How I decide where to go for Chicago Restaurant Week (2014)

I love Chicago Restaurant Week! This year it’s actually two weeks and takes place from January 24th to February 6th. Last year we went to Kinzie Chophouse and Bistrot Zinc. Both were very enjoyable. We rarely go to steakhouses or French restaurants because they tend to be pricey, and we’re not rich. So Restaurant Week is a great time to hit them up. If you haven’t heard of Restaurant Week, it’s a week (two this year!) when all the fancy restaurants in town do special prix fixe menus for $22 for lunch and $33 or $44 for dinner.

Restaurant Week 2013 at Bistrot Zinc, Chicago

Restaurant Week 2013 at Bistrot Zinc, Chicago

Restaurant Week 2013 at Bistrot Zinc, Chicago

Restaurant Week 2013 at Bistrot Zinc, Chicago

I want to be adventurous, and I know I should be, but I don’t really like weird trendy food like kale and duck confit. But I also don’t like boring things like roast chicken. I appreciate a good beef dish and vegetarian dishes and Italian places, too. So this year maybe along with the steakhouse and French, we’ll go to a third, possibly more unusual spot. And, unless it’s something ridiculously fabulous, we stick to the $22 lunches and $33 dinners- another way I choose is to check out their regular menus and see if the places are a really good deal during Restaurant Week or if you can get basically the same thing any time.

So, based on all that, here are the contenders:

French: Bistro Voltaire, Mon Ami Gabi

Steakhouse: David Burke’s Primehouse, Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Italian: Riccardo Trattoria, Piccolo Sogno

Other: The Refinery, Two

Where else should I absolutely not miss? Where are you going to go?

Winter Things To Do in Chicago- Michigan Avenue Lights, Ice Skating at Millennium Park and Just Wandering Around!

Winter is really pretty in Chicago- sure it’s a little cold, but if you bundle up, have proper hats, scarves, gloves, and boots you’ll be fine!

it's cold in chicago so you have to wear the right clothes

Go ice skating at Millennium Park- I love urban ice skating! If you go on a Friday evening during the holiday season, you can also listen to carolers.

ice skating in millennium park, chicago

Go to State Street and look at all the lights and window decorations- especially at Macy’s. Inside Macy’s they’ve also got it all decorated up. The Walnut Room restaurant has a giant Christmas tree.

Macy's in Chicago is decorated really nicely for Christmas

The Walnut Room at Macy's in Chicago has a giant Christmas Tree

Michigan Avenue also has tons of lights– it’s really really pretty!

Michigan Avenue in Chicago- tons of Christmas lights

Grab a sled or a piece of cardboard and find a nice hill- this one is in Lincoln Park near Wrightwood Ave.

sledding in lincoln park, chicago

Go for a run, LOL. It’s brisk!

winter runner in lincoln park, chicago

Find a Christmas Tree seller and take a deep breath.

Fresh Christmas trees in Lincoln park, Chicago

Fresh Christmas trees in Lincoln park, Chicago

Fresh Christmas trees in Lincoln park, Chicago

Fresh Christmas trees in Lincoln park, Chicago

Or just walk around any of the many great Chicago neighborhoods, get a hot chocolate or a meal.

Wicker Park:

Wicker Park, Chicago

Wicker Park, Chicago

Lincoln Park:

Lincoln Park, Chicago

Lincoln Park, Chicago

Lincoln Park, Chicago

Lincoln Park, Chicago

Lincoln Park, Chicago

Lincoln Park, Chicago

Lincoln Park, Chicago

Winter Things To Do in Chicago- Butch McGuire’s

If you live in Chicago and haven’t been to Butch McGuire’s you are seriously out of it! It’s been around forever and is a Chicago institution! Get over there soon- Christmastime is the best time to visit. They spend two months decorating for Christmas with tons of lights and even a working train set that hangs from the ceiling. Good food, great drinks (perfect Irish Coffee)- we even went last year for their New Years Eve party. It was fun and not all crazy and ridiculously crowded. They have daily specials and weekend brunch, too. Now go on, go.

Winter cocktails at Butch McGuire's in Chicago

Christmas at Butch McGuire's, Chicago

Christmas at Butch McGuire's, Chicago

Butch McGuire's is a great spot for an Irish Coffee in Chicago

Warm up with drinks at Butch McGuire's in Chicago

New Years Eve at Butch McGuire's in Chicago

New Years Eve at Butch McGuire's in Chicago

New Years Eve at Butch McGuire's in Chicago

 

Winter Things To Do in Chicago- Christkindlmarket!

The Christkindlemarket in Daley Plaza is an authentic (and free!) European (German mostly) Christmas marketplace. You can get handmade ornaments, scarves and hats, Christmas decorations, mugs, cuckoo clocks, candies and much more. They also sell German food, hot cider, beer, and warm spiced wine- yum! Pro Tip: go after work during the week instead of on the weekend, it’s prettier at night and you can beat the crowds!

The Christmas Tree in Daley Plaza, Chicago

The Christkindlmarket, Chicago

Authentic German Christmas market, Chicago

Authentic German food is available at the Christkindlmarket in Chicago

Authentic German food is available at the Christkindlmarket in Chicago

Handmade ornaments from all over the world are available at The Christkindlmarket in Chicago

You can get fun international candies at the Christkindlmarket in Chicago

 

 

Winter Things To Do in Chicago- The Holiday Train!

Yes, the Chicago CTA Holiday Train is a real thing. It travels each train route thru the holiday season. You can see where it’s going to be on the CTA schedule.  It’s super cute and lots of fun (even if some of the people in the pics don’t look too thrilled- they are secretly holiday lovers or they wouldn’t have gotten on the train!). The trains are decorated inside and out and they play Christmas music inside. So festive!

waiting for the holiday train, cta, chicago

waiting for the holiday train, cta, chicago

CTA holiday train, chicago

CTA holiday train, chicago

CTA holiday train, chicago

CTA holiday train, chicago

CTA holiday train, chicago