Chicago Restaurant Week takes its First Bite

Sat. January 21, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Chicago Restaurant Week is in full effect for the 16th time in the Windy City running for 17 days from January 20-February 3, 2023. More than 350 restaurants will be featured along the way by supplying prix fixe menus curated by chefs across Chicago and the suburbs.

A list of participating places is located at and reservations can be made on the site although not required. Many friends of this Nunn have joined the program this year, including Top Chef contestant Sarah Gruenberg's Monteverde and Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill. This can be a rare opportunity for foodies to try popular places like Avec West Loop and The Publican.

To kick things off Choose Chicago presented a First Bites Bash inside the Field Museum on January 19, 2023. For three hours lucky ticket holders explored exhibits, sampled light bites and downed beverages. Host Chef Darnell Reed from Luella's Southern Kitchen led the pack of over 50 restaurants that supplied a small taste of what their establishment had to offer.

The pressure was on to stir up business and many eateries rose to the occasion that night. The Hampton Social, CheSa's Bistro & Bar and Eden were restaurants that were recently reviewed by this column and did an excellent job of providing memorable gourmet First Bites.

Other standouts included Bistronomic, Jaleo by Jose Andres and the iconic Gene & Georgetti group. Long lines at the sold-out event were sometimes a lesson in patience, but places like Tao Nightclub and RPM Italian made it worth the wait.

Wines ranged from A to Z to extremely high-end Spanish reds. Beer stations had a strong presence with Haymarket Brewing Company, Turner Haus Brewery and Ravinia Brewing, among others.

Spirits included several tequila booths and even some smooth Japanese sake!

For those that don't partake in alcohol or are experiencing a dry January, there were mocktails, sodas and San Pellegrino to wash things down.

Desserts finished out this delectable experience with everything from rich chocolate blocks to creamy cheesecake. What is even sweeter about the event was the fundraising aspect of First Bites. Kitchen Possible, an organization dedicated to helping youth through cooking and James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting food culture were the two charities that benefitted from the festivities.

There was an age requirement of 21 years of age for First Bites with all the libations located in the massive museum and business attire was suggested. Arriving early was certainly a good idea as the venue was packed with hungry diners ready to dive into all the appetizers provided by the talented hospitality teams.

For more information visit and book a table before the last plate is served on February 5, 2023!