Lonely Planet Writer

How to try delicious new dishes at top US restaurants before everyone else

This year you can take part in a special dining programme that will let you try creative new dishes, ahead of everyone else, in top restaurants and neighbourhood favourites in six of the best dining cities in the US.

Head chef Curtis Stone at work in Maude and Gwen, LA. Image by Ray Kachatorian

Restaurant app Resy just launched Off Menu Week, a brand-new dining program that celebrates the creativity and taste coming out of some of the best kitchens in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC. For one week only in each city, iconic restaurants will showcase new dishes that Off Menu Week participants can try ahead of anyone else. You’ll get to try special ingredients, inventive dishes and off-menu hits as chefs test new menus.

“We are in a constant state of [research and development] —as soon as one menu goes live, development on another begins,” Curtis Stone, the chef and owner of Maude and Gwen in Los Angeles, said. “Typically, this happens behind the scenes and the guest only sees the final product. Off Menu Week gives us the chance to pull back the curtain and engage the guest in our creative process.”

Mexican-style cantina, Tallula’s Restaurant, LA. Image by Marisa Vitale

To take part, you just need to make a reservation at a participating restaurant through Resy’s app, where you’ll find a special Off Menu Week link. It’s set to launch first in LA between 25 February and 3 March, before hitting DC (8 – 14 April), San Francisco (17 – 23 June), New York City (16 – 22 September), Chicago (21 – 27 October) and finally Austin (9 – 15 December).

Maude and Gwen in LA. Image by Jakob Layman

“Off Menu Week was born out of the fact that at Resy we’re just obsessed with restaurants. We keep tabs on every opening and we treat hot reservations like gold,” said Resy co-founder and CEO Ben Leventhal. “But more than anything, we live for the restaurant moments that make us really feel like insiders – when an off-menu dish appears as a ‘gift’ from the chef, when the somm tops your glass with a bottle they happen to have open.”

Cassava, San Francisco is participating in Off Menu Week. Image by Cassava

To kick off Off Menu Week in Los Angeles, Resy has partnered with some of the city’s top chefs and restaurants, including Dama, Freedman’s, Kismet, Lasa, Maude, Night + Market Sahm, Ronan, Rustic Canyon, Taps Fish House (Brea, Corona, Irvine) and Tallula’s.

For a more detailed list of participating restaurants and a guide to reservation dates, see here.

If you’re looking for more dining-centric travel experiences, see Lonely Planet’s guide to the best new food experiences for travellers in 2019.