Lunch or dinner for 20
Planning a graduation celebration for my daughter in early May. Looking for good, reasonably priced restaurant. Free parking. People will travel from various locations, including the Loop, west suburbs and O'Hare. Would like a private room. Any ideas. We're not from Chicago, so not sure where to start looking.
Where up is the graduation? Downtown? There are few restaurants with free parking in central Chicago. And perhaps you could better define what is a reasonable price in terms of a target or range per person for entrees -- to some people that means $10 and others $25. Guidance as to preferred type of cuisine and age range of your guests might help. -- e.g., are you open to ethnic cuisines that might be less expensive than "American" food?.
OpenTable has a site that lets you plug in your parameters and will recommend restaurants that meet your requirements.
Otherwise, there are a number mainstream options that will meet your needs in Greektown or Chinatown, for example. Greek Islands can do 20 in aprivate room relatively easily for a reasonable price. Reza's on Ontario is Persian and can also accommodate 20 in semi-privacy.
You've received some good advice already from the previous replies.
In addition to the listing on Opentable, another resource is Lettuce Entertain You, which has several dozen restaurants in the Chicago area, with a variety of concepts and price points. They have one point of contact that can arrange a private dinner for any of them, complete with website: www.lettuceparties.com
As masha notes, few if any restaurants in the greater downtown Chicago area (the Loop and surrounding neighborhoods) offer free parking, although most of them have valet parking available for a fee. Almost all restaurants in the suburbs have free parking lots.
For more advice on planning meals in a private room, see this discussion:
Dinner and Drinks for 40? - www.chow.com/topics/799823
My overall suggestion is to consider a general location (including how firm you are that parking be free) and a per-person budget. Then try calling several places from the above listings that sound like they would meet your needs, for an initial consultation over the phone. If you'd like to mention (here) which places you're considering, we can tell you what we know about how good they are.