Food Fun Friday

Food Fun Friday

This is Chicago Gourmet hangover weekend. I predict a quiet one trying to stay warm now that is cold and dark earlier than ever. Lots of fun events coming up…
To celebrate the upcoming Chicago Marathon on October 7, these local restaurants are offering amazing meals to help runners carb-load before the race, or replenish after running!

Marathon Carb Loading and Specials

Michael Jordan's Steak House - Wagyu Meatball Pasta Special ($23) - For runners looking for their last carb fix before the marathon, on Saturday, October 6, Executive Chef James O’Donnell is serving up his twist on the traditional pre-race pasta dish. “Beer for a Bib” - Runners looking to celebrate post-race on Sunday, October 7 can bring in their marathon bib and receive a complimentary pour of Metropolitan Krankshaft.

The Florentine #ShowUsYourBibs Campaign - The Florentine is offering diners that show they are running in this weekend's marathon (#showusyourbibs) 25% off their bill from Friday, October 5 to Sunday, October 7. With a variety of seasonal pasta dishes like Gnocchi with veal ragu, currents and saffron and the Mezzelune butternut squash filled pasta with amaretti, sage and brown butter, runners can carb-load pre or post race on gourmet dishes at a great price.

On the Saturday before the race, Lockwood Restaurant is serving a Marathon Menu of unlimited pasta for $18. Runners and non-runners can enjoy a choice of strozzapretti, linguini or pappardelle pasta, and a choice of marinara, alfredo or pesto sauce. All pastas are finished with fresh basil from the rooftop garden!

For the marathon, guests who show their BIB number will receive a free order of Mercadito’s tacos de huevos a la Mexicana, or egg tacos, to reload on protein after the race. Normally $12.50, guests can enjoy the scrambled egg tacos with fresh pico de gallo, queso fresco, black bean hash, chile de árbol salsa and avocado. An additional menu or drink item must be purchased to redeem the free tacos, which are limited to one order per guest.

The week leading up to the marathon, Filini will be adding high-protein pancakes to the breakfast menu. Wholegrain pancakes will come topped with fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt, blueberries, crushed almonds and hazelnuts. Pancakes are normally $15 but next week will be offered for $9.

Through the weekend of the marathon, Mercat a la Planxa will feature a “Dine and Dash” menu for $35, with four courses of protein-packed indulgences including pollo con judias, a chicken breast served with truffle rosemary white beans and grilled asparagus; and arroz a la cazuela, saffron chicken broth with rice, chorizo, poached chicken and Maine lobster. Runners who come in Sunday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are welcome to a three-course brunch with endless trips to the dessert and charcuterie stations for $25 per person.

Sepia’s James Beard Award nominated executive chef,Andrew Zimmerman, will welcome San Francisco’s SPQR Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino into his kitchen for a collaborative dinner at Private Diningby Sepia on Saturday, October 13. The two nationally-acclaimed chefs will join forces for a prix fixe menu celebrating the launch of Chef Accarrino’s new cookbook,SPQR: Modern Italian Food & Wine.

The evening will begin with an hors d’oeuvres reception at 6 p.m., followed by a five-course tasting menu of rotating courses from both renowned chefs, all paired with wine offerings from Sepia Wine Director Arthur Hon. The dinner, which begins at 7 p.m., is priced at $125 per person, and includes a copy of the brand new cookbook and a donation to Meals on Wheels. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 312.441.1920.

Foodies can give back to the community and satisfy their sweet tooth with a delicious mini key lime pie dessert ($8), available at C-House and C-View, which benefits theAnn & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. The hospital will receive $1 for each dessert sold. The scrumptious mini key lime pie is made up of rum infused cherries and features a dollop of coconut ice cream. The special dessert is available through Dec 31, 2012. C-House, an American contemporary restaurant, and C-View, a seasonal rooftop lounge, are both located at 166 East Superior Street atMileNorth, A Chicago Hotel™. For more information call (312) 523-0923 or

Meals on Wheels Chicago has announced some wonderful updates to the Celebrity Chef Ball, taking place on Friday, October 12, 2012. For the first time ever, the event, which supports Chicago's homebound senior citizens and individuals with disabilities will be hosted at Venue One (1044 West Randolph Street), the sprawling rustic space conveniently located near the bustling restaurant row in West Loop. As it has done in years past, the evening will allow guests to mix and mingle with some of the city’s hottest chefs; past participants have included Paul Virant, Chris Pandel, and Jimmy Bannos. This year, guests will have two ways to enjoy the party:

  • VIP Chef’s Table Dinner-- The VIP Chef’s Table Dinner, offered at $350 per person, will be an interactive dining experience in which seated guests can mingle with the 28 chefs who are preparing their elaborate meals. This unique dining adventure will provide a behind the scenes look at what the chefs are doing, as well as a fun evening talking to some of Chicago’s best chefs.
  • Chef’s Tasting Party-- After the VIP dinner, guests are welcome to stay for the Chef’s Tasting Party, during which over 60 chefs will be serving signature dishes at tasting booths throughout the venue. For those who would like to attend only the Chef’s Tasting Party, the cost is $150 per person. The Party features a well-stocked bar and live entertainment.

Chicago chefs raise more than $200,000 each year the charity at the Meals on Wheels Chicago Celebrity Chef Ball. The organization generates almost one-third of its annual revenue at the ball, which in turn funds over 70,000 meals to homebound senior citizens. Tickets for the Meals on Wheels Chicago Celebrity Chef Ball will soon be available online at

Columbus Day Brunch at prasino:  While the 'holiday' itself may be disputed, it's still a day off for a lucky few and another reason to enjoy an extended weekend day of brunch!  Visit prasino to experience some of the eco chic's restaurant's most celebrated menu items, including the Pretzel Croissant French Toast,  on Monday, October 8th!  Prasino will donate 50% of its specialty cocktail proceeds to benefit Bright Pink! During Breast Cancer Awareness Month (image attached):  The Bright Pink -$12: the Bitter Truth pink gin, pink peppercorn syrup, campari, lemon, pink pearl apple. 

Cucina Paradiso, a family owned Italian restaurant in Oak Park, is excited to celebrate their 17th anniversary on Tuesday, October 16-Thursday, October 18, 2012. To celebrate this milestone anniversary and as a thank you to the community, Cucina Paradiso will be offering guests 17% off their entire night’s food bill (does not include beverages or other promotions).  Additionally, the Chicago Marathon is fast approaching and Cucina Paradiso is the best place to get an energy fix with dishes that are a perfect combination of carbs, protein and fats for any runner’s diet!  Cucina Paradiso will open early at 4pm on Saturday, October 6 and will offer a complimentary "runners bread pudding" to everyone participating in the marathon.
Double A, the cocktail lounge located below Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie St.), has served as an industry watering hole for nightlife professionals since opening in 2009. Now, bartenders can face off against their friends and colleagues for a $4,000 prize from Pernod Ricard and Estrella Damm in the Double A Bar Joust competition. See how Double A is “getting ready to rumble” and all the details with the Double A Bar Joust.

The Double A Bar Joust is open to all with bartending experience. Interested participants should enter here at by Thursday, September 27. Bartenders are asked to submit any “behind the bar” experience as well as both a classic and creative cocktail recipe that can be served the night of their joust.

The rules are simple: The bartender to attract the largest crowd and bring in the most cash wins the joust. The 16 amateur and professional bartenders (must have some bartending experience) will enter a bracket system featuring four rounds of competition. In each Bar Joust, two competitors will face off from 7 until 11 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays at Double A—mixing their own signature cocktails in addition to serving shots, beer, and more. Double A’s resident “referee” and mixologist Paul Sauter will check the registers and update the score throughout the night. Team costumes are encouraged, and guests will be asked to show their loyalty by sticking to their mixologist’s side of the bar, based on the physical divider line drawn down the middle of Double A. The winner of each round will not only receive their tips for the night, but 10% of all their own sales from that night.

The Double A Bar Joust competition will take place on the following dates:
First Round: Mondays and Tuesdays of October 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, and 23
Quarter Finals: Mondays of October 29 and November 5, 12, and 19
Semi Finals: Mondays of November 26 and December 3
Final: Monday, December 10
Bar Joust rules, brackets and schedule can be found at

Tavernita is pleased to announce the addition of Tippling Nights, a new monthly wine and spirits dinner series. Led by the award-winning Tippling Bros. - Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci - as well as Chef/Partner Ryan Poli, the series provides guests with an opportunity enjoy a delicious and educational evening in the vibrant, fun setting for which Tavernita has become known. Each dinner includes a four-course menu showcasing Chef Poli's Spanish-inspired cuisine as it is paired with carefully selected wines or specially crafted cocktails. Paul, Tad and Chef Poli will guide the experience, along with brand ambassadors who will share insights about the evening's featured products. The cost to attend is $55 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity).

Additional dinners in the lineup include:
• October 23: Spain's fall ingredients, paired with Wines of Spain from Olé Imports
• November 13: Thanksgiving-inspired dinner, infused with Hennessy
• December 11: Holiday-inspired warm up with Belvedere Vodka

Reservations are required and may be made by calling (312) 274-1111.

Regional Wine Journey program atLockwood in the Palmer House Hilton. These classes are great for wine connoisseurs and wine novices alike. Each class focuses on a different type of wine, includes several pours of different varietals, and provides a fun environment to learn more about wine. For $25 per person, guests get to enjoy a fun evening of wine education and perfectly paired bites, all crafted by Lockwood’s Sous Chef Valeria Benner, who also leads the classes. Upcoming sessions include:
• October 25, Italy in a Red Dress
• November 8, A Spanish Lesson

In partnership with Wirtz Beverage Illinois, Henri’s Spirited Dinner Series is co-hosted by Beverage Development Manager Eric Hay, as well as Thomas Mooneyham, who oversees the bar program at The Gage. Each date is dedicated to one genre of spirit, chosen and provided by Wirtz Beverage. The beverage gurus and their teams must craft five cocktails featuring the chosen spirit and provide their cocktail menu to the Henri team to utilize in the development of the complementing dinner menu. Every dinner begins with a reception featuring a pair of punches – one each by Clint and Thomas – presented with passed hors d’oeuvres. At the seated dinner, each guest bartender creates his signature drinks, which are paired with Chef Dirk Flanigan ‘s French-inflected five-course meal.
Henri’s Spirited Dinner Series showcases top mixology talent from the following establishments. The lineup includes:

  • Whiskey Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Stephen Cole & Team - Barrelhouse Flat
  • Rum Wednesday, November 14, 2012 Mike Ryan & Team - Sable Kitchen and Bar
  • Cognac Wednesday, December 5, 2012 Michael Simon & Team - Carriage House
  • Gin Wednesday, January 23, 2013 Danny Shapiro & Team - Scofflaw

Each Spirited Dinner is priced at $100 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and begins at 6:00 p.m.  Reservations are required. Please call 312.578.0763. Seating is limited.

Stout Barrel House & Galley, where executive chef Chris Curren serves elevated American comfort food in River North (642 North Clark Street), will host a four-course beer dinner where each course is paired with an American craft beer on Tuesday, October 16. There are only 60 tickets available for the Stout beer dinner for $40 each. Advance tickets can be purchased online at Ticket sales end at 5pm on Tuesday, October 16. Ticket holders can partake in the four-course beer dinner anytime between 6pm and 9pm on Tuesday, October 16. Walk-ins for the Stout beer dinner will be accepted from 6pm until 9pm that evening (based on availability) for $45 per person. For more information please contact Dave Andrews of Good Life PR at and 847.909.5511.

In 1954, C.A. Swanson & Sons introduced the first TV dinner and now Executive Chef Scott Walton of Markethouse Restaurant and Bar (611 N. Fairbanks) is bringing it back. Beginning on Sunday, October 7, Chef Walton will offer guests the opportunity to travel back in time with gourmet takes on the iconic TV dinners of the 50s, 60s and 70s. From 5 to 10 p.m. every Sunday, guests will dine on Chef Walton’s modern spin of the classic TV dinner of that month’s decade, sip specialty cocktails and view classic television shows of the era.    Each three-course menu is $30 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Specialty cocktails of that month’s decade will be offered for $7. Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 312.224.2200. There will be no TV dinners on November 25 and December 23 and 30 due to the holidays.

One for the Kids is the non-profit chosen to benefit from the year-long Charity of the Month program at The Signature Room at the 95th®. The organization will receive 10% of sales generated from the Signature Monthly Dinner Menu throughout October.  The program was created by co-owners of The Signature Room, Rick Roman and Nick Pyknis, in 1993 and has contributed to over 200 Chicagoland non-profits with donations totaling over $1 million. The October menu features: starters, two entrees, dessert and a pumpkin pie martini. The Signature Monthly Dinner Menu is customized every month to best reflect the season and the chosen Chicagoland non-profit. 

Barcito! - Amigos of Pintxo takes place every other Monday from 8 to 10 p.m. A portion of the sales from the series are donated to Common Threads - whose mission is to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking.

Chef Poli and Pintxo have confirmed the following lineup of Amigos through November:
• October 8 - Justin Large of Big Star
• October 22 - Matthias Merges of Yusho
• November 5 - Joe Campagna the Chicago Food Snob - Yep, me!
• November 19 - Charlie McKenna of Lillie's Q

All are welcome to attend. Seating is available on a first-come-first serve basis.

Tavernita and Barcito are located in the heart of Chicago's River North neighborhood at 151 W. Erie St. Tavernita is open seven days a week. Lunch is available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Tuesday from 5 to 11 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Late-night dining is available on Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m. Barcito is open Sunday and Monday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Breast Cancer Awareness Events
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ‘think pink’ and head over to I Dream of Falafel for your favorite ‘pink’ protein- steak! Throughout the month of October, I Dream of Falafel will be grilling up their new Steak Kebabs and for each order purchased, $1 will be donated back to Bright Pink, a Chicago based organization focusing on the prevention and detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women while providing support for high risk individuals. The juicy skewers of charbroiled steak filet will be available for lunch, dinner and carryout and are served at medium temperature for that perfect ‘pink’ center.
I Dream of Falafel
3 Chicago Locations: 331 S. Franklin or 112 W. Monroe or 555 W. Monroe

Dine for a cause this October at Sullivan’s Steakhouse of Chicago! For the fourth year running, this River North steakhouse (and its two sister restaurants in Lincolnshire and Naperville) are raising awareness for the fight against breast cancer with a “Pink Menu” – three courses for just $39.95. $5 from every Pink Menu purchased will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Guests have a choice of four starters including Wild Mushroom Bisque with Chive Infused Oil and Sullivan’s famous Iceberg Wedge Salad. For the main course, guests can choose from Filet Mignon, Cajun Dusted Salmon Fillet with Truffle-Red Pepper Chili Butter, Roasted Chicken Breast with Wild Mushroom-Madeira Ragout and Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Chive Beurre Blanc, along with a choice of a signature side – such as the Horseradish Mashed Potatoes or Skillet Mushroom Caps. Dessert options include New York Style Cheesecake and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, among others.


Roots Handmade Pizza will team up with neighboring bars High Dive and Cleo's to host the Chicago Avenue Halloween Bar Crawl starting at 8pm on Saturday, October 27 that will feature drink specials and costume contests for cash at all three bars. Drink specials at all three bars during the Chicago Avenue Halloween Bar Crawl will be $3 Jameson shots and $4 select craft pints. The bar crawl will run from 8pm until 3am on Saturday, October 27. The Chicago Avenue Halloween Bar Crawl’s first official stop is at Cleo’s at 9pm. Cleo’s (1935 W Chicago Ave) will give away $100 in cash for the best Halloween costume at 10:30pm. The Chicago Avenue Halloween Bar Crawl’s second stop is Roots Handmade Pizza at 10:30pm. Roots (1924 W Chicago Ave) will give away $100 in cash for the best Halloween costume at midnight. The Chicago Avenue Halloween Bar Crawl’s third stop is High Dive at midnight. High Dive (1938 W Chicago Ave) will give away $100 in cash for the best Halloween costume at 1:30am.

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at Joe also contributes to Chicago and

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