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David Lissner
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21 cheap dates for New Year’s Eve in Chicago


If you’ve been putting off making New Year’s Eve plans because funds are short, don’t worry. You don’t have to spend a fortune to celebrate the end of 2009. Although, sadly, big municipal celebrations have fallen victim to the economy this year, there are still plenty of low-cost options for Dec. 31. Here are 21 fun but cheap ways to bring in 2010.

  1. Ben Pao New Year’s Eve Sharing Dinner, River North, 4 to 10:30 p.m. seatings, $23.95 per person.
    Choose three starters, three main dishes and one side to share from dishes such as ginger shrimp dumplings, black-peppered sea scallops, Penang curry chicken and kung pao beef.
  2. Birch River Grill New Year’s Eve Dinner, Arlington Heights, $38.95.
    A prix fixe features a glass of champagne, lobster bisque, filet mignon and grilled jumbo shrimp with horseradish butter, sweet potato crush and roasted walnut-butter brussels sprouts, plus triple chocolate mousse.
  3. Cityscape / Italiasia New Year’s Eve Dinner, River North, $39.95.
    A four-course prix fixe includes a choice of dishes such as prosciutto wrapped scallops, miso glazed salmon and polenta with mushroom ragout, plus one specialty martini before dinner and a champagne toast at midnight. Reservations required.
  4. Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen New Year’s Eve Dinner Celebration, Crystal Lake, seatings from 6:30 p.m., $35.
    Enjoy a three-course prime rib dinner with champagne, party favors, jazz by the Rick Embach Duo, followed by more entertainment and the countdown to midnight with the Nigel Mack Duo. Reservations required.
  5. Heartland Cafe New Years Eve with Roots 101, Rogers Park, 9 p.m., no cover.
    Roots 101 combines reggae, jazz, rock and afro-carribe grooves in a musical world tour. Free party favors and champagne and $2.50 Goose Island beer all night long.
  6. Inovasi New Year’s Eve Dinner, Lake Bluff, 6 p.m., $38.
    Chef John des Rosiers’ three-course menu New Year’s Eve menu, incorporating produce from Freedom Organix Farm in Harvard, Ill., features such entree choices as Florida pink prawns and fresh calamari, grilled Dutch white sea bass, marinated guinea hen breast and grilled dry aged free-range filet mignon, with a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Heather Moran and Damian Espinosa play jazz.
  7. iO Theater “The Improvised, Interactive Musical New Year’s Celebration,” Wrigleyville, 8 p.m., $25.
    iO’s “Improvised Musical” featuring The Deltones, plus games and interactive segments, a champagne toast to ring in the new year, admission to a post-show dance party, and specials all night at the Cabaret bar. IO also hosts two late-night shows, “Bye Bye Liver” and “Cupid Has A Heart On!” each $25.
  8. Irish American Heritage Center New Year’s Eve Party, Irving Park, 8 p.m., $25.
    Members of the SilverBridge Band, including Joe McShane, Myles McVeigh, Gerry Carey and Kara Eadie, with guest Joe Cullen, perform at this celebration under the chandeliers in the center’s new Erin Room for an evening of dancing, hors d’oeuvres, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Before the party, Mass will be celebrated in the auditorium at 7 p.m.
  9. Luxbar New Year’s Eve Party, Gold Coast, no cover.
    The Lady DJs will be spinning, and patrons receive party favors and a champagne toast at midnight.
  10. Navy Pier New Year’s Eve Concert featuring DJ Madrid, Family Pavilion Stage, 9 p.m., free.
    Leading up to New Year’s Eve fireworks at midnight, DJ Madrid spins and re-mixes pop and dance hits.
  11. O’Donovan’s New Year’s Eve Party, North Center, 8 p.m., $10.
    Passed appetizers, DJ, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight feature.
  12. Osteria Via Stato Italian Dinner Party Feast, River North, 5 to 9:45 p.m. seatings, $19.95–$38.95.
    Celebratory dinner specials and a prosecco toast plus Chef David DiGregorio’s signature dishes feature. The full feast includes antipasti; two pastas; a main course such as chicken mario, seared Atlantic salmon, pan-roasted diver sea scallops, roast chicken, pork tenderloin milanese or braised beef short rib; and side dishes. For $19.95 per person, you can get antipasti alone or, for $24.95, antipasti and pasta. Wine pairings start at $15.
  13. Red Kiva “Stories and Bubbly,” West Loop, 9:30 p.m., $25 in advance, $35 at the door.
    Storytellers Khanisha Foster, Larry Kerns, Julie Ganey and Deb Lewis from 2nd Story premiere four new tales, with music from local band Seeking Wonderland. A champagne toast, midnight countdown, snacks and dessert bar are all included.
  14. Red Line Tap New Year’s Eve with the Rogers Park All Stars, Rogers Park, 9 p.m., no cover
    Micki Crosiant of the Good Name Band, Justin Gillam of the Mudflapps, James Weigel of Outlaw Family Band, Ian Broeker of the Grizzly Sweets, Barb Hale of Super Mini Trio, Brian Koehler of Old No 8, Barrett Tasky of MWC and Brettly Kawaguchi of The Reunion perform. Free party favors and champagne plus $2.50 Goose Island beer all night long.
  15. Salute Wine Bar Dinner Party, River North, 5 to 9 p.m. seatings, $25.
    New Year’s dinner includes an appetizer, pizza or panini and dessert. Advance purchase required.
  16. Shaw’s Crab House New Year’s Eve Wine Tasting, Schaumburg, 6:30 p.m., $35.
    Sommelier Steve Tindle showcases more than 35 wines to sample in a preview of Shaw’s 2010 by-the-glass wine program, with passed hors d’oeuvres, prepared by Chef de Cuisine Juvenal Reyes. Reservations are required.
  17. Soul 106.3 / Majestic Gents World’s Largest New Year’s Eve Bash, Navy Pier, 7 p.m., $25 in advance.
    Soul 106.3 and The Majestic Gents host this 19th annual steppin’ bash featuring music from DJ Vell, a balloon drop, food station, party favors, discount parking and more, plus midnight Navy Pier fireworks.
  18. Stretch Run New Year’s Eve Party, River North, no cover.
    Enjoy $5 champagne and $5 Jager shots all night, plus $7.95 servings of sauerkraut and ribs with black-eyed peas for good luck in the New Year.
  19. Tapas Valencia New Year’s Eve Tapas, South Loop, 9:30 p.m., no cover.
    Buy a beverage in the bar area between 9:30 and 11 p.m., and you can also get $2 tapas. A guitarist will play. Reservations required.
  20. Timothy O’Toole’s New Year’s Eve Party, Streeterville, 9 p.m., $15.
    Choose from a 24-ounce Miller High Life (“the champagne of beers”) or a champagne split plus an appetizer buffet at midnight, open pool tables and party favors.
  21. Weber Grill Restaurant New Year’s Eve Dinner for Two, Lombard, River North and Schaumburg, $30 per person.
    The New Year’s prix fixe offers fire-roasted artichoke and spinach dip with smoked onion and tomato salsa served with pita chips, 8-ounce filet mignon with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and a trio of classic American desserts.

City celebrants can leave their cars at home this New Year’s Eve. The CTA offers penny rides Thursday after 8 p.m.