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Restaurant For My Birthday Dinner

I have a birthday late this summer and the husband is hosting a dinner party for myself and 3 other couples downtown. All I have to do is pick the place. Great food is the main priority. However, we want a relatively upbeat (as opposed to quite/subdued) sort of atmosphere so that other patrons are not offended when the 8 of us start laughing and talking to each other across the table. On the other hand, we don't want the din to be so loud that we're screaming at each and our eardrums hurt by the time we leave. Price really isn't of concern. Any suggestions?

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  1. howdy -

    What type of food do (and your guests) prefer?

    1. We are going to have a birthday party at Mercat a la Planxa in a couple of weeks. Its upbeat, great food, fun atmosphere...more loud/friendly than subdued/upright with a great view. It is in the Blackstone Hotel on South Michigan Ave. We went with a large party about a month ago and it was very conversation friendly.

      If you have meat eaters in your party and all can/will eat roast pig, you can request one 48 hrs in advance. Figure approx $50 a head with one glass of sangria.

      1. Any of the Latin fusion places ought to fit the bill:

        Carnivale - www.carnivalechicago.com
        DeLaCosta - www.delacostachicago.com
        Cuatro - www.cuatro-chicago.com
        Nacional 27 - www.nacional27.net

        1. We recently ate at Copperblue and had an excellent time, opting for the tasting menu. There was a large group (8-10 people) at another table -- somewhat boisterous, but not overwhelmingly loud. If you enjoy southern French (Provencale) food, I would definitely consider Copperblue.

          1. If you don't mind coming out to the 'burbs, Maya del Sol in Oak Park is a gem, serving delicious Latin American cuisine (and the most tender, perfectly seasoned Carne Asada you'll ever meet)

            6 Replies
            1. re: teen_foodie

              I confess that I have not yet eaten at Maya del Sol even though I live in OP. But, if I was looking to celebrate a special birthday, where "great food" was the priority and price was not an issue -- as the original poster said -- it is inconceivable that I'd go there. From reviews I've read, Maya del Sol is a moderately priced, neighborhood restaurant -- fine for what it is, but not a destination for a special occasion.

              1. re: masha

                While I appreciate the recommendation of Maya del Sol, OP is not an option for that evening. I live in the burbs and part of the idea behind my request for something "downtown" is that we are spending the weekend in the city. Our friends that will be joining us that night will be driving in to meet us.

                Based on looking at menus, reading reviews and some terrific recs I've received, I think it's down to either one sixtyblue or North Pond although Mercat a la Planxa sounds VERY interiguing.

                1. re: kwe730

                  Three great choices, but of the three I think Mercat would be most conducive to a large loud group. There are a few big tables in the middle for groups of 8-10 that would be perfect. I think of North Pond as better for a quiet dinner for two and 160 Blue as more subdued as well.

                  Mercat is also nice for a group becuase of the small plates menu that are convenient for passing around and sharing. If you are in the mood, you could also order the suckling pig which they roast for you whole and carve at the table. You need to tell them in advance if you want that.

                  1. re: wak

                    Thanks for your thoughts! The more I read about Mercat, the more I'm leaning in that direction.

                    1. re: kwe730

                      On the lthforum.com board under the Mercat heading, there are a lot of pictures of the roasted pig option as well as other tapas dishes.

                      1. re: kwe730

                        I was at Mercat recently and had the roast pig. It's a lot of fun and is a great idea for a big group. The other items off the menu that we tried (short rib flatbread, roast lamb chops) I also liked very much.