Paella at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba

As a Chicago foodie with a penchant for finding deals, I’m always happy when they come to me in the form of Chicago Restaurant Week (coming up January 22-February 4). It’s one of the most anticipated and far-reaching restaurant events of the year, and for good reason. You can grab a three-course lunch at a swanky spot for $22, and a three- or four-course dinner for $33/$44 at the most premium restaurants.

This usually represents a substantial savings from normal menu prices and are some of the best deals of the year. Several restaurants on the Chicago Restaurant Week (CRW) list regularly do other offers throughout the year - for example Groupon, LivingSocial or prix-fixe theater menus - and so may not be where you want to focus your time. Instead you will want to keep an eye out for great values and unique menus for this once-a-year occasion.

Here are my top picks for the best deals for Chicago Restaurant Week 2016.


Graham Elliot Bistro


You might know Chef Graham Elliot for being a quirky Food Network star who’s won many competitions and awards. Chicago also knows him as the man behind the West Loop restaurant Graham Elliot Bistro. His menu has the least amount of choices available from my selections here, but is sure to be an experience for those who haven’t been. Graham Elliot Bistro has done Gilt City deals in the past, though not as good as this one.


Cafe Baba Reeba

Lettuce Entertain You is one of my all-time favorite restaurant chains. Cafe Baba Reeba is one of my favorite Chicago restaurants. It’s usually an incredible value, but take this Chicago Restaurant Week opportunity to check it out if you haven’t already!

Many Lettuce Entertain You restaurants are participating these two weeks, including RPM Italian and Summer House Santa Monica.


Ada Street

Green Tea Ice Cream (inspired by Prince) at Ada Street Chicago


Ada Street is the upscale arm of Chicago's DMK Restaurant Group. They always have interesting themed menus - a favorite from recent memory was their take on death row prisoners’ last meals. For Chicago Restaurant Week 2016, they’re focusing on meals requested by beloved bands across the ages. Definitely go here on date night - it’s quite the romantic spot!

Another chef-driven DMK restaurant, mk the Restaurant, also has a great Chicago Restaurant Week menu.



Boka is a Chicago gem that rarely “discounts.” The lowest-priced Chicago Restaurant Week menu items for each of the four courses offered would regularly start at $65, but will be $44 during Chicago Restaurant Week. Some top values? Crispy Pork Belly or Marinated Hamachi for starter plates, and a Lightly Smoked Arctic Char, Roasted Chicken with Foie Gras, and a Grilled Beef Short Rib. Jump on this one before reservations are all taken up!

GT Fish & Oyster 

Clam Chowder at GT Fish & Oyster Chicago

There are a couple really solid seafood offerings on the Chicago Restaurant Week list. I'll admit - seafood is not my specialty. I'm weird like that (but also a cheap date). For everyone else, take this opportunity to get the best prices on Chicago's top seafood restaurants, like GT Fish & Oyster (another Boka Group restaurant) which is serving up all the treasures of the sea... tuna, mahi mahi, oysters and more.


Odyssey Lake Michigan (formerly Odyssey Cruises)


THIS is the best deal of Chicago Restaurant Week. Normally, a lakefront dinner cruise on the Odyssey is around $100 per person, and online deals are occasionally available, but not much better than that. It’s a lovely experience. The food is good, they have a dessert bar, and last year they had $20 bottles of wine! After dinner, enjoy views of the city on the deck and party til the boat docks on their dance floor. If you haven’t done an evening boat cruise, do it during Chicago Restaurant Week.



Filet Medallions at Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse Chicago

I think any steakhouse deal is a good one, because these places rarely, if ever do deals. Consider adding one to your Chicago Restaurant Week to do list! I wrote about a few of the steakhouses that are now offering Restaurant Week specials (not all listed below), if you need a primer.

Some best bets from participating steak restaurants:




Remington’s CRW menu represents the perfect opportunity to try a lunch menu, especially because it’s close to where a lot of Chicagoans (and suburbanites) work, as well as many of the popular hotels where visitors stay. I love that they’re featuring their spaetzle mac and cheese and chicken dip sandwich. I tried both a while back and they get my stamp of approval!


You really can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants on the Chicago Restaurant Week list (see them all at, but the aforementioned represent some of the best deals in the city. Make sure to reserve your spot soon - reservations fill up quickly!

Where will you be going for Chicago Restaurant Week? Share your picks in the comments! And be sure to share your foodie photos using #CRW2016 with @choosechicago on Instagram and Twitter.


Image credits: Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, Ada Street, GT Fish & Oyster (photo by Eric Kleinberg), Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse