It kicked off again. There’s always more excitement than is probably necessary. Yes, you can get IN to some of the city’s most exclusive restaurants for the next 4 weeks but what does that really mean? Probably a Monday night 10PM slot at Le Cirque where they put you in the bleacher seats and get you out as soon as possible. By our estimation, it is no different than a catering hall style in a a more grandeur setting.

If you’re not the type to typically eat at the 21 Club, Il Mulino, Morimoto, or The Russian Tea House (major tourist trap), then it’s worth the $25 for lunch or $38 for dinner to experience how the other half lives. Don’t be fooled by the price, though; if you enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail or two with your meal, that price can easily go to 3 digits per person which is our beef with Restaurant Week. Once you’ve hit that price point, you can get some great meals at non-participating restaurants. There won’t be waiters in white jackets and snobby women with accents at the maître d stand but you will eat a delicious meal (that is not prepared catering hall style), drink more, and spend less.

To help make your decision on where to eat the next four weeks, you can either visit the Restaurant Week List or check out some of our favorites. Listed below are our top 5 suggestions, in and out of the city. You’ll probably spend less than $100 per couple and have a buzz when you leave!

Ravagh Persian Grill: 11 E 30th Street, Manhattan (
– As a kebob specialist and not of Persian descent, this place tops the list! Try the chicken shish kebob; so juicy, so tender. Yes, we’re talking chicken!

Park Side Restaurant: 107-01 Corona Avenue, Queens (
– There’s nothing like the experience you get from this place. You feel like Frank Sinatra when you walk in and they leave a bottle of Sambuca on your table for dessert. Old school, delicious Italian. Worth the trip to Queens. Oh and by the way, Joe Namath has a SECTION here!

Pil Pil: 265 E 78th Street, Manhattan (
– If you were thinking of having a cheap date night with restaurant week, rethink that. Pil Pil is super romantic, affordable and most importantly, delicious! Great tapas spot; delicious Spanish wines and cheeses to share.

Ristorante Il Melograno: 501 W 51st Street, Manhattan (
– It’s far west, but this Italian joint is worth the trek! Not many tables, not the best service or nicest decor but man, their homemade pasta is worth the walk to Jersey!

Agnanti Meze: 19-06 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, Queens (
– If you think Avra, Pylos, Milos or any other bougie Greek restaurant in the city is ‘the best’, you clearly haven’t been to Astoria and you clearly haven’t been to Agnanti. Get a karafe or red, a karafe of white, split as many appetizers (mezedes) as you can and forget the main course. Unless, they’re serving tsipoura (porgy), of course!