Chicago Restaurant Week 2019 returns featuring a bounty of suburban eateries
Local foodies can once again rejoice: The 12th annual Chicago Restaurant Week returns from Jan. 25 to Feb. 7.
The name might be a bit misleading in that there are a number of suburban restaurants on board and "week" actually means two.
But adventurous diners willing to brave the winter weather likely won't mind extra days to eat out. They'll probably be too busy looking for dining deals from nearly 400 restaurants with carefully curated menus.
"This makes it a record for restaurant participation," said Jordan Engerman, director of partnership for Choose Chicago, the major sponsor of Chicago Restaurant Week.
"We also have more than 100 restaurants participating for the first time," Engerman said. "There's definitely a broadening of restaurants getting involved."
The Clubhouse in Oak Brook is one suburban location joining this year's Chicago Restaurant Week.
"We selected a lot of our signature and popular items," said The Clubhouse general manager Terry Cheung. "It's for guests who have possibly never tried us before."
Thanks to Chicago Restaurant Week's searchable website at eatitupchicago.com, potential diners can scan The Clubhouse's three-course prix fixe menu in advance. Lobster bisque, blackened mahi mahi and 10-ounce slow-roasted prime rib are just a few of the offerings.
The Chicago Restaurant Week site makes clear which restaurants have vegetarian and gluten-free options. And diners can search restaurants based on name, location and cuisine.
This year's Chicago Restaurant Week features price increases. Brunch and lunch are now offered at $24 (up from $22), while dinners are priced at either $36 or $48 (up from $33 or $44). All prices exclude tax, gratuity and beverages.
"This is the first year in 12 years that we have increased the consumer price," Engerman said. "It was nominally to keep up with inflation, food and labor costs."
Saranello's, which serves rustic Italian cuisine in Wheeling, has joined Chicago Restaurant Week this year.
"There are some items on our menu that economically don't make sense," said Mychael Bonner, Saranello's executive chef and owner. "But it gives the customer the opportunity to try Saranello's and really take in what we do."
In addition, Bonner is chef-partner of the Northbrook seafood and sushi restaurant Di Pescara, which is also participating. He feels Chicago Restaurant Week can be an opportunity to change customer perceptions about suburban fine dining.
"You put something on the (Chicago Restaurant Week) menu that they might not order if it was just on the menu," Bonner said. "But a special menu, if it's well-crafted, (customers) might explore it."
Here is a sampling of suburban locations participating in Chicago Restaurant Week:
• Andiamo Restaurant, Chicago O'Hare International Airport
• Atwater's, Geneva
• Basils Greek Dining, Aurora
• The Capital Grille, Lombard and Rosemont
• Catch 35, Chicago and Naperville
• Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe, Burbank and Darien
• The Clubhouse, Oak Brook
• Di Pescara, Northbrook
• Farmhouse Tavern, Evanston
• Fogo de Chao, Chicago, Naperville and Rosemont
• Fox & Turtle, Itasca
• Francesca's Restaurant, Chicago and Elmhurst
• Gene & Georgetti, Chicago and Rosemont
• Hearth Restaurant, Evanston
• L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge, Lincolnwood
• McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks, Chicago, Oak Brook and Rosemont
• Mon Ami Gabi, Chicago and Oak Brook
• Morton's The Steakhouse, Chicago, Naperville, Northbrook, Rosemont and Schaumburg
• Napolita Pizzeria & Wine Bar, Wilmette
• Oceanique Restaurant, Evanston
• Perry's Steakhouse and Grille, Oak Brook
• Ruth's Chris Steak House, Chicago, Northbrook and South Barrington
• Sam and Harry's Steakhouse, Schaumburg
• Saranello's, Wheeling
• Seasons 52, Oak Brook and Schaumburg
• Shallots Bistro, Skokie
• Shaw's Crab House, Chicago and Schaumburg
• Tokio Pub, Schaumburg
• Vie, Western Springs
• Vistro Restaurant, Hinsdale
• Wicker Park Seafood and Sushi, Chicago O'Hare International Airport Terminal 2
• Wildfire, Chicago, Glenview, Lincolnshire, Oak Brook and Schaumburg
Suburban restaurant weeks
• Naperville Restaurant Week, Jan. 20 to Feb. 3, dinenaperville.com
• Geneva Restaurant Week, Jan. 21-27, genevachamber.com
• In Good Taste Restaurant Week in Wheaton, Jan. 26 to Feb. 2, downtownwheaton.com/event/restaurant-week-2019
• North Shore Restaurant Month, Feb. 1-28 except for Valentine's Day, visitchicagonorthshore.com/winter_restaurantmonth
• Chicago Northwest Restaurant Week, Feb. 22 to March 3, chicagonorthwest.com/restaurant-week
• St. Charles Restaurant Week, Feb. 25 to March 1, stcharlesil.gov/restaurant-week
• Lake County Restaurant Week, March 1-10, visitlakecounty.org
• Batavia Restaurant Madness Week, March 24-28, downtownbatavia.com
• Des Plaines Restaurant Week falls in October. Visit desplaines.org/government/mayor/week.htm for future details.
First Bites Bash 2019
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24
Tickets: $125 general admission (includes savory and sweet food tastings with liquor from more than 70 chefs and restaurants; must be 21 or older to attend)
Host chef: Joe Flamm, executive chef of Chicago's Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia and season 15 winner of Bravo's "Top Chef"
Benefits: Pilot Light, a local nonprofit that helps kids make healthier choices through food education