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Business dinner near Chicago Downtown Marriott

I'm brining a group of about 20-25 people to Chicago in May and we do two dinners as a part of our conference. We're having one dinner in the restaurant in the Marriott (called "The Restaurant" in fact). I'm looking for suggestions for the second dinner, on a Thursday night, preferably a private room. The group is fairly adventurous in terms of food (at least for a group, that is) and we'll have at least one vegetarian (no meat or fish). We had good luck at our last meeting in Baltimore with Tapas and have done well with traditional coursed menus as well, so I feel like anything is open so long as it's good and is in a relatively nice setting. Price range between $50 and $70 per person not including drinks, tax and tip.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. This is the Marriott at 540 N. Michigan, right ? I've never had to entertain 25 in downtown Chicago, but I've had to do the same thing on business trips - so the first obvious suggestion is to get a rec from the hotel concierge. There are going to be a lot of choices in that part of the city.

    I just attended a private party at Shaw's Crab House ( 21 E. Hubbard ) and we had a room in the back of the "saloon" area that worked out great for us. Good fresh fish choices ... but what to do with your vegetarian - pasta & steamed veggies ?

    Maybe you should pick a cuisine and you might get better advice from others here.

    1. Greektown is but a short cab ride away. One of its higher-end restaurants, Costa's or Santorini, might do the trick for these reasons: Chicago's Greek restauranteurs are adept at serving large groups; Chicago's Greek food is said to be among the best in the country and is distinctively Chicago; there will be something for everyone: fish, chicken, pork, lamb, and vegetarian dishes; the adventurous eaters can step out with a dandelion salad, octopus, and the like.

      Artopolis, located midway between the two restaurants mentioned above, is a hip Greek cafe-bakery-bar to which your crew could repair afterwards.

      Good luck.

      1. the gage is a sort of upscale irish pub on michigan ave. they have a room to book for events. their scotch egg was #38 on time-out chicago's "100 best things we ate this year."
        http://www.thegagechicago.com/
        or,
        russian tea time at adams and michigan i believe also has space. good hearty fare, excellent vodka.
        or,
        tavern at the park (in millennium park at randolph and michigan) i haven't been but i hear it is great and the location couldn't be better. it appears they take reservations for groups.

        1. For solid French fare, give Brasserie Jo a look. They have a private room and it's in walking distance from Marriott:

          http://www.brasseriejo.com/

          1. Thanks so much for the suggestions! Santorini and Basserie Jo both look like great options.
            gp_wannabe, I think you're right; our vegetarian diner might not do so well at Shaw's.

            Any thoughts on the following restaurants, which I found with some google searching:
            Phil's Stefani's 437 Rush
            Osteria Via Stato
            Coco Pazzo Cafe
            Emilio's Tapas Restaurant

            Thanks again!

            5 Replies
            1. re: ccbweb

              Stay away from Emilio's - if it's Tapas you're after, shoot for Cafe Iberico. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is better, I think, but more out of the area. Iberico is within walking distance of your hotel.

              My work has done plenty of business meals at Osteria Via Stato, and I enjoyed it every time. I cant recall seeing a private room there, however.

              1. re: ccbweb

                Most restaurants have websites (I'm sure you can find them) and they almost always mention on their websites when they have private rooms (they may have it labeled as "banquets" or "parties" or "private dining"). Along with information on the size of their private rooms (how many people they typically serve), they usually have contact information for the individual at the restaurant in charge of coordinating these arrangements. These people do this for a living and know exactly what questions to ask you, to walk you through the process. They will be happy to arrange to show you their space in advance, if you are able to.

                One excellent place that has private rooms not all that far from the Marriott is Atwood Cafe, www.atwoodcafe.com I'm sure there are many others.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Indeed, most restaurants do have websites and do note whether they have private rooms and often sample menus in addition to wine lists and sometimes a copy of the contract one would sign in the even one should decide to dine there.

                  Of course, what one can't tell from those websites is whether the restaurants are any good though I'm certain that the professionals who work at such restaurants and plan these events for a living would be happy to tell me that they're wonderful. Thus, my query here and my follow up with some specific restaurants that I'd found by searching the web. (Providing evidence for your surmise that I can find them.)

                  Thanks for the suggestion of the Atwood Cafe, I'll be sure to check it out.

                  Lastly, I understand the need some have to rail against the "what's the best" types of queries and "where should I eat on my weeklong trip to ___" questions: I asked a fairly specific question with specific parameters and followed up with specific restaurants to ask about. But thanks for the remedial internet lesson, right neighborly of you.

                2. re: ccbweb

                  Coco Pazzo is terrific, and it has some, but not many, veggie options. I'd go for Iberico over Emelio's, although both are good. If it's the same Stefani's I went to, it's pretty meat-centric. I think Brasserie Jo is a good choice for what you seem to want. It's a fun place with great drinks and a warm atmosphere and some imaginative food AND a wide selection.

                  1. re: Pete Oldtown

                    Note the difference between Coco Pazzo Cafe, which the OP was asking about, and Coco Pazzo, its co-owned sister restaurant. Coco Pazzo Cafe is somewhat less expensive, not quite as upscale as Coco Pazzo; both are good for what they are. Coco Pazzo Cafe is about a block from the Marriott, whereas Coco Pazzo is about half a mile west. I'm not sure about the availability of private rooms at either place.