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Chicago Restaurant Week 2023 kicks off Friday: What you need to know

WBBM Radio Chicago 1/19/2023 Matt Menke
Chicago Restaurant Week © Provided by WBBM Radio Chicago Chicago Restaurant Week

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Local foodies, rejoice: The 16th Annual Chicago Restaurant Week kicks off this Friday.

The 17-day event will feature over 360 restaurants — more than three times the amount that participated in 2022 — across the city and nearby suburbs.

Chicago Restaurant Week is designed to offer diners the ability to experience some of the area’s best restaurants at an affordable price. Patrons can enjoy pre-fixed menus that charge $25 total for brunch and lunch items, and anywhere from $42–$59 for dinner. The costs of beverages, taxes, and tip are not included in the pre-fixed price.

“This is not where restaurants make a ton of money,” Izzy Kharasch, President of Hospitality Works in Chicago, told the WBBM Noon Business Hour earlier this month. “This is where restaurants invest in bringing customers to their restaurant.”

Kharesh said Restaurant Week is an unusual opportunity to test out local eateries or cuisines without the risk of getting shocked when the check arrives.

Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said this year’s Restaurant Week is also an opportunity to support an industry that’s been faced with “countless challenges since 2020.”

Few places in Chicago — and the country — felt the impact of the pandemic more than River North. A recent analysis by the Chicago-based firm Datassential found that River North restaurants cut an average of 20.2 hours per week between October 2019 and October 2022. The national average over the same period was a cut of 6.4 hours per week.

That said, River North has more eateries participating in Restaurant Week, with 71, than any other Chicago neighborhood.

“As we all look forward, celebrations such as these give diners the perfect reason to get back into dining rooms — leading to exactly the kind of buzz and excitement chefs and restaurateurs want and need,” Toia said in a press release.

Hyde Park’s Virtue, led by James Beard Award-winning Chef Erick Williams, will be among the highlights of this year’s Restaurant Week. Another will be Demera, in Uptown, which is led by Chef Tigist Reda, who helped raise over $100,000 for Tigrayan refugees in 2022.

The full list of participating locations can be found on Choose Chicago’s website. Use that page to filter restaurants for specific neighborhoods, vegetarian or gluten-free menus, women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and more.

Chicago Restaurant Week will end on Feb. 5.

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