The Chicago Marathon takes place Sunday, October 13, and whether or not you're competing in the race or just in it for the pasta solidarity, there are several spots around town offering carb-centric Marathon specials. Marathon weekend is the rare time of year when heaping portions of pasta are encouraged, so it's best to take full advantage. Here are some of your best bets for carbohydrate fueling this year.
There's just something so righteous about fueling up at a restaurant named after a world-famous athlete. That's why runners should race over to Michael Jordan's Steak House on October 12 to partake in plate upon plate of chef James O'Donnell's spaghetti special, made with green beans, fingerling potatoes, oven-dried tomatoes, and basil pesto. Add some protein with optional rotisserie chicken or Laughing Bird shrimp supplements. After the race, participants can show their marathon bib to earn a complimentary pour of Metropolitan Krankshaft at the bar. You've earned it.
TWO's general manager Yamandu Perez vies in dozens of marathons each year, which proves that we are all under-achievers by comparison and that he knows a thing or two about pre-marathon fuel. The perfect dish is chef Tom Van Lente's signature duck egg pasta with duck confit and duck skin cracklins, offering the perfect one-two punch of carbs and protein. Additionally, anyone who brings in their race bib and makes a reservation before 6:15 p.m. on October 12 will get 20% off their entire bill.
For the first time ever, diners are encouraged to dine and dash. Not in the criminal sense, but in the sense that the "Dine and Dash" menu at Mercat a la Planxa will make guests want to get up and sprint their way through a marathon. Offered October 11 through October 13, the special four-course prix fixe is chock full of energizing eats, including grilled focaccia with tomato puree; rice studded with Maine lobster, chicken, chorizo, and rabbit; chicken breast with truffled rosemary white beans; and strawberries with cardamom cream cheese espuma.
Known for hulking portions of carbohydrate comfort food, Hash House A Go Go is the perfect spot to binge for the sake of nourishment. On Marathon Eve, the guilty pleasure Mecca will roll out guilt-free indulgences such as meatloaf pasta and fried chicken pasta enrobed in porcini mushroom cream sauce. Since the mantra here is "twisted farm food," there's also something called the "pancake tractor driver combo," featuring a 12-inch flapjack adjoined by eggs, crispy potatoes, and choice of meat.
Indecisive athletes have the opportunity to design their own pasta dinner on October 12 at Bistronomic. Diners are able to select their pasta of choice, a seasonal vegetable, a protein, a sauce, and a local Midwestern cheese to top it off. The sky is the limit with variations. So if linguine with wild mushrooms, flat-iron steak, saffron mussel sauce, and goat cheese seems like something that will bolster you past the 26-mile mark, then go for it.
The annual pre-marathon pasta dinner at Lockwood Restaurant & Bar holds a special place in chef Joseph Rose's heart, an avid athlete himself. Held on October 12, the dinner is more of a carb melee, featuring all-you-can-eat portions of strozzapretti, linguini, or pappardelle with choice of sauce (alfredo, pesto, or marinara) for just $18 per person. And no, you do not need to actually be running the marathon to participate in this pasta spree.
Once you're done with the marathon, allow someone to carry you to Chicago q to relax over the barbecue restaurant's meat- and carb-filled brunch menu. Housemade sweets such as carrot cake and sweet potato pancakes are an apt reward for the Herculean workout, followed by savory selections like Chicago q's Benedict flight consisting of Kobe brisket Benedict, Southern eggs Benedict, and smoked chicken Benedict. You deserve a drink as well, and Chicago q rises to the occasion with morning beverages such as the barbecue bloody Mary garnished with smoked bacon sausage.
Photo credits: Michael Jordan's Steak House, TWO, Anthony Tahlier, Hash House A Go Go, Bistronomic, Lockwood Restaurant & Bar, Chicago q