Chicago Restaurant Week is here to help us get through the winter by distracting us with delicious foods in picturesque restaurants. We obviously don’t live in Chicago for its climate, we live here because it has so much to offer as a city at a relatively affordable price compared to other urban meccas like NYC and L.A.. Chicago is applauded for its dynamic food scene and Chicago Restaurant Week is an excellent way to highlight our well-deserved reputation and to make eating a prix-fixe menu more affordable!
Lunch options are around $24 for 2 courses and 1 dessert making it an excellent deal for those of us concerned with affordability. Dinner is at $36 and $48, which comes with 2-3 courses and 1 dessert. But is restaurant week a good deal for pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans? Is it inclusive for plant-based eating? Or are we just excluded from this lovely 1.5 week long gluttonous excursion from the winter? After doing some research and reviewing numerous restaurant week menus, I would say most restaurant week menus are not really made with pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans in mind. But there are a decent chunk of restaurants all over Chicago that have at least 1 pescatarian and/or vegetarian option on their prix-fixe menu.
Here are the places to go to if you don’t want to be relegated to the à la carte menu while your friends are feasting on pork shoulder.
Vegetarian Mecca Menus: Best of the Best
HaiSous (1800 S Carpenter St, Chicago, IL Pilsen – $24/48): HaiSous has a special vegetarian restaurant week menu! While their regular restaurant week menu is acceptable for pescatarians, their vegetarian restaurant week menu is a haven for vegetarians and vegans! Everything is served family style so you get to try everything from the menu and believe me, you will feel full and will have to take leftovers home. HaiSous is an example of multifaceted cooking from first-generation immigrants in Chicago. Their dishes are so well-balanced, flavorful, and extraordinary. Find out more about HaiSous here on my Top 16 Restaurants of 2018 list.
Blue Agave Bar and Restaurant (579 W. Kinzie St., River North and 1050 N State St., Gold Coast – $24/36): I have never been here but it’s great that they have a special Vegetarian Restaurant Week Menu. It’s nice to have multiple options instead of just one. It’s also great that you can go to a Mexican restaurant and find many options since it can be more challenging.
Demera Ethiopian (4801 N. Broadway St., Edgewater – $24/48): Let’s just say that you can get vegetarian/vegan appetizers, platters, and an appetizing looking dessert for a decent price. You can also get gluten-free Injera!! Perfect food for the rough winter we’re having!
Ema/Aba (74 W. Illinois St., River North and 302 N. Green St., West Loop – $24/48): I have been to both of these restaurants and love the lighter, vegetarian-focus of the small plates. Ema and Aba have similar restaurant week menus and I think they’re equally good for pescatarians and vegetarians. If you’re a vegetarian, the brunch/lunch menus are perfect. The dinner menus have at least one vegetarian and fish option for the main entrée. It’s also a more affordable way to try these restaurants since they can definitely be pricier. Find out more about Aba here on my Top 16 Restaurants of Chicago 2018 list.
Other Good Veg/Pesc Deals
Bellemore/Boka (564 W. Randolph St., West Loop/ 1729 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park – $24/48): I am in love with both of these restaurants. Everything I have had was insanely delicious and the service is excellent. These restaurants are definitely more expensive and the beauty of their restaurant week menus is that you are able to try an assortment of their dishes at a more affordable rate. They have some of their best dishes on their restaurant week menus such as their Farro Risotto and Porcini Rigatoni with Mushroom Bolognese. They can make many of their items gluten-free as well. So treat yourself without breaking the bank! See my full reviews for Bellemore and Boka here.
Onward Chicago (6580 N. Sheridan Rd., Rogers Park – $48): I have never been here, but they have an intriguing restaurant week menu with savory-looking options for plant-based eaters. They have at least one tasty sounding vegetarian and pescatarian option for each course. And they have 3 true courses and 1 dessert – instead of 2 real courses and 1 dessert. Journey to the northernmost part of Chicago and indulge!
Ada Street (1664 N. Ada St., Lincoln Park-ish – $48): Ada Street is known for their creative menu names and dishes. Each entrée has at least one vegetarian and fish option. They also have a nice bread/butter opener that’s included as an “amuse”. If you aren’t gluten-free, who doesn’t love freshly made bread and herb butter with your meal?
Dos Urban Cantina (2829 W. Armitage Ave., Logan Square – $36): Logan Square is becoming another food Mecca (I think it already is) but there aren’t that many restaurants in the neighborhood participating in restaurant week for some reason. Dos Urban Cantina is a Logan Square gem and I could just go there for their salsa. Each course has a vegetarian and pescatarian option – which is really nice because it’s $36 as opposed to $48.
Big Jones (5347 N. Clark St., Andersonville – $36): When you think of Southern food, you don’t think of it necessarily being vegetarian-friendly, but their restaurant week menu is surprisingly vegetarian-friendly and more affordable at $36. Their prix-fixe menu includes a jalapeño cheese cornbread in addition to the 2 courses and 1 dessert! So celebrate Mardi Gras early at Big Jones!
Monteverde (1020 W. Madison St., West Loop – $48): When I last ate at Monteverde, I found everything to be mouthwateringly delicious but was disappointed with the lack of vegetarian options they had. It is also a pricey, West Loop spot so restaurant week is an excellent way of trying their food in a more affordable manner. They have a vegetarian option for all of their courses. They have 3 courses and 1 dessert and it’s served family style so take another vegetarian with you! See my full review for Monteverde here.
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba (2024 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park – $24/36): I am a sucker for their super affordable happy hour, so it’s hard for me to justify going at any other time. But their restaurant week menu includes a glass of Sangria, which is definitely appealing. They also have quite a few vegetarian and pescatarian options for each of their courses so you will leave satiated. They do have some add-ons in case you want to feel more upscale.
Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St., West Loop – $24/36/48): Sepia is one of those restaurants that I have read about in so many “best of” lists. But it’s quite expensive and restaurant week makes it much more affordable. You can choose between 3 courses for $36 or 4 for $48. Each course has at least 1 vegetarian option (and most have a pescatarian offering too). So try a legendary Chicago restaurant without going broke!
Chicago Teacher’s Lounge & Eatery (2525 W. Division St., Humboldt Park – $36): I appreciate a restaurant that recognizes and celebrates educators since they’re obviously not celebrated in this country. I think this restaurant has some really tasty food and it’s under the radar for some reason. Their prix-fixe menu has at least one vegetarian and pescatarian option along with some gluten-free options. It’s also more affordable at $36 for dinner! See my full review of Chicago Teacher’s Lounge & Eatery here.
Bistro Campagne (4518 N. Lincoln Ave., Ravenswood – $36): If you can tell from my restaurant reviews, I have a soft spot for French food, but most French restaurants in Chicago tend to be quite expensive and meat-centric. Bistro Campagne’s restaurant week menu has vegetarian and pescatarian options for each course. It’s a much more affordable way to enjoy classy French food than a typical, bourgie French restaurant experience.
So get out of the house for a few hours and indulge in some of Chicago’s best cuisine without feeling excluded because you’re a vegetarian!