One night only..
One night in the Loop with the wife. In town from Denver. Staying at the Fairmont, Looking for a great meal for our Aniiversary.
$375 including limited drinks and tip
Open to any type of cuisine
In the Loop.
I like the look of Tru, L2O, Evverest, Alinea....Can I get out of these place for under $400 for 2 people? Which one is the best?
Then if you don't get the most expensive tasting menus, you're probably looking at somewhere around $200-215 per person, including everything, at Everest, TRU, and L2O.
I don't know how far in advance you're coming, but if it's possible to get tickets for Alinea, do it. It will definitely be significantly more expensive than your target price but it's really in a class of its own. Consider it a "once in a lifetime experience" and if you can swing it, go!
The sales tax in Chicago will be much higher than you are used to paying. On top of the 9.5 percent state and local sales tax in Chicago, the city imposes a 0.25 percent restaurant tax and downtown restaurants must levy an additional 1 percent pier tax tax for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs Navy Pier and McCormick Place.
So you may be paying up to 10.75% sales tax in a Chicago restaurant, depending.
That leaves you with about $170pp for just food and "limited drink."
How far in advance are you planning? Do you want a prix fixe or a tasting menu? A glass of wine each or sharing a bottle? It's hard to make suggestions re: your budget without knowing some of these factors.
Tru is in River North, just north of the Loop. Prix fixe is $98p, and there are two tastings at $110p and $145pp.
L2O is in Lincoln Park, not in the Loop. The prix fixe is $120, and there are two tastings at $150 and $180.
Everest is in the Loop. There's a 3 course prix fixe, a 4 course prix fixe, and a tasting. No prices listed on their site but the Chicago Tribune reported about a year ago that they were $89, $110, and $125.
Alinea is not in the Loop, it is also in Lincoln Park. It is also $210 per person, not including tax, tip, or wine (no liquor license) and has moved to an online ticketing system (no more phone reservations).
Everest also has a pre-theater prix fixe for 5:00/5:30 seatings, with three pre-selected courses for around $50 or so.
Thanks to kathryn for providing current prices above, which is the best way to tell whether a total will be within your budget. On top of those prices will be tax, tip, and beverages. Beverages are the big variable, especially at high-end restaurants where even the moderately-priced bottles of wine tend to be more than elsewhere. Some people drink "moderate alcohol" (which I would define as 1-2 cocktails or a half bottle of moderately-priced wine per person) while others drink more and/or higher-quality and can spend more than they do for the food, and still others don't drink alcohol at all.
At the places you mentioned, I would not expect to spend less than $200 per person inclusive, with two exceptions: Everest's pre-theater prix fixe, and those who do not order alcohol. If you are willing to stretch your budget to $250 per person, you should be able to dine with "moderate alcohol" (as defined here) at TRU, L2O, or Everest, but not Alinea. If you would like a very nice higher-end dining experience with moderate alcohol without exceeding $200/pp inclusive, I would recommend North Pond or Naha as the closest thing we have to those expensive high-end places. Both are excellent, and should easily come in within your budget.