Chicago Restaurant Week: Dine for $22-$44. Chicago Restaurant Week 2017 returns on January 27 – February 9 with some deals for dining at expensive restaurants at a discount. The Chicagoist has an excellent deals spreadsheet (this year with filters!). Honestly I didn’t partake in 2016 (except to purchase discounted gift cards) because the deals weren’t compelling enough for me to battle the crowds. I am eyeing a few deals this year.
The Chicagoist points out that during Restaurant Week (RW) “Dining rooms tend to be crowded, your choices are limited, many of the dishes aren’t very creative and some restaurants will decrease their portion sizes to increase their margins.” All true.
What is Restaurant Week
RW features three or four course prix fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and $33 or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). New this year is a $22 brunch option at some restaurants. In addition to the Chicagoist’s assessment I would add that not everyone wants a three or four course meal, menus tend to be loaded with low cost options like chicken, cheap red meats, pasta, soups, and vege entrees.
During RW many restaurants offer items that aren’t on their regular menu so you can’t easily compare “apples-to-apples” to determine if or what kind of deal you’re getting. You can still get an idea of what you’re saving. If an average three course meal at a restaurant is $60 and the Restaurant Week deal is $44, you may be saving over 20%.
All participating restaurants should provide you with their special Restaurant Week Menu; if not ask for it.
Save 20% on Restaurant Week and future dining with Amex
The better option may be to take advantage of this Amex Offer during RW to get 20% off on future dining. And if you are going to do some RW dining, buy $25 gift cards, in separate purchases, with your registered Amex card (s) and get an additional 20% off.
How to get the best deal
- Review the regular menu to see what a non-RW meal might cost.
- The best deals are for an expensive cut of high quality beef at a discount.
- Try to avoid low cost items such as soups, vegetarian or pasta dishes which generally are not a good deal. If you want a lower cost dish you may save by ordering off the regular menu.
- Search the Chicagoist spreadsheet for good deals.
- Search for RW menu’s using the Restaurant Finder here (scroll down).
- Buy gift cards strategically to save 20% now or later.
Most of my picks pass the Chicagoist’s analysis. My “analysis” is based on three things: Is the food good? Is a comparable meal from the regular menu more than the RW price? Do I like the restaurant and usually eat there as a treat? If yes, then it made the list. ie: A three course lunch at Barney’s is probably at least $40 bucks (plus wine, tax and tip), the food is good and the restaurant is beautiful. The RW $22 lunch menu has higher end options – works for me!
Here are the better deals by area:
Gold Coast: Fred’s at Barney’s (L) , Le Colonial (L/D), Morton’s (L/D), Nico Osteria (L/D)
Lincoln Park: The Blanchard (D), Riccardo Trattoria (D), Sapori Trattoria (D)
Loop: Berghoff (L/D), Cherry Circle Room (L), Cochan Volant (D), The Florentine (L/D), The Gage (L/D) plus $10 glasses of wine, Morton’s (L/D) eat at bar during Happy Hour 4-7PM $8 wine, South Water Kitchen (L/D), Terzo Piano (L)
Mag Mile: Allium (L/D), Cafe Spiaggia (D), The Lobby at the Peninsula (D), Riva’s (L/D) Costco sells Phil Stefani gift cards for 25% that caan be used at Riva.
Old Town: No recommendations
River North: Bernies Supper Club (D) , GT Fish and Oyster (L/D), Joe’s Seafood (L/D), Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse (L/D),
West Loop: Avec (L/D), Bar Takito (L/D)