For two weeks, deciding where to eat will become a little harder, as hundreds of restaurants will offer specialty fixed-price menus. Chicago Restaurant Week, which is in its 11th year, begins Jan. 26 and ends Feb. 8. The PHOENIX visited some of the more than 370 participating restaurants. The three locations are all in Edgewater; no Rogers Parks restaurants are participating this year.
Chicago Restaurant Week, which is a partnership program organized by Choose Chicago, is designed to promote the restaurant industry during a time of year that is usually slow in business. In 2017, 349 restaurants and around 650,000 diners participated in the two-week event. A list of participating restaurants is available on the Choose Chicago website.
The fixed-price menus, starting at $22 for brunch or lunch and $33 or $44 for dinner, are a bargain and, as such, making reservations is recommended.
Marisa Paolillo, a Chicago native, isn’t one to follow the crowd when it comes to her cooking.
“I’d like to be recognized and known for contemporary, creative, pushing-the-boundaries Indian food,” Paolillo, the owner of Mango Pickle Indian Bistro, said. “The cooks who influenced me are those who put their own personal touch on [the food] versus following how it’s supposed to be made.”
Paolillo, who lived and worked in India for nine years, opened Mango Pickle more than a year ago. Her vibrant restaurant reflects her experience of everyday life in India — its intense colors and rich urban life — and pays homage to the owner’s creative take on traditional dishes.
“If you’re looking for a place to try new types of food that you’re not used to, I would say this is a good place to go,” junior Loyola student Madison Freeman said.
Mango Pickle’s evolving dinner menu is driven by local and seasonal availability of meats and produce and is complemented by Indian-inspired cocktails from the gin and whiskey bar. For example, Paolillo currently uses red kuri squash — a winter squash — in her seasonal samosas, and the Bollywood Old Fashioned comes with a hint of chai spices.
“I want to be a known entity in the city and so I feel like I have to do my part in that, which is to participate in things like this,” Paolillo said. This is Mango Pickle’s first year participating in Chicago Restaurant Week.
Mango Pickle is located at 5842 N. Broadway St. and has a seating capacity of 48. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
“What revives you?” owner of Revival Social Club Alon Stoll said. “Is it food? Is it coffee? Is it cocktails and spirits? Or is it socially engaging people?”
These are the questions that drive Revival Social Club’s mission. As an attempt to answer the questions, the restaurant offers a location for social engagement, a modern American menu with international influences and craft cocktails, wines and beers.
“It’s the combination of a personable staff and a really great cocktail menu and food offerings that sets us apart,” Stoll said.
The bright restaurant decor is rustic, but the menu has a modern twist. Stoll, who identifies as a steak lover, recommends the beef tenderloin medallions, but there are vegetarian and gluten-free options as well.
Revival has participated in restaurant week for the past two years. This year, its third year participating, it will be extending its prix fixe menus through the first weekend of Chicago Theater Week, which runs from Feb. 8-18.
“We’re really excited [to participate] because it’s an opportunity for us to get citywide exposure for our restaurant and for Edgewater,” Stoll said. “I always enjoy having customers come in and say they didn’t know there were such nice restaurant options in Edgewater.”
Revival Social Club is located steps from the Granville CTA Red Line stop at 1133 W. Granville Ave. and can seat up to 70 people. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. — it’s open until midnight on Friday — and over the weekend, brunch is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., followed by dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Fireside Restaurant & Lounge has been open since 1904, and even through ownership changes, it’s remained consistent in providing its customers with “Cajun and American comfort food with a New Orleans emphasis,” according to bar manager Abraham Litberg.
Now, under owner Aom Fletcher, who is originally from Thailand, Fireside has added a Thai menu that’s available from 7 p.m. until closing time. Litberg said he’s a fan because, “you get two concepts coming out of one kitchen.”
The restaurant is divided into three seating areas: a dining room complete with a real fireplace, a bar featuring a Bloody Mary bar and an all-weather patio, allowing diners to choose their atmosphere. Between the three areas, Fireside can accommodate around 300 people.
“We have a huge amount of repeat visitors,” Litberg said. “50 to 75 percent of our business is customers who are in regularly, sometimes multiple times a week.”
With restaurant week around the corner, Litberg hopes to get visitors who have never heard of Fireside before and who might become regulars.
“We’re off the beaten path on Ravenswood,” Litberg said. “We don’t have the privilege of being on a well-seen corner. We have to find ways to contact people to let them know about us.”
Fireside Restaurant and Lounge is located at 5739 N. Ravenswood Ave. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. and over the weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Saturday and 4 a.m. on Sunday.