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Chicago Dinner Fete a la NYC

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My partner and I (newly engaged) are flying in to Chicago from NYC to meet 3 girlfriends from Milwaukee this Sunday to celebrate our leap of faith. We have 10 pm tickets at Second City and are looking for a great place in the neighborhood, or thereabouts, to toast to our future nuptials. We're interested in finding an ideal backdrop for our special night serving great food, inventive drinks and a festive atmosphere. Since I've heard that Chicagoans are the nicest, most helpful, most well informed foodies around I thought I'd endeavor to enlist your assistance.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

p.s. I've made reservations for Boka, but will have eaten at Avenues on Friday and am concerned that the contemporary American cuisine may be a bit redundant.

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Boka
1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. The best places in the vicinity, which would be the most appropriate for what you describe, tend to be contemporary American. If you want a place near Second City, I'd choose Perennial Virant over Boka. Both are among the very best contemporary American restaurants in the city; in fact, they are both owned by the same restaurant group. But Perennial Virant is two blocks away, whereas Boka is about 3/4 mile west.

    Other places around Second City, such as Adobo Grill (Mexican) and Topo Gigio (Italian), are decent neighborhood type places, not what I would term destination or celebration type places. So for the "ideal backdrop" you describe, I'd go to one of the two contemporary American places mentioned above. Hope that makes sense.

    One other place is worth a mention. About a mile north of Second City is North Pond, another of our excellent restaurants serving contemporary American cuisine (sorry!). What makes it special is its exquisite setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond, with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. And Chef Bruce Sherman has been a finalist for a James Beard Award each of the last five years. If you don't get there for dinner, it's also worth considering for Sunday brunch. It's a very special place.

    For more recommendations around Second City, see these discussions (whose recommendations are still current, even though some are not that recent):

    www.chow.com/topics/716855
    www.chow.com/topics/501369
    www.chow.com/topics/451851

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    Boka
    1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

    North Pond
    2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

    Perennial Virant
    1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

    Adobo Grill - Old Town
    1610 N. Wells, Chicago, IL 60610

    Topo Gigio Ristorante
    1516 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks so much for the suggestions!

      1. re: nsxtasy

        Completely agree re Perennial Virant! Yes. We had a terrific dinner there a few weeks ago. Fun place. Beats Boka, which IMHO, is fine but nothing beyond fine.

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        Boka
        1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

        Perennial Virant
        1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

      2. If you're looking for a more casual spot where charcuterie is king--a wine-bar menu in a frenetic sports bar atmosphere--head over to Old Town Social here:

        http://www.oldtownsocial.com/