First Bites Bash: Preview over 60 of Chicago's top restaurants

First Bites Bash: Preview over 60 of Chicago's top restaurants
First Bites Bash 2016 Restaurant

First Bites Bash (FBB), the official kick-off event for the 10th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, is an opportunity to check out Chicago’s outstanding restaurant landscape.

This year’s bash will take place on Thursday, January 26 at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

The hot ticket, that just might be the best bargain in Chicago dining, goes for $125 ($95 early bird sales, sold out).

First Bites Bash 2016 Restaurant

First Bites Bash 2016. Photo: Adam Alexander

The all-inclusive ticket features unlimited food and spirits from restaurants that preview tasting portions from their upcoming Restaurant Week menus.

In addition, guests can toast to the Chicago area’s culinary scene with wine and spirit pairings from Terlato Wines portfolio and TD Artisan Spirits.

With over 60 restaurants participating, you may want to grab a drink and sit down with the list to map out your evening. OR even better download the list here before you go–but remember to leave some space to add tastings that may catch your eye once you get to FBB.


We like to start with appetizers and work our way up to the heavier comfort foods like the Flank Steak with Horseradish Mashed
Potatoes from Texas De Brazil (station 45) and finish with desserts like the Butterscotch Bread Pudding Bites from Zed451 at station 4.

The event lasts three hours from 5:30 pm. to 8:30 pm. Most portions are tastes, not full-sized portions–although some can be on the large size.firstbites22017

Realistically, most people should be able to eat 6 portions an hour, along with wine and spirits.

Larger appetites and faster eaters may be able to squeeze in 10 (or more) portions per hour.

We like to try restaurants that are new to First Bites. This year that includes: Il Porcellino & Imperial Lamian.

We also try for a mix of tastes–a little Italian from the Melman kid’s River North’s Il Porcellino that opened in March and will be offering Porcellino Agnolotti smoked prosciutto broth, fennel at Station 33.

OR some Asian cuisine from Intro who will be serving Curry Noodles with Lemongrass & Ginger at Station 36.

Also, we can’t help but to return to some of our all-time favorites that include: Joe’s Seafood who will be serving Ahi Tuna Tartare at Station 61, & Piccolo Sogno’s Sformato di Tartufo–celery root and black truffle flan–at station 8.

Another stop we’re looking forward to is at station 11 for Chop’s Lobster bombs.

Candy lovers won’t want to miss the always popular Candyality. The lines can be long but the reward at the end of the line is well worth the wait.

Sarah Grueneberg, Chef/Partner of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio will host the 2017 FBB.

Originally from Houston, Grueneberg is a Chef/Partner of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago’s West Loop, which she opened in November 2015 with business partner and long-time friend Meg Sahs. Known for their contemporary Italian fare and global wines, the restaurant has received numerous accolades including: one of Food & Wine’s “America’s Best Restaurants” and others.

A portion of the proceeds generated by ticket sales that will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

“Each year, we come together to celebrate Chicago’s fabulous culinary scene with this great event,” said David Whitaker, Choose Chicago President and CEO. “This year, we’re thrilled that our event will support the work of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a fantastic organization dedicated to providing food to a network of more than 650 partner agencies and programs including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters throughout Chicago and Cook County.”

A limited amount of tickets are still available for purchase at First Bites Bash for $125 per person. The complete list of First Bites Bash participants is also available there.

Don’t forget to make your reservations for Chicago Restaurant Week, taking place January 27 – February 9, 2017.  More than 360 restaurants featuring prix fixe menus for this year’s event.

Brunch, a new offering for CRW 2017, and lunch menus will be available for $22 and dinner for $33 and/or $44, excluding beverage, tax and gratuity.

You may also be interested in our last year’s plan (many of these restaurants will be participating again this year).

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