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Dine Around Seattle starts this weekend, that thing in March and November where you can get a $30 prix-fixe dinner (and some $15 prix-fixe lunches) at certain restaurants, Sunday to Thursday. (Not be confused with Seattle Restaurant Week, where something similar happens at a larger number of restaurants on a shorter-if-not-quite-eponymous timescale, as it lasts 10 days.)

Support The Stranger

After 10 years, the event changed hands last fall, making this is the second DAS run by the nonprofit Seattle Good Business Network, which kicked things off last night with a party for food-related people. The big news: SGBN has partnered up with FareStart, an amazing program that provides culinary training and job placements to homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Rather than previewing the restaurants' menus (as the invitation seemed to suggest, but beggars/choosers), the party featured appetizers designed and prepared by students of FareStart’s 16-week course, including bulgogi beef skewers, lemongrass chicken meatballs, cold veggie frittatas with tapenade, and chocolate chip cookie sandwiches with mint cream (those cookies, oh man).

Dine Around Seattle restaurants will be providing info about FareStart, and some will ask patrons if they want to add $1 (or more) to their bill to support the organization. A good cause, for sure, and worth giving a dollar (or more) to, but the overall price-point question about Dine Around Seattle remains—is this a great opportunity to try out new places, or a gimmick wherein you don’t get to choose what you eat and don’t necessarily save money? At some of these restaurants, putting together a nice meal for $30 per person isn’t much of a challenge. And one can always donate to FareStart independently or go to one of their fantastic guest chef nights.