But how to narrow down the list? We suggest a worldly range of cuisines, from our own backyard all the way to Japan. Below, you’ll find five great options, but if you’re finding it too hard to choose, check out the First Bites Bash on Jan. 25, where, for $125, diners can test out dishes from 60 participating restaurants. Hosted by Boka executive chef Lee Wolen, the event will also benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository—and we’ve got no reservations whatsoever about that.
Irresistible tacos await at Barrio, the River North hot spot where Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe offers Mexican cuisine with a playful edge. Along with offering $22 lunch and weekend brunch, Barrio will roll out a $33 three-course menu for Restaurant Week that puts the fun in queso fundido. Appetizers include roasted sweet potato guacamole topped with candied bacon and goat cheese. Tacos are featured as both entree and dessert, with savory tacos filled with forest mushrooms in a white truffle garlic crema or chicken al pastor. Then there’s a chocolate ice cream taco with coconut crema, brownie crumble and guajillo toffee. 65 W. Kinzie St., 312.940.9900
Chef Thai Dang will serve up his mother’s beef pho for brunch at Vientnamese spot HaiSous, a Michelin 2018 Bib Gourmand recipient. For $44, Dang offers a substantial sampling of some of his best dishes. The hand-shaven papaya salad topped with tender beef jerky and fried shallots is one such standout on the dinner menu, as are the fried chicken wings with caramelized fish sauce. While HaiSous regularly has two tasting menus, neither are as deluxe as the Restaurant Week fare. 1800 S. Carpenter St., 312.702.1303
Gene & Georgetti
Enjoy a taste of sweet home Chicago at the city’s oldest steakhouse. For dinner, there’s a 10-ounce prime strip steak (for lunch, there’s a steak sirloin sandwich with onions and caramelized shallot mayonnaise). Sure, there’s also salmon, eggplant involtini and charred octopus to enjoy, but when you’ve got steak on the table, what else matters? Finish up your meal with chocolate bread pudding, flan or tuxedo mousse cheesecake for an act that’s hard to follow. 500 N. Franklin St., 312.527.3718
Mon Ami Gabi
There’s something beautiful in being offered a Bloody Mary or sparkling brut cocktail as a first course, as is the case with Mon Ami Gabi’s Restaurant Week brunch. For a less boozy option, there’s onion soup au gratin, creme brulee French toast and a salmon benedict. Steak frites tops the $44 dinner menu, but sea scallops with butternut squash and dates is another tempting take. For dessert, there’s no need to choose; there’s a trio of chocolate mousse, profiterole and creme brulee. How sweet. 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, 773.348.8886
The wood-burning oven is the star of avec’s special menu, with confit chicken thigh paella awaiting at the West Loop mainstay. Served as the third course for the $44 dinner, it is preceded by roasted delicata squash, chorizo-stuffed dates and panna cotta with roasted squash. Lunch is anchored by a lamb burger with spiced tomato jam and tahini yogurt or pita baked in-house served with hummus, delicata squash and pickled fennel. 615 W. Randolph St., 312.377.2002