One of the last events prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was Chicago Restaurant Week, which typically takes place in late January and early February. Restaurants use this time in a normal year to host promotions and boost sales during the slowest economic months of the year.
Not long after last year's Restaurant Week concluded, the pandemic put a huge financial strain on many establishments. January 2021 came and went with no mention of the event, but it finally came to light that Chicago Restaurant Week would take place from March 19th through April 4th.
The participating establishments put together a smaller, pre-fixed menu to choose from. Brunch and lunch are $25 and dinner costs $39 or $55 (excludes beverage, tip, and tax). To see all the participating locations, check out Choose Chicago's website.
The City of Chicago pushed the dates to accommodate outdoor dining due to COVID-19 protocols. It's usually a snowy mess during Chicago Restaurant Week, so take advantage of the warmer weather during the upcoming weeks. Some places are offering carryout deals as well.
During Chicago Restaurant Week, limited menus typically consist of each establishment's popular dishes. One thing to note, the Restaurant Week menu does NOT guarantee you are getting a deal. Compare the items offered on the exclusive menu and check the normal menu to see if you are getting a discount, or even worse, an upcharge.
While this may now sound overwhelming, don't worry. Reddit user slimarabia compiled a Google Sheet of every restaurant participating and outlined the cost comparisons. Lunch is typically a better deal than dinner, granted the portions are occasionally smaller. Additionally, the nicer the place (steakhouses), the bigger cost savings you get per person.
More importantly, it displays how each place is handling COVID-19, so picking the right comfort level will be easy.
Also, be sure to use Open Table even in a normal year. These places book very fast and you may need to make reservations a week or two ahead of time.
So go out try some new food, save some money, and most importantly, support local businesses.