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Please please please help a desperate chowhound bride make a decision soon!

Hey guys,
My name is Leena, and I am addicted to food. I love reading, writing, watching and eating food in any form. While I really wanted a chowhound-worthy wedding, lack of funds have forced me to use the preset caterer for the wedding hall I am using, and I have no clue how good the food will be. So, as a present to myself and my wedding party, we decided to take out the entire wedding party and their dates out to eat the day after our wedding so we can all spend some quality time together and eat some good food.
We wanted to go to a BYOB, that way, we could afford a great meal and bring wine for everyone, thus covering all the charges for the evening. We have a reservation set at HB, but it is such a small place that our large party (21 people total) cannot sit together. So now we are left with another decision to make. We either need to a) find another BYOB chowhound worthy
b)find a regular restaurant chowhound worthy and have them buy their drinks
c) use one of the half priced gift cards from q101.com for the restaurant (you pay $25 for a $50 gift card to one of the following restaurants: Chicago Firehouse, Cuatro, Bordo's Eatery) and again have them buy their drinks
d)stick with HB and just deal

We would like the food to be good, and we hope to get away with spending $50/a person(at least three courses), not including drinks, if possible, we would like to all sit together. So does anyone have any opinions on what we should do? Should we stick with HB and not all sit together? Should we head to another BYOB and if so, which one do you reccomend? Finally, do we scrap the whole BYOB deal, find a decent place that can do $50 a person, and have the wedding party buy their own drinks (which they would have no problem doing)?
We have to make a decision and reservation asap, because the wedding is on Oct. 6th. I really appreciate anyone even reading this, so thank you and help out if you can!!

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  1. (What's HB?)

    I recommend a restaurant in Greektown. Costa's and Santorini are the high-end while Parthenon and Greek Islands are reliable. All have broad menus which will provide good grub over three courses (e.g., cold appetizer plate, zucchini with skordalia, Greek salad, octopus, lamb-chicken-fish-pork entrees). Greektown restaurants are unsurpassed in handling large groups, and the middle-range places like Parthenon and GI are already noisy, so your group can revel. I don't think the Greek wines at these places are rip-offs, either, so keep ordering 'em by the jug.

    After dinner you could segue to Artopolis, the hip cafe-bar-bakery south of Parthenon, and maybe take over the upper level for drinks and a wide choice of desserts, some not strictly Greek.

    Have a great time. Greetings from JJC and The Herald News (right?).

    1. I am assuming that HB is the Hearty Boys Cafe in Boystown. If you want to stick in that general area, I would try Riques Regional. ( http://www.riqueschicago.com/). I know I sound like a broken record and I swear I'm not affliated with them. The food is good, it's relatively cheap, it's BYOB and it's a small business and the owner/chef really cares about the food. The have a party room apart from the general restuarant. If you don't want that, then I second the req for Greek town

      1. Greektown is a great choice. The food is high quality and prices reasonably...plus the restuarants cater to large groups for all occasions on a daily basis. Wine is reasonable as well.
        I think that Greek Islands consistently has the best food. Everything on the menu is delicious. The atmosphere is vibrant and the parking is free. Santorini is a bit more upscale and excellent as well.

        Andalous Morrocan in Wrigleyville is BYOB.

        Cafe Iberico could be a lot of fun and priced right! Pitchers of Sangria are reasonably priced and will surely please your guests.

        Wildfire, Cafe Babareeba, & Scoozi would all fall within the $50 per person range.

        1. Two points.

          As far as seating all together at HB, IMHO, once you have more than 8 people at one table, you're not really sitting together anyway. It seems like having two of three smaller groups in the same area would be fine, especially if you circulate a bit.
          I second Cafe Iberico for a large group (there it would be one long table). You would be hard pressed to get out of there with empty pockets, given your budget. Sangria is great and tapas whirling out every few minutes makes for a festive evening, and it is cheap, cheap, cheap.
          Good luck.

          1 Reply
          1. re: malone

            True about the table comment, however, in a restaurant as small as HB, we would not be able to toast our pals, or even visit as we may like without disturbing fellow patrons. I know I put a lot of restrictions on the suggestions, but I just want to see what is out there before I decide to settle, you know?

          2. I second the Riques recommendation. A friend had his birthday in their party room last fall and it was wonderful. They set up one big table that seated about 20 or so, and even provided us with a waiter to serve the drinks we brought.

            1. A really nice BYOB is called the Speakeasy Supper Club - 1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago (773)338-0600 http://www.speakeasysupperclub.com/ch...

              It's in the Edgwater/Rogers Park area. There are many reviews out there on it including a recent TV spot on "Check, Please!"

              1 Reply
              1. re: abf005

                I heard that the Speakeasy Supper Club closed. Am I mistaken?

              2. Whatever happened to a honeymoon? Why not eat and drink with the friends BEFORE the wedding and lose them the day after? Or take 'em all out a month later and share the video...

                1 Reply
                1. re: YoYoPedro

                  Why not do it before or later? There are a hundred reasons! Our entire wedding party is coming from New York and Nebraska the night before the wedding, which leaves no time for a rehearsal dinner. And we are young--24 and 25--and so is our wedding party. They cannot afford to fly out here again later in the year to celebrate. And since our wedding is on a Friday night, and they will already be out here, we figured to do something that Saturday night. I know it sounds untraditional, but my entire wedding is! It will be a Christian-Hindu ceremony, I am wearing a sari, etc. Why be normal when nontraditional is so much more fun?!

                2. Closed? I don't think so! It looked very open as I drove there by last night... I wish I had more time as I would have liked to have stopped in.

                  1. I was at Cuatro a couple of weeks ago with a party of 8 for a birthday. Not bad, but honestly I would consider Carnivale for a big party. In general I'm no fan of KDK establishments, but I find this one high quality, reasonably priced, good drinks, and a good place for a group with good food, OK service, and a good setting. I find the main room a little over-whelming, but in the back to the side there are some smaller rooms that are perfect for a group - or on the second floor there is a good room. I'd think you could do well there for $50@.

                    1. Carnivale would be a good place. I've seen a few bachelorette parties there, quite a few both small and large group celebrations. I don't believe that it is affiliated with the KDK Restaurant Group, though. Jerry Kleiner is involved in both entities, but Carnivale is not.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: YoYoPedro

                        You're right. KDK is just Marche/Opera/Gioco/Red Light. He must have some different partners for Carnivale.

                        By the way, what do you recommend at Opera? You seem to like the place. I've had bad luck there in the past.

                        1. re: wkaufmann

                          Go on a Tuesday night for the $25 prix fixe dinner. Start with any of the shu-mai dishes or the mussels. Get the 3-Way Peking Duck (or the Opera filet or the fish special of the day) for an entree and the Opera cake for dessert. MMMmmm!!! And to top it off, until the end of September, they'll give each diner at your table a $50 gift certificate for Marche when you dine from Sunday-Wednesday at Opera.

                          1. re: YoYoPedro

                            Sounds like quite a deal. I'll give them another chance for a deal like that.

                      2. How about Club Lucky? We had our wedding there, and it was very reasonable for a great meal - and the private room there will have enough room for your group.


                        (it's not BYOB, but inexpensive enough that you can spring for lots of house wine...


                        Good luck!

                        1. Riques is fantastic! Service can be a little slow but the food makes up for it.

                          You might also think about Chinatown. The Phoenix on Archer has excellent food and enough room for a large seating. It also might be fun to share dishes. The food might be a little adventurous for the average Chinese food eater but they have some standards there.

                          1. Thank you so much for everyone's suggestions. That is why I LOVE this board! We ended up deciding on Quartino's, which is a wine bar/italian tapas place. It won out mainly for the cheap delicious wine and the variety (since 21 of us are dining together, variety certainly helps those less adventurous than me!). I will post after the wedding to let everyone know how it was. Thanks again!

                            1. I would recommend Think Cafe at 2235 N Western Ave
                              (if it's not too late). Their food is very upscale and the service friendly. On a recent visit with 10 people, the highlights were the duck risotto and the rack of elk. Their BYOB service is excellent - they provided a martini shaker and glass as well as champagne, white, red and port glasses for our different bottles.