Weekly Planner: National Ravioli Day, Birthday Bao, Band of Bohemia Brunch and More

National Ravioli Day at Francesca’s

Here’s a holiday you never knew existed but seriously need to celebrate: National Ravioli Day is March 20, and there’s really no better place to be than Francesca’s. On the holiday, all locations of the Italian restaurant will feature ravioli for a special one-day price of $6. And there’s lots to choose from too, like ravioli con ricotta, ravioli con spinaci and ravioli con salsiccia e broccolini (sausage and broccolini). 


Ravioli at Francesca's

Neighborhood Nights at Cucina Paradiso

City-dwellers would be remiss in missing out on an opportunity not to dine at Oak Park’s newly renovated gem, Cucina Paradiso. The restaurant’s newly implemented Neighborhood Nights is the perfect incentive, too, wherein weeknights Monday through Thursday feature complimentary signature hors d’oeuvres in the new bar area from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. 

Birthday Xiao Long Bao at Imperial Lamian

Some people celebrate birthdays with cake. Others, like Imperial Lamian, opt for dumplings. In honor of the restaurant’s first birthday, Imperial Lamian is featuring $1 Shanghai xiao long bao all month long. After polling diners on their favorite dumplings, the xiao long bao soup dumplings emerged victorious, earning a special place as the birthday dumpling for March. They’re available for lunch, brunch and dinner at $1 apiece, with a minimum order of four. 

Fish Fridays at Shaw’s Crab House

If you’re going to partake in fish specials during Lent, there’s really no better place than Shaw's Crab House. A venerable player in Chicago’s seafood scene, the restaurant is running Fish Fridays through the end of Lent (April 14) each week. The promo entails two-course specials, starting with choice of chowder or Caesar salad, followed by fish & chips, haddock or a 1-lb. lobster. 

Spring Dinner at Mercadito

Spring is in the air at Mercadito, and on the plate, as the contemporary Mexican restaurant rolls out a multi-course dinner event in honor of the changing seasons. On March 20, Mercadito will host its Feliz Primavera Experiential Dinner, taking place from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. The event begins with a trio of guacamoles, including one with ramps and tomatillo pico de gallo and another with al pastor, bacon and grilled pineapple. Next up is a trio of ceviches, including dorado, poached shrimp and a mix of shrimp, octopus and mahi. Third course is two tacos and a side dish, wherein the tacos are filled with epazote-marinated skirt steak and fava bean-potato hash, plus lemon-thyme marinated grilled chicken with artichoke hearts and Serrano-bacon mojo. Asparagus toreados are served alongside. And since one can never have too many tacos, Mercadito follows this up with two additional tacos, stuffed with the likes of lobster, smoked peach hash, grilled ramps, herb-marinated pork belly and spring greens. Finally, tres leches cake is on deck for dessert. The dinner costs $75 per person, plus tax and tip. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Mercadito. 


Band of Bohemia
Beet toast at Band of Bohemia

Brunch at Band of Bohemia

Another week, another new brunch menu. But this isn’t even close to your average brunch. Band of Bohemia is the latest restaurant in town to serve the weekend repast, and it’s one of the most promising new entries. The menu is a showcase for Band of Bohemia’s new bread-baking program, hence brunch is particularly carb-centric. It’s a grand showcase for co-owner Michael Carroll, who previously served as the bread baker at Alinea. Dishes to look forward to include peekytoe crab with mascarpone polenta, poached egg, miso hollandaise and toast; brisket cheesesteak with a hot buttered roll and piparra peppers; and beet toast on seeded bread with goat cheese, brown butter crumble, arugula and orange. 

Chef Burger Series at Animale

Animale has tapped a slew of top-tier culinary talents in Chicago to come aboard and serve up a monthly burger special as part of the restaurant’s brand new Chef Burger Series. First up is Ashlee Aubin of Salero, who supplements Animale’s regular menu with his lamb burger with bread & butter pickles, fontina, red onion, kalamata olive aïoli and bitter greens. As a plus, each chef burger sends proceeds to a charity, with Aubin’s benefitting Meals on Wheels Chicago.