Chef Julius Russell

Chef Julius Russell

Private Chef, Executive Chef-KeHE Distributors, TV Host – Big Ten Network

Chef Julius is the owner of A Tale of Two Chefs, Executive Chef for KeHE Distributors and TV Host on the Big Ten Network. In addition, he serves as the consulting chef for several large food companies and is the Culinary Ambassador of the Chilean Consulate & ProChile, he enthusiastically promotes and aids in the distribution of the flavors and wine from the country of Chile. In addition, he places a strong focus on giving back and sharing to several Chicago Organizations.

Thursday, 31 January 2013 12:19

Chef Julius' Picks for Chicago Restaurant Week

Yes! It's back people and NO I am not talking about the McRib. Chicago Restaurant Week is back!

For those of you that are not familiar with this wonderful event, allow me to share. February 1-10, more than 250 of Chicago's best restaurant come together in a citywide food showcase. The featured menus are prix fixe and start at $22 for lunch and $33/$44 for dinner (not including beverage, tax & gratuity).

To some this may not seem like a big deal, but most of Chicago's best and brightest get in on the fun. This is the most affordable way to see how Chicago has become a world-class dining destination.

There are several "Michelin Star" awarded places participating this year. It's the easiest , affordable "date-night" with incredible food. I have listed a few personal favorites that I consider "can't miss" dining experiences. These are a few places that I try to visit on my nights off and will definitely hit a few during Restaurant Week.

Baume & Brix (New American: the "jars" are a must try)

Bistro Margot (Classic simple French – my year-round spot)

III (3) Forks (I LOVE this steak)

GT Fish & Oyster (Classy, slick & BEAUTIFUL food; unlike any bar you have ever eaten at)

BOKA Restaurant (Michelin Star food and service – a personal favorite)

Mercat A La Planxa (Spanish/Tapas)

Michael Jordan's Steak House (If offered, GET THE BURGER!)

Sable Kitchen & Bar (Contemporary American – Sweet Corn Crème Brulee)

Table Fifty-Two (Upscale Southern Comfort, Hummingbird Cake, Chicken & Waffles)

Tavernita (Spanish/Tapas, but can get a bit loud and clubby)

Nellcote (Ridiculous Pasta)

Piccolo Sogno Restaurant (Wonderful Italian with well priced wine list)

Quay Restaurant & Bar (stop playing and get the gnocchi)

Perennial Virant (Seasonal, local, fresh and beautiful)
The Lobby at The Peninsula Hotel (You will NOT have a better roast chicken)

Topolobombo (High profile Mexican by Rick Bayless)

RPM Italian (New kids on the block doing Italian right)

Oceanique (Fresh Fish Evanston – usually $100+ per person)

Markethouse (Heirloom Squash Risotto...they even let the farmers in the kitchen!)

Also, there are few rules when it comes to dining during restaurant week.
1. Use a reservation service or call ahead. Don't expect an available seat on a walk-in for the higher end places.
2. Start your dining earlier in the week. The server energy is better, the food is executed better and people are excited.
3. Inquire about taking pics of the food during the meal. Some places frown on this.
4. Look to see if your dining destination has additional specials with "social media check-ins" (discounts on wine, dessert, etc)
5. Try new things. This is an opportunity to eat some of the food you see on the cooking competition shows from high profile restaurants. Dine with passion and adventure
6. Lunch is always an easier ticket than dinner
You can see the full list of participating restaurants and reserve your space at

Enjoy and Happy Eating Chicago!

Chef Julius Russell