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Nov 9, 2011 08:21 AM

A noteworthy late-night, small-plates birthday dinner?


Through a bit of a luck, I'll be in town from New York next Thursday for my best friend's birthday.

We're both foodies and not heavy drinkers, so after eating dinner in with his family, the two of us are planning on heading out around 9 (with the wife's blessing) for Round Two.

Since this is last-minute, my first thought was to go straight to the Chicago hounds - I'm wondering if an anyone suggest a destination. A place where the food is the star, with great atmosphere, that isn't dying down at 10:30, BUT - since we'll have some food in us already - maybe place that serves small plates, or where you could settle in with a drink and stay a while, as opposed to a steakhouse, for example.

I could see a tapas-style place or maybe sushi. Maybe a wine bar with seriously good appetizers? Or an appetizer bar with seriously good wine? Whatever! A great meal and a great time. For anyone familiar with NYC dining, maybe something in the realm of Otto, Ippudo, Tia Pol/Tertulia, or Minetta Tavern.

Open to all types of food, cost not really a factor.
Any suggestions or advice totally appreciated.

Thanks in advance

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  1. Any of these would work; all accept reservations except where indicated:

    Sable (contemporary American, craft cocktails)
    Quartino (Italian small plates)
    The Purple Pig (charcuterie, cheese, etc - no reservations, and waits could still be lengthy at 9:00)
    Cafe Iberico (tapas, no reservations)
    Balsan (Mediterranean)
    Avec (Mediterranean, no reservations)
    Cafe Ba-ba-reeba (tapas)
    Mercat a la Planxa (tapas)
    Bin 36 (wine bar)
    Pops for Champagne (wine bar)

    Avec Restaurant
    615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

    Cafe Iberico
    737 N Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654

    626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

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

    Bin 36
    339 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60610

    Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba
    2024 North Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614

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

    Purple Pig
    500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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

    11 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610

    13 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks for that - is there anything on list you'd specifically suggest?

      1. re: ParkingChicken

        They're all good at what they do. Obviously it's up to you to decide what kind of food you prefer - tapas, Italian, etc. I love the food at Sable. But if you are specifically looking for a place that stays busy into the wee hours, you might want to concentrate on Quartino, Purple Pig, or Avec.

        I haven't been to Gilt Bar, mentioned below, but I'm adding it to the Chowhound database and will create a link so it shows on the map with the others.

        Gilt Bar
        230 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Gilt Bar is lively and has outstanding food. I high recommend it to the OP and to nsxtasy!

          1. re: aburkavage

            Already like what I'm finding about it - you didn't happy to try the steak tartare did you? I've been craving a good one...

            1. re: ParkingChicken

              I'd highly recommend Gilt Bar and Purple Pig over most of the other places mentioned (also maybe Pops for Champagne).

              Had a great experience at Gilt Bar a couple weeks ago, and among a few other awesome dishes, the Tenderloin Steak Tartare on toast was a real standout- probably the best version of this dish I've ever had (including at some very highly rated steakhouses). Excellent service and atmosphere as well- seems like it would be exactly what you're looking for.

              1. re: Bdav1818

                Appreciate that Bdav, thanks - and the Gilt Bar info, definitely sounds like a top option.

      2. re: nsxtasy

        Very nice list! I'd add Gilt Bar!

        1. re: aburkavage

          Thanks to you both! Sure, I'll certainly do the legwork, but I'm always interested in personal recs, especially considering the odd parameters of the request. I'm actually less inclined to a specific food style (mentioned tapas b/c of the small plates menu) and more towards a great meal.

          1. re: ParkingChicken

            You didn't mention a neighborhood originally... Where will you be?

            1. re: aburkavage

              Offhand I don't know the neighborhood, but he's due west, straight out 290. Not far. We'll be driving.

              1. re: ParkingChicken

                Both Avec and Gilt Bar would good options, in that case. Aside from matching the aforementioned parameters, they are West-ish of downtown and should have ample parking (and valet).

                Avec Restaurant
                615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

                1. re: aburkavage

                  >> Both Avec and Gilt Bar would good options, in that case. Aside from matching the aforementioned parameters, they are West-ish of downtown and should have ample parking (and valet).

                  Parking is pretty easy in the West Loop, for which I'd also add Girl and the Goat as another possible choice. (Gilt Bar is in River North, though, where parking isn't so easy.)

                  Girl and the Goat
                  809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Excellent - all the input and advice totally appreciated. Sounds like I've got three great options to consider