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David Lissner
for restaurants

20 Chicago cheap dates for New Year’s Eve 2012



New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean you have to lay out a bundle on a party package. Have fun at these spots for under $30 per person.

  1. AJ Hudson’s Public House, Wrigleyville, no cover.

    Toast the New Year as it hits the United Kingdom at 6 p.m. CST, and then again, stateside, at midnight, with Champagne toasts, party favors and traditional sing-song of “Auld Lang Syne.” Party on till 3 a.m.

  2. Barrio Urban Taqueria, Lakeview, no cover.

    Chef Martin Cabrera’s New Year’s Eve tacos menu, priced at $7 or in a flight of three for $18 features dressed-up options such as a foie gras taco with quince paste, truffle shallots and tempura hiutacoche; spicy lobster taco with butter ancho-poached lobster, morita salsa, avocado, and grapefruit and a skate-wing taco with chipotle salmon roe, champagne sauce and crispy shallots from 4 p.m. to midnight. Reservations are not required.

  3. Bombay Spice, River North, $50 per couple.

    New Year’s Eve Indian platter for two features chickpea ceviche, hummus, roti, naan, paratha, chicken tikka, lamb seekh, chili shrimp and raita dip with a glass of wine each included. Add in friends for $15 each. The restaurant serves until midnight.

  4. Buddy Guy’s Legends, South Loop, $25.

    Alligator recording artist Chicago slide guitar master Lil’ Ed Williams and his band, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, play songs from their recent CD, “Full Tilt” beginning at 9 p.m.

  5. Carnivale, River West, no cover.

    New Year’s Eve celebration includes a DJ, cabaret and specialty acts including: a drag queen, fan dancer, contortionist and burlesque entertainers from BigTop JoJo), stilt walker, magician, Action Photo Booth ( in the bar and lounge, and a balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight. Food service available till 11 p.m. Reservations highly recommended.

  6. The Cubby Bear, Wrigleyville, $20 in advance and $25 day of show.

    Lucky Boys Confusion play rock, ska, punk and hip-hop with guest performers Liquid Hot Music. Doors open at 8 p.m.

  7. Heartland Cafe, Rogers Park, no cover.

    Live music from husband and wife team Soultree, free champagne toast at midnight, and $3 Goose Island 312 and Honkers Ale drafts all night.

  8. ItaliAsia, River North, $29.95.

    Four-course prix fixe offers crab cakes, miso-glazed salmon, chicken milanese, polenta with mushroom ragout and more. Reservations required.

  9. The Lobby Bar adjoining David Burke’s Primehouse, Streeterville, no cover.

    This low-key celebration features a DJ, free passed appetizers from 8 to 9 p.m. and a champagne toast at midnight. No reservations required.

  10. Luxbar, Gold Coast, no cover.

    Enjoy tunes from White Label DJs Madrid and Sadie Woods, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Kitchen serves until 1 a.m.

  11. Michael Diversey’s Tavern, Lakeview, $10.

    You can pay $75 for an open bar, but the $10 pay-as-you-go gets you cash-bar service, party favors, DJ-spun tunes and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

  12. Navy Pier, free.

    While there are costly concerts and parties on the Pier, the two fireworks shows, 8:15 p.m. and midnight, are free, as is a family-friendly show at 6 p.m. featuring breakdancing and footworking by The Chicago FootworKINGz, Full Effect Entertainment and Boyz of Poison; funk music by Get Up with the Get Downs; cheerleader-style dancing by Cheerobix and go-go dancing by Winter WonderFest costumed characters.

  13. O’Donovan’s Pub and Restaurant, North Center, no cover.
    New Year’s Eve food specials such as seafood pasta and roasted pork chops feature, plus $8 Pabst Blue Ribbon pitchers; $1 off Maker’s Mark; $5 Pinnacle Bombs; $5 White Trash Mimosas; $5 Fat Marys; $4 Knot Shots; and Champagne specials; diverse DJ tunes till 1 a.m. and party favors, hats and noisemakers. Reservations not required.

  14. Pinstripes, Northbrook and South Barrington, no cover.

    Bowling, bocce and dancing to the sounds of Skinny Williams in Northbrook and Brother John in South Barrington, balloon drops at 8 and 10 p.m., a champagne toast and party favors, feature, plus an a la carte menu till 12:30 a.m.

  15. The Purple Pig, Magnificent Mile, no cover.

    An a la carte menu of Mediterranean-inspired small plates offers items such as house cured bacallà with potatoes, blood oranges, calabrian chiles and mint ($8); braised baby artichokes with fingerling potatoes, asiago and salami toscana ($8); shaved brussels sprouts with pecorino noce and parmigiano reggiano ($7); lamb saddle Milanese with black chickpeas, kale and yogurt sauce ($17); porcini rubbed bone-in beef tenderloin with mushrooms and aged balsamic ($23); turkey leg confit with crispy lentils, treviso, endive and agro dolce ($15); wild alaskan black cod with cardoon caponata ($16). The kitchen stays open till 2 a.m. No reservations accepted.

  16. Red Line Tap, Rogers Park, no cover.

    A Railway Records showcase features Americana and roots acts. They’ll pour a free champagne toast at midnight, and $3 Goose Island Mild Winter drafts throughout.

  17. Renaldi’s Bar & Lounge, Lakeview, no cover.

    Live music, free appetizers from 6 p.m., free champagne at midnight, party favors and $3.50 well drinks.

  18. SmallBar, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park, no cover.

    House-music beats from Karl Almaria and the Brunchlox BBQ Crew in a 20-plus DJ tag team cage match and a free champagne toast at midnight in Lincoln Park. The Comeups and DJs Intel and Pickel perform in Wicker Park. No reservations.

  19. The Snuggery, Edison Park, no cover.

    Two floors of DJs, dancing and multi-media countdown at midnight.

  20. Timothy O’Toole’s Pub, Streeterville, $20.

    Admission to the party, 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., include the choice of a “champagne of beers” (a 24-ounce Miller High Life tallboy) or a champagne split, a midnight appetizer buffet, karaoke, DJ-spun music and party favors, plus the televised countdown on more than 75 screens.