The Five Best Downtown Restaurant Week Menus

Downtown Restaurant Week begins this Monday, August 22, and runs through Sunday, August 28. This year, 26 restaurants are offering three-course (four-course, in a few cases) meals for $25, excluding tax and tip.

Where to begin? You can view each restaurant's menu online, but if you don't have time to read through 26 different menus, don't worry! Gut Check studied each of the 26 menus and picked out the five that we find the most appealing.

Can we guarantee that these five meals will be terrific? Sadly, we cannot.

Can we guarantee that these five meals will offer a decent number of choices and at least a few intriguing preparations? Yes, we can!*

Join us after the jump for our five picks.

* - Guarantee not legally binding.

- Carmine's Steak House (20 South Fourth Street; 314-241-1631): If you're in the mood for some old-school pampering on the cheap, Carmine's is the place to go. From the menu here, you can put together a meal of oysters on the half-shell, a twelve-ounce rib eye and chocolate mousse. Also, there's a dish called "scallops puma," which is just an awesome name for a dish.

- The Dubliner (1025 Washington Avenue; 314-421-4300): The loft district gastropub has an admirable variety of its dishes available in both the first (appetizer) and second (main) courses, potato boxty and fried pickles among the former, steak frites, grilled pork and asparagus risotto among the latter.

- Gio's Ristorante & Bar (701 Market Street; 314-241-2424): Of the higher-end restaurants participating, Gio's probably offers the most variety among the main courses: a couple of pasta dishes, grouper, salmon, duck breast, steak. Appetizers include seared scallops with a wild-mushroom risotto and lobster bisque; desserts include a polenta-rosemary torte.

- Lola (500 North 14th Street; 314-621-7277): Chicken and waffles? Chicken and waffles. We're sold. Other main courses include a strip steak and bouillabaisse. Lola doesn't have the largest number of dishes available, but it does have a nice variety within its limited range.

- Mango Peruvian Cuisine (1101 Lucas Avenue; 314-621-9993): Mango might have the ideal Downtown Restaurant Week menu. Diners unfamiliar with it and/or Peruvian cuisine will enjoy a fair introduction to both. We'd go with the trio of causitas (potato cakes) followed by the lomo saltado, but the seared scallops (a $9 supplement) are tempting.

As always: Wherever you choose to dine for Downtown Restaurant Week, reservations are strongly recommended.

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