Dining deals during Elmwood Park's restaurant week

Third annual event brings restaurant lovers to "restaurant row" and "the circle"

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Melissa Elsmo

Pay attention, restaurant-lovers. Elmwood Park, a go-to destination for locals looking for a memorable meal, is hosting their third annual restaurant week, Feb. 21 through March 1. 

Savvy foodies are keenly aware of the vast array of restaurants located on both "restaurant row" and "the circle" in Elmwood Park. Participating restaurants in both areas will entice diners from the western suburbs to explore an eclectic variety of discounted menu options, specialty dishes, and pre-fixe menus throughout the village. 

Elmwood Park is historically known for providing authentic Italian meals, and it's no surprise restaurant week provides ample opportunities to sample a slice of pizza, bowl of pasta, or cone full of rich gelato. Over time, however, Elmwood Park eateries have grown to include Mexican, Asian, and Cuban fare, as well as super-social breakfast spots and well-loved burger joints.

With more than 15 participating restaurants, there's sure to be something for everyone during the food-focused week in Elmwood Park. Check out a few of the hottest deals:

Nestled on "the circle" adjacent to Elmwood Park Village Hall, Seph's Sweets (12 Conti Pkwy.) will tempt locals to sit for a leisurely breakfast or a wholesome lunch during restaurant week

"We've tried to create an offer for restaurant week that gives diners a good value, while making the most of our regular menu offerings," says Sephora Popa, co-owner of Seph's Sweets.

The diminutive bakery is offering a breakfast special as well as a trio of lunch deals. Lunch specials include half of a hot or cold sandwich with diner's choice of soup or salad and chips; a latte or cupcake rounds out Seph's lunch offerings. 

For just over $10, diners can get their hands on a vegetarian panini and house salad. The cheesy panini is filled with roasted red peppers and the house salad brims with tomatoes, cucumbers and parmesan cheese with a honey balsamic vinaigrette. 

A relative newcomer to "restaurant row," Gringo and Blondie, 7574 W. North Ave, is putting a decidedly Mexican spin on restaurant week. The colorful taqueria is offering a variety of discounts, including a $1.50 off all starters, burritos and cemitas for just $6.99 and a free agua fresca with purchase of a house salad. 

Those looking for a hearty meal at a notable value should look no further than the two taco deal. Served alongside rice and beans with a Mexican Jarrito to drink, the meal allows guests to select between seven taco fillings. The Al Pastor features spit roasted pork, pineapple onions and cilantro while the Carne Asada features grilled skirt steak, guacamole, onions and cilantro. A shrimp taco will appeal to pescatarian diners while the "Blondie" is a vegetarian combination of mushrooms, peppers, onion, epazote, avocado and queso fresco.

Popular restaurant row mainstay Spizzico Pizza and Pasta, 7446 W. North Ave., brings an array of lunch options to restaurant week. Salad, sandwich and pasta dishes will draw in local regulars, but Linda Spizzirri, owner of Spizzico, is excited to offer a junior burrito from her second restaurant, Senor Jefe's Mexican Grill. 

Spizzirri keeps her late husband Tito's legacy alive, by continuing to serve the Italian fare locals have come to know and love while starting the new venture nearly five years ago when she opened Senor Jefe's. The restaurants share a kitchen and an address so restaurant week-goers can order from both menus in each location.

"I grew up eating at New Star and Johnny's and now here are a lot of restaurants in the area," Spizzirri said. "I think Elmwood Park's restaurant week is great for our regulars while drawing new people to the area."

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