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Rowdy Fun Dinner for Four Foodies!

Taking three funa and rowdy Chicago visitors out for a Friday night dinner next month. We're all adults, big drinkers, and bigger foodies. Not looking for anything too fancy (no 7 course tasting menus) but price is really not an object. Trying to stay in the River North/Gold Coast area but willing to take a short cab ride. Ones we've tried and loved: Merlo on Maple, Sepia, Le Colonial, Mercat a la Planxa etc. but can even be less fancy if atmosphere makes up for it- a Quartino's-esque type. Anyone have any fun ideas? Wait time also not an object if there's a bar... Thanks in advance!

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  1. For a truly unique and fun time with a group, I think Alhambra Palace would be a fantastic choice. Well executed Moroccan and Southern Spanish cuisine. Including some items that will excite the adventurous foodie. The stuffed splean of lamb is a favorite of mine. A massive bar that makes really excellent drinks. And entertainment to boot. (Flamenco and or Belly dancers nightly) It is on West Randolph and the room itself is enough reason to make the cab ride over. (About a 10 minute cab ride from River North)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Doogie Houndser M.D.

      nacional 27 or de la costa?
      tizi melloul?
      all three are generally in the area you set.

      1. re: Doogie Houndser M.D.

        Spleen huh? This response sounds as though it cam from a complete novice when it comes to dining out in Chicago. The best this place has to offer is not the food. The drink service is great and the live entertainment is even better. Your best bet is to have dinner elsewhere and have a late reservation for drinks and entertainment.

        1. re: foodcoma24

          Novice? Not sure what gave you that idea. But just for the record, I am a culinary grad, an advanced level sommelier, and a 10 year chicago restaurant vet. I have forgotten more than you will ever know about the chicago restaurant scene.

      2. Hmmm....Japonais in River North if you like japanese/sushi (has more extensive menu, though such as "le quack japonais" which is a moo sho duck...can sit on the river or in one of their gorgeous dining rooms, great crowd and always buzzing..

        1. I'd check out Zed 451. River North location, good food, different/interesting menu, and nice decor. Check out the roof top for a post-dinner cocktail.
          http://www.zed451.com/

          1. At First Alhambra was the full package, but within weeks (when the original chef left) the food took a drastic nosedive and for the same price you were getting litter better than take out. But the decor and entertainment are indeed really something.

            As for Zed, I live literally right above it so I think its magic has waned a bit on me- nor can I eat $50 worth of meet. Now drink $50 worth of single malt? easy.

            It doesn't have to be fancy either, as long as there is some quality food and copious amounts of alcohol.

            1. For me, BYOB always make for a good rowdy night out!

              Kan Zaman at 617 N. Wells is BYOB Lebanese food, and when I've been there on weekends, they have a belly dancer come around, which is fun!

              A non-BYOB option in the area you're looking for is De la Costa, which has a great bar area and a fun atmosphere. FYI, it's fancier and with pricey drinks and food, it's not at all cheap!

              1. I moved from Manhattan almost a year ago and have been on a perpetual hunt for the same type of place you seem to be describing. I want to go somewhere that is upbeat and fun yet food focused. So far, I would say that Avec and Ottom fit that bill. Both are sister restaurants of top-notch foodie places (Blackbird and Motto) yet they strive to be more fun and casual. Another option, although I haven't been yet is Old Town Brasserie.

                1. hatori's response got me thinking about graham elliott- its certainly the "foodiest" of the suggestions thus far, but goes out of its way to be not be fancy- i.e. servers wearing converse. along the lines of ittom and avec, less "obviously" rowdy, but still a fun atmosphere- like quartinos, as you mentioned.
                  the suggestions i made earlier are more alng the lines of separate entertainment with your dinner- dancing at nacional 27 and belly dancers at tizi.