Chicago Restaurant Week plays a key role in promoting Chicago’s culinary diversity and highlights the city as a premiere food destination while boosting local businesses during a traditionally slower time of year. It’s a fun and easy way to dive into the food scene of Chicago and discover all kinds of new culinary delights. The event includes a large variety of food and restaurant types. So, for a better understanding of how to approach all the different options, we’ve put together a guide for you.
What is Chicago Restaurant Week?
For over two weeks, restaurants all across Chicago offer prix fixe menus that allow diners to experience a multi-course meal at a set price, often lower than the regular cost. One of the advantages of Chicago Restaurant Week is the ability to try much more of a restaurant's menu than a regular visit would entail. It’s a way for restaurants to show you what they’ve got and blow you away at a discounted price.
Origins of Chicago Restaurant Week
The first “restaurant week” was created by Tim Zagat and Joe Baum as a goodwill gesture for 15,000 reporters making the journey to New York City for the 1992 Democratic Convention. It was so successful that 30 years later it has become a staple across the country. Chicago’s first Restaurant Week was in 2008, and since then it has exploded in popularity.
Importance of Chicago Restaurant Week
So, what makes this such a special event? Besides giving you a great deal on great dining, Restaurant Week brings the Chicago culinary scene together in the spirit of healthy competition and discounts. It's often thought that when a restaurant starts offering menu-wide deals, they’re in financial trouble and looking to boost revenue. Restaurant Week lets restaurants avoid that stigma and evens the playing field. It also brings in many more diners than usual and encourages repeat customers in the process.
When is Chicago Restaurant Week?
Chicago Restaurant Week 2024 will be held from January 19th to February 4th. The schedule has shifted a day back to be more in line with the start of the weekend, so start making your plans now! Reservations are recommended due to the increased volume of diners taking advantage of the event, but don’t despair if you forget, there are over 350 restaurants participating this year, so there’s no lack of choices.
How do I participate?
Easy! Look at the list of participating restaurants, find one that piques your interest, make a reservation, and enjoy! Restaurants make their prix fixe menus clear and separate from their regular menu and communicate all of the options to you.
Are reservations necessary?
No, but due to a high influx of diners enjoying the event, they are definitely encouraged. Take a look at the participating restaurants and book a table today!
Can dietary restrictions be accommodated?
There is no universal practice with dietary restrictions. Each restaurant handles it differently. Thankfully, with so many options available, it should be easy to find a restaurant that takes your dietary restrictions into account.
Is it family-friendly?
Of course! Find the restaurants that are right for you and your family.
For a sample of what's on offer, we've compiled a selection of restaurants participating in the 2024 Chicago Restaurant Week. Browse all restaurants here.
This Mediterranean establishment has perfected its formula. The cedar-paneled restaurant gives you a luxury dining hall feel while serving tasty food and wine from all around the Mediterranean. Their Chicago Restaurant Week menu will include dishes like rigatoni with eggplant conserva and hearth-baked chicken thighs.
Awarded the Michelin Green Star for its culinary excellence paired with outstanding eco-friendly commitments, Daisies is a great choice for those looking for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Their Restaurant Week menu will offer a four-course meal with unique pairings of flavors and dishes you won’t find anywhere else.
This is another great sustainable option. 100% plant based. 100% gluten free. The restaurant offers two separate prix fixe menus, one for $42 and the other for $59. Regardless of your choice, you’ll enjoy a refreshing, clean, and deliciously inventive three or four-course meal.
An expert in small plates, this restaurant might just give you a different menu every time you visit during restaurant week. But you can always expect a high level of decadence and a degree of the unusual.
This option elevates you up to true fine dining. Esme is a Michelin-starred French-inspired restaurant with a playful, casual Parisian bistro twist. You’ll find world-class cocktails and dishes that are both delicious and artistic here, like course 1 of their restaurant week menu—Flamin’ Hot Cheeto and braised endive, winter citrus, fennel, and farmer’s cheese.
A two Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant melded with a truly amazing brewery. Your drink selections will be equally important to your meal and will be expertly curated to fit the Restaurant Week menu. This restaurant is in high demand, so make sure to plan ahead if you want to experience Moody Tongue.
Serving brunch, lunch, and two dinner menus, Pompette is a wine bar and all-day cafe and a great choice for those seeking a fun atmosphere with great food. Their menus shift with the season, making them adept at a wide variety of meals which thankfully, their restaurant week menu will have. Each course will have three options to choose from, so if you’re planning on heading to dinner with a group of friends with different tastes, you can be confident there’s something for everyone.
This restaurant was a passion project of a husband and wife and their dedication to excellence shows. Refined and delicious Vietnamese food in a cozy environment makes for a great place to laugh and sip with friends.
A perfect mixture of small bites, crave-worthy shareables and hearty mains, Cira combines Mediterranean and American flavors for a progressive and mighty feast.
Fantastic fancy Mexican food in the West Loop. Their usual menu consists of a fire section, foods cooked over an open flame, and an ice section, mostly consisting of raw seafood.
You’ll know you’ve made a good choice as soon as you walk into Jaleo. The bold red color scheme accents their contemporary Spanish cuisine and creates an environment that's sure to put a smile on your face. Great tapas with Chicago influences, definitely one to put on the list.
Explore inventive Modern American cuisine at Gemini, where a laid-back ambiance complements a menu that redefines classic dishes with a contemporary twist. Each dish showcases the kitchen's commitment to quality and seasonal ingredients.
These are just a small sample of all the incredible options available during Restaurant Week. Browse all participating restaurants here, where you can also filter by cuisine type and neighborhood.
Activities to Enjoy During Restaurant Week in Chicago
While you’re waiting for your next meal, or if you just finished digging in, Chicago offers plenty of amazing activities and experiences to add to the fun. The winter months are perfect for ice skating, whether it’s near Cloud Gate at Millennium Park or around the winding track of the Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon. Or head to The Gwen Hotel, their fifth-floor rooftop features an iceless curling rink, where guests can play the classic winter sport while enjoying a signature curling cocktail.
There’s also sledding in the parkland near Soldier Field and snowshoeing on Northerly Island. If you’d rather take a moment to get warm, head to the Garfield Conservatory or Lincoln Park Conservatory for a beautiful walk around a botanical garden.
Along with seasonal activities, Chicago boasts one of the most respected and loved comedy scenes in the country. It’s a great way to make a night out one to remember. Head to The Second City, Laugh Factory, Zanies or The Lincoln Lodge.
What makes Chicago Restaurant Week so special is its ability to bring the whole city together. There is no dominant location or type of cuisine. The beauty is in its diversity and the roads to new experiences it paves. Two whole weeks of great food at great prices. Explore all the restaurants, call ahead, get out there and dig in!