Restaurants' Creative Ways to Be Recession Proof

Is the glass half empty, half full or half off? History shows us that it's the businesses that get creative in their marketing plans that stay afloat during tough economic times. Here are a handful of Chicago restaurants and bars that are attracting customers in creative ways during this topsy-turvy recession.

At River West's Carnivale, diners during the month of January will receive a $15 gift certificate per table good for use at the restaurant through February. Other enticing offers include $5 mojitos on Mondays and "Temperature Tuesdays" guacamole (you pay the day's high temp in cents for a small guac -- a clever incentive at a time when single digit highs are not uncommon).

Loop worker bees will appreciate two new lunch specials at hot spot Custom House. The indulgent burgers here, made with ground skirt steak, sirloin, pork chop, short rib and flatiron steak and topped with caramelized onions, house-cured bacon and homemade steak sauce, are featured at $5 throughout January. Also available through the year is a new $24.95 prix-fixe three-course lunch menu with selections changing weekly. 

Greektown's Venus Greek-Cypriot Cuisine is offering 50 percent off of signature dishes throughout the month of January. Try authentic Greek and Cypriot dishes like afelia (pork marinated in red wine and served with pourgouri -- a cracked wheat pilaf) and pastitsio (baked layers of pasta and ground beef draped in bechamel sauce -- voted one of Chicago magazine's best dishes in town).

Got the kids in tow? Take 'em to any of the Chicagoland Flat Top Grill locations (they'll love the fun interactive cooking process) on a Monday night when kids eat free with a paying adult.

It's not often you find weekend food and drink specials (especially at Lincoln Park bars), but Crossroads Public House is offering just that. On Friday and Saturday evenings, this newish Irish pub is featuring $20 all-you-can-eat-and-drink specials. From 6:30-11PM, stuff yourself with pub grub like pizza, pasta, mini corn dogs and more, plus Miller Lite, PBR and CPH (the house brew) and vodka, rum and gin well drinks.

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