Dinner tends to steal the Chicago Restaurant Week spotlight, but don’t overlook the lunch options. For half the price and offered at some of the city’s top dining destinations, the $22 lunch—which includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert—is worth sneaking out of the office. Here are seven standouts to try before Restaurant Week ends on February 4.
GreenRiver, which opened in September to rave reviews, is a newcomer to Chicago Restaurant Week. Take advantage of the three-course meal, featuring a field green salad or vegetable soup to start, gnocchi or trout as your main dish, and homemade pastries to end on a sweet note. Bonus: The $8 validated parking is pretty sweet, too. 259 E. Erie St., 18th Fl., 312-337-0101
Haven’t checked out the buzzed-about Cherry Circle Room yet? The Chicago Restaurant Week lineup gives you all the motivation you need to get there. Located on the second floor of the recently renovated Chicago Athletic Association, the eatery takes regional classics and updates them using fresh ingredients. Start with a poached egg, bacon, and mustard vinaigrette-topped salad. Then, choose your entrée: farro risotto, a lamb-sausage sandwich, or roasted walleye pike. And save room for meringue, a sweet but not-too-heavy finish. 12 S. Michigan Ave., 312-792-3515
We’d probably pay $22 just for Bohemian House’s apple strudel with crème fraiche. The fact that the Restaurant Week lunch comes with traditional German spatzle and a sauerkraut soup makes it a no-brainer if you spend your 9 to 5 in River North. 11 W. Illinois St., 312-955-0439
Go for inventive American fare, like barbecue octopus with braised pork belly or salmon stew, at the Langham Hotel’s Travelle Kitchen + Bar. For dessert, say ‘yes’ to pastry chef Scott Green’s twist on German chocolate cake. 330 N. Wabash Ave., 312-923-7705
Options abound at this two-story Italian restaurant. Might we suggest the Stracchino cheese fritters and fireball pepperoni pizza? The roasted tomato sauce truly makes all the difference. Bar Siena’s made-from-scratch gelato is also not-to-be-missed. 832 W. Randolph St., 312-492-7775
Score a meal at Michelin-starred Sepia for under $30. The West Loop spot’s lunch menu includes a duck-topped tagliatelle and a braised Berkshire pork collar sandwich. Whatever you do, save room for the ginger-lime parfait—a serious treat for those of us who don’t enjoy dessert with every weekday lunch. 123 N. Jefferson St., 312-441-1920
Save the hassle of flying to Spain and snag a reservation for a Catalan-inspired lunch at Mercat a la Planxa instead. The star of the afternoon menu is the gamba y chorizo coca, a Spanish-style flatbread topped with shrimp, chorizo, and a garbanzo-bean puree. But first, start with the arroz a la cazuela soup, a brothy soup mixed with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, and artichokes. 638 S. Michigan Ave., 312-765-0524