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Feb 2, 2014 01:14 PM

Lunch after DePaul graduation for 20?

Need a cool place with solid food without resorting to booking an entire room and getting food commensurate with what that suggests. Looking for a late lunch for 20 or so. Three DePaul graduates and their families--some from Uganda, some from Minnesota, some from Vermont. But it's all about the graduates, who have lived in Chicago for the last four years, but on a college student budget. It's a tall order, I know, but you Hounds will steer me in the right direction.


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  1. Could you please provide information regarding preferred location, approximate price per person (with or without alcohol, pre- or post-tip), and favored or undesirable cuisines? This will help us best steer you.

    1. Sorry, know my post was a tad vague. Daughter graduating from Chicago college. Want to entertain her roommates, and their families,for late lunch after graduation ceremonies. There will probably be 20. Trying to avoid the "feed the gang" mentality. Want a cool vibe. and, good food (not hard in Chicago),

      11 Replies
      1. re: rosiebcook

        In the "feed the gang" vein, and depending on whether the other families have visited previously, you can do worse than Malnati's. Or even the nearby Barn & Co. which is a local barbecue spot. I don't think either would disappoint, unless you're looking for more upscale.

        1. re: ferret

          It's so funny that you included Malnati's. My graduate is a hostess there and has requested that's the one place we don't go, for obviously reasons precluding the food.

          What do think of one of Chicago's great steak places? I know the obvious, high-end ones, But is there one that lives up to a great dining experience without charging $80 pp?


          1. re: rosiebcook

            A couple of options that might work for you are Wildfire, a kind of throwback to a 1940s supper club. Prices aren't bad (at least compared to the Big Boys) and the food is decent.

            Another choice is Mon Ami Gabi. It has a French flair and offers steak frites with many different cuts, and - if I recall correctly, a variety of sauces for them.

            1. re: chicgail

              I agree Wildfire might be a good option; I have had some group dinners there and everybody seemed pretty happy.

              Mon Ambi Gabi would also be nice, but I do not believe they are open for lunch. If you are able to do an early dinner instead of a late lunch then Mon Ami Gabi as well as Las Tablas would be worth taking a look at; Las Tablas is a Colombian steakhouse in Lakeview (near the Lincoln Park border - so not far from DePaul). Their steaks are about $18 to $20 and include sides - so need to order extra food a la carte like some steakhouses. They also have plenty of other options for those not desiring steak. Festive, relaxed ambiance that also would be suitable for groups. They are open for lunch, but the menu is very limited at lunch; dinner service begins at 5:00pm

              Other early dinner options that might be fun would include Carnivale in the West Loop (Latin American venue with a very festive vibe and rather good cuisine) or a churrasca such as Fogo de Chao or Brazzaz (if everyone in your party is interested in feasting on meats - though the emphasis is a bit more on quantity over quality). Finally Tango Sur in Lakeview, a Brazilian steakhouse. I held a small group dinner here (about 14 people) that went well; an advantage is they are BYOB so cheap bar tab!

              All these venues have good cuisine, though certainly not top notch like at more expensive steakhouses (i.e. Dave Burke's, Bavette's etc.). While Burke's is open for lunch, it would be rather expensive if ordering steaks versus burgers or steak sandwiches. These restaurants (especially Tango Sur and Las Tablas) are considerably less expensive than a traditional American steakhouse. Wildfire will have a "safer" menu for those not adventurous, but the others may have more interesting fare for the majority of your party while still having some offerings that will not alarm someone with a more vanilla palate.

              1. re: chicgail

                Are you sure we don't know one another? You echo my restaurant choices :). During the first 3 years that Lora was at DePaul I stayed in the hotel (now a residents-only) that houses Gabi on the lower level. So good! And Malnati's was a rare treat for deep dish, as I live in Boston. Grunts was a reliable option as well when taking a bunch of kids out.

                1. re: rosiebcook

                  We might; I actually grew up in Boston (Cambridge).

          2. re: rosiebcook

            How much money per person, what kind of food, and is there any area of the city you'd like to stick with? "Late afternoon" has a whole bunch of possibilities for you to make this REALLY cool, imo. I'd suggest planning somethign with the restaurant you choose. They should be chomping at the bit for a 20 person table late afternoon, and if you work with them to plan a menu, you could have a pretty special meal with no taxing the kitchen or awkward service issues. I personally would suggest Mexican, or Thai with a pre-planned menu - family style, at one of Chicago's "off the beaten path" type places, but without knowing how much you want to spend, or what type of food interests your group, it's hard to say.

            1. re: gordeaux

              Hi gordeaux,

              All of us are foodies of one ilk or another. I'm trying to accommodate a cross-section of ages and palates. My dad, an elderly Vermonter who will be adventurous to a point, really wants something he can identify with..There will be other older people there as well, some I don't very well. Also, ability to pay is an issue. Some are more well off than others.

              I'd say Thai and Mexican are out, as these cuisines offer just that: Thai and Mexican. I need a broader menu, but the food has to be quality.

              Everyone would love something like RJ Grunts, a raucous place with solid food but no room to accommodate a large group. Or a mid-priced steakhouse?

              Thanks in advance for thinking...


              1. re: rosiebcook

                For a mid-priced steakhouse, I'd suggest Wildfire, It's fairly large so I assume that they can accommodate your group. And, it's not limited to steak either.

                1. re: rosiebcook

                  Okay, here's an outside-the-box suggestion. Bread and Wine is a great small restaurant with a terrific menu (stuff you can easily recognize). They're not usually open for lunch during the week but would likely make an exception for a group of 20. It's a little off the beaten path but it's very easy to get to with ample free parking.


                  1. re: rosiebcook

                    Outside the box a bit still, just throwing out things that might fit the bill, but you might not think of:

                    BBQ - Ferret suggested Barn And Co. We have some really decent bbq places that have sprouted up in the past few years.

                    Middle Eastern - In the grand scheme of things, it's not very adventurous. Most all of the places have grilled meats and rice. For white tablecloths, high ceilings, full bar, but still very casual, Reza's (Ontario street location)is a decent choice that I would trust for non adventurous meat and potato folks, but they also have a wide selection of "Persian" fare. They can be trusted to have very fresh seafood, too.

              2. How do you guys feel about Grand Luxe, the Cheesecake Factory spinoff on the corner of Ontario and Michigan? Menu definitely caters to all, and they have the space for big party...

                1 Reply
                1. re: rosiebcook

                  I have never had a worthwhile meal at Grand Luxe. It might be large enough for a big party but I think you'll wind up with medicore/forgettable food.

                  You mentioned something like RJ Grunts -- maybe try calling Bub City to see if they can accommodate your group? It's certainly raucous (in a good way) and once you get past the southern fried kitsch, it's actually pretty tasty and fun.