Albuquerque Restaurant Week starts Sunday, March 18th, with eight full days and nights of delicious dining in the Duke City! With 18 of Albuquerque’s best restaurants participating, there's something to suit everyone's taste buds and budget. The third annual event introduces the “Let’s Do Lunch” program, giving daytime diners the opportunity to feast on two- or three-course prix-fixe menus as well as dinners at half of the participating restaurants.

“Now diners can take advantage of bargain prices for business lunches, office celebrations or leisurely mid-day get-togethers, as well as special evenings out,” said Michele Ostrove, president of Wings Media Network, which organizes the local Restaurant Weeks. “It’s the perfect excuse to start the fun early and experience more of the area’s extraordinary culinary diversity in an economical way.”

The value-priced, three-course dinners begin with delectable appetizers, such as Roasted Garlic with Montrachet goat cheese, roasted red peppers and oven-roasted olives, served with a grilled baguette; or Braised Beef Ravioli Bourguignon, simmered in Burgundy wine sauce with baby carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms and peas, plated with celery root-potato puree and garnished with shaved Grana Padano cheese. Move on to entrees such as Pan-Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops with jalapeno-bacon grits, spring peas and wild mushrooms, topped with a tarragon butter sauce; or Grilled Beef Flat Iron Steak, served with a mushroom twice-baked potato and broccolini, served with a Port demi glace.

To satisfy the sweet tooth in everyone, look for the Pastel Tres Leches — a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk, whipped cream and toasted almonds; or the sinful Bananas Foster, a warm, sweet crepe filled with vanilla ice cream and topped off with banana slices, whipped cream and a trio of sauces: chocolate, banana liquor and rum-flavored caramel.

Also new for 2012, menu pricing will be individually set by restaurants within four tiers: $(under $20 per person), $$ ($21-29 per person), $$$ ($30-39 per person) and $$$$ ($40 and over per person). Visit to sort by price category, location and cuisine type to compare menus. Reservations are highly recommended for both lunch and dinner to ensure seating.