Spend any time traveling outside the U.S. and you’ll notice that lunch is more celebrated in many places than here. Savvy global travelers know booking a popular restaurant at lunchtime ups the chance of securing a coveted reservation with the bonus of a lower check than dinner. These days, Chicago is starting to embrace the midday meal with its own version of lunch multicourse specials in addition to a la carte offerings. Here, we offer four to entice you away from your sad desk lunch.


700 N. Sedgwick St., River North
Lunch special: Thursday, Friday, and Monday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
What you’ll eat: In France, a three-course lunch is considered a birthright. So, it makes sense that this charming modern French bistro from brothers Oliver and Nicolas Poilevey offers one, too — albeit only three days a week. Seasonal options on the $42 prix-fixe could include a savory panna cotta, duck confit with asparagus and morels, sea bass with braised artichokes, and a fresh berry tart for dessert. Not going back to work? Get a $10 martini.

Terra e Mare

404 S. Wells St., Loop
Lunch special: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
What you’ll eat: While the Loop may not be fully back — it is much better though! — this new downtown restaurant is doing its best to make sure those who are in the area eat well. At lunchtime, that means the added option of chef Noah Zamler’s $20 three-course Lunch Break menu. Start with soup or meatballs before moving onto second course options such as a chopped salad with grilled chicken thighs or a hearty tomato jam-topped quarter-pounder. But for me, there’s only one choice: the housemade sourdough cavatelli cacio e pepe. Best scenario? Bring workmates and share. 

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

60 E. Grand Ave., River North
Lunch special: Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
What you’ll eat: I’ve always preferred dining at this swanky River North spot when someone else was footing the bill. Now, with its new three-course $39.95 lunch special, I don’t have to wait for an invite. Seafood-lovers have a lot to love about the offerings here, including ahi tuna tartare, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and oysters for the first course options, and crab cake and pan-sauteed branzino for the second. There’s a six-ounce filet mignon, too. Dessert means pie with key lime, peanut butter, and Havana dream, a tres leches variation, on offer.


2734 W. Roscoe St., Avondale
Lunch special: Wednesday and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What you’ll eat: With an expansive greenhouse nearby to source from, you never know what fresh vegetables and herbs will find their way onto your plate at this Avondale restaurant. And that’s exactly how chef Devon Quinn, who also oversees the greenhouse, likes it. Two days a week, his cook-what-we-grow approach can be found in the two-course $20 lunch prix-fixe. Start with soup or salad before moving on to avocado toast topped with housemade candied fresh peppers or the signature Angus beef cheeseburger. Both are served with a pile of rosemary fries.