by Michael Keating
Chicago Restaurant Week
Savor the masterful creations of some of the city’s finest chefs by dining during the 10th annual Chicago Restaurant Week. This year’s culinary celebration began January 27 and will continue for the next six days and nights, until February 9. Restaurants around the city are offering prix fixe menus: $22 for lunch and brunch and either $33 or $44 for dinner. With an astounding number of restaurants participating (over 350!), the process of sleuthing through the options can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a list of eight neighborhood favorites with particularly phenomenal menus.
1. Bar Pastoral
Just down the street from our Lakeview leasing office, this favorite neighborhood bistro features artisanal bread and cheeses and offers a wide range of wines to pair with your plates. For brunch, we’re excited about Gruyère scones with jam and butter and their bloody mary. Dinner also promises to deliver deliciousness with their Sage Gnocchi with leek, fennel, lemon cream sauce, and Rosa Maria (goat)–think Manchego cheese or a Spanish Pecorino, floral and earthy with tangy notes. Be sure to visit their shop next door and pick up a jar of Pear Tree Preserves–made in Chicago, these are produced with fresh, local, and organically grown produce–it’s just another one of their exceptional products.
image via PastoralArtisan
2. Ixcateco Grill
Southern Mexican cuisine is featured at this restaurant in Albany Park. The chef and owner, Anselmo Ramirez, previously worked under the instruction of Rick Bayless. At Ixcateco, Ramirez uses “fresh, locally sourced organic or sustainably raised ingredients when possible,” and we’re looking forward to his Restaurant Week menu. The Puerco en Mole Rojo entree, wood grilled pork loin, red mole, white rice microgreens, is certain to delight as many reviews tout best mole in the city. For dessert, tres leches, need we say more?
image via IxcatecoGrill
3. Piccolo Sogno
With easily one of the best patios in the city, the romantic and classy interior of Piccolo Sogno might often get overlooked, so pay them a visit in West Town this Restaurant Week. Participating for both lunch and dinner($33) and with gluten-free and gluten-free upon request options for both meals, this is a sure bet to pleasing all. Wine lovers will also appreciate the extensive selection of fine wines. Besides the Panna Cotta, which has candied lemons and raspberries, we are excited about the Pappardelle con Cinghiale, made with spiced wild boar ragu. The owners’ humility can be inferred by a name that means “little dream,” but reviews online assure us to have big expectations.
image via Piccolo Sogno Restaurant
4. Demera Ethiopian Restaurant
This popular destination in Uptown is participating in lunch and dinner, and the prices are exactly half of the other restaurants. The plates are shared, however, a $22 lunch for two or $33 dinner for two is quite a value–tack on a bottle of house wine or honey wine with dinner for only $11. We’re excited about their Ye-Beg Wot, which is flavorful, cured lamb stewed in either their spicy or mild sauce. Demera is across the street from the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, where you’ll find live jazz, swing, and spoken poetry depending on the night.
image via DemeraEthiopian
5. Volo Restaurant Wine Bar
Right in the center of Roscoe Village, this romantic restaurant beckons all. Each of the four courses offered for $44 dinner this Restaurant Week has us salivating! Key items include: Pork belly on-a-stick served with maple mustard; Steak Tartare with quail’s egg; Duck Confit in a red wine reduction; and an incredible sounding slice of cheesecake. If you are not able to go this week, make sure to mental tag it for when the warmer months return–the patio is everything a restaurant patio should be.
image via Volo Restaurant Wine Bar
Inspired by Yakitori street food, this Japanese restaurant mimics the fresh fish markets in Tokyo with the big, bold flavors that Chicagoans love. The executive chef, Matthias Merges, former executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s, has taken the burden of decision-making out of your hands. The $44 dinner prix fixe menu has only one option for each course–and we love all of them. From Sashimi Big Eye Tuna to Crispy Pork Belly Udon, the difficulty of deciding what to choose has been completely eliminated, and all that’s left is a wonderful, bright meal to remember.
image via Yusho-Chicago
7. Big Jones
Devil Crabs, Fried Mullet, Sea Island Benne Cake–just because we may not be familiar with these items, doesn’t mean we aren’t excited about them. Since April 2008, Big Jones in Andersonville has been serving Southern heirloom cooking, sourced sustainably from farms, a list of which is available on their website.
image via ChicagoMagazine
This contemporary American restaurant in Bucktown has the ideal Restaurant Week brunch menu–start with a Breakfast Burrata, enjoy one of their main courses, a side, and your choice of coffee, juice, or mimosa. You’ll be fortified for the day and, like us, be looking forward to the return of the fortnight of restaurant prix fixe menus next year.
image via Presidio Chicago
Click here for other participating restaurants. Enjoy!