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Too Late for Reservations. Now What?

We are planning a last-minute trip into the city for dinner Saturday night and many of the places I wanted to go are booked. Looking for a celebratory, hip place for dinner for two, where I can feel I've crossed something off my Chicago dining bucket list. Preferred cuisines include Italian, contemporary, seafood, Gastropub, with good vegetarian options. Preferred areas include Downtown, Gold Coast, River North, River West, and West Loop, although we will have a car. We don't mind waiting a bit for a table as long as there's fun people watching, a good bar, and cuisine that's worth the wait. Any suggestions?

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  1. Can you name some of the places that you wanted to go that were already booked? That would help narrow down what available restaurants might be a good fit for you; also information about price range would be helpful too - there are still lots of great restaurants with availability Saturday.

    1. Try Sepia in the West Loop. It doesn't seemed to be flooded like some of the places, but it got a Michelin star and, heck, the chef was a winner on an Iron Chef episode.

      1. Have you contacted the restaurants directly by phone or just checked OpenTable? Sometimes restaurants hold back tables from OT so a call directly to them may get you a reservation. (You are probably out of luck with the the hot, hot restos like GATG unless you are willing to wait without a reservation for more than an hour.)

        1. Sorry ... Piccolo Sogno was our first choice, especially for the patio. Girl & the Goat was another, of course. Maybe Sable or GT Fish and Oyster. I heard good things about Sepia from a friend, so that's an idea. Around $50 pp (without drinks) is fine.

          Oh! And if anyone has an educated guess as to expected wait times at the places I was considering (and how comfortable that wait might be) that would be helpful, too!

          1 Reply
          1. re: jaschultze

            If you don't mind eating on the early or late side, Piccolo Sogno has openings at 5:00 or 9:30, Sable at 5:45 or 9:15, and GT Fish at 5:30 or 9:30.

            FWIW, I had dinner at Sepia a few months ago, and I wasn't impressed. It wasn't awful, but not a single dish was all that great, either. For upscale contemporary, IMHO you're better off at Naha, TRU, or Acadia, all of which are wide open for availability. Or, if you want to keep the price down, Perennial Virant.

          2. Here are times that are available right now on Opentable for a party of two this Saturday, at some really great places, including some of our best:

            Acadia (contemporary) - wide open
            Blackbird (contemporary) - 9:00
            Boka (contemporary) - 6:45, 9:00
            Brindille (French) - 9:00
            Café Spiaggia (Italian) - wide open
            Carnivale (Latin fusion) - wide open
            Coco Pazzo (Italian) - wide open
            Davanti Enoteca (Italian) - wide open
            David Burke's Primehouse (steaks) - wide open
            Everest (French fine dining) - wide open
            GT Fish & Oyster (seafood) - 5:30, 9:30
            L2O (contemporary/seafood fine dining) - wide open
            Mercat a la Planxa (tapas) - wide open
            Mexique (contemporary Mexican) - 5:00, 9:00
            MK (contemporary) - 6:30, 9:30
            Moto (contemporary) - wide open
            Naha (contemporary) - wide open
            NoMI (contemporary) - wide open
            Perennial Virant (contemporary) - wide open
            Piccolo Sogno (Italian) - 5:00, 9:30
            Piccolo Sogno Due (Italian) - wide open
            Sable (contemporary) - 5:45, 9:15
            Salpicon (contemporary Mexican) - wide open
            Shaw's Crab House (seafood) - wide open
            Sixteen (contemporary fine dining) - 8:30
            Tesori (Italian) - wide open
            The Florentine (Italian) - wide open
            TRU (contemporary fine dining) - wide open

            If I had to narrow it down to just a few, my top picks would be Naha for contemporary finer dining, any of the Italian places, or - if you don't mind eating on the early or late side - GT Fish or Sable for small plates.