Over 250 city and suburban restaurants will be offering three course $22 lunches and $33 dinners February 1-10. It is a great opportunity to get out and try a new place without draining your wallet. There is a great variety of participants offering everything from Italian to Japanese to seafood and fine dining. Thankfully there is a great website, choosechicago, which lets you narrow down your search.
As good as restaurant week is there are a few caveats. The participants have special Restaurant Week menus. They are often limited to between 2 and 4 choices per course. If you love chicken or salmon you have it made but for the rest of us some research is required. Saving money is great but if you have to eat something you do not like it is not worth it. Luckily the Choose Chicago website lets you explore all of the menus. To get the best value, consider what is offered on these special menus. Some restaurants dumb down their Restaurant Week menu, offering things that are not normally available. Rather than saving money they just let you order cheaper dishes. A number of restaurants are offering three course dinners for $44. It can be a still be a good deal but in some cases, like steakhouses, you can get an equally good meal for $33 at another restaurant.
My top 5 picks for the 2013 Chicago Restaurant Week.
Naha- Chef Carrie Nahabedian puts a lot of effort into designing Naha’s special Restaurant Week menu. It is your chance to eat lunch at a Michelin starred restaurant for a bargain $22. There are also special wine prices.
Sepia- Another chance to eat Michelin Star food for only $22. You still get the great atmosphere and service that you would get if your bill was $50 apiece. They do only offer 2 choices per course
Mercadito- Probably the most food you will get anywhere. You get 2 guacamoles, 2 ceviche, 3 taco choices and a dessert. You are better off going as a couple as it does not appear that a 4 people will get twice as much food as two. Lunch and dinner menus are the same so lunch is a better bargain although the lively atmosphere is much better at night.
Café des Architectes- A great place to have a sophisticated, leisurely lunch. The menu is somewhat limited.
Mercat a La Planxa- A personal favorite, offers a true Catalonian feast. Going with a number of people will allow the table to order all of the offerings which everyone can share.