Food & Drink

The Best Deals to Chew on During Chicago Restaurant Week

Updated On 01/30/2018 at 04:34PM EST
Benny's Chop House

Benny's Chop House

River North

With the surf & turf priced at a whopping $77 on their regular dinner menu (featuring lobster tail and 8-ounce filet), the fact that it is an option (albeit a significantly downgraded one with USDA prime tournedos of beef and shrimp dejonge instead) on the $22 Restaurant Week lunch menu at this erstwhile local steakhouse is borderline shocking. Even with the menu's $8 surcharge for the surf & turf option (no additional charge for wild Canadian whitefish or orecchiette entrees), it’s still easily one of the best deals in the city. And that’s before we even get to the added bacon nachos for the table appetizer and chocolate bread pudding dessert.

Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

Near North Side

Blue Door used to be known as Table52 and is known for sourcing terrific fresh and local ingredients -- sometimes from its own outdoor garden. Their Restaurant Week menu, serving $33 dinners and $22 lunches, looks amazing, with buttermilk fried chicken, market fish with potato lyonnaise, and short rib served with basmati rice pilaf looking like the standouts. Their "Hummingbird Cake" made with banana and pineapple will be served as dessert.

The Blanchard

Lincoln Park

At Lincoln Park standby The Blanchard, the elegant foie gras–slingers behind one of the more interesting burgers in Chicago will be serving a $44 dinner menu for Restaurant Week. If you appreciate the finer things in life, it will almost certainly be worth it, as you can expect the aforementioned foie gras, your choice of Dover sole, chicken, or short rib served with smoked dates, black garlic, and shiitake mushrooms and for dessert, a chocolate "pot de crème" -- which their menu describes as having been made with "toffee and coffee and magic." Not bad at all.

Blackbird

Blackbird

West Loop

One of Chicago’s most well-known upscale dining institutions makes a play for a new crowd with a $22 Restaurant Week lunch option that includes a roasted whitefish option ($22 on its own on the regular lunch menu), in addition to the usually priced $20 hanger steak and the regularly priced $16 duck confit. Add in appetizers like warm shrimp salad or crispy Brussels sprouts and dessert options including pumpkin parfait or gingerbread cremeux, and you will walk out of the joint feeling like you stole your lunch.

Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile

Café des Architectes

Streeterville

One of the fanciest (and priciest) high-end dining spots in Chicago is saving you money already if you order the ocean trout from their limited $22 lunch menu (usually priced $28 on their regular menu) -- or go for the braised beef short rib for an entrée if you don’t feel like fish. Then add in appetizers like baby beef salad or butternut squash soup and desserts including chocolate pistachio tart or sour cherry panna cotta for a highfalutin lunch on the Mag Mile at an unusually affordable price.

CH Distillery

West Loop

As one of the rare few restaurants that foolishly lets you choose four items from the menu regardless of whether it’s an appetizer, entrée, or dessert, CH Distillery’s “pick four items of your choice” $33 Restaurant Week dinner menu is ripe for exploitation. When those items include heavy hitters like braised short ribs, vodka and mushroom risotto, gin-poached shrimp scampi, chicken and andouille sausage, and the famous CH burger with bacon, you may never need to eat again.

Eataly

Eataly

River North

With pasta entrees on their regular menu typically ranging from $23-$28, Eataly’s Il Pesce is putting money in your pocket the minute you walk in the door with just the entrée thanks to Restaurant Week options like gnocchi alla romano and spaghetti alla puttanesca from their $22 lunch menu. Additional items include an appetizer (oysters, salmon, or salad) and a decadent tiramisu dessert.

Cindy's Rooftop

Cindy's

Loop

Rarely do you set foot into Cindy’s thinking you’re going to save money. But the prices at this famous rooftop showroom at the Chicago Athletic Association get a pretty significant haircut during Restaurant Week, with options on the $22 lunch menu including the usually $20 gnocchi Parisienne and the usually $16 fried Gunthorp Farm chicken sandwich. Add in appetizers like falafel or crunchy lettuce (meaning falafel) and a chocolate quesillo dessert, and suddenly this place isn’t quite the wallet assassin you remember it being.

The Florentine

The Florentine

Loop

Another high-priced local mainstay gets significantly more affordable during Restaurant Week with a $22 lunch menu that includes entrees like risotto and gnocchi (both usually priced at $26 on their regular lunch menu). Rounding out the cash-saving experience at this upscale Italian temple in the JW Marriott are appetizers like butternut squash soup and Caesar salad, plus a sweet ending of cannoli or a scoop of house-made gelato or sorbetto.

Michael Jordan's Steakhouse Chicago

Michael Jordan's Steakhouse

Mag Mile

His Airness is known for many things, but saving you money is not usually one of them. That all changes thanks to their 3-course $22 lunch menu (when just the entrée alone on their regular lunch menu will cost you a minimum of $24). And the entrée options are more than solid -- ranging from fried chicken and sliced hangar steak to wagyu burgers and ginger-glazed scallops. Then hit a 3-point jumper from half court as the buzzer sounds with standout appetizers like Slagel Farms smoked chicken gumbo or salad (i.e. gumbo) and a chocolate mousse or sorbet dessert.

Roka Akor Chicago

Roka Akor

River North

The skirt steak will usually run you $24 on Roka Akor’s regular menu, but you can grab it as your entrée on their $22 lunch menu at this sleek Japanese steakhouse during Resto Week (in addition to alternative mains like black cod skewers and chicken teriyaki). At this point, the miso soup appetizer and yellowtail tataki or tuna maki second courses are nothing but an added bonus.

Travelle Kitchen and Bar

Travelle Kitchen + Bar

River North

One of the best Restaurant Week deals in the city is the hangar steak option on Travelle’s $22 lunch menu, as this item alone will run your $31 on their regular lunch menu (you can also opt for alternative mains like carbonara risotto and seared branzino). But don’t stop there, as the additional courses like ahi poke or crispy octopus and pork belly appetizers and chocolate cake or lemon pavlova desserts are certainly no slouches either.

Up Next
Mi Tocaya Antojeria | Matt Haas / Thrillist
Food & Drink

Chicago's Best New Restaurants That Opened in 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
A s 2017 winds down, it's time to take stock of the myriad restaurants that opened (and closed: rest in peace, Charlatan, Katsu, Ruxbin, et al.) this year. We saw West Town's food scene shift from under-the-radar to culinary hotbed, highbrow Mexican restaurants flourish, Michelin-starred chefs go casual, and the demand for -- and commitment to -- local produce and meats rage on. No group of restaurants better exemplify these trends than the following 10 stunners. From a 20-seat fine dining destination in (you guessed it) West Town, to a pasta spot with a penchant for all things Midwestern, these are the best restaurants that opened in 2017.

Mi Tocaya Antojeria

Logan Square

Elevated Mexican food in a space filled with art and kaleidoscopic tilework
This springtime arrival has garnered tremendous praise since its opening -- earning a spot amongst Thrillist's Prime 13 best new restaurants of the year -- and for good reason: chef and owner Diana Davila's elevated Mexican cuisine is the stuff that open-minded food enthusiasts' dreams are made of. If you're looking for free, bottomless chips and basic margaritas, look elsewhere. Here, the margs are infused with ingredients like serrano chilis and bitters or elderflower and citrus, and the wildly popular peanut butter y lengua starter sets the tone for the rest of the meal. Charred butternut squash tacos with chile, beans, and corn crema make for an outstanding vegetarian option, while pork albondiga en nogada will satisfy those with a carnivorous habit.

Bonci Pizzeria

West Loop

Pizza literally straight from Rome, with the flavors to prove it
This Roman import brazenly defied the "when in Rome..." adage upon its arrival to Chicago, because another deep-dish joint, it is not; instead, it's serving its iconic al taglio (sliced to order and sold by weight) pizza, which boasts a signature, focaccia-like crust that is at once substantive and airy. This outpost is the brand's first in the United States, and promises topping combinations ranging from prosciutto cotto and mozzarella to potato and mozzarella and meatballs and Parmesan. Pro tip: due to popular demand and inevitable lines, try to plan your visit at off-hours.

Paul strabbing

BLVD

West Loop

Amazing seafood served in Sunset Boulevard style
The 1950s Hollywood glamour and modern Chicago dining culture collide in stylish fashion at this debut concept from Sancerre Hospitality. The space is unapologetically luxurious, with cozy booths, twinkling chandeliers, and some of the poshest restrooms in the game (continuity of design matters, folks), while the menu serves luxury in the form of champagne, spendy caviar service, a seafood tower, and filet mignon served with foie gras, truffles, and brioche. Punctuate a meal with mini malt milkshakes or a "Holiday" hot fudge brownie sundae topped with bourbon-soaked cherries, caramel pretzels, whipped cream, and sprinkles for the full "treat yo'self" experience.

Paul Strabbing

Proxi

West Loop

Street food from around the world in a vibrantly designed space
It may not brandish the numerous accolades that Sepia has accumulated over the years, but the Michelin-starred restaurant's little sister is no less impressive. A playful, modern design ethos echoes executive chef Andrew Zimmerman's globetrotting menu of street food-inspired eats, complete with black, white, and cerulean geometric tiles in the bar area and an expansive open kitchen. Tempura-fried elotes with dehydrated lime, shaved Parmesan, and Kewpie mayo have become a fan favorites since the restaurant debuted in June; the coal-roasted oysters with ssamjang butter and fried fish collars with Thai garlic-chili sauce are equally can't-miss.

Julia Weeman

Split-Rail

West Town

The most high-end flavorful chicken nuggets you'll find
Executive chef/owner Zoe Schor (of former Ada Street fame) kept 2017's West Town dining renaissance rolling with her quaint, neighborhood-y tavern. Familiar and comforting American flavors shine in dishes like baked potato-inspired gnocchi, which comes packed with house bacon, sour cream, Hook's five-year Cheddar, and crispy potato skins, soul-soothing chicken nuggets with tangy honey-mustard for dipping, and like-Grandma's-but-better angel food cake teamed with seasonal fruit and Chantilly cream.

Matt Haas / Thrillist

Kitsune

North Center

Midwest-sourced ingredients meet home-style Japanese cuisine
The latest from Michelin-starred chef and foraging genius Iliana Regan of Elizabeth employs both locally procured ingredients and homestyle Japanese cooking techniques to create a signature cuisine that is traditional in approach and modern in execution. Chawanmushi with wild mushrooms and white fish plays well alongside nori sourdough with salmon poke and egg yolk, house-made nettle ramen with shio mushroom broth and crudité, and Japanese whisky-glazed doughnuts, while brunch offerings like okonomiyaki and "baoscuits" with pork cheek gravy and a fried egg make for a far from average Sunday outing. Read why we picked Kitsune as one of our Prime 13 best new restaurants of the year.

Courtesy of Quiote

Quiote

Logan Square

A mezcaleria-meets-Mexican-small-plates wonderland
Casual yet stylish, Quiote is a lesson in seemingly effortless balance. The bi-level Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient is airy and inviting, and provides a lively atmosphere for imbibing mezcal-based cocktails, like the Hotel Victoria (mezcal, arrack, lemon, aji, and pineapple cordial), alongside shareable bites like decadent bone marrow topped with avocado, cilantro, and salsa macha on supremely crusty toasted sourdough, esquites fundido comprised on sweet corn, cotija, crema, and serrano, and a crab tostada with mustard seed, hot sauce, radish, and punchy black lime for a hit of acidic brightness. No visit is complete without a visit to the subterranean mezcal bar, either pre- or post-meal.

Stephanie Zhao

Temporis

West Town

An ever-changing tasting menu pulled directly from an on-site hydroponic garden
Adventurous eaters with expensive taste, this one is for you: Chicago's small circle of tasting-menu-only fine dining restaurants gained this tiny yet notable addition this year. Sleek, sophisticated, and sustainability-minded, 20-seat Temporis serves just a single, evolving, eight-to-10 course tasting menu each night -- which is flush with hyper-local ingredients grown in the restaurant's on-site hydroponic garden. The menu changes at the seasons' whims, but has recently featured courses like A5 Miyazaki wagyu with kombu, blueberry, and chanterelle, capellini with mushrooms and gooseberries, and peach with cinnamon, brown butter, and lemon verbena.

Jason Little

HaiSous

Pilsen

Husband-and-wife team brings unbeatable Vietnamese food to Pilsen
Perhaps the most feel-good restaurant story of 2017 is that of Thai and Danielle Dang, the resilient husband-and-wife team who overcame tremendous adversity (including a lawsuit against their former boss at Embeya) to bring authentic Vietnamese fare to Pilsen. HaiSous was worth the wait, with a concept that offers both a la carte and prix fixe brunch and dinner services. Both are loaded with traditional items like roasted duck stuffed with kaffir lime leaves, corn with toasted coconut, scallion confit, and fried garlic, and even fried chicken wings with sticky-sweet caramelized fish sauce and crispy garlic.

Neil Burger

Daisies

Logan Square

Midwest-inspired pasta served in an exposed-brick dining room
Pasta is the name of the game at this 52-seater, where traditional Italian preparations are pushed aside in favor of locally grown ingredients and a uniquely Midwestern sensibility. Delve into the region's bounty by way of tortellini with lentils, kale, and pork sausage, tajarin with pole beans, garlic, and chicken cracklin', and stracci tossed with braised lamb, broccoli, and pecorino. Balance all those noodles with starters like carrot rillettes with duck fat and fennel and a glass of tequila-spiked Daisy Sangria, which is rounded out with tea, apple, and white wine.

David VonDerLinn
Sponsored

8 Cultural Activities To Class Up Your LA Weekend

Published On 02/09/2018
Matt Haas/Thrillist
Food & Drink

Chicago's Best Chefs of the Year Are Bonded by Food and Marriage

Published On 11/06/2017
N ot long after former Blackbird chef David Posey married former Publican pastry chef Anna Posey, they gave birth. "Like a normal couple," Anna tells Thrillist in an interview alongside her husband. "Minus the fact our baby’s not a baby: it’s actually a restaurant."