Location for a happy hour/going away party in the Chicago Loop?
September 13, 2016 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Could you recommend a location for a happy hour/going away party in the Chicago Loop?

We reserved part of a patio at a bar for an office going away party in the Loop, but just learned that the space isn't available after all. Do you know of any places that might fit our criteria? I live in Chicago but spend almost no time in the Loop, so I'm at a loss.

Extra bonus points for places where it is:
(1) possible to reserve seating or space for approximately 20 people--the space doesn't need to be private, although private or semi-private spaces would be fine, too;
(2) free to reserve the space, with the assumption that attendees will buy drinks and appetizers;
(3) possible to order something that isn't super super expensive (some attendees are interns and I'd like to make sure that they aren't totally priced out); and
(4) not super noisy from 5-6pm.

We're looking for a space for tomorrow, so really exclusive places are probably out, but otherwise don't worry too much about that. I assume we'll have a need for this in the future, too, so all recommendations are welcome and greatly appreciated!
posted by cimton to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Elephants and Castle in the Loop are pretty good about this, ime.

I've organized more than a dozen happy hours like this in the last several years, and every other place I've been at has had a real douchebro vibe or wanted a (high) minimum met or wanted to charge $14 for the minutest scrap of dessicated flatbread and that was the cheapest thing.

Elephant and Castle, on the other hand, is just much more relaxed and whatever and has more wallet-friendly food options. The Wabash location is larger and has a party room (which may indeed cost extra), but if I'm remembering right, the Adams location has a relatively quiet corner nook appropriate for about 20 folks, and they were really great working with me for a last minute scheduling thing a few years ago.

It's not cool or trendy but I think it'll work for what you need.
posted by phunniemee at 8:37 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Depending on how far north in the loop you're coming from, The Dearborn Station Bar Louie on Polk and Dearborn is worth a look. It's a chain, but it's in a beautiful 140 year old train station and has regular staff and a very local feel. There are several reservable 20-person nooks, and an unusually diverse menu and clientele.

(There are much fancier options, but I can't think of any that won't be packed with suits at 6pm on a warm day.)
posted by eotvos at 8:40 AM on September 13, 2016

Our usual big-group outdoor patio locations are Rivers, South Branch, and Bar Louie in the House of Blues complex. All 3 will take reservations, the first two are more expensive, and Bar Louie readily welcomes separate checks.

Other places that have a patio, but we haven't been to, are River Roast and the GRK at Wells and Van Buren.
posted by hwyengr at 8:48 AM on September 13, 2016

I've organized at Rivers and South Branch; even reserving 2 weeks in advance at Rivers we got kind of a crap spot. A server spilled a drink on one of our employees and another patron in a nearby party spilled a drink on another guy because of where we were crammed. They also seemed to have the idea that a group spot reserved for 20 people should involve 3 tables and 6 chairs, and no we can't move you sorry. Maybe it was a very bad day for for them or maybe they just suck, I don't know. If you talk to them, I'd recommend being extremely clear about how much space you need.
posted by phunniemee at 8:57 AM on September 13, 2016

The Plymouth Restaurant and Rooftop Bar has been good for my office in the past. We've had parties for 20-40 people there. Not sure if they'll reserve the full thing or just a section for you, though.
posted by lieber hair at 9:02 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've always liked the Exchequer Pub at Jackson and Wabash. They've got a huge extra space they can open up for large parties, which is separate from the main bar and restaurant. Great pizza.
posted by rlk at 2:08 PM on September 13, 2016

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