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Bar Boulud is just one of the 300-plus restaurants participating in NYC's Restaurant Week. Credit: ZagatBuzz.

By Erin Behan

January is a great time of year to visit New York–if you don’t mind the cold, that is. Hotel rooms are generally discounted, Broadway plays often have open seats and—of course—the post holiday sales are in full force. There’s one more reason to visit New York in January, and it has to do with a famous New York City pastime: eating out.The city’s twice-annual Restaurant Week runs Monday through Friday from Jan. 16 through Feb. 10, and 2012 is the 20-year celebration of the event that gives discounted prix fixe meals for lunch ($24.07) and dinner ($35) at more than 300 of the city’s top restaurants.

Reservations are a must, and I’d suggest snapping up a few of the best before every one else does. If I only had one reservation to make, it’d be for lunch at Bar Boulud in the Upper West Side. The three courses include a terrine de porc, a cassoulet of lamb and duck confit and a lime tart (all that for $24.07!). Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Harlem, also serving lunch, tempts me with its menu of elevated American comfort food. In Midtown for lunch, I’d hit up Mario Batali’s Esca, as I can’t get enough of his southern Italian fish-centric menu.

Further downtown in the West Village, Po (another Batali creation) serves both lunch and dinner. My ideal Restaurant Week meal there would move from a salad of fennel, oranges, black olives, pickled red onions and ricotta salata to a grilled guinea hen. I’d finish off with a dark chocolate terrine. It’d be hard to go wrong at either Chiantown Brasserie in Noho or Colicchio and Sons Tap Room in Chelsea, both serving both lunch and dinner.

Saving money at restaurants in New York is grand, of course, but so is saving money on New York hotels. The downtown bon vivant on the cheap should consider the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Tribeca, while The Lucerne in the Upper West Side or the Belvedere Hotel in Midtown are great values for travelers looking for a cheap New York hotel.

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Erin Behan is a freelance writer and editor out of Brooklyn, N.Y., who counts good food, intoxicating drink and adventurous travel among her favorite things.

Tagged: Events, Food & drink

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