Back in the spring of 2004, Lula Cafe owners Amalea Tshilds and Jason Hammel were looking for a way to encourage customers to branch out from the regular menu and try some of their adventurous specials. Their solution: a standing Monday-night prix fixe menu highlighting seasonal ingredients from local farms. In the spirit of the restaurant’s more spontaneous early days, the couple concocts each week’s dinner on the fly, brainstorming recipes with whatever’s available by Thursday or Friday and refining the taste and presentation over the weekend. More than three years later the Monday Night Farm Dinner is clearly a hit—the last time I stopped in, around 9 PM, they were already sold out—and at $24 per person (which buys an appetizer, entree, and dessert), an absolute steal. 2357 N. Kedzie, 773-489-9554, lulacafe.com. —Peter Margasak
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