Tacos to Treats: Inland Empire Restaurant Week

Noshing around Corona, Ontario, Riverside? Save the bucks.

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DEALS AND SPECIAL MENUS: We haven't quite yet reached the Official Time of Year for Biting the Candy Bunny Ears Off -- that's just a week or so away -- which means we still have time to indulge in more savory, lunch- and dinner-like fare, with a few courses for each sit-down meal. That the Inland Empire Restaurant Week falls just about now is so very helpful. Nope, we wouldn't complain if it showed up in January, which is California Restaurant Month, and which is when several cities and regions host their own discounted-dining events. We rather like the I.E.'s party arriving over the first week of springtime, when we've all gotten used to the sky being lighter later and the prospect of dining out more is holding more and more appeal. Like many a Restaurant Week, the Inland Empire's is longer than a week -- 10 days in this case. And, like many a Restaurant Week, it holds a wide swath of supping choices. You won't be confined to a couple of eateries located within a few city blocks; rather you'll want your map handy, and a sense of adventure, and, yes, your taste buds at the ready. Are they? Good. Then make for...

RIVERSIDE OR CORONA OR... Ontario or Upland or Temecula or several other towns from March 20 through 29. The prix fixe deals are as big as a really big menu -- Blackburn's Farm to Table in Corona is doing a multi-course $30 dinner with goodies like Shrimp Scampi and Seared Ahi Stack to choose from, for example -- and you can often land on either lunch or dinner. Slater's 50/50 in Rancho Cucamonga is offering never-been-on-the-menu-before dishes -- helloooo, Fried Bacon Fat Deviled Eggs -- and the restaurant vows some Restaurant Week favorites could become permanent selections. We know, we know... So many chocolate eggs and marshmallow chicks are just around the corner. But some hearty chowing down, over several courses, with lots of protein involved, and not as much cash as one might think, is a rather lovely thing to bloom come the springtime.

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