500 S. Dearborn; 312-523-0200
Lunch special: $24 three-course prix fixe menu
"The last six months have been absolutely brutal in Chicago, and it's a fickle lunch crowd," says chef Shawn McClain of Custom House, located in a boutique hotel just off the Loop. "We've found that at lunch we really have to go out and grab people one by one and say, 'What do you want? What do you need?'"
He put together a three-course prix fixe menu (a recent offering included beet salad with bacon, spareribs with roasted peppers, and banana pav with peanut butter mousse), which now accounts for about 40% of Custom House's lunch business. Another 40% of customers order a new monthly sandwich special that comes in around $10 - with a side and drink. Says McClain: "We're not a casual fast-food restaurant, but we've come to terms with the times so that people who really like to dine can eat here."
David Burke's Primehouse, 312-660-6000. The steakhouse's No Bull menu offers three courses for $20.09. A couple extra bucks gets you steak or lobster.
Blackbird, 312-715-0708. This hip spot serves up high-end sandwiches (organic pork belly with cabbage slaw), wine, and homemade doughnuts for $20.
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