“Chicagoans are an easily excitable bunch. We’re thrilled when the weather inches above 40 degrees, when the gas creeps below $2 per gallon, when we can eat outside and call it a festival. We’re easily excitable. That’s just us.
Chicago Restaurant Week, however, is an event worth the hoopla that surrounds it. A diverse list of over 300 restaurants, including a few Michelin star winners, offer prix fixe menus priced below $44 ($22 for lunch, $33 for dinner on average). It’s a great thing but there are a few caveats of which you should be aware.” – Your Ultimate Guide to Chicago Restaurant Week 2015
Last year, we published our first ever Chicago Restaurant Week Guide. Inside were 5 tips on how to avoid being duped by the hoopla.
- Avoid “new” items not typically offered by the restaurant. For some eateries, the new items are more down-to-earth versions of menu staples thought too intimidating for the average diner. For others, these “new” items are simply watered down knock-offs of the restaurant’s typical offerings. Regardless of the reason why they’re on the prix fixe menu, these are not the dishes the restaurant is known for. My advice is to skip them altogether.
- Do the math. Compare the prix fixe menu to the regular and decide if you’re actually saving any coins. If no savings is truly being offered, skip the prix fixe and just order from the regular menu at another time.
- Check the reviews. 350 restaurants are a lot, even for Chicago. Some who made the list, frankly, shouldn’t be there. A few are dives with good bar food and a few are mediocre at best. Google and Yelp are still your friend here.
- Promptly make reservations.
- If you can’t decide, choose from our list of favorites below.
Top 21 Picks for Chicago Restaurant Week 2016
BG = Bib Gourmand; 1 Star = 1 Michelin Star
- avec Mediterranean West Loop Lentil Soup, Gyro Sausage, Cremeux Lunch Menu BG
- Bar Takito Latin West Loop (Lunch/Dinner) Green Salad, Coffee Braised Beef, Boozy Truffles Lunch | Dinner Menu
- Blackbird Restaurant American West Loop Squash Soup, Hanger Steak, Fall Coupe Lunch Menu 1 Star
- Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! Spanish/Tapas Lincoln Park (Dinner) Arroz Negra & Lobster Croquette, Pork Collar, Seafood Paella, Chocolate Truffle Cake Lunch | Dinner Menu
- Café Spiaggia Italian Magnificent Mile (Dinner) Skuna Bay Salmon, Campanelle, Prime Skirt Steak, Panna Cotta Lunch | Dinner Menu
- CH Distillery & Cocktail Bar GastroTavern/Pub West Loop New England Soup, Bourban Braised Lamb, Mushroom Risotto, CH Wrecking Ball Dinner Menu
- Cherry Circle Room American Contemporary Loop Soup, Farro Risotto, Chocolate & Pumpkin Meringue Lunch Menu
- Chez Moi French Lincoln Park Belgium Style Mussel, Lamb Shoulder, Chez Moi Famous Gateau Breton Dinner Menu
- Chop Shop American Bucktown/Wicker Park (Dinner) Butternut Squash Soup, Pappardelle with 12 hour Wild Boar Sugo, Vanilla Panna Cotta Lunch | Dinner Menu
- Enso Sushi and Bar Japanese/Sushi Bucktown/Wicker Park (Lunch) Miso Soup, Shrimp Shumai, Eclectic Eel Maki, Mochi Ice Cream Lunch | Dinner Menu
- freestyle food and drink American Contemporary River North (Dinner, 3 Course) Pork Belly, Fried Chicken, Bread Pudding Lunch | Dinner Menu
- Frontera Grill Mexican River North (Dinner) Tamales, Pozole-Kale Torta, Tres Leches Lunch | Dinner Menu BG
- Fulton Market Kitchen American Contemporary West Loop (Dinner) Pumpkin Soup, Mushroom Ravioli, Rye Crusted Salmon, Peanut Butter Cup Lava Cake Dinner Menu
- Graham Elliot Bistro Bistro West Loop (Dinner) Bisque, Stroganoff, Banana Split Dinner Menu
- GT Fish & Oyster Seafood River North (Dinner) Tuna Poke, Clam Chowder, Oyster Po’Boy Roll, Key Lime Pie Lunch | Dinner Menu BG
- Piccolo Sogno Italian West Town (Lunch) Zuppa, Lasagna, Tavoletta Lunch | Dinner Menu
- Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse River North (Dinner) Onion Soup, Filet Mignon, Coconut Cake Lunch | Dinner Menu
- STK Chicago Steakhouse River North (Dinner) Pork Belly, Loin Strip, Banana Cream Pie Dinner Menu
- Topolobampo Mexican River North (Lunch) Sopa Axteca, Chilaquiles, Crepas Con Cajeta Lunch Menu 1 Star
- Trenchermen American Contemporary Bucktown/Wicker Park (Dinner) Squid, Shrimp Curry, Short Rib, Chocolate Cake Dinner Menu
- Xoco Mexican River North Sampler, Mole Poblano Torta, Churro Lunch | Dinner Menu