5 Chicago Restaurant Week special menus we’re hungry to try – Chicago Tribune

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Spanning just over two weeks and more than 300 restaurants, Chicago Restaurant Week is the perfect excuse to brave the cold and score some great deals at restaurants during the humdrum of winter.

But how to choose, when the city has so many tantalizing options, and only so many meals one can squeeze into 17 days? At the Tribune, we pored over menus to compare both prices and dishes offered on the hunt for the best bang for our buck.

Restaurant Week takes place this year Jan. 20 through Feb. 5. Find the full list of participating restaurants on Choose Chicago’s website (choosechicago.com/chicago-restaurant-week).

Here are five Chicago Restaurant Week menus we’re particularly excited about for 2023, listed in alphabetical order. Remember to make your reservations early, as many of the hottest spots fill up quickly, and happy dining.

If you’re looking for a restaurant that is women-owned, minority-owned and serves a little taste of paradise, then you have hit the trifecta. Without a plane ticket, Chicagoans can feast on the rich flavors of the Caribbean from Chicago’s own Hyde Park neighborhood.

The $59 three-course dinner menu offers twin lobster tails cooked on an open flame, paired with coconut mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. For dessert, take your pick of beignets, key lime pie and rum-spiked caramel cake. The 14 Parish Restaurant and Rhum Bar offers in-person dining with the option of patio seating, along with takeout and delivery.

1644 E. 53rd St., 312-291-8379, 14parish.com — Tatyana Turner

Bartender Signe Knutson prepares a salt air margarita at Bar Mar on Dec. 27, 2022, in Chicago.

I love Chicago Restaurant Week, because it appeals to my food nerd obsessions for reading menus, doing math and finding deals. Especially when celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés offers a $25 five-course lunch at Bar Mar, his whimsical seafood-centric restaurant in the Loop.

But let’s look at the numbers.

For your first course, you choose between the hamachi cone (normally $8 each) and Neptune’s Pillows (two pieces, $6 worth). Then for your second course, choose between croquetas de pollo (normally $12) or patatas bravas (normally $10).

For your third course, choose among three options: the salmon bikini sandwich (normally not available at Bar Mar, but between $16 and $23 at Jaleo by Andrés with different fillings), tuna tartare roll (normally $14), or sloppy Joe (normally $14 with potato chips) — plus José’s chips, soup or salad.

A Cobb salad and flan, both normally $12, are the default options for your fourth and fifth courses.

That’s all worth about $67, so you can save as much as a whopping $42. It’s such a steal that I wondered if the courses would be super small. A call to the restaurant confirmed some would be a little smaller, but most would stay the same. In any case, this is still a deal I can highly recommend, given my recent outstanding visit for a mini review. ¡Vamos!

120 N. Wacker Drive, 312-820-6602, thebazaar.com/location/bar-mar-chicago — Louisa Chu

Tanisha Griffin Leach, left, and her wife and business partner, chef Dominique Leach, are seen at their restaurant Lexington Betty Smokehouse on East 111th Street in Chicago on Dec. 15, 2022.

Chef and pitmaster Dominique Leach just dropped not only a $25 lunch menu, but released her own line of wagyu steak dogs for retail at Lexington Betty Smokehouse in the Pullman neighborhood.

I highly recommend the three-course Restaurant Week special where you can taste not only her signature rib tips, but the wagyu dogs dressed Chicago-style.

For your first course, choose between a salmon burger slider or a Chicago-style wagyu steak dog slider. For your main, options include the beef brisket Gouda macaroni and cheese, or the rib tips and wagyu beef andouille sausage combo.

Dessert is banana pudding or peach cobbler.

I did confirm the portions are smaller, as suggested with the sliders, but normally they’re enormous. To taste the same items, you would spend as much as $40, so you can save up to $15.

I say splurge and get Leach’s award-winning brisket, plus a double order of greens, which she makes with turkey tails, a secret chef’s treat that almost never makes it out of the kitchen.

756 E. 111th St., 773-309-8240, lexingtonbettysmokehouse.com — L.C.

The Mango Pickle restaurant features Indian thali-inspired dishes in Chicago, on Sept. 26, 2019.

Most restaurants try to highlight menu favorites during Restaurant Week, but it’s clear that chef Gregory Bazire at Mango Pickle decided to use the time to go big. The $59 dinner promises to give guests a taste of the cuisine of the Indian state of Goa, along with brief stops in Mumbai, Paris and Chicago.

That’s a lot to accomplish in a five-course meal, but the menu looks intriguing. That’s especially true of the Goan-inspired dishes, which showcase the area’s Portuguese influences. The meal starts with a small bite of cafreal naan, which you can get with chicken or cremini mushrooms. Also, be on the lookout for the vindaloo with pork shoulder as a fourth course, served with duchess potatoes — nonmeat alternatives include housemade paneer or cauliflower.

5842 N. Broadway, mangopicklechicago.com — Nick Kindelsperger

Steadfast's glassed-in charcuterie room houses cured meats from a program created by Scott Manley, executive chef of Table, Donkey & Stick.

One of my favorite Logan Square restaurants has had a tough month, mostly due to a plumbing issue out of its control. (Short version: When the city replaced the water main in front of the building, the restaurant’s water connection broke, forcing it to close for weeks.) Fortunately, the tiny spot has returned and has two great Restaurant Week options ($42 for three courses or $59 for four courses).

This allows you to score some of the shop’s excellent house-cured charcuterie, before moving on to the vegetable-heavy small plate section. (The four-course option adds a foie gras torchon in between.) That will set you up for a hearty finale, where you can score such filling options as the braised pork shoulder or confit duck leg (the latter requires a $4 supplement).

2728 W. Armitage Ave., 773-486-8525, tabledonkeystick.com — N.K.

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