Chicago Life: My First Restaurant Week

The past week had been a gastronomic one. It was officially Chicago Restaurant Week and so my friend and I were on the food prowl all week. Not to mention we also dined at restaurants that did not technically participate in CRW but had some great meals nonetheless.

Chicago Restaurant Week 2016

CRW is organized every winter by Choose Chicago, the city’s official tourism organization. This year was the 9th year and it ran from January 22 to February 4, 2016. There are more than 250 restaurants that participate annually. Check the website for the list of restaurants and menus. Each participating restaurant will provide you  a set menu for CRW. However, you can still order from the regular menu if you wish.


My friend Jackie, a food lover and Chicago local, chose this place for my first Chicago Restaurant Week experience. We had a weekday lunch reservation which was nice because it wasn’t crowded and parking was not a problem. First of all, I loved Carnivale’s colorful and eccentric aesthetic interior! What’s great about this place is that the food echoes the atmosphere and does not disappoint. Its Latin American dishes were flavorful and authentic.




My favorite was the to-die for Nutella Cheesecake dessert. It was so good, I can eat it everyday!

Pros: Complimentary Valet parking, friendly staff, good service, good food

Cons: CRW menu is limited, meal took awhile to prepare.

Carnivale is located in Chicago’s West Loop
Address: 702 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60661
Phone: 312.850.5005


Cafè Baba Reeba

I take credit for discovering Cafè Baba Reeba. I was on the prowl for a good tapas and sangria place in Chicago and I found this place. My friends and I went here on the last day of Restaurant Week for dinner and so it was packed. It is located in Lincoln Park’s busy area and parking was a struggle per usual. We had our reservation at 7:30 pm but it was so busy we weren’t seated until a little past 8. Management and staff were apologetic and courteous, and we had great service all night. It was our first time in Cafè Baba Reeba and I know it won’t be the last!

Tapas selection was great and the taste was delightful. I love tapas and I get to be very picky and yes, I tend to compare it to the ones I had in Spain. It can’t be helped. I also really, really like the atmosphere and I cannot believe how big the place was from the bar area to the back room. It was still packed! The only mediocre thing was the classic red sangria. I think it could’ve been better. Again, maybe it was just me being a food snob by comparing it to the ones I had in Spain. But my friend also thought the sangria could be better, and she hasn’t been to Spain.




The seafood paella was my favorite! It was amazing and it brought me back to Spain. However, the best part was the complimentary dessert tasting. I love dessert! Thank you Cafè Baba Reeba for the wonderful dessert and great meal. How did you know I have a sweet tooth?

Pros: Great ambience, awesome food, great service.

Cons: Parking is difficult on a busy night. Classic red sangria could be better.

Cafè Baba Reeba
2024 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 935-5000

Can you tell the theme of my first restaurant week? Latin and Spanish?! I just realized that myself. I love exotic food and I love great food. Looking forward to next year’s Restaurant Week!


My friend Jackie and I are foodies on the loose!

Have you been to Chicago’s Restaurant Week? What were your favorites?

If you enjoyed this post, let me know your thoughts by commenting below. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more travel ideas!






Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created JetsettingJen as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.