It’s officially fall: Philly fall Restaurant Weeks, New Jersey’s Apple Festival, and more events this week

The many Restaurant Weeks in the area this fall allow you to have a culinary adventure on the cheap.

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Fountain Restaurant's Chef William DiStefano (Nathaniel Hamilton for WHYY)

Fountain Restaurant's Chef William DiStefano (Nathaniel Hamilton for WHYY)

Eating out can be expensive, so it also can seem risky: What if I splurge on that new place, and I’m not impressed? Cue the age-old tradition of Restaurant Week. For limited times, restaurants offer less expensive, exclusive menus — usually a multi-course meal for a fixed price. It’s a good way to challenge your taste buds or to try restaurants that might otherwise be too pricey. This fall, restaurant weeks — including some newcomers — abound around the region.

Most have a geographic focus, such as Verona, New Jersey’s first restaurant week ending Thursday. Some, like Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, take place when business is usually slow — this year, from Nov. 2 to 11. Others, including Philly’s first Vegan Restaurant Week, are organized around a theme. But the idea’s the same: less to risk, more to taste.

Philly’s First Vegan Restaurant Week
16 restaurants with $25, $35, and $45 multi-course prix fixe vegan meals; 14 others with a vegan special

Look, I know the stereotypes. But vegan food in 2018 is not just tofu over grass or lightly salted flowers. And veganism — abstaining from animal products of meat, dairy, and even honey — doesn’t have to be some sanctimonious rite of the extremely woke. Some people are vegan for ethical reasons, others for dietary reasons, and many more eat vegan some of the time — avocado toast, anyone? — just because it’s a good way to expand the palate and maintain a healthy diet.

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So vegans, rejoice. Omnivores, try something new. Plant-based restaurants including Soy Cafe and Charlie Was a Sinner are offering up special vegan meals, and so are St. Benjamin’s Brewing, Front Street Cafe and others that also serve meat.

Manayunk Fall Restaurant Week
Sept. 17-28
More than 15 restaurants with $15, $25, or $35 prix fixe meals

Manayunk’s participating restaurants are serving up a range of multi-course options, ranging from $15 — tortilla soup, carnitas tacos, and dulce de leche cheesecake at Taqueria Feliz — to $35 — apple-stuffed squash, cider-glazed country ribs, bananas foster bread pudding and your choice of beer, wine, or cider at Bourbon Blue. Some restaurants are featuring special dishes for tasting only during these two weeks.

Center City District Restaurant Week
Sept. 23-Oct. 5
120 restaurants with $35 three-course dinner, some with $20 three-course lunch

An almost staggering number of restaurants are participating in the CCD Restaurant Week, from well-loved classics Buddakan and High Street on Market to newcomers including Chez Ben Bistro. A handy search-by-cuisine function can help you make sense of it all. And it’s a good idea to make a reservation. Particularly at buzzier restaurants, demand will be high.

New Jersey’s Apple Festival
Sept. 22-Sept. 23, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Happy Day Farm, 77 Iron Ore Road, Manalapan, New Jersey

Yes, that time of year is upon us: It’s apple-picking season, pumpkin-spice latte season, decorative gourd season. It’s fall. So start it right with an good old-fashioned fall festival. The New Jersey Apple Festival at Happy Day Farm offers fresh apple cider and pie, a pick-your-own-pumpkin patch, tractor rides, and even pig races. Yeehaw.

Autumn Bounty Festival
Sept. 22, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
terrain, 914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

For an artisanal take on the fall fair, head to terrain, the Glen Mills decor and garden center from the creators of quirky high-end fashion store Anthropologie. The annual Autumn Bounty Festival features tastings of seasonal treats, games for families, and vendors from Phoenicia Flea, a curated market of artisans.

Night of 1000 Kates
Sept. 22, 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia
Tickets: $10

Some fans of the eclectic, theatrical, much-beloved British musician Kate Bush have lamented in recent years that she’s never had the same cult status in the United States that she enjoys in the UK. Try telling that to the droves of Kate Bush super-fans who gather every year for Night of 1000 Kates, now in its fifth year. Billed as “an annual display of shameless Kate Bush worship,” the night promises performances, covers, tributes, and costumes as weird and wonderful as Kate Bush herself.

34th Annual Feria del Barrio
Sept. 23, noon-5 p.m.
Taller Puertorriqueño, 2600 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia

The yearly Feria del Barrio celebrates Philadelphia’s Centro de Oro, a neighborhood in the Fairhill section of the city that is loud and proud of its Latinx culture. “Centro de Oro” means The Golden Center; the neighborhood is decorated with sculptural palm trees and a sidewalk swirled with gold glitter.

A collaboration of Taller Puertorriqueño, Congreso de Latinos, HACE, and Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas, La Feria del Barrio celebrates Latin-American culture with live music and dancing, arts and crafts, and, of course, incredible food.

To the Polls: Exhibition Opening
Sept. 26, 5-8 p.m., exhibition on view until Oct. 3
448 N. 10th St., Philadelphia

As midterm elections approach, Mural Arts Philadelphia has teamed up with the city Streets DEPT‘s Conrad Benner for a new exhibition of temporary murals about voting and civic participation. Midterm voter turnout is notoriously low, so Mural Arts has not only invited 10 socially engaged artists to raise the issue through their art, but it will also have on-site voter registration.

The opening party will feature musical performances from A.R.T and DJ Royale and complimentary beer and spirits. On Oct. 1, four of the artists will talk about their work in a panel discussion. And, before you forget, the deadline to register to vote in the November midterms is Oct. 9.

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