It’s that time of the year again: When you should be working the phones, trying to secure a reservation at one of Fort Worth’s upscale restaurants for next month’s “DFW Restaurant Week.”

DFW Restaurant WeekThis annual tradition, now in its sixteenth year, allows you to enjoy bargain dining at restaurants that might otherwise be outside of your price range – and it helps to fund a couple of good causes. This year, Restaurant Week is August 12 to 18, though some restaurants choose to continue the offer for a second and even third week. You can find all the details about which restaurants are participating – and for how long – here.

The only hard part: choosing which restaurant you want to try; there are fifteen options in Fort Worth alone, and numerous others in Grapevine, Arlington and Dallas.

For newbies, here’s how it works: For $35 or $45, you get a set, three-course dinner, including appetizer, entrée and dessert. Some restaurants also offer what’s called a “Central Market Fourth Course” – though you’ll need a certificate from Restaurant Week presenting sponsoring Central Market to take advantage. (You get one certificate for every $25 you spend at any DFW-area Central Market.)

Not a bad deal at all, when the entrees alone at some of these restaurants will normally set you back upwards of $30. And a portion of the proceeds from each meal is donated to either the Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth or the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas.

So which Fort Worth restaurants should you be trying to land that elusive table. Not all the participants have posted their official restaurants menus, but of those which have, we’re especially intrigued by the roasted garlic stuffed beef tenderloin on offer at Lonesome Dove in the Stockyards; the sweet corn gnocci being served at Tillman’s Roadhouse; and the old-fashioned Surf and Turf from Ray’s Prime Steak and Seafood.

Ray's is one of the restaurants participating in DFW Restaurant Week

From past Restaurant Week’s experience, we can also recommend the downtown jewel Grace (the Medeterranean branzini on this year's menu sounds especially tasty); or to Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana in the Cultural District, where we still have found memories of a creme brulee Restaurant Week dessert in 2009. (Lanny's hasn't posted its menu for this year yet). 

But, really, there’s something for just about every taste, when the cause is this good –  one of Fort Worth's oldest charities, the Lena Pope Home offers counselling and education services for children and families -- you can’t go wrong regardless of where you dine.

So start working the phones or the reservation system on OpenTable; and if you’re worried that you can’t fit all the restaurants you want to try into your schedule, take heart: Some places also offer a $25 lunch menu as part of Restaurant Week.