“Please join me in celebrating my 40th birthday with dinner at my favorite tapas restaurant. Dinner starts at 8 p.m.” Wouldn’t it be nice if this were your invite to your closest friends and family for your next special birthday? It could be.
When you live in a large city like Chicago, it can be difficult to throw an elaborate birthday party at home, especially if you live in a space-constrained home. The 50 or so guests you plan to invite to mark your 30th birthday won’t all fit into your small apartment or condo. Thankfully, the Windy City has plenty of affordable world-class restaurants where you can throw an unforgettable soirée.
Sometimes the most enjoyable occasions are the ones where you can just let go and immerse yourself in the experience, knowing someone else has got the nuts and bolts of the party covered. A great host can easily transform your favorite eatery into a riveting venue for your next birthday party.
To help make your decision easier, we’ve listed below the top Chicago birthday restaurants. You can host any type of party at these best-rated birthday restaurants in Chicago, be it a casual evening for your dad’s 50th, a blowout 30th-birthday, or a themed birthday party for your little one. And best of all, you can do it without breaking the bank.
How are the restaurants in Chicago?
Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, rocking festivals, and steely skyscrapers, but the Second City is also a melting pot of the world’s most beloved cuisines, so loosen your belt. Chicago is the ultimate foodie mecca since the Windy City is home to not only some of the country’s top chefs but also a superb range of restaurants and global eats.
Along with the low-key cultured vibe, the food options in Chicago restaurants will simply blow you away. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at its best, craving crunchy tacos, want to keep it local with deep-dish pizza, or interested in a vegan-friendly menu, there’s a restaurant in Chicago for every palate and occasion.
All Chicago birthday restaurants appearing on this list offer the perfect blend of superior location, amazing food, festive ambiance, and wonderful hosts. In a nutshell, they are fabulous spots to chow down mouthwatering dishes and celebrate your birthday in style.
Should I celebrate my birthday at a Chicago Restaurant?
Yes, you should. If you wish to make your birthday even more special and memorable, hosting it at a Chicago restaurant may be your safest bet, and with good reasons:
The food, oh yeah: Nothing says Chicago quite like great food and good times — and a noteworthy restaurant is a perfect place to be if you want the best of the two worlds. Trust us, the city’s restaurants offer a variety of cuisines to satisfy all cravings and palates. From yucca enchiladas, pierogi, carnitas, Italian spicy beef, pizza, pork-shoulder posole, Cobb salad, to fat rice and juicy steak, Chicago’s restaurant food scene is simply to die for.
No pressure – no fuss, no muss: It’s no big secret that planning and hosting a birthday party at home can be stressful, particularly if you want to invite many people. Luckily, a good restaurant host knows how to turn their eatery into an amazing birthday party venue. And that will take the pressure off you.
When you don’t have to worry about making food, buying drinks, and taking care of other party frivolities, you can truly focus on what matters: having a good time with your loved ones and friends. If it’s your wish, the restaurant can handle everything, so you can chillax and celebrate your big day unfettered.
Do we have to remind you that there’s no post-party cleanup? The dirty cutlery, crockery, and furniture are not your business!
Have it your way: When you host your birthday bash at a restaurant, you can choose to keep it fun and simple or go all out with a fancy party. Plus, you can pick a restaurant that’ll match the theme and style of your party. And depending on your budget, the crew can fine-tune the ambiance and decorate the room to your specs.
Great variety of restaurants: There’s an endless choice of birthday restaurants in Chicago that fit all occasions. Whether you want to throw your party at a fast-casual or Michelin-starred restaurant, you’ll never be short of spots to do so as new venues pop up every other month.
What makes a restaurant good for celebrating a special occasion?
Chicago birthday restaurants offer an all-in-one venue for your party. But that’s far from being the only reason why a restaurant is an excellent spot for celebrating special occasions, like a birthday, anniversaries, or bat mitzvah.
Superior food – When you invite guests to your home, condo, or apartment, you will likely have to order food, get the party catered, or cook. That may not work in your favor in terms of food quality. When you throw a party at a restaurant, however, everyone will get a chance to order what they really love to eat.
The last thing you want for your 35th-birthday shindig is to order a greasy pizza and some soda. It’s a big day, and you want it to be extra special and unforgettable, which is why hosting it at a restaurant makes a lot of sense.
The good thing is that many restaurants in the Windy City have at least one top-shelf chef that’ll definitely wow your guests with delectable dishes. Unless you’re an experienced chef yourself, you may not be able to whip up restaurant-quality food for your party. You’re better off leaving it to professionals.
Restaurants can also put a dizzying variety of quality food on your dinner table, so choice won’t be a big deal. You may wish to keep it simple with deep-dish pizza, pasta, or fried rice. Perhaps you may prefer to kick things up a notch by ordering celebratory dishes like lobster, steak, or risotto. Or maybe you want to splurge on foie gras, caviar, or something else from the prix-fixe menu.
Ambiance – Thanks to the broad range of restaurants available in Chicagoland, it’s easy to pick one that will set the right tone and atmosphere for your birthday party. If you’re planning a Mexican fiesta, for instance, you might want to check out restaurants that serve tapas, tacos, enchiladas, and other Spanish or Mexican delicacies.
On the other hand, if you want to throw a fancy evening affair, Chicago has a choice of Michelin-starred restaurants with upscale appeal and fine dining options. Their food, interior décor, activities, and service will help set a sophisticated ambiance to match the theme of your party. In this way, you won’t have to stress yourself while putting together the fanciest birthday party.
Above all, the ambiance of a good restaurant is poised to make you feel special just by being there, and all the more so that you’re surrounded by your loved ones.
Create unforgettable moments – Great memories, as they say, are usually made gathered around the table. That’s exactly the kind of setting that a restaurant creates. When you share a meal and perhaps a few drinks with your friends, family, or colleagues, that warm and festive moment will be remembered for years.
The service – It’s your special day, and you should kick back and savor the experience. Restaurants provide not only the venue, food, and drinks but also service. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, graduation, birthday, or asking that special question, the restaurant’s superb service makes it even more exciting, fun, and happy-go-lucky.
You don’t have to lift a finger for the food and drinks to be prepared or served – the host and waiters do all the heavy lifting for you. As such, you can gather a large group of guests together and serve them fantastic food – but you won’t have to cook, serve, or clean. That’s the beauty of full-service birthday restaurants in Chicago.
But not all restaurants in Chicago are worthy of hosting a killer birthday party. Here are some tips that you should consider in picking the perfect one from our list for your specific birthday party needs.
(1) Keep your budget in mind. Unless you’ve got a bottomless budget, you will need to have a dollar number in mind for the party. To set the right budget, think about entertainment expenses, food/drinks costs per guest, and extras like hiring a DJ or live music bank.
We’ve also attached a price to each entry on this list to make your planning easier. Note that if your birthday falls on a weeknight, you can always snag good deals on the venue. Restaurants are usually hard-pressed to fill their tables on weekdays, especially Tuesday and Wednesday, which is something to keep in mind if you’re flexible on the actual date of the party.
(2) Check the atmosphere and vibe of the restaurants. We make it a point to provide the most complete description and review of each Chicago birthday restaurant appearing on this list. However, it pays to visit the actual restaurant to get a good feel and full experience.
We suggest that you visit during the day of the week and time of the day that you hope to book, so you can check out the actual vibe inside and watch how the restaurant functions. For instance, you want to book a Thursday night, let your visit coincide with a Tuesday night. You can also have small talk with the host and manager if they are not too occupied.
(3) Alert the staff if you’re inviting children to the party. We all love to mark special occasions in the presence of our little ones. However, you should make advance plans on how the kids will be kept entertained and engaged, so they don’t get in the way of your plans for the night.
Remember children often get easily bored, so you might have to arrange a separate table for them and forms of entertainment – such as travel games, coloring books, jumping castle, etc.
(4) Don’t forget about the security and the parking situation. One of the most important steps you can take to whittle down your options is to consider only restaurants that offer ample parking. Scout the venue beforehand to make sure that there’s plenty of parking and security for the entire party.
(5) Does anyone on your guest list have special requirements? You should check that the restaurant’s menu is friendly to everyone invited to your party, including vegans, vegetarians, and those with allergies. Make sure the venue is also ADA compliant. If there will be infants in attendance, there should be changing bays.
Do restaurants have special offers for birthday celebrations?
Yes, they do. Some restaurants in Chicago do offer free food, discounts, and other special offers for your birthday celebration. All that you need to do is ask. This applies to big chain restaurants like Olive Garden, as well as family-owned and independent eateries.
With some Chicago birthday restaurants, you can often rent a private room for a larger celebration at a deeply-discounted rate. If the restaurants on our list have any special birthday package, we’ll include that in the list as well
Will my dinner be expensive?
It doesn’t have to be, there are a variety of Chicago restaurants. Sure, there are upscale restaurants where you may want to dress up a bit before going and be ready to cough up a lot more money than you’d often do when you dine out. But there are a ton of decently-priced and very affordable restaurants in Chicago that can host a kick-ass birthday party.
You can always choose the one that is most suitable for your budget. Remember you can take advantage of offers, discounts, free food, and other birthday freebies to defray the cost of hosting your party at a restaurant.
What are some good neighborhoods for a celebration dinner?
When it comes to fine dining, Chicago is a city like no other in America in that nearly every neighborhood has at least one amazing place to have a celebratory dinner. But the dining scenes in certain neighborhoods definitely put the Windy City on America’s foodie map.
West Loop: If you must have a celebratory dinner in only one Chicago neighborhood, the artistic West Loop should surely be right at the top of your list. Nestled smack-dab in a former industrial area, the ever-hip neighborhood is currently home to some of the most popular and highly-rated restaurants and food scenes in Chicago, most of which is based around Randolph St.
Located adjacent to the river, right across from the famous Central Loop, the West Loop is also well-known for its scintillating nightlife and live music venues.
In this hot neighborhood, you’ll find trendy celebrity restaurants, rooftop lounges, Michelin-starred gems, cool bars replacing former factories, and bustling terraces. Interestingly, almost all cool places in the neighborhood are found within a few blocks.
River North: Just like the West Loop, River North boasts an amazing dining scene that combines a bustling nightlife and delectable food. However, it’s also known more for its upscale dining.
Formerly an industrial area with multiple warehouses dotting the place, this neighborhood has become the go-to place if you want to enjoy a nice dinner and drinks afterward. River North’s lively streets are packed with trendy restaurants, highbrow steakhouses, rooftop lounges, and a plethora of other world-class eateries — all of which are ideal to host a special celebration.
Lake View and Lincoln Park: While Lake View and Lincoln Park are predominantly residential neighborhoods; they also offer a thriving dining scene with popular and trendy restaurants sprinkled all over the area. Whether you plan a small gathering or the whole shindig, you’ll appreciate its charming shopping centers, tree-lined walkable sidewalks, parks, and lots of green spaces.
If you manage to snag a good restaurant with breathtaking lakefront vistas, you will have an evening that your guests won’t forget forever. Talking of restaurant variety, you will come across some of Windy City’s gems in the neighborhoods, from Michelin-starred restaurants to cozy family spots and more in between.
Pilsen: Most locals swear by birthday restaurants in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. That’s especially true among ardent lovers of Mexican classics like tacos, enchiladas, and tapas. But this Latino neighborhood has a lot more to offer.
As far as the dining scene in Pilsen goes, it’s a bold mixture of new and old, affordable, and high-end, but all borrow a leaf from multigenerational and multi-cultural communities. Imagine an eclectic chef putting up shop beside a family-owned taqueria, or a fancy restaurant taking over a historic factory. And they are all tucked within the same vibrant, dynamic, and colorful community.
If none of these top neighborhoods tickles your fancy, you can check out other top spots for fine dining, including Logan Square, Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Hollywood Park.