Chicago Restaurant Week is that time of year to distract yourself from the never-ending cloudy winter days by stuffing your face with Chicago’s best eats. You get to try new restaurants, go to fancy places for a more affordable price, or just pig out at your favorite restaurants because of well, loyalty.
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?
Restaurant week isn’t always the most vegan/vegetarian friendly, which can be quite frustrating. Plant-based eaters need something to get through the worst part of the winter too! After scouring the menus on the Chicago Restaurant Week website and doing my own research, I have compiled a list of restaurant week menus that are vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian friendly. “Friendly” meaning that we have at least 1 option per course and in some places a special menu dedicated to us and our needs!
Restaurant week may not always be the best “financial” deal for us plant-based eaters, but sometimes we just want to enjoy a prix-fixe without the ethical guilt.
The menus at the top of the list are the most-friendly for each demographic. I am starting with the best vegan spots, then vegetarian, then pescatarian since vegans have the hardest time at restaurant week. I have also indicated which restaurant week menu is the best for us (e.g brunch, lunch, dinner).
I generally avoid the Gold Coast but everything here is vegan AND upscale. You can’t find anything else like this in Chicago. I think Althea is certainly a gem in Chicago that is randomly in the Saks Fifth Avenue building. Their plates look super creative and versatile. Restaurant Week is such an affordable way to try this pricier, vegan darling out.
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.
This is my favorite opening of 2019. While we have an incredible Indian restaurant scene, I was blown away by the beauty, creativity, and refinement of ROOH’s cocktails and dishes. I am no stranger to Indian food, but ROOH has quite the assortment of options that you cannot find on other menus in a chic West Loop environment (love it or hate it). They also have vegan and gluten-free menus. You must try the Jackfruit Kofta!
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 vegetarians/vegans. IMHO, Aba has an edge over Ema but if Aba is too crowded, then go to Ema. If you’re a vegetarian, the brunch/lunch menus are perfect. The dinner menus have at least one vegetarian and vegan 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.
You wouldn’t expect a sushi restaurant to have vegan options, but they do! Arami is one of the best sushi restaurants in Chicago with an understated elegance and delicate flavors. If you are a vegan lover of Japanese cuisine, then go here because you will not be disappointed. The décor is beautiful and the vibe is perfect for date night!
Another sultry Japanese spot has a vegan/vegetarian menu – how incredible! They have many unique sounding dishes on their menu that can be difficult to get in Chicago when it’s not restaurant week. Check out this fun and hip Japanese spot in Bucktown while inhaling warm vegan ramen.
I have never been here but it’s great that they have a special Vegetarian Restaurant Week Menu that can be made vegan upon request. 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.
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 a long winter that’s soothing for the soul! This is a classic spot that is worth every penny as it’s super flavorful and comforting.
I’ll be honest, I have never been too big of a fan of Beatrix because I don’t find the food very flavorful but I can appreciate the fact that they cater to people with dietary restrictions, which is why they are worth mentioning.
Vegetarian (Includes vegan-friendly spots)
I love this place so much because I am a sucker for some good Chinese food and they have a tasty Mapo Tofu and veggie potstickers. Thank you Top Chef, Stephanie Izzard for thinking of us vegetarians for restaurant week. If you come with a group, you get to eat off of the “lazy suzan”.
It took me a while to try Funkenhausen because I am not super excited about German food, but restaurant week brought me in! First of all, I was highly impressed with the quality of food. Everything was very flavorful with fun textures exhibiting creativity. Each course had at least 1 veggie option (1 course had two options), which were phenomenal. I loved the Mushroom Spaetzle and Ricotta Dumplings! It’s also a great financial deal.
Dos Urban Cantina is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago! Their chips, guacamole, salsa, and dips are incredible and they are super vegetarian-friendly. I am always impressed with what I have here. I came here last year for restaurant week, and it was a great way to try out this innovative spot.
I found everything to be mouthwateringly delicious but was disappointed with the lack of vegetarian options they had on their regular menu. 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.
Papa Cenar has captured my heart as one of my new favorite restaurants! I have had a lovely brunch and dinner here while enjoying their colorful, eclectic vibe and Velvet Underground tunes. They know how to make squash and falafel, my favorites! Go there and feast on a bunch of tasty treats while imbibing some tasty cocktails.
The Dawson has a gorgeous patio for the summer and I miss it so much! I have been here for both brunch and dinner and have enjoyed both. Though the last time I came, I was a bit disappointed with their brunch (bring back that pesto avocado toast please)! However, their restaurant week menu for dinner looks surprisingly vegetarian friendly and tasty!
I am a sucker for their happy hour but they have specials beyond their happy hour even. Café Ba-Ba Reeba has such a fun environment that you are bound to have a good time here. Their vegetarian items are clearly labeled on their menu with a V. I love their Moroccan Chickpea Stew and Spicy Potatoes. And drink some sangria while you’re at it!
I will be trying this spot for restaurant week and will let you know how it goes! I am impressed with how veg/pesc friendly their menu is and it also seems like a good financial deal! I have been meaning to try Lena Brava and this is the perfect opportunity to do so! The options look unique and refreshing.
Pasta, need I say more? It’s always about the pasta! I have heard wonderful things about this Italian restaurant and have been meaning to come here. Their restaurant week menu gives you more choices so if you dine here with another person you can each try a vegetarian pasta!
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 (designated by a V). So try a legendary Chicago restaurant without going broke!
WoodWind is a newer restaurant and I have seen a lot of posts on IG from “influencers” about it but I still haven’t tried it. I want to try it given how great their restaurant week menu looks. They have many options for vegetarians since you can choose from different parts of the menu and can entirely avoid the meat/seafood section.
Pescatarian (Includes previously mentioned vegan and vegetarian-friendly spots)
Boka and Bellemore stole my heart when I came to these spots in 2017 and 2018. They do customize for their regular dinner so you can go there if you are a vegetarian. But they have at least 1 vegetarian option for each course and at least 2 pescatarian options for their restaurant week menu. This is also a relatively affordable way to try one of the best restaurants in Chicago. 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.
I tried this spot a couple of years ago during restaurant week and loved every minute of it. I am a sucker for classic, French restaurants and I was not disappointed! The ambience was warm, Parisian, and I cannot forget about that incredible baguette. Can I go back to France please?! They also have at least one vegetarian option for each course but you’ll have more choices as a pescatarian.
I haven’t been here but their menu looks unique and there really aren’t a lot of restaurants that have these types of dishes in Chicago given its Russian/Eastern European focus. There’s at least 2 pescatarian options for each course too!
I haven’t been here but I have seen this written up about in many “best of Chicago” posts and this place looks quite charming if you’re into Southern food and are pescatarian. They have at least 1 pescatarian option for each course so pretend you’re in NOLA and warm up with some étouffée!