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Sonoma County Restaurant Week gets underway

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Foodies who relish the crème da la crème of California cuisine but are too squeezed by the economic crunch to order from a gilded menu need hunger no longer. In its third annual run since 2009, Sonoma County Restaurant Week returns, running Feb. 27 to March 4, when more than 80 eateries, wineries and fine-dining hotspots serve up gastronomic portions of their best recipes at costs to keep your wallet as full as your belly.

Scattered from Cloverdale to Petaluma and Bodega, participating restaurants offer specially selected dinners throughout the week at a fixed price of $19, $29 or $39 per person. Patrons can choose from romantic getaways like the Bay View Restaurant at the Inn at the Tides—serving steamed black mussels, grilled salmon and warm chocolate lava cake for $29—to less formal but no less mouthwatering eateries like El Coqui, preparing potato fritters, breaded sirloin Angus steak and coconut, pineapple and cheese flan for $19. Still other restaurants like Lisa Hemenway's Fresh in Santa Rosa offer guests all three price sets, each with so many options it's hard to digest.

My suggestion: splurge a little, sample a few from the score of delicious options in the area and reserve seats before the crowds come. To see a full list of participating restaurants and menus, visit www.sonomacountyrestaurantweek.org.

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