Chicago is nothing if not a food city, and nothing encapsulates the city’s diverse culinary scene like Chicago Restaurant Week. Over the course of two weeks (1/22-2/4), more than 350 restaurants offer a series of multicourse prix fixe menus at $22 for lunch and $33 or $44 for dinner. That’s a lot of choices to, um, digest, so here are nine of our favorites to help you narrow it down.
Ada St. One of the problems with Restaurant Week is that the fixed prices are high enough that reasonably priced restaurants can end up overcharging for items that would be cheaper off the regular menu. That’s not the case with this DMK spot by the Hideout. Not only has Ada St. developed a completely new menu specifically for Restaurant Week, it’s based each dish on a specific band or musician, e.g., Beach Boys’ shrimp cakes with avocado crema and alfalfa sprouts or, inspired by vegetarian Sir Paul McCartney, house-made tagliatelle with smoked kabocha squash and chanterelle mushrooms. 1664 N. Ada, 773-697-7069, adastreetchicago.com.
Atwood On the ground level of the Hotel Burnham sits the recently refurbished Atwood, a bright space with high ceilings and large windows that boasts American-style dishes with an upscale twist. Some options include a salmon blintz made with a toasted-caraway crepe and dill cream cheese, cider-braised chicken leg served over butternut squash risotto, and a s’mores baked Alaska with graham-cracker ice cream. 1 W. Washington, 312-368-1900, atwoodcafe.com.
Big Jones Boasting a clean, classy, New Orleans vibe, Big Jones turns out vibrant, modern southern dishes without compromising the creole and Cajun cultures that influence the cuisine. Some dinner menu offerings are the Cajun boudin balls (made from a recipe dating back to 1955), alligator-andouille sauce piquant, and rum bread pudding to finish it off. 5347 N. Clark, 773-275-5725, bigjoneschicago.com.
Duck Inn Ritzy comfort food with zero pretension is the name of the game at Duck Inn. Braised pork belly and crispy chicken thighs are both dinner options, and there’s a duck-egg creme brulee with tangerine for dessert. In addition to the prix fixe options, Duck Inn also boasts an impressive cocktail program. 2701 S. Eleanor, 312-724-8811, theduckinnchicago.com
Frontier Chef Brian Jupiter is good at smoking meat—any type of meat. But Frontier’s game-focused menu is nicely balanced with lighter options like a poached grouper served over pea risotto or a sweet-potato soup with smoked scallops. 1072 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-4322, thefrontierchicago.com
Green Zebra For vegetarians looking for a worthwhile Restaurant Week experience, Green Zebra offers innovative vegetarian and vegan dishes that are anything but bland. Many of the menu items are Asian influenced, like kimchi-and-tofu dumplings, but it spans a variety of different cuisines—two other options are a crispy risotto cake and palak rajma, a traditional Indian stew. 1460 W. Chicago, 312-243-7100, greenzebrachicago.com
GT Fish & Oyster Chef Giuseppe Tentori has an inventive take on classic seafood dishes, just as the restaurant space itself has an updated upscale beach-house atmosphere. Some lighter options on the lunch menu include a seared tuna salad and mahi mahi with a bok choy salad; the dinner menu features appetizer options like shrimp bruschetta as well as heartier main dishes like an oyster po’boy with kimchi. 531 N. Wells, 312-929-3501, gtoyster.com
Trencherman This bathhouse-turned-restaurant features dishes that are sure to challenge the palates of the average Wicker Park hipster who walks through the doors.The first course alone offers squid with marrow beans and fennel or foie gras with a dried-gooseberry Waldorf salad. But it doesn’t stop there—for the especially indulgent, additional dinner options include beef tartare with a soft-boiled egg and toast or salmon with snails and nori butter. 2039 W. North, 773-661-1540, trenchermen.com
White Oak Tavern & Inn This quaint little gastropub offers refined pub food under the supervision of Bib Gourmand-honored chef Tom Van Lente. Warm and cozy options like a warm duck confit salad, sweet-potato agnolotti, or braised pork shoulder can be paired with wine for an additional $16. All Restaurant Week menu items can be ordered individually or family style. 1200 W. Webster, 773-555-1212, whiteoakchicago.com
See something intriguing? Reservations are highly suggested. See the full list of restaurants here.