From a restaurant that specializes in whole-animal roasts to a charming Tuscan-inspired wine cellar, here are seven of Chicago's best spots for celebrating a birthday.
① Frontier, West Town
A 12-seat chef's table offers an intimate look into chef Brian Jupiter's open kitchen and allows guests a genuine "kitchen-to-table" experience. For a hungry group, opt for one of the restaurant's remarkable whole-animal offerings, such as a farm-raised pig ($550), wild boar ($600) and wild-caught alligator (MP).
② Ada Street, Bucktown/Wicker Park
This hidden gem from the DMK Restaurant Group is home to a cozy private dining room that can comfortably seat up to 15. The space sports an industrial-chic aesthetic, with exposed brick and pipes, but candlelight keeps things feeling inviting. The entire restaurant is also available to rent out for parties of up to 50.
③ Balena, Lincoln Park
Balena's rustic wine cellar transports you from busy Lincoln Park to a rural Tuscan winery and can accommodate up to 35 seated guests or 60 of your standing-room-only friends. Sip Italian wines, craft cocktails made with Italian bitters and scarf down a multicourse family style dinner showcasing the restaurant's modern Italian cuisine.
④ Dusek's, Pilsen
Unlike most restaurants, this foodie haven accepts reservations for only large parties (five to 12 people). Snag the communal table in the main dining area and let the festivities commence with plate upon plate of octopus confit ($14), Painted Hills beef bavette ($28), addictive beef-fat frites with harissa ketchup ($6) and more.
⑤ Girl & the Goat, West Loop
The "Underground Goat" room at this perennial hotspot on Restaurant Row is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, drink great wine and eat some of the most coveted food in Chicago. As with reservations for the main dining room, demand for the private room is high, so we recommend booking well in advance.
⑥ Fig & Olive, Gold Coast
With enough seating to accommodate 270 hungry people, this tri-level Mediterranean concept is ideal for large parties. The space is airy and bright, and dishes like mixed crostini ($21 for six), assorted cheeses ($19 for five) and truffle risotto ($26) are great for passing around the table.
⑦ The Publican, West Loop
Thanks to a massive communal table at the heart of the dining room, Paul Kahan's meat-focused destination is prime for a party. Come thirsty, as dishes like boudin blanc ($17), country ribs ($25) and ham chop "in hay" ($35 per pound) go best with beers plucked from the restaurant's thorough list.
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