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Oct 8, 2008 08:13 AM

Suggestions for dining gift certificate

Friends of mine recently became engaged and I would like to give them a gift certificate to a nice, fun restaurant to celebrate. I live in Pittsburgh, and have only visited Chicago once, so my knowledge of the area is limited. My friends are in their late 20's and have an adventurous spirit. Any recommendations would be welcomed.

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  1. There are many restaurants in the Chicago area that offer gift cards/certificates. However, I recommend getting them for one of the several groups of excellent restaurants in town, so that the recipient has a choice among at least several different restaurants with several kinds of food at various price points. These include:

    1. Lettuce Entertain You ( ) is a group of several dozen restaurants, mostly in the Chicago area. Its offerings include high-end creative places (Tru, Everest, and L2O), as well as mid-priced and other places. The gift certificates, which you can buy on their website, are good at any of their restaurants.

    2. Levy ( ) is another group of restaurants in the Chicago area. They only have a few restaurants in the Chicago area, but they are excellent: Spiaggia, an extremely high-end Italian restaurant; Cafe Spiaggia, its mid-priced Italian sibling next door; Bistro 110, a French bistro; and Jake Melnick's Corner Tap.

    3. KDK Restaurants ( ) has four restaurants: Red Light (Asian fusion), Gioco (Italian), Opera (Chinese), and Marche (French bistro).

    4. American Express ( ) offers gift cards that are good at any restaurant that accepts their credit card. Which gives them a huge array of options, letting them decide what place most appeals to them.

    Incidentally, between Thanksgiving and the end of the year each year, the Lettuce Entertain You group and Levy both offer a free $25 bonus certificate for each $100 of gift cards purchased, and the KDK group gives a $50 bonus certificate with each $100 purchased. So if you can hold off on your purchase until after Thanksgiving, you can get "more bang for the buck" this way.