Everyone wants to find a new favorite restaurant, but that can be an expensive venture when eating off the full-price menu—or a chancy one, depending on the reliability of one’s friends’ palates. That’s why Silicon Valley Restaurant Week and Santa Cruz Restaurant Week (presented by Metro and Santa Cruz Weekly respectively) are so helpful. Lots of restaurants participate with specially priced menus that let diners expand their culinary worldview without busting their budgets. Silicon Valley’s version of the event runs Oct. 17-24, with more than two score restaurants, and we’ll have more details in upcoming issues.

In the meantime, valleyites looking to enjoy some early-fall sunsets by the coast will want to take advantage of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, which takes place Oct. 3-10. For a whole week, restaurants throughout the county, from whale-watching central in Davenport all the way to strawberry county in Watsonville, will offer three-course menus for the low fixed price of $25 (tax, tip and beverages are extra).

Some of the spots taking part this year include Casablanca Inn and Bistro (overlooking the main Santa Cruz Beach and the Boardwalk), the Crow’s Nest (with a great view of the Santa Cruz Harbor), Cilantro’s, the Davenport Roadhouse, the Hindquarter Bar & Grill, Hollins House at Pasatiempo, Linwood at Chaminade, Michael’s on Main in Soquel, Ristorante Italiano, Sanderling’s at Seascape Resort (another terrific spot for soaking up a Pacific vista) and the Tyrolean Inn in Ben Lomond. There are more than 30 places to choose from in all. For full details, visit http://www.santacruzrestaurantweek.com.