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Eat Out, End Hunger

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Time again for Houston Restaurant Week.

By Marene Gustin

PlacesettingDining out at a fine Houston restaurant this month will not only fill your belly but those of others as well. August 10 through 23 is the seventh annual Houston Restaurant Week, which means about 75 fine eateries will be offering special three-course meals for $35 with $5 going directly to the Houston Food Bank.

“We’re just thrilled about the event,” says the Food Bank’s Betsy Ballard. “It’s very synergistic, people who feed people for profit helping those who are hungry.” Many of the city’s most popular restaurants, from Americas to Willie G’s Seafood and Steaks, are pitching in for this fundraiser, the largest community-based event the charity does.

The Houston Food Bank, founded in 1982, is the largest source of free and low-cost food for hungry people in 18 southeast Texas counties. A network of 400 charities, feeding a total of 80,000 people each week, receive more than 36 million pounds of food and prepared meals annually from the food bank. “We gave 20 million pounds of food to Ike victims,” Ballard says. “And we give food to various local organizations such as the AIDS Foundation Houston.”

Which means you’ll be helping out some really good causes by eating out this August. Check out participating restaurants—from sushi joints to steakhouses—and their special menus at http://www.houstonrestaurantweek.com/. The dining choices are pretty choice.

“We’ve participated since the beginning,” says celebrity chef Robert del Grande of Cafe Annie fame. “It just makes sense to do it. You would think that in this day and age hunger wouldn’t be a problem in this country, but it still is. I think sharing your food is one of the great joys in life.” The fabled Cafe Annie closed in June, but del Grande’s new RDG+Bar Annie has opened just in time for the 2009 Houston Restaurant Week, and for those wanting to check out the new digs, a $35 dinner may be just the ticket. But make sure you make reservations for the special dinners; they’re very popular.

“Last year, we were thrilled to raise nearly $79,000 to fight hunger,” says foodie journalist Cleverley Stone, founder and chair of the event. “Through the generosity of the wonderful restaurant community and Houstonians who patronize them, we hope to raise even more this year.” Since its inception, the event has raised $111,000 to fight hunger in Houston.

So grab a fork and dig in—while you’re savoring Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar’s Peppercorn Crusted Filet Mignon with truffle-infused pan juices finished with cream, you’ll also be helping someone who might otherwise go to bed hungry.

Houston Restaurant Week

HRW is actually two weeks this year, running August 10 through 23. Chow down on a three-course gourmet meal for $35 per person (not including beverages, tax, or tips). Participating restaurants will donate $5 from each special meal sold to the Houston Food Bank. Find out more at www.houston restaurantweek.com, including a list of all 75 participating eateries, plus menus. Most menus are for dinner only and require reservations.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.

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