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Fun Casual Dinner for 2 Friends?

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I'll (27 year old female) be in town this week for a conference - staying at the Swissotel. I'm meeting up with my best friend's fiance who will be in town as well (not sure his hotel). The 2 of us are arriving a day before all our co-workers so we are going out to dinner tomorrow night (Monday) just the two of us. I'm looking for somewhere fairly casual and fun for us. Nothing stuffy or romantic. What fits the bill?

Tuesday night we are going to Giordano's with a group and Wednesday night is Bin 36. Prefer something not super expensive because those usually come with the more prim and proper atmosphere we are trying to avoid.

Thanks!

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  1. Chicago is a very large, very diverse city with plenty of dining options. you've narrowed it down thusly:

    "I'm looking for somewhere fairly casual and fun for us. Nothing stuffy or romantic. What fits the bill?"

    Assuming you do not want pizza because you are going out to Giordano's on Tue, please hone down a little more. You can get specific recs if you let these things be known:
    A: Transportation. What are your options? Will you have a car? Are you willing to drive?
    B. WHAT KIND OF FOODS DO YOU LIKE?????
    C. Where are you from?? (Probably wouldn't send a NY hound out for red sauce italian,
    or an LA hound for sushi, or a Texas hound for BBQ)
    D. How much do you want to spend?

    Without knowing any of this, I'd recommend:
    Vong's Thai Kitchen,
    Scoozi (Italian)
    Reza's (Persian)
    Opera (Chinese)
    I think Frontera is closed on Monday, sorry - (that would be my 1st rec!)
    If you had a car, however, that would change all of these rec's to get you out of the touristy section, and into some good food! Let us know what's up.

    1. I'm not sure what you mean by "not super expensive". Giordano's is not at all expensive and not "prim and proper"; it's a pizza place, after all. Neither is Bin 36, really; it's decidedly casual. But Giordano's and Bin 36 are good choices, fun and with good food. I would probably be naming them in answer to your question if you weren't already going there!

      For a casual and fun place for twentysomethings, I immediately think of places like Red Light ( www.redlight-chicago.com ) for Asian fusion, or one of the Latin fusion places - Carnivale ( www.carnivalechicago.com ), DeLaCosta ( www.delacostachicago.com ), or Cuatro ( www.cuatro-chicago.com ). But I wouldn't call them inexpensive; I would call them mid-priced, places where you get a complete dinner with moderate wine/alcohol and tax/tip and you're spending $70-120 per person. They're good choices, if that's in your price range. I'm sort of groping with the best answer based on what you've stated - places with a fun vibe (usually with music) and a generally younger crowd. And reasonably good food, although perhaps as a secondary criterion. These are the places that most come to mind for me.

      If you need something less expensive than those, you might want to consider one of the Greek places in Greek Town, which typically run more like $40-80 per person, all in. You can find a complete run-down with links and recommendations in the topic at www.chowhound.com/topics/119233

      Like gordeaux, above, I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for (and what you mean by "not super expensive", which could mean under $50/pp, or under $150/pp). To the extent that you can provide more specifics about what you're looking for, that would help.

      4 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Sorry, let me be more specific. Expensive in LA terms is definitely different than Charlotte definitions, so I apologize. He lives in LA (I used to) and I live in Charlotte. By not super expensive, I'd say $50/pp or less. Work is paying so I don't want to go more than that.

        We don't have a car, but are willing to taxi it.

        Being from LA, I'd say we eat absolutely everything. The only thing I'd say we don't want is Italian since we are having that the next night. Tapas or Asian Fusion are always popular choices. Quirky, eclectic, artsy places (regardless the type of food) would be my first choice.

        Thanks for the recs so far. I will definitely check those out.

        1. re: jlh370

          Since you mentioned tapas, you'll find some tapas recommendations in these topics:
          www.chowhound.com/topics/370492
          www.chowhound.com/topics/366524

          1. re: jlh370

            LA, and Charlotte, quick(ish) cab ride...
            I'd still recommend higher end Mexican. Too bad Frontera is closed, but with a quick ish cab ride, I'd offer:
            http://www.adobogrill.com/oldtown/ind...
            or
            http://www.salpicon.com I'm not a big fan, but there are plenty of ppl who are.

            I say if tapas or Asian fusion are 'always popular choices' then go against the grain. But that's how I am.

            1. re: jlh370

              One more suggestion, on Michigan Avenue and walking distance from your hotel, is the Gage. It's a new place, a "gastropub", one of those places that serves a zillion kinds of beer, etc. www.thegagechicago.com

          2. If you want cheap and GOOD, check out Jake Melnick's - the burgers are really great, and if you're a BBQ fan, the brisket sandwich is amazing. It's cheap and easy and near where you're staying. Also, it's half bar so the atmosphere is fun.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lgolanty

              Another fun choice for burgers within walking distance of the Swissotel is the original Billy Goat Tavern. "Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!" www.billygoattavern.com You can also get good burgers at Boston Blackie's on East Grand. www.bostonblackies.com You can find recommendations for these and other burger places at www.chowhound.com/topics/382781