NORTHERN MANHATTAN — Restaurant Week isn't just for downtown anymore.
Eateries in Washington Heights and Inwood are hoping to draw diners Uptown by getting into the restaurant week game on their terms.
Explora Restaurant Week, which began on May 15 and will run until May 26, features discounts and specials from more than 15 cafes in Washington Heights and Inwood.
The event, organized by the Washington Heights Business Improvement District, features several established names, including Washington Heights' Coogan's, and Inwood's Papasito Mexican Grill and Agave Bar.
"One of the wonderful things that Northern Manhattan has is restaurants," said Washington Heights BID director Angelina Ramirez. "We really wanted to take advantage of the fact."
Unlike traditional restaurant weeks, which feature prix fixe deals, the specials are different in each restaurant. For example; diners can get a free cocktail with any entree at La Parilla Steakhouse at 2920 Broadway, while Saggio's at 829 W. 181st St. offers a free dessert with any two specialty entrees.
The difference in offers was because uptown eateries were already inexpensive, Ramirez said.
"A typical restaurant week we figured wouldn't work here because we already have so many affordable restaurants," Ramirez said. "So instead we let the restaurants choose the offers that they wanted."
The restaurant week is another high-profile event in the BID's Explora marketing campaign, which will seek to draw visitors to the neighborhoods by highlighting all of uptown's treasures. Explora won the BID $50,000 from the city's Department of Small Business Services last year.
La Parilla manager Omar Arocho has been impressed by the campaign thus far, and hopes that it will bring new diners to his establishment.
"They're helping us get visibility and letting people know about the great food and service up here," Arocho said through a translator.
"We've very excited," Ramirez said. "This is a wonderful treasure that we want to leverage and encourage people to Northern Manhattan."
For diners that are new the neighborhood, Ramirez has several recommendations.
► Saggio's — 829 West 181st Street. Special: Free dessert with any two specialty entree orders. "They have great Italian food," Ramirez said.
► MamaSushi — 237 Dyckman Street. Special: One free glass of jackpunch with any dinner entree. "It's unique," Ramirez said. "It's Dominican-Japanese food! Plus they have an outdoor cafe!"
► Garden Cafe — 4961 Broadway. Special: Free glass of tap beer or select wine with any dinner entree. "They have great food an outdoor cafe in the back."
► Marcha Cocina Bar — 4055 Broadway. Special: One appetizer, one entree and one dessert for $35 per person. "They've got great service and wonderful food, and they're new to the area, so I want to support them."
To see the full list of Explora Restaurant Week specials, visit http://exploranyc.com/restaurant-week/