Chicago's Best for Group Dining

Keep things casual with communal tables and plenty of champagne
November 20, 2017
·
by Zagat Staff

From family holiday parties to company fêtes, ’tis the season for group dining in Chicago, but finding the perfect spot for the occasion can be tricky. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up the city’s best options, of all sizes and styles, to meet your needs.

Libertad
Latin American · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

"Tasty" Nuevo Latino small plates bursting with "incredible" flavors are paired with fruity cocktails including margaritas and sangria at this "cozy" Skokie "find" ; "close tables" and "busy" conditions mean it can get "loud" , but the "vibrant atmosphere" works well with a "group of friends."
Le Colonial Chicago
Vietnamese · Gold Coast · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.3

Fans "dream about" the "outstanding" , "skillfully prepared" Vietnamese dishes at this "dependable" , French-influenced Gold Coast fixture with "lovely" , "colonial" decor and "lots of atmosphere, especially in the upstairs bar" ; factor in "knowledgeable" service and "creative" cocktails and most don't mind paying "premium" prices for the "classy" experience.
Bohemian House
European · River North · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.4

"Fabulous" , "hearty" Central European cooking gets "a sophisticated twist" at this "boho-chic" River North bistro whose "welcoming" , "lodge-like" interior evokes a "global vintage market" ; "personalized" service and a "lively bar" mixing "delicious" cocktails are more reasons fans vow to "return often."
Cruz Blanca Brewery & Taquería
Brewpub · West Loop · $

This funky brewpub from Rick Bayless crafts European-style house beers imbued with Mexican flavors in an industrial-chic setting with a visible production area and communal tables. A compact menu of Oaxacan-style tacos and sides come from a small counter and grill in the back.
Baptiste & Bottle
New American · River North · $$$

Richard Sandoval (Latinicity) brings whiskey flights, housemade charcuterie and other upscale New American plates small and large to this swanky, bourbon-focused spot on the 20th floor of River North’s Conrad Chicago Hotel. The stylish brown-and-neutral surrounds feature custom millwork and tableside bar carts serving signature cocktails, with sweeping city views from walls of windows.
Beatnik
Cocktail Bar · East Village · $$$

Globally influenced New American cuisine and cocktails are presented at this exotic West Town eatery with an upscale vibe. In a nod to the beatnik era of the 1950s, the luxe, eclectic setting is filled with international art and artifacts.
Apogee
Bar · River North · $$

Creative cocktails with elaborate presentations and garnishes are highlighted at this swanky River North rooftop bar at the Dana Hotel & Spa where handblown glasses, 'bongs', artisanal ice and edible wafer butterflies are among the whimsical elements. Gold and blue velvet accent the decor, and the goings-on include sweeping city views, DJs and fire pits.
Giant
Gastropub · Logan Square · $$

Chefs Jason Vincent and Ben Lustbader (both from Nightwood) are behind this hip, diminutive Logan Square spot serving seasonal New American fare plus craft cocktails (from Avec's Josh Perlman) in a funky, modern setting with banquette seating and a kitchen counter, inlaid woodwork and whitewashed brick, local art and a wall of spices.
Ema
Mediterranean · River North · $$

Shareable Mediterranean plates and house-baked breads highlight the vegetable-centric menu at this spacious River North locale from Top Chef winner and Intro alum C.J. Jacobson. Walls of windows and greenery growing from the ceiling bring the outdoors into the casual-chic space, which also encompasses raw wood tables, a full bar featuring Mediterranean wines and a rotisserie takeout area.
Proxi
Small Plates · West Loop · $$

A sequel to sibling Sepia, this stylish West Loop spot serves upscale takes on international street food (much of it wood-roasted or grilled) alongside equally globe-trotting cocktails plus a limited late menu for night owls. The casually swank space has a modern brasserie vibe, with a dining room and lounge divided by a central bar, while a chef’s table overlooks the kitchen.
Lowcountry Lakeview
Seafood · Lakeview · $$$

Southern seafood boils served in bags are the lure at these laid-back shacks where fans pair their choice of shellfish, flavoring and heat level with house cocktails and beers. The nautically inspired digs have a backyard vibe thanks to communal picnic tables and a living wall, with added energy from late-night beer pong.
BLVD
American · West Loop · $$$

Channeling midcentury Hollywood in the West Loop, this showy, sprawling New American restaurant serves upscale classics including caviar, fillet and foie, seafood towers and suckling pig with modern embellishments. Cocktails are equally reinvented, and there’s ample champagne adding to the sparkle of swanky digs filled with crystal and gold elements, rich neutral hues and a sweeping double staircase to the second floor.
Bodega
Cocktail Bar · River North · $$$

Set in the ACME Hotel in River North, this chic lounge from The Berkshire Room team serves a drinks menu inspired by corner stores, offering brightly colored fizzy cocktails and spiked slushies in a space that evokes a living room with stocked bookshelves and framed artwork.
Split-Rail
New American · Humboldt Park · $$

Tweaked American comfort foods with seasonal ingredients are the menu mainstays at this New American spot from Zoe Schor (Ada Street). Craft cocktails, a USA-centered wine list and brunch are also on offer in the country-industrial West Town space outfitted with vintage finds and tunes from spinning vinyl.
The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant
American · South Loop · $$$

Rebuilt after a devastating fire, the second incarnation of this South Loop American eatery set in a former firehouse has an elegant, traditional look with plush booths, a tin ceiling and landscape murals. The decor befits its upscale, classic menu (think seafood towers, Dover sole, steaks) backed by a full bar including cocktails, punch bowls and a global wine list.