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On the Blackboard: March 7

By Nicole Bruce

Since we can’t always live on the edge of solvency, we’ve found some good news in the form of specials offered by some favorite restaurants across town—even ones that might not otherwise fit your definition of affordable. From an awesome prix-fixe lunch to a weekday happy hour to a Sunday dinner spread, here are seven of our favorite budget-friendly food and drink happenings in Chicago right now.

Sunday Dinner at Gather
This neighborhood favorite boasts stellar à la carte brunch and dinner offerings, but also hosts a fabulous family-style dinner on Sunday nights. Shareable Sunday Dinner selections include grilled summer squash and green beans; fried chicken with honey drizzle and slaw; house-smoked brisket with cornbread; and warm sticky buns with an ooey gooey glaze and toasted walnuts. You can grab three for the table for just $26 per person. And kid alert—the good kind: Children under 10 eat free.
Neighborhood: Lincoln Square MAP

$25 prix-fixe lunch at Blackbird Restaurant
If you're on the hunt for new and exciting workweek lunch options in the West Loop, this bright spot on West Randolph has a prix-fixe lunch ($25) that’s calling your name. The menu is subject to change, but right now you can score three courses from a stand-out roster of innovative Midwestern dishes, like warm shrimp salad with cashew, kohlrabi, cilantro, and fermented chile oil; duck confit with cavatelli pasta, mustard green, and preserved walnut; and espresso-whipped ganache with crispy phyllo, orange salad, and pistachio ice cream. Now kindly say goodbye to that boring deli sandwich.
Neighborhood: West Loop MAP

Crêpes-focused dinner series at Floriole Café & Bakery
Renowned for its French pastries, Floriole in Lincoln Park is launching a crêpes-focused dinner series featuring sweet and savory crêpe creations influenced by the owners' European travels. They'll be rolling out crêpes prepared with locally sourced ingredients quarterly, starting March 19. The special Sunday supper ($30) will feature buckwheat crêpes with crab and shallots in mornay sauce alongside lemon vinaigrette–topped mixed greens, plus "suzette" rolled sweet crêpes filled with yuzu and tangerine butter, citrus salad, and burnt orange caramel, paired with French cidre brut from Normandie and Midwestern ciders.
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park MAP


Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya

St. Patrick's Day specials at Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya
It's not often you find a St. Patrick's Day special that doesn't involve Guinness or Jameson, but this Japanese spot is serving up ramen delights for those who want a healthier start to the festivities, or just a sure-fire hangover cure. From March 10 to 12 and March 16 to 19, you'll have your choice of ramen—garlic, miso, chicken rich, or spicy—chicken wings, or chicken karaage with a soothing cup of ginger tea for lunch and dinner ($20).
Neighborhood: Wicker Park MAP

"Bistro by the Sea" dinner at Sauce and Bread Kitchen
This North Side bakery and cafe, a product of Co-op Sauce and Crumb Chicago, regularly hosts community-focused dinners with local and homemade fare like the monthly Stew Supper Club, First Friday Pizza Haven nights to support city charities, and other one-off events like the "Bistro by the Sea" dinner ($45) on March 29. Import your own vino, and they'll accommodate your bistro-style table with a refreshing assortment of offerings from the sea.
Neighborhood: Edgewater MAP

Happy hour at Fremont
"The Happy Hour Experience" at this swanky River North joint involves happy hour stations outfitted with all the cocktail fixings. Patrons can build their own drinks—think old-fashioneds or Moscow Mules—and snag light apps like Japanese fried chicken for just $5 each from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. On Thursdays, unwind with bottomless rosé and oysters for only $20.
Neighborhood: Neighborhood: River North MAP

All-you-can-eat snow crab feast at Lowcountry
Celebrate National Crab Day on March 9 by feasting like royalty at this Wrigleyville hot spot's all-you-can-eat crab buffet. Crack, pry, and claw your way through a bottomless dinner of fresh, buttery snow crab goodness, along with honey butter–jalapeño cornbread, corn on the cob, potato salad, and slaw, for $49.99. Just don't forget to don your bib before diving into that loaded platter. Already have plans for crab day, do you? Come by and belly up to the Cajun bar for half-price craft cocktails and drafts with a snack order before 7 p.m. any old Tuesday through Sunday.
Neighborhood: Lakeview MAP

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