02/01/2013 05:23 pm ET

Chicago Restaurant Week 2013: A Week And A Half Worth Of Dining Deals Starts Now

Like "Shark Week" but for city dining, Chicago Restaurant Week officially kicks off on Friday for ten days of food, drink and tasty tryouts.

The purpose of the week-and-a-half long event is twofold: it gives restaurants a boost during what's normally the slowest dining season, and, according to NBC Chicago, it helps promote the hospitality industry.

Diners likely won't care about the latter, but taking advantage of the former means scoring a deal on meals that normally come with a higher price tag a la carte. Prix fixe menus from the more than 250 participating restaurants start at $22 for lunch and between $33 and $44 for dinner (not including drinks, tax and tip).

Chicagoist rounded up a few choice picks from the offerings that include Trencherman, Rick Bayless' Topolobampo, BellyQ and Mexique while the folks behind Restaurant Week offered up a list of restaurants that feature vegetarian dishes.

Several suburban restaurants are participating as well, including Catch 35 in Naperville and Shaw's Crab House in Schaumberg.

(See the full list of participating Chicago Restaurant Week eateries.)