You So Fancy

The best tasting menus in Chicago for birthday parties and special occasions

It's your birthday (or you got a promotion, or it's your anniversary, or even just because), and you can splurge on an epic tasting menu at one of Chicago's high-end restaurants if you want to. From a conceptual masterpiece in the Trump Tower to a gorgeous vegetarian feast, here are six of our favorite places to get your fancy on.

? Sixteen

Every season, the team of visionaries at this Trump Tower destination completely reinvents the multicourse tasting menu ($190, $125 for wine pairings) around a single concept. Recent themes include History of Chicago, Faces of Sixteen and, currently, Food in Progress, which charts the evolution of fine dining through a series of courses ranging from a king crab snack with carrot, sea buckthorn and dill to a velouté of lettuce with veal sweetbreads and razor clams.

? Alinea

Lauded as one of the finest restaurants in the world, this Lincoln Park establishment is as much about the food as it is the experience. Each element of the tasting menu (starts at $210 a person; prices vary through a proprietary ticketing system) is artfully designed by chef/co-owner and molecular gastronomy pioneer Grant Achatz to deliver a unique interplay of tastes, aromas, textures and sights; from salsify jerky hidden within a bird's nest to a helium balloon that tastes like green apple taffy, the ingenuity that is the Alinea Experience knows no bounds.

? 42 grams

In its first year, this tiny, chef-driven spot in Uptown earned two coveted Michelin stars, found its way onto many "best of 2014" lists (including ours!) and proved that world-class food and a BYOB policy can go hand in hand. Chef Jake Bickelhaupt's menu ($185) is progressive yet refined and showcases flavors in forms you won't likely see elsewhere, such as a salad of mixed greens, a quail yolk, roasted shallot vinaigrette that resembles an egg white and a vibrant beet macaron.

? Blackbird

Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Kahan, this American restaurant has been a perennial West Loop favorite for fine dining for nearly two decades and shows no sign of slowing. The current nine-course tasting menu ($120, $65 for wine pairings) keeps the focus on seasonal flavors, such as Faroe Islands salmon with apple cider-miso glaze, smoke-brined chicken breast with black truffle-taleggio sausage and preserved Buddha's hand with Meyer lemon ice, blood orange and vanilla.

? Grace

Chicago's newest recipient of three Michelin stars, Grace, is one of very few restaurants to offer a full vegetarian tasting menu that's every bit as remarkable as the carnivore-friendly menu ($205). Those who opt for the Flora menu will taste turnip with apple, lemon and tarragon; fennel with Fernet, licorice and spearmint; and seven impressive courses in between, while the Fauna menu takes diners on a globe-trotting adventure by way of Tasmanian ocean trout, pig's tail and Japanese Wagyu beef.

? Schwa

Tinged with a rock star edge and a boisterous atmosphere, Wicker Park's Schwa cooks up a unique brand of fine dining you won't find elsewhere—oh, and it's BYO, too. Chef Michael Carlson's brilliant nine-course tasting menu ($110) is as well executed as it is irreverent, with everything from bottarga with polenta and chocolate to biscuits and gravy with sweetbreads simultaneously challenging and satisfying your taste buds. Reservations can be tough, so plan well in advance of your big day.