The 12th annual Chicago Restaurant Week begins Friday and runs through Feb. 7, during which a record number of participating restaurants — nearly 400, at last count — will offer prix-fixe lunches ($24), brunches ($24) and/or dinners ($36 or $48, sometimes both).

You’ve got two ways to narrow your search. One is to log in to, where you’ll find a complete list of participants, their menus and a link to make online reservations via OpenTable. The other is to take my advice.

Following is my list of recommended restaurants. I’ve included restaurants that have done a good job in previous Restaurant Weeks, and promising newcomers (based on their published menus or because they’re already restaurants I like).

And starting on Friday, Food & Dining will review one meal a day from a Restaurant Week menu. Follow along at


Aba, 302 N. Green St. The challenge here is snagging a reservation at this perpetually packed hot spot (best strategy: arrive early and hop on the waitlist). Set dinner menu ($48), which includes a glass of wine, features such guest favorites as muhammara, chicken kefta kebab, grilled octopus and eggplant-wrapped lamb.