Matt Kirouac

Like new flowers sprouting from the soil, spring brings forth fresh new dining incentives in Chicago. Chief among them: Chicago Chef Week. From April 19 through April 24, restaurants throughout the city are offering prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menus at bargain prices, affording diners the opportunity to experience spots they've been wanting to try or old favorites.

More than 85 restaurants are on deck to participate in Chicago Chef Week this year, offering a three-course prix fixe for lunch or a four-course prix fixe for dinner. Participants run the gamut of cuisines, dining styles, and neighborhoods, offering a thorough cross-section of Chicago's multifaceted dining landscape.

New this year is a pretty epic giveaway, which could win you free dinners for a year. Basically. one winner will be chosen at random to receive 52 $50 gift cards from participating Chef Week restaurants, which could mean one free dinner per week for a year if you play your cards right.

Examples of participating restaurants include The Boarding House in River North (below), featuring a four-course dinner menu with dishes like shaved vegetable salad, steelhead trout, artisanal cheese, and a selection of mini desserts.

Matt Kirouac

Carriage House is serving dinner as well, with arugula salad, green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and beignets.

State and Lake Chicago Tavern is doing both lunch and dinner, serving up dishes like spring carrot soup, little gem Cobb salad, and black walnut bourbon brownies.

Lincoln Square's most convivial neighborhood nook, Gather (at top), gets in on the dinnertime action with a menu chock full of celery root soup, parsnip risotto, grilled sirloin, s'more brownies, and coriander ice cream.

Go nautical with lunch at Nico Osteria, where the three-courser include items like fried shishito peppers and olives, egg yolk and ricotta raviolo, and chocolate budino, among other options.

And there's lots more where those came from. Visit here to learn more and make your dining plans.

Photos: Gather; The Boarding House