Northwestern University is within arm’s reach of one of our country’s greatest dining hubs, yet those elusive greenbacks seem to prevent students from uncovering Chicago’s culinary prowess. However, for ten days between February 1 and February 10, over 250 Chicagoland dining establishments will be offering prix fixe meals that may just help keep both your stomach and wallet stuffed.
Chicago Restaurant Week, staged by Choose Chicago, the leader in Chicago tourism, is an annual event that not only offers a dining discount, but also helps drive business to restaurants during a typically dry time of year. Participating restaurants offer $22 lunches and/or a $33 or $44 dinner depending on the establishment. This entire concept can be overwhelming, as few students actually have the time to research all 277 participants.
But relax! Spoon’s done the tough job for you. Here’s a list of the six restaurants that deserve your consideration for Chicago’s Restaurant Week. P.S. These spots fill up fast, so reserve your table now.
Tony Mantuano’s Magnificent Mile gem really came onto the restaurant scene last year with wood-fired pizzas and a consistently packed house night after night. Not only was Mantuano one of Top Chef Masters’ Season 2 champions, but he’s also the chef of the well-renowned, upscale Italian eatery, Spiaggia. One of their many accolades includes Esquire Magazine naming Bar Toma America’s Best New Pizzeria of 2012.
For $22, stop by Bar Toma to enjoy the kale salad topped off with soft-boiled egg and garlic bread crumbs, and the pizza di carnevale, which is graced with a trio of pork toppings, and gelato.
110 East Pearson St., Chicago, IL 60611
Mon-Thur, 11:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat, 11:30 a.m.–11:00 p.m.
Sun, 11:30 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
This one’s for anyone who wants to visit one of Rick Bayless’ actual restaurants. Frontera Fresco is wonderfully average (farewell Sbarro), but for gourmet Mexican, Topolobampo represents. Bayless’ downtown eatery has earned several awards, including a Michelin Star. Typically, diners have to spend more than $22 to even have the opportunity to enjoy a course at Topolobampo, let alone an entire three-course meal.
For the prix fixe dinner, diners will receive empanadas, pork or chicken entrée with mole, and coconut cake to top off a classy meal without the classy prices.
445 Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Tues, 12:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m
Wed-Thur, 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
Fri-Sat, 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
Imagine a place where all the successful venture capitalists dine, and you’ve got NoMI. Formerly a Michelin Star restaurant, NoMI Kitchen is located in the Park Hyatt hotel in downtown Chicago. With a luxurious atmosphere and top-shelf food, there’s no reason not to take advantage of Restaurant Week and dream.
Start your lunch with the butternut squash soup, then indulge in a truffled mac and cheese, and cap off the meal with a sponge cake and buttermilk parfait.
800 N Michigan Ave, 7th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611
Mon-Thu, 6:30 a.m.–11:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat, 6:30 p.m.–1:00 a.m.
Sun, 7:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m.
An inventive $33 dinner is still a bargain at the acclaimed Boka. Giueseppe Tentori spearheads the kitchen in the Boka Restaurant Group’s Michelin Star restaurant.
Treat yourself to dinner at this intimate Lincoln Park location off the Armitage El Red Line stop and enter gastronomical heaven. Boka’s menu is more extensive than a good number of other Restaurant Week participants, but the seared diver scallops and Berkshire pork cheeks seem to be the menu standouts.
1729 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Mon-Thur, Sun 5:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Fri-Sat, 5:00 p.m.–10:30 p.m.
Here’s the splurge choice. Out of all of the $44 dinners, a dinner at Baume & Brix simply has to be the best bet. Pay a visit to this spot that’s right off the Grand Red Line El stop in downtown Chicago, and you’ll feel up to date with the Chicago dining sphere. Their website promotes their “playful, yet modern” cuisine, and that approach has created a buzzing scene as of late.
Although seemingly hefty, the cost is worth it to experience the four-course culinary bliss that is dinner at Baume & Brix. Go out on a limb and try the pig tails to start and end with the ‘Frostee & Fries’, which includes potato ice cream.
351 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Mon-Sat, 5:00 p.m.–2:00 a.m.
For those unwilling to dish out $44 on a meal, make your way over to Trenchermen for the $33 dinner option. This Wicker Park restaurant popped onto the restaurant scene late last year, and hasn’t looked back since. A trencherman is defined to be a person who enjoys food, and, aptly named, you’ll feel like one once you leave.
Highlights from Trenchermen’s prix fixe menu include heirloom sweet potatoes with miso cream and beer vinegar, milk braised pork shoulder with butternut squash and the brioche pain perdu with waffle ice cream.
2039 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647
Mon-Thurs, 5:30 p.m.–11:30 p.m.
Fri – Sat, 5:30 p.m.–1:00 a.m.
Sun, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.; 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.