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Aug 25, 2011 08:24 PM

ISO restaurant for business dinner of 14+ on a sunday

I'll be in Chicago in September with a number of colleagues and we're looking to make reservations for about 15 people at a nicer, but not overly expensive, place. Probably about $75 pp with entrees and wine, etc, but slightly flexible. We're staying in the South Loop but are open to going a bit further away for somewhere that has good food, good atmosphere, and can seat 14-16 people together; does not need to be a private room. I've heard great things about North Pond, but they indicated that they can't sit any more than 14 at a table. We also looked at Gioco, but then started to read about some disappointing experiences. Any recommendations or suggestions would be much appreciated! Thanks!

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

1312 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

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  1. Even though you say it does not need to be a private room, you would probably be more comfortable with your own room. That way everyone can hear each other, without having to worry about bothering the dining public, or vice versa. Also, places that have private rooms tend to have more experience serving food to an entire group at the same time.

    Most places are happy to work within whatever budget you have, as long as it's reasonable (which yours is). Fortunately, it's a lot easier to find spaces available for a Sunday than a Friday or Saturday.

    Looking at the listings of private rooms in places in the South Loop on Opentable, here are some options:

    Mercat a la Planxa - This is our best tapas restaurant. The main dining room is large and festive. They have La Veranda, a private space overlooking the main dining room, and it seats up to 30.

    Chicago Firehouse has the Mayor's Room that can seat up to 20, perfect size for your group.

    Gioco - I'm not sure what you've heard, but it's always been good in my experience. And their Speakeasy room is also the perfect size.

    There are several other places in the South Loop described on Opentable's private dining listings at but these are the best of the places listed and they have rooms of an appropriate size.

    Also, even though you mention you're willing to travel some distance for your dinner, it will be a whole lot easier to choose a place within a short walk of your hotel. That way you won't have to deal with cabs (which can be tough to find if the weather is bad) or hiring a shuttle bus (which can be expensive). You don't mention which hotel you're all staying in, but I recommend giving priority to places within a few blocks. Mercat a la Planxa is around the north end of the South Loop; the other two are south of Roosevelt Road (12th Street) and MIGHT be a bit further, depending on the hotel.

    Mercat a la Planxa
    638 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

    1312 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

    The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant
    1401 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

    1. Maggiannos in River North is very good at handling groups of this size. It features family-style dishes that can be shared among all of the diners. Here is the link to their site:

      As to Gioco, I share your wariness. I ate there about 10 months ago and had an extraordinarily dissapointing meal, and it used to be one of my favorite restaurants. Unless there are posters who have been there within the last few months (after it reopened, after being closed by the authorities for failing to pay taxes) with positive reports, I'd stay away.

      1312 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

      1 Reply
      1. re: masha

        Maggiano's is 1.5-2.0 miles from the South Loop, so you'll need to deal with the issue of transportation. Again, you can avoid all the potential pitfalls of transportation if you pick a place within walking distance of your hotel. It's not a big deal when you only have 2-4 people, but when you have 14+ it can become a significant problem.

        One other place in the South Loop that might be worth looking into is Custom House Tavern. They're in the Opentable listings for private rooms but it doesn't mention what size(s) they have.

        Custom House Tavern
        500 S Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60605