'City of the Arts' shows off its food

With one of the hottest summers on record finally drawing to a close, Popsicles and hot dogs are making way for more creative culinary experiences.

Enter Costa Mesa Restaurant Week, a perfect opportunity to try out 34 area restaurants with fixed-price menus that are ideal for all palates and budgets. Starting Friday, Restaurant Week runs through Aug. 24.


A price good for the soul

Soul food favorite Memphis, 2920 Bristol St., is offering a steal of a deal. A prix fixe lunch there will set you back $14.12.

First, make a selection from roasted beet salad, chicken or shrimp gumbo, or barbecued duck quesadilla. For a main course, choose from the "Cobra" fried chicken sandwich, buttermilk fried chicken, Southern meatloaf or popcorn shrimp tacos.

The $25.12 dinner menu includes selections like a mixed green salad or gumbo, pulled pork sliders, buttermilk fried chicken, Southern meatloaf stack, hickory smoked barbecue, cornmeal fried catfish, and desserts like a bourbon-pecan tart or whiskey-raisin bread pudding.

For more information, call (714) 432-7685.


Delicious right off the Vine

Up the street a bit, the Old Vine Café in the Camp, 2937 Bristol St., will offer a $20.12 three-course, prix fixe lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

First-course selections include porcini mushroom bisque, gazpacho, the Old Vine salad, crispy blue salad or mozzarella Buratta caprese. Second-course options include porcini mushroom mac and cheese, or a choice of panini including mozzarella di Bufala, tuna melt, quattro fromaggi, pulled pork, ham and cheddar, meatball or reuben.

For dessert, enjoy grandma's cheesecake.

For more information, call (714) 545-1411.


Master your taste buds

At Mastro's Steakhouse, 633 Anton Blvd., $45.12 yields an excellent three-course meal with a choice of Caesar or chopped salad; choice of 10-ounce New York strip, Atlantic salmon, pork chop or half rack of lamb (additions like a twin lobster tail or crab legs are available for a fee); sides like garlic mashed potatoes or creamed spinach; and a choice between chocolate sin cake and cheesecake for dessert.

For more information, call (714) 546-7405.


Charlie pulls out the stops

Charlie Palmer in South Coast Plaza has pulled out all the stops with its $20.12 lunch and $30.12 prix fixe menus, with a glass of Benziger chardonnay or Tantara pinot noir available for another $9.

Lunch first-course selections include split pea soup or a red endive walnut salad. Main courses include curried sautéed tiger shrimp with couscous, pan-roasted chicken breast with polenta, or a grilled 6-ounce flat iron steak with rosti for a $5 supplement.

For dinner, first-course selections include split pea soup or watermelon salad. Main courses range from a grilled 8-ounce pork chop with rosti to truffle sweet corn risotto to pan seared Scottish salmon with curry and couscous to a grilled and braised boneless short rib served with grits, for a $10 supplement.

For dessert with either option, enjoy a melon sherbet float with plum soda or a raspberry cream latte torte with coffee cake and white chocolate espresso mouse.

For more information, call (714) 352-2525.


Transport yourself to Italy at lunch

The venerable Antonello Ristorante, 3800 South Plaza Drive, E55 in South Coast Village, will offer a $20.12 prix fixe lunch with antipasto selections like polipo alla griglia or zuppa fredda, with second courses like pappardelle or branzino, and desserts like gelato affogato or salame di cioccolato.

For the $40.12 dinner, antipasto selections include carpaccio di polipo or salumi misti, pasta course of pappardelle or gnocchi, meat course of branzino or costolette d'agnello, and the same desserts as lunc.

For more information, call (714) 751-7153.

For a full list of participating restaurants and menus, visit CostaMesaRestaurantWeek.org.


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If You Go

What: Costa Mesa Restaurant Week

When: Friday through Aug. 24

Where: Thirty-four participating restaurants

Information: (888) 588-9417 or CostaMesaRestaurantWeek.org

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