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Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest

Marsha Trainer's picks for the best special menu items that three great neighborhood eateries featured during Mpls.St.Paul Magazine's Restaurant Week, running July 10 - 15, 2011.

Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest Enjoy Restaurant Week at some of Southwest's Finest

When I think about summer, I sometimes get bogged down in the heat, bugs and the unfortunate need to throw out a very delicious potato salad after leaving it sitting in the midday sun. Luckily, restaurant week comes along just in time to cheer up this food-loving gal and make summer seem endlessly wonderful again.

This year's Mpls. St. Paul Magazine Restaurant Week Summer 2011 runs from July 10 - 15, and some of my favorite neighborhood places will be strutting their stuff. , and are all taking part in the event and have created bargain prix fixe menus for the week.

It's time to go out and try these local lovelies while the sampling is rife with wallet-friendly prices. Here are my suggestions on what to pick from their special Restaurant Week offerings, along with links to the full bill of fare for each of the three venues.

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- 4601 Grand Ave. S / 612.824.4441

Lunch Specials ($15) - Stop by for lunch to get ahead of the crowd. Although traditionally a breakfast or brunch dish, you can't go wrong trying the chilaquiles with slow cooked shredded chicken in a tomato/chipotle sauce topped with a fried egg (especially if you have a hangover). I'd follow up that hearty plate with a slice of key lime pie.

Dinner Specials ($30) - Go with the red snapper ceviche as your starter, which will be refreshing in the summer heat. Move slowly into some fish with a pan-seared Corvina accompanied by risotto, corn ginger cream sauce and leek and mint confit. For dessert, I'd still go with the key lime pie, but if you had it for lunch already, a churro with chocolate ganache will do nicely.

- 5555 Xerxes Ave. S / 612.922.0100

Dinner Specials ($30) - This romantic French bistro in Armatage has a huge selection of classics to choose from. To begin, get the escargot or mussels with white wine and shallots, which will both fulfill your garlic quota for the evening. I can't resist a steak frites (it's the veal demi-glace), but if you don't do top sirloin, the Artic Char with a tomato beurre blanc should do the trick. Lastly, the pôt de crème — chocolate custard with fresh whipped cream — is warm, thick, and irresistible.

- 4537 Nicollet Ave. S. / 612.827.2254

Dinner Specials ($30) - Chef Juan Juarez Garcia makes an amazing mix of Mexican and Italian flavors at La Chaya. Get the chilled avocado soup with crab to keep it cool and then dine on the achiote-marinated halibut, because I've never had an ill-cooked fish at the his restaurant. I'm torn between the two sweets — a chipotle chocolate crème brûlé and a pastel tres leches, a cake soaked in three types of milk — so be sure that your table gets at least one of each.

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Have fun during restaurant week and I hope to see you out at our neighborhood gems! Keep in mind a few things as you run to your calendar to plan a meal out for restaurant week — reservations are recommended, and tax, wine and tip are not included in the special price.

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