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Recommendations for Girl's Night Out in Chicago

s
shmerri May 3, 2009 07:59 PM

My friend and I are going to be in Chicago next weekend for a girl's getaway and I'm looking for some suggestions of places to eat. We're in our early thirties and would be looking for someplace where we could enjoy some wine and notorious Chicago cuisine. We'd like someplace upbeat and fun and we're okay with paying for a good experience but would like to try to keep it under $100 per person. Also, I'd want someplace where the dress code is relaxed enough that we could get away with dressing up a pair dark jeans if necessary. We're staying on the Mag Mile, so something within walking distance or a short taxi ride would be great.

On previous trips to Chicago, I've mostly eaten at steak places (Gibson's, Ditka's) and Chicago-style pizza, but I'd like to try something different this time. Otherwise, I'm not picky about style of cuisine.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  1. nsxtasy May 3, 2009 09:58 PM

    Read this topic, which gives a great overview for a weekend trip, in response to a request which was very similar to yours:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/614295

    You might also want to take a look at this one, which goes into a bit more detail:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598944

    I would add a few more recommendations to the ones in those topics, which all still apply. For your wine enjoyment, you might enjoy a drink at the Signature Room ( www.signatureroom.com ) on the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Center if it's a clear day or night. Two more places you might consider for wine are Pops for Champagne ( www.popsforchampagne.com ) and Bin 36 ( www.bin36.com ). And for a lunch or dinner at a place that's a bit more lively than most, there are a couple of Latin fusion places that might be suitable: Nacional 27 ( www.nacional27.net ) and Carnivale ( www.carnivalechicago.com ).

    Also FYI, $100 per person, including moderate wine/alcohol and tax/tip, covers just about every place in Chicago except for the really high-end restaurants: Alinea, Avenues, Everest, Spiaggia, Tru, Charlie Trotter's, L2O, Les Nomades, NoMI, Schwa, Sixteen, and Carlos, and that's about it. Every place else, $100 will do nicely. And you can get away with dark jeans at any place in town except for those same restaurants (other than Schwa, where they would be acceptable).

    Feel free to ask more questions after taking a look at those other topics!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy
      s
      shmerri May 4, 2009 10:15 AM

      Thank you so much for the plethora of great info and suggestions! Now I'm looking even more forward to our weekend! Thanks also for the reassurance that we'll be fine on $100 per person. A lot of the recent posts I had been reading seemed to focus on those restaurants that you mentioned as the exceptions and I hadn't been the one to pick up the tab on my last few visits, so I was a little worried.

    2. j
      jbontario May 4, 2009 09:26 AM

      Some of my friends love to do "girls night" when us guys go out to cubs games and get too drunk to want to go out. I will mention places that have great food and generally morph into more than just a restaurant at night.

      They generally hit up Quartino (grab a spot in the bar and you could spend all night); Carnivale (it's just fun); or Nacional 27 (turns truly latin dancing after 10). These can all be fancy jeans places. After Quartino you could walk across the street to Pops (as nsxtasy suggests)

      2 Replies
      1. re: jbontario
        s
        shmerri May 4, 2009 10:19 AM

        Thanks for the tip. I'm so glad you mentioned Quartino, because as it turns out I did eat there last time I was there and really enjoyed the atmosphere but I couldn't remember the name of it! It's actually the place I was trying to describe when I wrote my original post.

        I'm liking the Quartino/Pops combo suggestion too!

        1. re: shmerri
          nsxtasy May 4, 2009 12:13 PM

          If you like Quartino, another place nearby that you'll probably also like is Cafe Iberico ( www.cafeiberico.com ) - similarly lively, with tapas (Spanish "small plates") rather than Italian "small plates".

      2. m
        ms. chow May 4, 2009 01:35 PM

        If you plan to order food at Pops, seems quality has suffered since Andre Christopher left. Maybe just me. But might be good to stick to the bar snacks (fries, olives) or oysters.

        For a less mainstream night out (i.e., outside of the Gibson's, Ditka's, pizza realm you had mentioned), try Drawing Room at Le Passage. Food is pretty solid (Shawn McClaim is the consulting chef) and cocktails are serious. This is a later place though, so maybe go after 8:30 or 9, and then head over to Le Passage.

        Continuing my roving party suggestions (which is personally my idea of fun night), west loop is a short cab ride away. Start with dinner at De Cero, Sushi Wabi, or Otom. All are fun options that are very different in terms of food. Head over to Fulton Lounge afterwards.

        In all these places, you can totally rock the dark wash jeans, shimmery top option.

        -----
        The Drawing Room
        937 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

        Otom Restaurant
        951 W Fulton, Market Chicago, IL

        De Cero Taqueria
        812 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

        Sushi Wabi
        842 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

        Fulton Lounge
        955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

        1. nsxtasy May 4, 2009 02:00 PM

          Again, if you're looking for our very best food, you may want to consider some of our very best "casual fine dining" restaurants, including Cafe des Architectes or Aigre Doux for contemporary American, Frontera Grill/Topolobampo for Mexican, Brasserie Jo for French bistro, Cafe Spiaggia for Italian, and Nacional 27 for Latin fusion. All of these are within a short walk of the "Mag Mile".

          If you do find yourself along the Randolph Street corridor in the West Loop, in addition to Carnivale, that's where you'll also find Red Light for excellent pan-Asian food, and La Sardine, a charming French bistro.

          Hopefully you'll be here for several nights and get a chance to try some of our very best food as well as our most fun places!

          Websites:
          www.cafedesarchitectes.com
          www.aigredouxchicago.com
          www.rickbayless.com/restaurants
          www.brasseriejo.com
          www.cafespiaggia.com
          www.nacional27.net
          www.redlight-chicago.net
          www.lasardine.com

          1. meals4abby May 6, 2009 09:39 AM

            My friends and I had a girls weekend in Chicago a while back and had a great time and an awesome meal at Geja's. It's a fondue place and a great one at that! I highly recommend it! Check out the link below.

            http://www.gejascafe.com/

            -----
            Geja's Cafe
            340 W. Armitage, Chicago, IL 60614

            1. i
              italophile May 6, 2009 01:31 PM

              Hi there - just did a birthday "girls night out" and went to Sunda - it's a new Asian place in River North. Super fun, busy, a little scene-y, but great food and drinks. There were 6 of us paying the bill and most of us drinking - it came to $350, which I thought was great considering all the sushi and apps we ordered.

              I would def go for the Rock Shrimp tempura if you end up there...

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