Restaurant Week Chicago: What You Need to Know
It takes a lot to get most of us to leave our homes on these cold winter nights, but Chicago Restaurant Week, now in its 12th year, has serious pull. Not only are the prices good and the restaurant selection great (more below), but also, hey, since it’s sweater weather, we feel perfectly OK about indulging in a three-course meal (or two, or three)—especially at a fraction of the usual cost.
This year’s event, which runs Jan. 25 – Feb. 7 (yes, that’s two full weeks), is the biggest yet, with nearly 400 restaurants participating—more than 100 of them first-timers, including foodie powerhouses like The Publican, mfk, and Duck Duck Goat. The gist is prix-fixe lunches and brunches for $24; three- or four-course dinners for $36 or $48, excluding beverages. Those prices may be a few bucks more than in past years, but in CRW’s defense, the last hike took place in 2011.
Here are some other newcomers we’re excited about.
Avli Taverna, Lincoln Park: This new modern Greek restaurant just landed on Eater Chicago’s “Hottest Restaurants Right Now” list for a menu that “goes far beyond many Americans’ expectations of standard Greek cuisine.” Standard Greek cuisine and our expectations both being considerable, we’re ready for it.
Dish we can’t wait to try: Avli Saganaki—pan-seared cheese, thyme honey, and peppered figs.
Aba, Fulton Market: OK, it may be one of the hardest reservations to get, but we were still thrilled to see this newcomer, sister restaurant to highly regarded Ema in River North (also on the Restaurant Week roster), hit this year’s list. Both are Mediterranean small plates concepts are run by celeb Chef CJ Jacobson, and part of hometown favorite Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.
Dish we can’t wait to try (even if it means a 5 pm reservation on a Tuesday): Beef Carpaccio with accompaniments that range from yuzu soy to local honey.
Funkenhausen, West Town: Just opened in August; reviews are already stellar. Not that we care—we’d love this spot for the name alone. Throw in a menu that quixotically promises a “light take on German eats with a Southern flair,” and we’ll cop to being curious. Who hasn’t been looking for a German beer hall leavened with Southern hospitality and finished with a side of whimsy?
Dish we can’t wait to try: Pork Schnitzel with charred lemond and sauce gribiche (essentially fancy mayonnaise, but with cooked instead of raw egg yolks, plus capers, cornichons and fresh herbs).
Mordecai, Wrigleyville: One of the buzziest openings last year, Mordecai, in the hip Hotel Zachary, gives foodies a new reason to visit this part of town. The Tribune’s Phil Vettel called chef Matthias Merges' elevated American cooking and standout whiskey bar the “complete package”— worthy of Michelin star consideration, no less.
Dish we can’t wait to try: Portobello Bolognese made with rigatoni, pecorino and chianti.
Eris Brewery and Cider House, North Center: Chicago gets its very own cider taproom! And it’s named after the Greek goddess of chaos and housed in a converted Masonic temple, no less. There is a magic to Eris: the high-design space is big enough to feel soaring but rich enough with warm detail to keep you cozy. Maybe it’s the house-brewed ciders. There are six of them, along with a selection of craft beers and an an apple-infused hug of a menu: stout meatballs, mussels & cider, beer cheddar dip. There are tons of vegetarian and gluten-free options too.
Dish we can’t wait to try: Waffle of chaos, of course: Belgian waffles topped with applewood bacon, avocado and, cheddar-jack cheese and a sunny-up egg, then drizzled in Sriracha maple syrup.
About Last Knife, The Loop: It wouldn’t be a Chicago list without a new steakhouse. But this upstart in the Hotel Julian near Millennium Park tries not to take its steak quite so seriously. Sure, you’ll find your classic cuts—but only four of them; and while the usual suspects make an appearance among the sides, you’ll also get a few unique options like charred steak tartare.
Dish we can’t wait to try: Beef Wellington. This version speaks in a prosciutto-laced Italian accent a and is served by the slice.
Pro tips for Chicago Restaurant Week:
- Make reservations now. The best spots will fill up fast. You can search the full list, including menus, here.
- If you can’t get a dinner reservation, try lunch or brunch. You’ll often get the same food for less money.
- Bring friends. Pick different options in each course and do your best to try everything on the menu
- If you want to maximize options while minimizing time, spring for tickets to the kick-off First Bites Bash at the Field Museum on Jan. 24, when more than 70 chefs from around the city will offer tastings. This year’s event will be hosted by Joe Flamm, executive chef of the Michelin-starred Spiaggia and recently-crowned winner of Bravo’s Top Chef. (Tickets are $125.)