t participating) and tried the specialty drink at 10 East before walking to Bistro 234 for dessert. Let me tell you that Bistro 234 was an amazing late night stop. It was wall to wall with people trying their special menu, the waitress we had was AMAZING, and the atmosphere was alive with laughter. In one night we tried three great places downtown. The Bistro is a place we normally don’t visit for nightlife, but it’s definitely going to be a repeat now that we’ve tried it. With just three stops on the first night, TRW was exceeding my expectations already…
On Monday, I got to have the TRW special from Toscana’s Ristoranté to-go shared as carry out with a friend. Let me tell you that if the pasta is this good as carry out I can’t imagine how good it was in the restaurant. Toscana’s is a favorite breakfast stop for me and I often have meetings there. They did not disappoint and I regret not hosting a meeting or two there during the week. I hope they bring back that lobster pasta again next year. Yum! I realized that several of my stops this week were going to require reservations… I highly recommend booking in advance if the restaurant offers it for much shorter wait times.
By Tuesday, I needed a La Mo fix. I also made my order a carry-out so I could have a working lunch. La Mo’s atmosphere is my favorite part of going there. I missed sitting on the patio but I could close my eyes, take a bite, and imagine I didn’t have work to do.
I went to a lunch meeting at Memo’s Cocina. We went to Memo’s because it was TRW but didn’t order off the TRW menu because we found other things we wanted to try. I think that is something to remember. You are not limited to the special menu. The local businesses want you to visit them, to bring your friends, to enjoy their hospitality. Having a vested interest in saying, “yes” to the TRW menu… I found myself enjoying getting to know a new friend and a group of her friends at Table 26 on Thursday night.
We turned TRW into a ladies night worth remembering with Table 26’s special menu (Oh My Goodness- Poke Nachos!!) and some cocktails. Also, what does Chef John do to make those green beans so dang good?! Table 26 was new to TRW this year and I can’t say how excited I am about that. It’s a restaurant that I have enjoyed since they opened and their unique eye for flavor profiles will have me making reservations again next year.
By Friday, I had TRW performance anxiety. There were so many places that I wanted to try and I only had three days left. I met a girlfriend for an afternoon snack and quick meeting at Main Street Footers. We sat outside and split the special dog of the day. The excuse “just to try a bite” was quickly set aside as we devoured the whole thing. I have no regrets. And because I am not one to back away from a challenge, I booked two reservations for the last two days.
Saturday, I headed north to Agave Azul in Hughson. They offered a TRW menu that I was excited about since the first day. I invited some girlfriends out and we each ordered a different item and shared them. Do not underestimate the power of, “I’ll have one of everything.” We had a hard time picking a favorite between the Avocado Toast (a standard menu item) and the Ribeye Taco (TRW special). The staff was accommodating and friendly as we chatted for hours and split our items family style. I’m not going to lie; it was the best taco I’ve ever eaten (sorry Silva’s Taco Truck, you’ve met your match).
I had plans to meet friends at LOZA Wine and Crepes, but I didn’t get to go due to a family emergency. On my way home, I stopped by to visit the group of friends eating there and tried a bite of a savory crepe that made me utter a verbal “wow -yum.” And if that’s not a great way to end a restaurant week then I don’t know what is.
I’m counting down the days to next year and I’ll be planning earlier, because nine restaurants was great, but next year I have a few more stops I am planning to make!
Excited for TRW’20?! Stay up to date at http://www.turlockrestaurantweek.com and follow @heyturlock on Facebook and Instagram for future Turlock Restaurant Week updates and announcements. If you have any questions about TRW, email firstname.lastname@example.org.