Ah, Chicago Restaurant Week. One of the few things that will get city residents out of their apartments when the temperature dips into the negative double-digits. From February 19 to 26, over 100 restaurants in the city and suburbs will be offering special prix fixe menus at $22 for lunch and $32 for dinner.
Known as one of the best times to try a new or normally too expensive restaurant at an affordable price, Restaurant Week is also often a time when the chefs try a few more daring dishes to spice up the usual menu. And some of the city’s most celebrated chefs and restaurants are participating. Among them are Topolobampo (owned by celeb-chef Rick Bayless), NoMi, Carnivale, and Blue 13, where the lobster pizza is to-die-for. At several of these places, it would be darn near impossible to get a three-course meal for under $60 per person, let alone a mere $32.
Most of the restaurants participating already have their menus up and are taking reservations. Many are also offering drink specials along with dinner, so you can use the money you save to enjoy a few more glasses of wine.
Last year, the city extended Restaurant Week into March, but don’t count on it happening again. You can view the full list of participating restaurants here.
Last January, my husband and I took a trip to the Rioja region of Spain. We sampled Rioja wines and visited underground cellars by day, and hopped from bar to bar snacking on tapas and drinking Rioja wines by night. We found that there were several Rioja wines that we loved, at that the tapas served there (while not incredibly creative like those offered in the Basque country) were simply delicious. So I was very excited to see that this week, October 18 to 25, is Rioja Restaurant Week both here in Chicago and in New York City.
From now until Sunday, dozens of restaurants in both cities will offer special deals and dishes to celebrate the wine and cuisine of the Rioja area. Some will offer $12 tapas and wine pairings and others will offer $25 or $50 prix fixe menus paired with wine. Other specials offered as part of the promotion include a 15% discount on dinner or a 20% discount on a bottle of Rioja wine. Not a bad deal. This means that at Eivissa, a Catalan tapas restaurant in Chicago (for example), you can either get a multi-course dinner for two for $50, or just nosh on their signature tapas, which are half off weekdays from 4pm-6pm, and enjoy a bottle of Rioja wine for as little as $30.
Over 50 restaurants in NYC are participating, along with nearly 30 in Chicago.