Running for just over two weeks and featuring over 300 restaurants, Chicago Restaurant Week is the perfect excuse to brave the cold and grab great restaurant deals during the drudgery of winter.
But how do you choose, when the city has so many tempting options and only a limited number of meals can fit in 17 days? At the Tribune, we pore over menus to compare prices and dishes offered, looking for the best bang for your buck.
Here are five Chicago Restaurant Week menus we’re especially excited about for 2023, listed in alphabetical order. Remember to make your reservations early as many of the most popular places fill up quickly and enjoy a happy dinner.
If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s women-owned, minority-owned, and serves up a little taste of paradise, then you’ve hit the trifecta. Without a plane ticket, Chicagoans can indulge in the rich flavors of the Caribbean from Chicago’s own Hyde Park neighborhood.
The $59 three-course dinner menu features twin lobster tails cooked over an open fire, paired with coconut mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. For dessert, choose fritters, key lime pie, and rum caramel cake. 14 Parish Restaurant and Rhum Bar offers in-person dining with the option of patio seating, along with takeout and delivery.
1644 E. 53rd Street, 312-291-8379, 14parroquia.com —Tatiana Turner
I love Chicago Restaurant Week, because it appeals to my food nerd obsessions with reading menus, doing math, and finding deals. Especially when celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés offers a five-course lunch for $25 at Bar Mar, his whimsical seafood-focused restaurant in the Loop.
But let’s look at the numbers.
For your first course, you choose between the hamachi cone (usually $8 each) and the Neptune pillows (two pieces, so $6 worth). Then, for your second course, choose between chicken croquettes (usually $12) or patatas bravas (usually $10).
For your third course, choose from three options: the salmon bikini sandwich (not normally available at Bar Mar, but between $16 and $23 at Jaleo by Andrés with different fillings), the tuna tartare roll (normally $14 ) or the sloppy Joe (normally $14 with fries), plus Jose’s fries, soup, or salad.
A Cobb salad and flan, both normally $12, are the default options for your fourth and fifth courses.
All of that is about $67, so you can save up to $42. That’s a bargain I was wondering if the courses would be very small. A call to the restaurant confirmed that some would be slightly smaller, but most would stay the same. In any case, this is a deal I highly recommend, given my recent exceptional visit for a mini review.
The $25 lunch special is available Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm for dinner only. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Go!
120 N. Wacker Drive, 312-820-6602, thebazaar.com/location/bar-sea-chicago —Louise Chu
Chef and pitmaster Dominique Leach has just launched not only a $25 lunch menu, but she’s also launched her own line of wagyu sausages for retail sale at the Lexington Betty Smokehouse in the Pullman neighborhood.
I highly recommend the three-course Restaurant Week special, where you can try not only their signature rib tips, but also the Chicago-style dressed wagyu dogs.
For your first course, choose between a salmon burger slider or a Chicago-style wagyu steak slider. For your entrée, options include the Gouda brisket mac and cheese, or the rib tips and Wagyu beef andouille sausage combination.
Dessert is banana pudding or peach cobbler.
I confirmed that the portions are smaller as suggested with the sliders, but they are usually huge. To try the same items, you would spend up to $40, so you can save up to $15.
I say splurge and order Leach’s award-winning brisket, plus a double order of greens, which she makes with turkey tails, a chef’s secret delicacy that rarely leaves the kitchen. You can order the Restaurant Week menu for dinner only, Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 4 pm The restaurant is closed on Mondays.
756 E. 111th St., 773-309-8240, lexingtonbettysmokehouse.com —LC
Most restaurants try to highlight menu favorites during Restaurant Week, but it’s clear Mango Pickle chef Gregory Bazire decided to use the time to go big. The $59 dinner promises to give guests a taste of the cuisine of the Indian state of Goa, along with brief stops in Mumbai, Paris, and Chicago.
That’s a lot to accomplish in a five-course meal, but the menu looks intriguing. That’s especially true of the Goan-inspired dishes, which showcase the area’s Portuguese influences. The meal starts with a small bite of cafreal naan, which you can have with chicken or cremini mushrooms. Also, keep an eye out for the vindaloo with pork shoulder as a fourth course, served with duchess potatoes; meatless alternatives include homemade paneer or cauliflower.
5842 N. Broadway, mangopicklechicago.com —Nick Kindelsperger
One of my favorite Logan Square restaurants has had a rough month, mostly due to a plumbing issue beyond their control. (Short version: when the city replaced the main water main in front of the building, the restaurant’s water connection broke, forcing it to close for weeks.) Fortunately, the little place is back and has two great Restaurant Week options ($42 for three courses or $59 for four courses).
This allows you to get some of the store’s great home-cured sausages, before moving on to the vegetable-filled small plate section. (The four-course option adds a foie gras torch in the middle.) That will set you up for a meaty finish, where you can get filling options like braised pork shoulder or confit duck leg (the latter requires a $4 extra).
2728 West Armitage Avenue, 773-486-8525, tabledonkeystick.com —NK
Big screen or streaming at home, takeout or dine-in, Tribune’s writers are here to guide you to your next great experience. Sign up for their free weekly Eat. To watch. Do. Newsletter here.