Pre-game for the Marathon at These Pasta and Protein Palaces

Whether you're running or not, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is an apt excuse to splurge on pasta and meat with reckless abandon, all in the name of "fueling up." The carbs and proteins are essential for maintaining stamina for a 26-mile race. And even if you're not participating, it's always nice to eat with your friends out of solidarity, right? Here are some fine suggestions for pre-Marathon dining this year in Chicago: 

Prime rib at Fleming's

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse: Marathon-runners all know about fueling up with pasta and carbs. But just as important is a good portion of protein to help amp up your stamina. You can easily do so at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in River North. This place is meaty Mecca, with protein sources derived from all over. Whatever fits your fancy and whatever puts a skip in your step/jog, Fleming's has you covered. Start by sharing small plates like sliced filet mignon and petite New Zealand lamb chops before beefing things up with heartier plates like their prime bone-in rib-eye, prime New York strip, peppercorn steak, and truffle-poached lobster. On Sunday night, unwind after the race with their prime rib dinner, available only on Sunday nights. 


Lockwood Restaurant & Bar: If the prospect of "endless pasta" sounds like a gimmick you'd stumble upon at Olive Garden, think again. Lockwood Restaurant & Bar re-thinks the comfort food binge with an elevated twist, offering pasta specials and runner sendoff packages October 10  in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. An elite pasta menu will be available from 5:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. for $16, along with complimentary runner sendoff packages in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton the morning of the Marathon from 5:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m. The dinnertime pasta specials include short rib bolognese with Parmesan, charred green onion and garganelli; pasta puttanesca with olive, tomatoes, and bucatini; and wild mushroom cavatelli with charred zucchini, pecorino, and olive oil. The morning of the Marathon, sendoff packages include whole fruit, coffee, bottled beverages, and granola bars. 
Ceres' Table: A lasagna made with 26 layers, practically one layer per Marathon mile, is the perfect pre-race meal. Get your pre-Marathon fix at Ceres' Table, where chef Craig Degel is striating 26 layers of pasta with wild mushrooms, bolognese, bechamel, and Parmigiana-Reggiano. It's available as a dinner special October 10. 

Filini Bar & Restaurant: Renowned for its refined pasta creations, Filini Bar & Restaurant is a winning destination for all your Marathon dining needs. Especially with their "Fuel Up" menu loaded with six special dishes like risotto carbonara, fettuccine with basil pesto, calamari, and shrimp, and sweet potato gnocchi with crispy pancetta, kale, brown butter, sage, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. All pastas are $22 and come with garlic bread, available for lunch and dinner. 

mk: At mk, you can start with pasta before the race and finish strong with steak as a post-Marathon-reward. On October 10, the River North legend is serving unlimited portions of housemade gemelli pasta with bison sugo, Pecorino Gran Cru, and focaccia crumbs. For a vegetarian option, mk also has gemelli with eggplant bolognese. After you're done with your run, head back to mk to revel in their special grilled Kobe beef hanger steak with truffle and Tallegio cheese baked potato. Racers also get a complimentary glass of sparkling Domaine St. Vincent Brut. 

- Matt Kirouac