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Group dinner for Saturday, $$ ?

I'm looking for a great restaurant for 10 people for a special dinner on a Saturday in May -- about $20-30 for an entree, must take reservations. Some of the diners are less adventurous than others (we thought about Publican, but were worried some people might not find anything to eat). I thought Frontera Grill would be perfect, but of course they're already booked. Any other recommendations?
Thanks!

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  1. How close to the Loop does it need to be?
    Can you give us an idea of the occasion?

    2 Replies
    1. re: camusman

      We'll have cars and will be coming from the north side of Chicago. Probably wouldn't go very far out into the suburbs. The occasion is graduation/birthdays. Thanks!

      1. re: squeegee

        This is a tough set of criteria. If keeping entrees below $30 is a concern, then I imagine paying big bucks for parking in the Loop area is not appealing.
        Most of the restaurants I think of as "great" have tasting menus that would not appeal to the nonadventurous, or their a la carte is north of $30 an entree.
        If it were me, I would stretch the budget a bit and go for North Pond.
        If not, I would settle for good rather than great and go for crowd-pleasing Italian like Mia Francesca.
        Others will probably have better ideas.

    2. MK takes reservations, has choices for both the picky as well as the adventurous and has excellent food. It is just a tad over your price point, but not by much (most entrees run $30 to $38; a couple are in the $20's and a couple in the $40's). MK also has a nice ambiance for a special occasion.

      1. Plenty of good options. Here are some, all on the north side of the city:
        Bistro Campagne in Lincoln Square
        Bueno Terra in Logan Square
        Browntrout in North Center
        Sola in North Center
        Fork in Lincoln Square
        Riposso in Bucktown

        9 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          chicgail - does "Fork" have a good dessert menu? there is nothing online.
          thanks!

          1. re: shell22

            I'm not a big sweets-eater so I had to look it up.

            The dessert menu is listed separately on-line.
            Here's what I saw:
            madagascar chocolate cake with toasted grains-of-paradise gelato, milk chocolate sauce, coca nib nougatina
            chocolate almond sacher cake with praline almonds and green apple sorbet
            coconut-almond tarte with salted vanilla cararmel, pineapple cilantro compote and pineapple gelato
            white chocolate lemon semifreddo with a pistachio basil salad and black pepper syrup
            tahitian vanilla creme brulee
            roasted pear cardamom bread pudding with brandied cherry compote and white chocolate pistachio bark
            sorbets and gelatos
            cheese plate

            Sounds good to me.

            1. re: chicgail

              Sorry chigail, that is for Fork/Philadelphia and it does sound good :-) I did the same thing the other day when I looked them up.

              I did find a review that quickly mentioned dessert, so they have it. Found it odd they don't list anything on the website.

              1. re: shell22

                I'm going to dinner at Fork tomorrow so I'll do some recon for you. I don't see it on-line either. If I recall from the last time, the dessert menu wasn't that elaborate but I'm the person who would go for more cheese than chocolate.

                1. re: lbs

                  In all my visits we've never made it that far (we've eaten our way through the rest of the menu), but we've always been offered dessert.

                  It's a place that didn't get a lot of love when it opened but is a solid performer these days.

                  1. re: lbs

                    Shell - I ate there yesterday and was offered a desert menu but my dining companion was in a rush to get back so I didn't have a chance to look at it. I can say that the poutine was delicious!

                    1. re: lbs

                      Good to hear! They were nice enough to email me a dessert menu, but did say it was seasonal and changing the near future. We are giving it a try tomorrow, looking forward to it.

                  2. re: shell22

                    So sorry, shell. I need to be more careful.

                    1. re: shell22

                      Thank you all...we are going there soon and will have our teenage sons with and dessert is a pretty big deal to them. I emailed Fork also, so let's see what they say. Maybe what they offer varies on a daily basis...

              2. Thanks guys! Lots of great ideas. I appreciate it.

                1. I recently had a birthday celebration with a group of 16 @ Club Lucky in Bucktown. It's old-school American Italian food (think Chicken parm, big salads, huge meatballs, etc). It's a very lively atmosphere on Fridays and Saturdays, and won't be much more than $15-$25 per person. Portions are large and you'll do lots of sharing. It's not a classy, higher-end restaurant, but was perfect for a mixed-age group for a birthday.

                  They also don't book up to far in advance; as of now, they show plenty of reservations available for 10-tops on Saturdays in May.

                  Three other great spots you may consider that currently have 5:30PM or 6PM reservations available for Saturday groups of 10 in May: Lula Cafe in Logan Square; Quartino in River North; and Balena in Lincoln Park

                  As a general tip, I recommend going on Opentable.com, plugging in 10 people--and the date and time you need--and seeing what comes up. From there you can sort by rating (or map) and start to narrow down your list. Some restaurants don't accept Opentable reservations, but this is a pretty good place to start.