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Feb 25, 2008 08:05 AM

birthday dinner in near north ...

this is a bit open-ended. i've searched back posts and haven't found the perfect spot yet.

we are taking a friend of mine out for her 39th birthday on saturday. we'd like to try someplace in the river north area (but are open to other close stuff).... this'll be a relatively small group, but we are going to get pretty loud. we need somewhere fun and relatively cheapish ($10-$15 per person for dinner?).

the only thing that has been ruled out completely is sushi.

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  1. Cafe Iberico for Tapas in a fun vibrant space!

    Kan Zaman on Wells for tasty Lebanese.

    Venus Cypriot restaurant in Greektown on Jackson just west of Halsted. Great Greek and Cypriot cuisine, great service, and reasonably priced, great atmosphere. Love the hands on approach from the owner and staff. This place deserves more attention. Recently featured on Check Please.

    1. $10-15 per person is a very tough budget to meet, especially in River North. One exception is the pizza places (Uno, Due, Malnati's, Giordano's, Gino's, etc), which would certainly be one possibility worth considering.

      Other than that, another option is Cafe Iberico, for tapas. The price will be a bit more than your stated budget, but still relatively inexpensive. Warning - they do not accept reservations though, so beware of the possibility of a long wait to be seated. (They do, but only on weeknights for six or more people, not on Saturdays.)

      Another option is Greek food, in Greek Town. Depending on where you are in River North, it's either a short cab ride or a long walk. It should still be reasonably inexpensive, comparable in price to Cafe Iberico. You can find specific recommendations at

      These are the options most likely to meet your budget. They are also all places where you can be fairly loud and boisterous without being out of place.

      1. If I recall, dining at Quartino might allow you to stick with a tight budget and get pretty loud. It's Italian with a small plates format, so you can do a lot of sharing!

        1 Reply
        1. re: jn2001

          I was going to suggest Quartino's too. Not sure if you will exactly stick to your budget, but I've never spent more than $25/person there including drinks.

        2. If you are open to trying places outside of River North, I'd suggest Piattini in Lincoln Park. The food is inexpensive, and never disappoints. I have had a few birthday dinners there......and always take people from out of town there.
          They have a great selection of wine and specialty beer. Many pasta dishes, but also an assortment of steak, pork fish etc. (The gnocchi are a must try. ) Great appetizers too.

          Just down the street from Piattini is a delicious bakery too. Sweet Mandy B's has amazing cupcakes, cookies and just about anything else sweet.

          934 W Webster Ave
          Chicago, IL 60614

          Sweet Mandy B's
          1208 W Webster Ave
          Chicago, IL 60614-3109