Where to Celebrate Special Occasions in Chicago

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It’s OK to celebrate, Chicago.
Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

These restaurants are perfect for milestone meals

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It’s OK to celebrate, Chicago.
| Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Whether celebrating a birthday or anniversary or feeling flush with cash after getting a new job or promotion, splurging on a great meal can make for a really memorable night. There are plenty of restaurants throughout Chicago that will help diners savor the moment with elaborate tasting menus, decadent a la carte dishes, plush décor, and crafted cocktails perfect for toasting. Whatever special occasion is providing the cause for celebration, these restaurants offer the perfect way to savor the milestone. Just don’t forget to make a reservation — no one should have to compromise on their big day.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

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One of Chicago’s most creative Thai restaurants is in Edgewater. Chef Patty Neumson serves five- and six-course tasting menus that blend classic and modern tastes. A plant-based menu is available, but all of Herb’s offerings emphasize the benefits of fresh herbs and microgreens. Diners can also assemble their own meal by ordering a la carte from a menu of beautifully presented dishes including green papaya salad, grilled barbecue pork tenderloin, and sweet sticky rice with mango. Make a reservation via Tock.

A table and chairs inside a dining room, placed beside a large window.
Herb first opened in Edgewater in 2014.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

One of the most acclaimed restaurants in Chicago, Parachute reopened in May after closing for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark serve a small menu of Korean fare in their renovated dining room featuring a constantly changing selection of raw seafood alongside seasonal vegetable tempura and aged bulgogi. An expanded beverage list features soju, plum liqueur, and Korean rice wine. Make a reservation via OpenTable.

Art and food come together at Esmé, the Michelin Star-winning restaurant from Next alum Jenner Tomaska and his wife Katrina Bravo. Tomaska’s tasting menus are often inspired by the works of artists whose pieces decorate the Lincoln Park space, with some benefiting rotating nonprofits. Dishes are visually stunning and playful and served with wine pairings or equally complex nonalcoholic cocktails from beverage director Tia Barrett. Book a spot through Resy.

Bucktown staple The Bristol offers an exceptional eight-course seasonal tasting menu that offers spins on nostalgic dishes made with produce from local farms. Start the meal with a creative cocktail like “Farmer McGregor’s Garden,” which blends the smokiness of mezcal with the sweetness of carrot and pineapple juices, or something from the restaurant’s expansive bourbon list before indulging in wine pairings. For a more affordable experience, take advantage of the early bird special tasting menu offered from 5 p.m to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Book a reservation via Resy.

Kyoten represents chef Otto Phan’s passion for Japanese food. Like many top-level sushi chefs, Phan is dedicated to the details. He touts the quality of his rice and fish, which is often marinated, aged, or cured to bring out more complex flavors. Reserve a spot at the sushi bar for the omakase experience, where Phan explains his process as he creates each bite. Share a bottle of wine or add on a sake tasting. Make a reservation via Tock.

Chicago’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant dishes out spectacle with dramatic presentations that incorporate dried ice, fire, custom plates and dessert painted right onto the table. Multiple experiences are available with different levels of intimacy, course counts and price tags ranging from the salon to the fully immersive kitchen table. Book a reservation on Tock months before the special day because Alinea remains one of the hottest tickets in town.

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Celebrating is not just about the food. Order a drink from Wicker Park’s The Violet Hour, a bar that gained national attention making elite coast-types understand the city’s bartenders can not only enjoy Malört, but mix a mighty tasty fancy cocktail. The James Beard Award-winning bar features a seasonally changing menu divided between shaken, stirred, and frozen cocktails. For a more experiential celebration, the bar also regularly hosts hands-on cocktail classes. Make a reservation via Tock.

Chef Brian Jupiter shows off big game at this restaurant and bar in West Town. Plan a party around a whole animal feast such as roasted alligator stuffed with whole chickens or brown sugar-seasoned wild boar, served with mac and cheese, Caesar salad, seasonal vegetables, and buttered rolls. Add on a few pitchers of cocktails, a platter of char-grilled oysters, and cake to close out the celebration.

Boeufhaus is the antidote to boring Downtown Chicago steakhouse thanks to a great wine list, steaks butchered on premises, and warm service. While dry-aged meat is the focus, the farm-to-table menu also features fried perch, duck breast, and chickpea pasta. For an at-home celebration, the restaurant’s butcher shop sells 34-ounce porterhouse and T-bone steaks. Order online via Toast or make a reservation through Resy.

Enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the candlelit tables at Adalina, which exudes luxury through its dramatic chandeliers, rich blue and violet color palette, and impeccable service. Start with the perfectly charred octopus served with creamy horseradish goat cheese before sharing a few plates of handmade pasta and the grilled branzino. Finish with tiramisu and an espresso martini, or head to their cozy speakeasy Rose Lounge for a nightcap.

The new restaurant from the owners of Le Bouchon blends French techniques with flavors from Mexico, Southeast Asia, and North Africa to produce creative and decadent dishes such as seared foie gras tacos, duck confit wrapped in shiso, and Moroccan corn with harissa. The full menu is also available at the bar which is open for walk-ins, providing a great option for a last-minute celebration.

This futuristic dining room is like no other in America. Chef Curtis Duffy continues his precise kitchen mastery, creating artful dishes on his bodacious tasting menu. Ever’s service is among the best in the country, perfectly complementing Duffy’s imaginative eight to 10-course dinners.

A space-aged looking dining room. Ever/Michael Muser

Oriole takes a low-key approach to fine dining with a come-as-you-are attitude. Chef Noah Sandoval’s kitchen had a ceiling decorated with band fliers and hits all the right notes with an approachable tasting menu that satisfies fine dining veterans and newcomers alike. There’s also a bar with high-quality cocktails that serves a special ham sandwich for those who want a little nightcap.

Chef and owner B.K. Park built up a following at Juno, his Lincoln Park restaurant, and has earned even higher praise for his Michelin Starred West Loop spot, which offers an elaborate omakase menu with wine and sake pairings. The 22-seat spot is geared towards providing a special evening, discouraging guests from taking photos and video so they can just appreciate the beauty of each bite like the sashimi perched atop a plate of stones, flowers and pinecones. Reservations are required via Tock.

A small wooden box holds eight courses of omakase.
Mako features an eight-course omakase carryout meal.
Mako [Official Photo]

Chef John and Karen Shields tweak the tasting menu daily at their two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the West Loop, which is inspired by the five years they spent together in the farmlands of Smyth Country, Virginia. An open kitchen provides a view of the meal being prepared, though diners can also splurge on a 3.5-hour experience where the chefs will serve and explain each course themselves. Reservations are available on Tock.

Top Chef alum Sarah Grueneberg’s first restaurant has been a smash hit in the West Loop. The menu combines Midwestern and Italian ingredients with a focus on handmade pasta served in both traditional preparations and more novel dishes like a spin on cacio e pepe with ricotta whey. Monteverde is one of the toughest tables to book in town. Reservations are made via Resy but diners often stay up until midnight to secure a spot a month in advance.

Las Vegas transplant The X Pot offers a luxury version of hot pot dining with Wagyu beef cooked at the table in bone broth or a spicy Szechuan soup. Diners can also try meat and seafood grilled over charcoal while they watch. For a really immersive experience, gather a group and book a table in the Spectrum dining room, where the walls are lined with projectors that provide a show during a tasting menu meal.

Hong Kong-style Peking duck is the specialty of the house at BBQ King. The small version of the special dish comes out with crisp skin with steamed bao, duck bone soup, shredded duck with vegetables and fried head-on shrimp for $40 and with ginger-spiced lobster, beef tenderloin with house special sauce, and mushroom-braised vegetables for a $140 feast that feeds eight to 10 people. The meal is also available for carryout and delivery.

For southerners living in Chicago, Virtue transports them back home with an approach that incorporates global flavors to celebrate Black culture. James Beard Award-winning chef and owner Erick Williams decorates his space with works from Black artists and serves equally visually captivating dishes such as gooey mac n’ cheese, blackened catfish with barbecued carrots and short rib served over creamed spinach. Make a reservation via SevenRooms.

Find delectable pastas (with gluten-free options), seafood, and Italian entrees at this Hyde Park restaurant. Blue velvet booths, candlelit tables, and leather chairs create a warm atmosphere for digging into a plate of lobster risotto or cutting into a 22-ounce T-bone steak that’s been dry aged for 45 days before being served with garlic butter and oven-roasted potatoes. Order a bottle of champagne for plenty of celebratory toasts.

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A table and chairs inside a dining room, placed beside a large window.
Herb first opened in Edgewater in 2014.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

One of Chicago’s most creative Thai restaurants is in Edgewater. Chef Patty Neumson serves five- and six-course tasting menus that blend classic and modern tastes. A plant-based menu is available, but all of Herb’s offerings emphasize the benefits of fresh herbs and microgreens. Diners can also assemble their own meal by ordering a la carte from a menu of beautifully presented dishes including green papaya salad, grilled barbecue pork tenderloin, and sweet sticky rice with mango. Make a reservation via Tock.

A table and chairs inside a dining room, placed beside a large window.
Herb first opened in Edgewater in 2014.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

One of the most acclaimed restaurants in Chicago, Parachute reopened in May after closing for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark serve a small menu of Korean fare in their renovated dining room featuring a constantly changing selection of raw seafood alongside seasonal vegetable tempura and aged bulgogi. An expanded beverage list features soju, plum liqueur, and Korean rice wine. Make a reservation via OpenTable.

Art and food come together at Esmé, the Michelin Star-winning restaurant from Next alum Jenner Tomaska and his wife Katrina Bravo. Tomaska’s tasting menus are often inspired by the works of artists whose pieces decorate the Lincoln Park space, with some benefiting rotating nonprofits. Dishes are visually stunning and playful and served with wine pairings or equally complex nonalcoholic cocktails from beverage director Tia Barrett. Book a spot through Resy.

Bucktown staple The Bristol offers an exceptional eight-course seasonal tasting menu that offers spins on nostalgic dishes made with produce from local farms. Start the meal with a creative cocktail like “Farmer McGregor’s Garden,” which blends the smokiness of mezcal with the sweetness of carrot and pineapple juices, or something from the restaurant’s expansive bourbon list before indulging in wine pairings. For a more affordable experience, take advantage of the early bird special tasting menu offered from 5 p.m to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Book a reservation via Resy.

Kyoten represents chef Otto Phan’s passion for Japanese food. Like many top-level sushi chefs, Phan is dedicated to the details. He touts the quality of his rice and fish, which is often marinated, aged, or cured to bring out more complex flavors. Reserve a spot at the sushi bar for the omakase experience, where Phan explains his process as he creates each bite. Share a bottle of wine or add on a sake tasting. Make a reservation via Tock.

Chicago’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant dishes out spectacle with dramatic presentations that incorporate dried ice, fire, custom plates and dessert painted right onto the table. Multiple experiences are available with different levels of intimacy, course counts and price tags ranging from the salon to the fully immersive kitchen table. Book a reservation on Tock months before the special day because Alinea remains one of the hottest tickets in town.

Celebrating is not just about the food. Order a drink from Wicker Park’s The Violet Hour, a bar that gained national attention making elite coast-types understand the city’s bartenders can not only enjoy Malört, but mix a mighty tasty fancy cocktail. The James Beard Award-winning bar features a seasonally changing menu divided between shaken, stirred, and frozen cocktails. For a more experiential celebration, the bar also regularly hosts hands-on cocktail classes. Make a reservation via Tock.

Chef Brian Jupiter shows off big game at this restaurant and bar in West Town. Plan a party around a whole animal feast such as roasted alligator stuffed with whole chickens or brown sugar-seasoned wild boar, served with mac and cheese, Caesar salad, seasonal vegetables, and buttered rolls. Add on a few pitchers of cocktails, a platter of char-grilled oysters, and cake to close out the celebration.

Boeufhaus is the antidote to boring Downtown Chicago steakhouse thanks to a great wine list, steaks butchered on premises, and warm service. While dry-aged meat is the focus, the farm-to-table menu also features fried perch, duck breast, and chickpea pasta. For an at-home celebration, the restaurant’s butcher shop sells 34-ounce porterhouse and T-bone steaks. Order online via Toast or make a reservation through Resy.

Enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the candlelit tables at Adalina, which exudes luxury through its dramatic chandeliers, rich blue and violet color palette, and impeccable service. Start with the perfectly charred octopus served with creamy horseradish goat cheese before sharing a few plates of handmade pasta and the grilled branzino. Finish with tiramisu and an espresso martini, or head to their cozy speakeasy Rose Lounge for a nightcap.

The new restaurant from the owners of Le Bouchon blends French techniques with flavors from Mexico, Southeast Asia, and North Africa to produce creative and decadent dishes such as seared foie gras tacos, duck confit wrapped in shiso, and Moroccan corn with harissa. The full menu is also available at the bar which is open for walk-ins, providing a great option for a last-minute celebration.

A space-aged looking dining room. Ever/Michael Muser

This futuristic dining room is like no other in America. Chef Curtis Duffy continues his precise kitchen mastery, creating artful dishes on his bodacious tasting menu. Ever’s service is among the best in the country, perfectly complementing Duffy’s imaginative eight to 10-course dinners.

A space-aged looking dining room. Ever/Michael Muser

Oriole takes a low-key approach to fine dining with a come-as-you-are attitude. Chef Noah Sandoval’s kitchen had a ceiling decorated with band fliers and hits all the right notes with an approachable tasting menu that satisfies fine dining veterans and newcomers alike. There’s also a bar with high-quality cocktails that serves a special ham sandwich for those who want a little nightcap.

A small wooden box holds eight courses of omakase.
Mako features an eight-course omakase carryout meal.
Mako [Official Photo]

Chef and owner B.K. Park built up a following at Juno, his Lincoln Park restaurant, and has earned even higher praise for his Michelin Starred West Loop spot, which offers an elaborate omakase menu with wine and sake pairings. The 22-seat spot is geared towards providing a special evening, discouraging guests from taking photos and video so they can just appreciate the beauty of each bite like the sashimi perched atop a plate of stones, flowers and pinecones. Reservations are required via Tock.

A small wooden box holds eight courses of omakase.
Mako features an eight-course omakase carryout meal.
Mako [Official Photo]

Chef John and Karen Shields tweak the tasting menu daily at their two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the West Loop, which is inspired by the five years they spent together in the farmlands of Smyth Country, Virginia. An open kitchen provides a view of the meal being prepared, though diners can also splurge on a 3.5-hour experience where the chefs will serve and explain each course themselves. Reservations are available on Tock.

Top Chef alum Sarah Grueneberg’s first restaurant has been a smash hit in the West Loop. The menu combines Midwestern and Italian ingredients with a focus on handmade pasta served in both traditional preparations and more novel dishes like a spin on cacio e pepe with ricotta whey. Monteverde is one of the toughest tables to book in town. Reservations are made via Resy but diners often stay up until midnight to secure a spot a month in advance.

Las Vegas transplant The X Pot offers a luxury version of hot pot dining with Wagyu beef cooked at the table in bone broth or a spicy Szechuan soup. Diners can also try meat and seafood grilled over charcoal while they watch. For a really immersive experience, gather a group and book a table in the Spectrum dining room, where the walls are lined with projectors that provide a show during a tasting menu meal.

Hong Kong-style Peking duck is the specialty of the house at BBQ King. The small version of the special dish comes out with crisp skin with steamed bao, duck bone soup, shredded duck with vegetables and fried head-on shrimp for $40 and with ginger-spiced lobster, beef tenderloin with house special sauce, and mushroom-braised vegetables for a $140 feast that feeds eight to 10 people. The meal is also available for carryout and delivery.

For southerners living in Chicago, Virtue transports them back home with an approach that incorporates global flavors to celebrate Black culture. James Beard Award-winning chef and owner Erick Williams decorates his space with works from Black artists and serves equally visually captivating dishes such as gooey mac n’ cheese, blackened catfish with barbecued carrots and short rib served over creamed spinach. Make a reservation via SevenRooms.

Find delectable pastas (with gluten-free options), seafood, and Italian entrees at this Hyde Park restaurant. Blue velvet booths, candlelit tables, and leather chairs create a warm atmosphere for digging into a plate of lobster risotto or cutting into a 22-ounce T-bone steak that’s been dry aged for 45 days before being served with garlic butter and oven-roasted potatoes. Order a bottle of champagne for plenty of celebratory toasts.

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