Birthday dinner near the Chicago Theatre?
April 8, 2009 7:40 AM   Subscribe

ChicagoFilter: For his birthday, I am taking my husband to the live taping of This American Life at the Chicago Theatre. Where should we eat beforehand?

I can't afford to splurge, so it will have to be a medium-priced restaurant (whatever that is for downtown Chicago). I would prefer that it be walking distance to the theatre so we only have to park once. Parking suggestions are very welcome.

His favorite foods are steak, ribs, and lasagna. He'd prefer a nice-but-not-overly-fussy atmosphere. Must serve hard liquor.
posted by desjardins to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Gage

I really like the place. Very classy but casual atmosphere, nice bar (with every hard alcohol imaginable) and good food. Not a chain either, which is what many places in the Loop area tend to be. Can get crowded. I don't know if they take reservations, but try. Very close to the theater.

I don't drive, so I don't know about parking.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:54 AM on April 8, 2009

Parking suggestions depend on what time you get down there. Many of the garages run an evening special for around $8 if you enter after 5:30. I don't know what it's like anymore since the new parking commotion, but you used to be able to get good meter parking after 6.

If you're willing to venture across the river, my favorite steak place is Keefer's at Dearborn and Kinzie. I wouldn't really call it medium priced, but it's par for the course amongst steak joints.

It's not particularly great, but there's also Ronny's Chicago Steak House in the Thompson Building at Lake and Clark. It's served cafeteria style, but you can get steak, ribs, and I think lasagna there, and it's super cheap. It's more of a novelty than a birthday place, though.

Staying in the Loop limits your reasonably priced choices, I'm afraid. Consider finding something in the west side neighborhoods (Wicker Park, Logan Square, etc.), and taking the Blue Line downtown to Clark and Lake.
posted by hwyengr at 8:08 AM on April 8, 2009

Response by poster: This is on a Sunday night FWIW.
posted by desjardins at 8:31 AM on April 8, 2009

Petterino's, a few minutes' walk from the Chicago Theatre, is probably the closest place that fits your bill. The Atwood also gets a lot of theater business, though their reviews seem a bit more hit-and-miss.
posted by Iridic at 8:35 AM on April 8, 2009

posted by Xalf at 9:54 AM on April 8, 2009

Petterino's is pricey, and gets insanely crowded with theater goers. Nice place, but just wanted to add that as a caveat.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2009,+Chicago,+IL‎&cflt=restaurants

Use the filters.
posted by allthewhile at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2009

Here, this one will work better:

Click Here
posted by allthewhile at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2009

I had my birthday dinner at Volare ( in Chicago a few weeks ago on the corner of Grand and St. Clare. Great little authentic Italian place. I think we paid between $60 and $70 for the two of us (included sparkling wine, appetizer, and two entrees). Definitely worth your while to call ahead for reservations.

Do you have to drive in the city? We took the train into town and took a cab whenever the walking distance seemed too much. Parking is such a nightmare there... I think our hotel was charging $48/night.
posted by iceprincess324 at 12:30 PM on April 8, 2009

For the love of everything, don't eat at Ronny's in the Thompson Center. That's like taking your husband to Arby's for his birthday, except it would taste much worse.

How about Italian Village at 71 W. Monroe? There are three restaurants at that location, but I am particularly fond of the Village on the second floor, which is just really charming. It's about five blocks away from the Chicago Theater but you could park somewhere between (I don't drive, so can't offer parking suggestions, sorry). They take reservations and the there's an old school fancy feel to the service, but it's not stuff. You can get out of there for under $100 (maybe way under, if you eat cheap and don't drink much) for two with drinks and desert. Also it's a union restaurant, if that's important to you, and kind of feels like where Teamsters would eat if they needed to have a private meeting, ifyouknowwhatimean.

Trattoria No. 10 on 10 N. Dearborn offers a really good bar buffet from M-F, 5:30 to 7:00 for $12 per person with a $6 drink purchase minimum.

Rosebud on 70 W. Madison (there is a Rosebud steakhouse at 1 S. Dearborn and it's good but it is really pricey) is another Italian place that caters to the theater crowd. They have a free happy hour buffet, or at least they did a few months ago when I went there last.

If I think of anything else, I will post here or mefi mail you.
posted by jennyb at 1:55 PM on April 8, 2009

Italian Village is a great suggestion. Eat in "the Village" for sure. A bit kitschy in a good, real way. Old-school great.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:47 PM on April 8, 2009

The Gage is great-- don't be put off by the higher priced items on the menu. Two people can eat under $30, even if you each have a beer or a glass of wine. They will also let you split entrees without an extra charge, and portions are big, so you can do this.
posted by nax at 6:11 AM on April 9, 2009

Seconding and thirding the recommendations for the Italian Village.
posted by iceprincess324 at 9:34 AM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: I ended up splurging and taking him to Fogo de Chão, which was excellent.
posted by desjardins at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2009

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