Dinner in December
A small group of us girls (3-5 people) would like to meet up in Chicago for a nice Saturday night dinner in December. I've heard Girl and the Goat is delicious, but not quite worth the hype (and no available reservations) and RPM Italian is booked solid for the weekend we're going to be there. I've heard good things of The Purple Pig, The Publican, and Carnivale, but would love to hear any other recs you guys have!
We're a group who loves creatively delicious food (any type!), drinks, and desserts. We'd like to be able to carry on a conversation throughout dinner, but would like to avoid a stuffy, proper atmosphere. We'll also have cars so won't be restricted to any one part of Chicago. Thanks!
Where will you be staying or coming from? If you're staying in the downtown hotel district with its many restaurants, there's no need to drive elsewhere (and even if you do, cabs may be preferable to driving). If you'll be in the suburbs, there are plenty of excellent places there so you don't need to go downtown (unless you want to anyway).
Also, for a Saturday night, I strongly advise making a reservation in advance. Wait times to be seated at places that don't accept them (e.g. Purple Pig) can exceed two hours. Fortunately, most of our best places accept reservations so this is not a major constraint.
Three of my favorite places in River North (near the Magnificent Mile and many of the hotels) are Sable (contemporary American small plates, craft cocktails), Piccolo Sogno Due (Italian, with an emphasis on seafood), and GT Oyster & Fish (seafood small plates, craft cocktails). If you're at one of the hotels just south of the Loop, Mercat a la Planxa is excellent for tapas. Again, though, let us know where you're staying (or coming from) so we can tell you what's geographically convenient.
Sorry to omit that info! Although one girl is from the Western Suburbs (we'll initially be driving from that direction), we will be staying at Hotel Monaco in The Loop. We are willing, however, to drive if need be :)
You're not kidding about the reservations! I tried last month to get reservations at RPM Italian and couldn't! I couldn't believe restaurants are already full for the second half of december!
Thanks for your recs. I'll definitely check them out!
Hotel Monaco is in the northeast corner of the Loop. According to Google Maps, it's an 8-minute WALK to Sable or Piccolo Sogno Due, 16 minutes walk to GT Oyster & Fish, and 20 minutes walk to Mercat a la Planxa. All four would suit what you've said you're looking for.
As a general rule, you're probably better off walking to any place close by than driving; and cabs (or public transit) may be preferable to driving for those not within walking distance. Reasons: It can take a while to retrieve a car from hotel parking, downtown traffic can be a problem, some hotels don't give in-and-out privileges on parking (so you would have to pay exorbitant rates more than once), etc.
Incidentally, I don't know if it's of interest, but South Water Kitchen is right in your hotel building and does a nice job for breakfast. Note that they're closed for remodeling Dec 25 to Jan 13.
Even for a Saturday night, the number of places in Chicago where reservations are totally booked a month in advance is very small. Still, the best advice I can give is to make your reservations as far in advance as possible; you can always change or cancel them if your plans change.