Chicago Restaurant Week 2017: Where to Make Your ReservationsA Little Leopard
Chicago Restaurant Week 2017: Where to Make Your ReservationsA Little Leopard

Chicago Restaurant Week 2017: Where to Make Your ReservationsA Little Leopard

TOP 10 CHICAGO RESTAURANT WEEK 2017 PICKS

So, um, Chicago Restaurant Week 2017 officially kicks off this Friday…AKA super duper soon.

For the uninitiatied, Chicago Restaurant Week is a (more than) week-long celebration of Chicago’s dining scene, with special prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at more than 300 restaurants across the city. And new this year: $22 brunch menus!

Since Chicago has a pretty bangin’ restaurant scene (to put it mildly), this is an awesome time to get out and explore the culinary creativity of this wonderful city, or try a restaurant you might not otherwise be able to afford. Chicago Restuarant Week 2017 runs from Friday, Jan. 27 through Thursday, Feb. 9. Lunch and brunches are $22, while dinner menus are either $33 or $44. Most include multiple courses, but no beverages or alcohol, so keep that in mind when making your restaurant week plans and budget.

Places book quickly, and since there are, you know, more than 300 of them, deciding where to spend your restaurant week dollars can get super overwhelming super quick. That’s why I’m obsessed with Chicagoist’s yearly Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Week. Every year, local food writer Anthony Todd crunches the numbers to find out which Chicago Restaurant Week offerings are good deals — and which ones will actually lose you money. For someone who’s taste is way more expensive than her budget, this is a super super useful tool.

After thorough examination of the Chicago Restaurant Week 2017 spreadsheet, here are my top ten picks for this year — all deemed a good value by Chicagoist (or, at least, with menus unique to Restaurant Week). So go: snag those ressies ASAP!

ADA STREET

Every year, Ada Street crafts its restaurant week dinner menu around a theme. Last year, each dish was based on rock’n’roll riders (apparently The Beach Boys were big shrimp fans). For Chicago Restaurant Week 2017, it’s highly patriotic, with dishes inspired by past presidents. Personally, I’d order an Obama-JFK-George Washington combination. Check out the $33 dinner menu here.

AVEC

While there are no choices or substitutions on the $44 dinner menu, Chicagoist says it’s an “awesome deal” and a good excuse to try this Restaurant Row classic, especially if you’ve never been.

BALENA

Classy Italian in a prime Lincoln Park location, Balena is offering a huge range of options on its dinner menu ($44) this year. The discount isn’t as notable as some other restaurant week offerings, but the sheer amount of variety makes it worth it. Plus: Pumpkin Bombolini!

Originally opened in 1898 (!), The Berghoff is a Chicago institution. It helps that winter in Chicago is the perfect time to enjoy some hearty German food and brews. Check out the lunch and dinner menus here.

BOHEMIAN HOUSE

More German food, but in a trendier River North setting. This is the one instance I disagree with Chicagoist, which claims lunch and brunch are a good deal, but dinner is not. However, according to Bohemian House’s menu, dinner is $33 (not $44), and Chicagoist’s spreadsheet says the dinner value is $40 — sounds like a good deal to me!

CINDY’S

Offering lunch only, Cindy’s will probably be one of the more difficult reservations to get — so snag it if you can, then enjoy your delicious food and amazing views of Millennium Park and the lake from the top of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel.

FULTON MARKET KITCHEN

Fulton Market Kitchen is a fun and trendy spot that very much reflects the neighborhood for which it’s named, just a stone’s throw from the equally trendy West Loop. This year, Fulton Market Kitchen is offering both a three-course $33 dinner option and a four-course $44 option, and all the food sounds delicious…although they really got me at that coffee and doughnuts dessert. Check out the menu here.

GT FISH & OYSTER

I love seafood (like, a lot), and every meal offered at this seafood institution — brunch, lunch and dinner — has been declared a good deal by Chicagoist. The suggested wine pairings aren’t terribly expensive at $10 per glass either, especially for a River North restaurant.

LE COLONIAL

There’s something of a trend among my picks: lots of classic Chicago restaurants that have stood the test of time. Le Colonial, a Gold Coast Vietnamese restaurant, is no exception. This year’s restaurant week menu has a variety of options and has been declared an “exceptionally good” deal by Chicagoist. Take a peek here.

SEPIA

Sepia is another restaurant that has created a menu unique to restaurant week. It’s also a restaurant row stalwart, and has the distinction of being both Michelin starred and a favorite spot of First Lady Michelle Obama. They’re serving lunch and both a three- and four-course dinner option, and everything on the menu sounds amazing.

Chicago peeps: did you snag Restaurant Week reservations yet? I’m going to Nico Osteria and hopefully Sepia as well!

Image: Boka Group