I have a couple of friends with birthdays this month and next, which has got me thinking about places to celebrate in Chicago. Sure, yeah, the private dining room at Girl and the Goat would be great, but let’s be real – no one’s planning that far in advance.
(Although… my birthday’s in October. Think I should see if it’s available for that, just in case I’m feeling fancy and richer than I am now?)
So without further ado, here are five great restaurants for celebrating a Chicago birthday dinner:
Image: Dining Chicago
Dusek’s Board and Beer
This is where I originally wanted to go for my birthday last year. Pro tip: organize your birthday more than three days in advance, especially if it’s on a Saturday. Anyway, Dusek’s is in the uber-hip Pilsen neighborhood, and sister concept to Thalia Hall and Punch House. They’re all in the same building, and there’s even a great little cocktail bar inside Dusek’s, Tack Room. This means you can have your entire birthday experience in the same awesome spot – start at Tack Room, eat at Dusek’s, then end the night at Punch House. Heck, catch the show at Thalia Hall, depending on who’s playing. Sounds like a pretty great way to celebrate to me.
Image: The Chicago Chic
This is where we ended up for my birthday last year, and it’s one of my favorite spots in the city. The food is good, but you’re really here for the drinks and the atmosphere. The space sprawls over two levels and a patio – stay in the cozy downstairs, or venture outside to the patio if it’s warm out. When we were there, we ordered plate after plate of appetizers and lots of drinks. Every single cocktail I sampled was great, but I was particularly partial to the “Ghost Town Fizz,” an autumnal twist on a pisco sour. Because I love pisco sours. Doesn’t hurt when the manager stops by, finds out it’s your birthday, and surprises the table with a bottle of champagne, either.
So basically, yes, I love The Dawson and I think you will too.
Image: The Publican
With its long communal table, The Publican is just begging to be the site of a birthday celebration. The menu is all about beer and pork, so vegetarians beware – but this is some of the best beer and pork you will ever taste. Plus, since it’s located in the heart of Fulton Market and borders the trendy West Loop, there are plenty of cool bars to pop into once you’ve stuffed yourself – like Fulton Market Kitchen, The Betty and more. (I love, love both of those bars. You really can’t go wrong at either.)
Image: Chicago Athletic Association
Winter birthday? No matter. Cindy’s – and its sweeping views of Millennium Park – is open for your enjoyment year-round. Bonus: the massive portions at this rooftop bar are meant for sharing. They even have giant cocktails that serve 20 people, with fun names like The Hesitant Elephant. I don’t know what’s in that, but I want to drink it. (Edit: apparently it’s a rye-based drink with coffee. Dark liquor is not usually my jam, but when you name it The Hesitant Elephant, I can make an exception.)
Image: Architectural Digest
Feelin’ fancy? The Pump Room, located in the Public Hotel, is a Chicago institution and a great place to celebrate a milestone birthday or event. The restaurant has been around since 1938 and if it’s good enough for the likes of Frank Sinatra and David Bowie, it’s good enough for you. Seriously, just check out the restaurant’s Wikipedia page – some seriously famous folks have dined here. Get there early so you can experience either the swanky Pump Room bar or cozy Library Bar before dinner.