places to go similar to Carnivale?
My girlfriends and I went to Carnivale this past weekend and loved it! The atmosphere, the people, the drinks, and the food were all fantastic. We loved the crowd- young, hip, etc and the food was fantastic. The mojitos and sangria was just what the doctor ordered. The chips and guac chunky, creamy, and addicting. Three girls said the skirt steak over black beans and rice with carmelized red onions was cooked perfectly medium and "bursting w/ flavor". My friend's roasted half chicken came on an enormous platter w/ a jalepeno-parsley puree sauce with perfectly roasted potatoes and tender, crisp green beans. She loved it! (Mushy vegetables are a pet peeve for her). I had the seared ahi tuna over roasted/sauteed diced potoates and mushrooms topped with a salty, vinegary olive-caper relish and romesco sauce to finish off the plate. The kitchen was definitely on tonight. Our waitress was friendly although said we were wimps for not ordering dessert. She said it in a joking manner, but we knew she was somewhat disappointed with our decision. Oh well! We were too full. I was wondering if anyone had any recs for another place for my girlfriends and I to try out in the Chicagoland area for our next girls' night out. Nothing pricier than Carnivale, and everyone loves all types of cuisine. We go to school at Northwestern so we'd just take the el or one of us would drive. Thanks!
I haven't been to Carnivale yet, but my friends and I try to do a Girls' Night once a month that sounds similar to what you are looking for.
We've had good experiences at:
- Mambo Grill - excellent mojitos, very good food.
- Oysy - good sushi, fun atmosphere. Not as much of a scene as what you've described, but we enjoyed ourselves.
- Quartino - we didn't like how loud Quartino was, but we like doing lots of small plates that we can share. The pasta with duck we had there was great.
- InnJoy - this is more of a bar with some good food, but we always have fun there.
- Cafe Baba-reeba - good tapas (more sharing small plates).
Cuatro is a good one if you like Carnivale. Its not quite as spectacular a setting inside, but its a good smaller space.
You could also try Red Light - run by a related group of people. Pan-Asian cuisine that I find good, if a little pricier than Carnivale - but it has more the ambience of Carnivale. On Randolph Street. http://www.redlight-chicago.com/
Of the above recs I'd also say Quartino which is in a more central area if you plan on going out in River North.
Fun for a group of girls is Delacosta...the new Latin fusion restuarant in River East...fox and obel building on the river. Great ambience, cocktails (try a poptini--homemade popsicles in the cocktails), and fun food--great for sharing many differnet things. Great music and people watching!