After the frenzy of the holidays, January often seems to be a bit of a let-down . . . but don’t despair! If you are of a “foodie” frame of mind, you will likely already know that one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year in Chicago happens at the end of January. The 12th annual Chicago Restaurant Week celebration has begun.

 

Actually, this event could more accurately be titled “Chicago Restaurant Fortnight” since it spans two weeks – from January 25 to February 7, 2019. Many restaurants will also choose to keep the menu options available for a few days longer, so be sure to check each of your favorite restaurants for that.

 

Produced by Choose Chicago, reservations for the annual 14-day culinary celebration are now available at eatitupchicago.com, featuring menus for participating Chicago area eateries. The website has an interactive format that permits you to browse and sort restaurants by a multitude of choices. Menus are available for review there, and you can indicate whether you are interested in lunch, brunch, dinner, or any combination of the three when searching.

 

Chicago Restaurant Week gives visitors and local foodies an opportunity to enjoy special prix fixe menus from participating Chicagoland restaurants. For 14 days, customers can enjoy dining deals throughout the city and surrounding suburbs and experience Chicago's rich, culinary diversity. The 12th annual culinary celebration features special prix fixe menus starting at $24 for brunch and lunch, and $36 and/or $48 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). It’s the perfect excuse to visit an old favorite or try somewhere new.

 

When I first moved to Chicago in 2008, Chicago Restaurant week was only a year old, and there were relatively few restaurants participating. The numbers have grown each year and this year a record number of Chicago area restaurants – 395 – will take part. Among those are 114 restaurants who are participating for the first time. New restaurants as part of the lineup for Chicago Restaurant Week 2019 include HotChocolate Chicago, About Last Knife, Raisu Japanese Fine Dining, ERIS Brewery and Cider House, Mezcalina Restaurant, Bar Roma, Di Pescara, Monnie Burke's, Le Sud and Aba. More than 630,000 diners were served during Chicago Restaurant Week 2018 and this year it is highly likely that that number will increase, so make your reservations now.

 

Chicago Restaurant Week kicks off every year with a stupendous event called First Bites Bash. This year’s bash took place on Thursday, January 24 at the Field Museum. The event featured was co-hosted by Joe Flamm, Executive Chef of Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia, and Chicago mixologist Jarmel Doss, Assistant Bar Director of The Aviary. More than 70 of Chicago’s most famous chefs and restaurants were represented at the event, which allowed participants to preview tasting portions from their respective Chicago Restaurant Week menus. If you missed this year’s bash, mark your calendars for 2020 and be sure to visit www.firstbitesbash.com to be added to their email list. This is one culinary event you don’t want to miss next year.

 

The 2019 Chicago Restaurant Week program is sponsored by 100.3fm WSHE, 101.9fm The MIX, the James Beard Foundation, Josh Cellars, MICHIGAN AVENUE magazine, OpenTable, Regional Transportation Authority, Smithfield Foodservice and Stella Artois.

 

As the exclusive beer sponsor of Chicago Restaurant Week, Stella Artois is offering Chicagoans the perfect pairing to their Chicago Restaurant Week menus. Diners who purchase a Stella Artois with their Restaurant Week menu will help end the global water crisis. During January and February, Stella has partnered with water.org and every Stella Artois purchased will give one month of clean water to a developing country. Visit www.eatitupchicago.com for a list of restaurants featuring Stella Artois.

 

A list of participating restaurants and the multi-course menu offerings is posted on the Chicago Restaurant Week website. Follow @ChooseChicago on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Get social using #FirstBites19 and #CRW19.