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Private party for 60th bday in downtown

I do not live in Chicago, but am planning a 60th bday celebration for my mother to be held in downtown. i could really use your help figuring out which great restaurant we should choose for her special day! Here are the criteria-Mom is vegetarian, tends to prefer Asian cuisines though she's open, there will be a lot of grandkids there so should be child friendly, we would prefer a place that has a special room for private parties, we're looking for someplace special so no casual recs please! Thank you in advance!!!

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  1. By the way, though my mom does like Asian she also loves middleeastern and mexican cuisines as long as there are vegetarian options. Most guests do eat meet. there will probably be 25-30 of us. Thanks again!

    1. Frontera Grill is the famous Rick Bayless restaurant that has been a huge influence in bringing creative regional Mexican cooking to this country, and they continue to provide great Mexican food. It's located in the River North part of downtown Chicago, an easy walk from many of our nicer hotels. Their "Morales Room" is perfect for private parties of your size. See http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurant...

      2 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        fantastic suggestion--we've been to frontera grill before. i would love a list of options so any other recs would be appreciated. i have heard that some restaurant called alahambra is good for groups-is this true? forgive me if it's not "chowish"! i just heard general info about it....

        1. re: Lotus7

          The Alhambra Palace, which I haven't been to, made a big splash when it opened a couple of years ago, primarily for its size - it's ENORMOUS (1000 seats) - rather than for having particularly good food. Since then, you rarely hear about it on the food forums or in the media. Its location is not particularly convenient to out-of-towners, either; it's in the West Loop, along the Randolph Street corridor, so people would need to take cabs from their hotels. Their website address is www.alhambrapalacerestaurant.com

      2. Le Lan is an upscale Viet Namese/ French fusion restaurant with a private room that might suit your needs:


        5 Replies
        1. re: masha

          thx for the suggestion--i checked out the menu and it looks really good. so i have to great restaurants on my list thus far! i really liked alahambra's menu, probably bc they have so many vegetarian options. but i def would like a convenient location (esp we'll have little children w us) and of course i'd like a place known for good food.

          1. re: Lotus7

            Le Lan is in River North, just a few blocks north on Clark Street from Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. It's an easy walk from the concentration of hotels in River North and around North Michigan Avenue's "Mag Mile". And it is known for excellent Asian food in an upscale setting. masha's recommendation is perfect for what you're looking for.

          2. re: masha

            Scratch Le Lan. Crain's Chicago Business Taking Names blog reports that Le Lan has closed.

            1. re: Eldon Kreider

              Yes, it was in last night's Tribune as well. It's unfortunate. This is the first big-name restaurant I've heard of closing in Chicago due to the economic recession. And unfortunately, I'm sure it won't be the last.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                thank you for the update--so disappointing. looked like a great spot

          3. I will chime in here and vote for Le Lan. The former executive chef (Bill Kim) left, but the new chef is holding up well. There hasn't been much drastic changes on the menu. The upstairs private dining room would be an excellent venue for such a milestone. I have never been there with children, so can't say what they offer in terms of kid's menu. But for a private event at a restaurant in their caliber, i'm sure they can accomodate.

            On the other hand, i vote strongly against Alhambra, especially for a family birthday celebration of mixed ages. The place is pure flash. The children might find it amusing when they see it, thinking it's Disneyland. Inside, it is geared towards girls-night-out groups, or guys thinking they will impress their female friend with something HUGE and flashy.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ms. chow

              Good info-i'm def staying away from Alhambra. I'm hoping toddlers wont scare Le Lan, and that they can accomodate the vegetarian guests. The menu looks wonderful. But if anyone has additional recs, please keep them coming. We have a few months yet before the party, and like i mentioned, I'd like a few options so that i can weigh price, location, vegetarian options, etc.

              1. re: Lotus7

                Small children shouldn't be an issue for ANY restaurant, all the more so since your group will have its own private room.

            2. Somewhat similar to Le Lan but more traditional is Le Colonial. They have an upstairs room that accommodates larger groups. More here:


              1. Not sure how many you're talking, but Red Light on W Randolph has three things that you mention 1) asian fusion cuisine, 2) a full vegetarian menu and a regular meat menu (a great steak), and 3) a fully private and semi-private room. It's terrifically fun and has been a great restaurant for at least 6 years (that I can remember).


                3 Replies
                1. re: jbontario

                  Good rec! I first ate at Red Light in 1997, shortly after it opened. Current Executive Chef Jackie Shen took over from Paul Wildermuth in 2003. And yes, it's still good! It's also a bit more casual than Le Lan, not that that matters when you have a private room. And like Alhambra Palace down the street, it's not as conveniently located (i.e. not walkable) to the city's hotels as Le Lan, Le Colonial, or Frontera Grill. Of course, what will probably matter most when selecting a place for the private party is availability (can be a showstopper), as well as price and menu (both negotiable and interrelated).

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Menu looks great. I also came across Sunda, and that menu looks terrific and from what i can tell, restaurant looks beautiful. not many vegetarian items on the menu though perhap they'd be willing to accomodate...

                    1. re: Lotus7

                      Sunda is not about the food, it's about the scene. It's also aimed at the 30 something crowd.

                2. Frontera Grill is a great idea!

                  Also check out the private party room at Nacional 27 (has a Miami/South Beach vibe). The cuisine is "Latin Fusion" and the atmosphere is quite festive. I recently attended a 25th wedding anniversary & 60th Birthday party celebration there. Everyone loved the food, drinks, and atmosphere!

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: amoncada

                    wow, Nacional 27 looks great, and i love the menu. definitely putting that on my list, and probably will take Sunda off the list : ) You guys are great-THANK YOU for excellent suggestions. Now i just have to get some prices...

                    1. re: Lotus7

                      I heard about a restaurant overlooking millenium park in the "New MOMA Chicago" but i dont know enough about this. Perhaps they meant the new modern wing of the art institute? anyone know about this restaurant? view is supposed to be great. thank you

                      1. re: Lotus7

                        It is in the Modern Wing, opening May 16. It is called Terzo Piano, and will be ran by Tony Mantuano (chef of Spiaggia). As far as i heard right now, it is open for lunch, and one night only for dinner. It is on the 3rd floor of the modern wing, and will overlook Millenium Park.

                          1. re: ms. chow

                            this looks pretty good--wish it weren't just open on thursdays.! maybe in a few months they'd add wknd nights. i think it'd be neat to have the party in such a different space. if you know of any other similar restaurants, let me know!

                            1. re: Lotus7

                              In that case, have you considered making this a private event? I don't know that the Art Institute does that sort of thing, but i'm saying this more because i've not been there for that kind of events, rather than i know for sure that they don't do it. Terzo Piano probably is not a big space, so they might make it available for smaller parties.

                              Another idea would be Shanghai Terrace. I don't remember the capacity of their party room (which is semi private, as they draw drapes to close off the area). Also didn't think you mentioned when the party is going to be. In the summer, Shanghai Terrace opens up their terrace. It might be nice to have cocktails outside, and then dinner at the private room.

                              1. re: ms. chow

                                thx for the suggestion--the event will be first wknd of october, and will most likely include 25-30 of us. I will check out Shanghai Terrace.

                                1. re: Lotus7

                                  Hi everyone! I'm really bummed but most of the places i liked (Red Light, Frontera, and Terzo) are booked. China Grill is a bit out of our price range. I'm getting worried now! Anyone have suggestions? I'd like to book a place this week. Thank you in advance!

                                  1. re: Lotus7

                                    I've had great experiences with birthday parties at Vinci, including my own. It's pretty solid comfort Italian. Very kid friendly too.

                                    Also, have you considered traditional Chinese banquets in Chinatown?

                                    Vinci Restaurant
                                    1732 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL

                                    1. re: ms. chow

                                      Thank you for the suggestion! Really appreciate it! Looks like a solid place. I was hoping for a place a little more festive ( ok maybe even trendy) but I know that brings the price pt up. Most guests will not be from Chicago so looking for a place that's
                                      impressive. Has anyone been to carnival? Thoughts?

                                      1. re: Lotus7

                                        Carnivale is great. They also have a nice 90% private room in the back of the main dining room.
                                        Sounds like the time is quickly approaching, you should hurry. Restaurants even in a down economy book up early for larger parties.

                                        1. re: jbontario

                                          I wanted to report back to let you know that I had my event at Nacional 27 this past weekend. The food was just outstanding. I can't say enough about it--we had 4 courses, with 2 side dishes. The portions were huge, and thankfully skillfully prepared and delicious. Service was also excellent. The only negatives--the private event space is teeny tiny--much smaller than I was led to believe. Not enough lighting (it was literally dark), and the salsa music was just great, but too loud for 6:30 p.m. Thank you all for your suggestions---my mom loved the food and so did our guests!

                                          1. re: Lotus7

                                            This was certainly a long time coming. Nacional 27 is definitely a far cry from the original options. Glad it worked out great despite some issues.

                                            1. re: ms. chow

                                              Yes, a long time coming indeed. We just had the event this past weekend. None of us are from Chicago, and there were a lot of logistics involved. I loved many of the recommendations but of course availability and price had to be taken into consideration as you can see from my earlier posts. Thanks, Amoncada, for your rec. Our event was a success, in part, because of the delicious food.