You must be worn out from all that home cooking during the holidays, but it's time to get back out there, slugger.

Here's your challenge: Take a culinary trip around the world with eclectic eats from 35 restaurants. You have one week.

Brought to you by Destination Irvine, the third annual Irvine Restaurant Week lets local residents stuff their faces all across the city without breaking the bank. Coinciding with California Restaurant Month, the event features two- or three-course prix fixe menus at participating locations Friday through Jan. 17.

Reservations are encouraged but not required. There's no need for tickets or coupons; simply show up and tuck in.

To see full menus, visit

For a little background on the affair, we asked Wendy Haase, Destination Irvine's director of tourism marketing, why you should chow down in Irvine.

Q.: Tell me about Irvine Restaurant Week. Why is it important for the community and local economy?

A.: Any time we can bring visitors to Irvine and to encourage residents to try something new and experience their own back yard is always a positive. This is an opportunity for us to garner exposure for our restaurants and culinary offerings and showcase what Irvine has to offer. It's pretty much a place where you can dine around the world within a 40-mile radius.

Q.: This is all part of California Restaurant Month. But why January?

A.: The state tourism board looked at the existing restaurant weeks, and January was a primary month when a lot of the destinations already had a restaurant week. It's not during the holidays, and it's a pretty down time when ... there are no events going on or major holiday things.

Q.: What's different about Irvine's culinary scene versus other cities?

A.: We have a lot of different ethnic offerings, and our menus show a little bit more of affordability. Some of our menus start at $6.95 for lunch. If you look at most restaurant weeks they tend to be a little bit more upscale.

Q.: What's the response been? How has the event grown in the past few years?

A.: The restaurants are really happy with it because there's no fee for them. They're being promoted in ways they haven't been promoted before.

Q.: How would you convince someone who's never participated in Restaurant Week to come out?

A.: You've got to eat, right? Here's an opportunity to try a place that you've never tried before. And you get a prix fixe menu. You typically get a choice of a three- or four-course meal, and you get a choice of typically two or three options within each category that you get to try at a fixed price.