Whether it's for economic reasons or just because everyone could use a little pick-me-up this time of year, Chicago bars and restaurants are hosting more and more creative dining and drinking events to get people in the door. Not that we needed more incentive to eat and drink, but we're all for this trend -- from tequila tastings to celebrations of the humble orange.
Now through Friday, March 6, both locations of Shaw's Crab House (in River North and Schaumburg) are hosting a "Frequent Diner Wine Week." Guests who sign up for Lettuce Entertain You's Frequent Diner Program will receive 10 percent off all wines when they dine at Shaw's, while existing members will receive between 15 and 40 percent off of their wine selections, depending on their program level. The event will continue the first week of every month.
Join chef/owner Jonathan Fox of La Madia in River North for a special Chef's Table on Wednesday, March 4. Guests commingle around the convivial pizza bar while chef Fox cooks up and discusses his dishes for the evening, which will include tellegio-and-grape pizza; shaved Belgian endive and radicchio salad with blood oranges, cranberries and balsamic; and black cod with fingerling potato salad and Meyer lemon. (7PM, $35)
If your tequila education could use some refreshing, head to Carnivale in River West on Wednesday, March 4 for "Tequila 101." You'll get schooled in the art of tequilas from Jalisco, Mexico, by Carnivale's mixologist. And, yes, this is a hands-on lesson, complete with tastings of various tequilas along with a selection of appetizers by Carnivale's executive chef Mark Mendez. (6:30-8:30PM, $25)
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba's "Orange Festival" kicks off on Thursday, March 5 with a "Craft Beer Bodega." You'll get to enjoy samplings of 20 beers along with passed appetizers at the popular Lincoln Park restaurant (6-8PM, $20). The festivities continue through Wednesday, March 11 with orange-inspired dishes and menu specials. A flamenco show spices things up on Sunday, March 8 with exotic cuisine and flashy dancing (5PM, $10 for the show). You can also participate in citrus-focused trivia contests to win a private home-cooked meal by Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba's executive chef Tim Cottini.
Sample mixology master Adam Seger's latest creation, the SUBA, at a special tasting at Nacional 27 in River North on Friday, March 6. Seger created the low-cal, low-carb Bacardi-based cocktail for Nacional 27's "Miami Nights" parties that take place every Friday. For the "Sample the SUBA" event, Bacardi hostesses will pass out complimentary cocktails along with recipe cards. Guests can also enter to win a Bacardi gift basket complete with a gift certificate for Nacional 27.
Learn how to whip up a mean pad Thai at a cooking class on Saturday, March 7 at Vong's Thai Kitchen in River North. Vong's chef will teach guests how to make the quintessential Thai noodle dish, and the instruction will be followed by a three-course lunch accompanied by a mango mimosa. Everyone will head home with a goody bag and recipes straight from Vong's kitchen. (11AM, $49.95 per person)