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Help-need recs on dinner in Old Town/River North

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Need help from Chicago hounds on the following:
1. restaurant rec in Old Town w/ good food and not too loud (but not too fuddy-duddy either) so three old friends can catch up
2. restaurant rec in Old Town/River North for 8 college friends celebrating a big bday. We need a place that's moderately priced w/ good food and lively atmosphere but where we can hear each other talk (no pizza, please)
3. any fun places in Old Town/River North for friends to go in and have a glass of wine/beer/cocktail?
We'd prefer places not filled w/ 20 somethings.

Many thanks.

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  1. >> 1. restaurant rec in Old Town w/ good food and not too loud (but not too fuddy-duddy either) so three old friends can catch up

    If you need to be near Second City, my top picks in the immediate vicinity are Adobo Grill (Mexican) or Topo Gigio (Italian). If you can go slightly further north, two restaurants in Lincoln Park are even better: Perennial Virant (contemporary American) and Riccardo Trattoria (Italian). For more recommendations in the vicinity, see www.chow.com/topics/716855

    >> 2. restaurant rec in Old Town/River North for 8 college friends celebrating a big bday. We need a place that's moderately priced w/ good food and lively atmosphere but where we can hear each other talk (no pizza, please)

    There are lots of good choices where you don't have to spend a fortune on food: Sable (contemporary American, craft cocktails), Quartino (Italian small plates), Cafe Iberico (tapas).

    >> 3. any fun places in Old Town/River North for friends to go in and have a glass of wine/beer/cocktail?
    We'd prefer places not filled w/ 20 somethings.

    Sable for artisanal cocktails, Bin 36 is a good wine bar, Pops for Champagne has you-know-what. For recommendations for beer and pubs, not all of which are in Old Town/River North, you may want to look through the discussion at www.chow.com/topics/801672

    All of the above accept reservations (Cafe Iberico does so only for larger groups and not on Friday/Saturday nights) and making them would be a good idea.

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    Cafe Iberico
    737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654

    Quartino
    626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    Bin 36
    339 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60610

    Perennial Virant
    1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

    Riccardo Trattoria
    2119 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614

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

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

    Sable Kitchen & Bar
    505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    Pops for Champagne
    601 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654

    1. In Old Town (my neighborhood) I'd suggest Perennial Virant, Adobo and Mizu. Nxstasy talks about the first two but Mizu is a real gem - serving sushi and a wide variety of yakitori, they have great cocktail selections including some very nice sake flights as well as great food and friendly service. The room features quiet jazz and a nice vibe that is great for sitting and talking for hours with friends ... I've done it many times and we've always been happy.

      Definitely seconding Sable for some of the other options - you can't go wrong on either the drink or the food front there .. and the bar is lively without feeling like a 20 something singles club. We also enjoy hitting La Madia for drinks and snacks when we want to sit and chat ... the front lounge is small but comfortable and has a good feel.

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      Perennial Virant
      1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614