New Year's Eve Dining and Drinking Guide
New Year's Eve is not only one of the most clamorous holidays of the year, right up there with St. Patrick's Day, but it's one of the biggest nights for dining and drinking in restaurants and bars. Celebrators are out in full-force, looking to end 2014 on a high note and beckon the new year with full bellies and a steady Champagne-fueled buzz. Here's where to make that happen in Chicago this year:
SHAY: One of the buzziest, chicest new nightclubs and bars in River North has "New Year's Eve" written all over it. SHAY looks like the sort of glistening, splashy enclave you'd expect to pop bottles at in South Beach or Las Vegas. Instead, party-hearty Chicagoans have it to themselves downtown, making it a prime destination for those who like clubby vibes with their New Year's frivolity. Tickets and table reservations can be made here, both of which include a dinner buffet — think kale Caesar salad, meatballs, savory bread pudding — while Veuve Cliquot bottle service is on hand for table service patrons. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and remain open until 4:00 a.m.
Spiaggia: A complete 180 from the nightclub vibe, Spiaggia is rolling out a savorous degustation befitting an end of the year finale. The tasting menu-only fete has two seatings — 5:00 p.m. until 6:15 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. — priced at $195 per person and $295 per person respectively, with optional wine pairings extra. Dishes include raw A5 Wagyu beef with hearts of palm, quail egg, salsify, and truffle; hand-cut spaghetti with brown butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and fresh white truffle; Wisconsin lamb chop with canerdeli, winter squash, and matsutake; and black and white Italian pastry. Reservations can be made by calling 312-280-2750 or by visiting OpenTable. If you're looking for something more casual (assuming caviar service is casual to you), then Spiaggia Lounge is also open and accepting reservations. Menu options include oysters by the dozen, Champagne, cured meats, cheeses, cocktails, wine, and caviar. Make a reservations by calling the same number as above.
Parachute: What happens when one of the hottest restaurant openings of 2014 serves a multi-course New Year's Eve menu for just $80? You attend. As fast as you can. The red-hot Avondale restaurant has three seatings — 5:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. until 7:15 p.m., 8:45 p.m. until 9:15 p.m. —for their menu featuring dishes like oysters with smoked mignonette, shrimp toast, cod with miso, squab with aged plum sauce, and butter cake with Asian pear and makgeolli custard. Reservations must be made by calling the restaurant at 773-654-1460.
Takashi: New Year's Eve is your last chance to partake in the culinary riches of Takashi, which closes its doors after the holiday dinner. The restaurant offers two different menu options, a seven-course tasting menu for $100 per person or a nine-course tasting menu for $120 per person. The former seats at 5:30 p.m. while the latter begins at 7:00 p.m. Both meals can be supplemented with wine pairings.
312 Chicago: Bid 2014 farewell the Italian way with a taste of white truffles, Parmigiano, and fresh tagliolini at 312 Chicago. The Loop mainstay is offering a four-course "menu di capo d'anno" dinner for New Year's Eve, with multiple options available for each course. There are also optional Italian wine pairings for each dish. The cost is $70 per person and reservations can be made by calling 312-696-2420 or visiting here.
Osteria La Madia: Another solid Italian option is the newly revamped Osteria La Madia, which kicks off its New Year's Eve festivities at 5:00 p.m. with complimentary glasses of Prosecco or sparkling cider. Food specials are a la carte, or diners can opt for a five-course tasting menu for $65 per person (plus another $20 for wine pairings). Menu options include duck confit arancini, pappardelle with wild boar bolognese, tagliatelle with foie gras meatball, porchetta, vegetable lasagna, and Nutella chocolates. Guests looking to linger later can start their meal with reservations between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., which includes a tasting menu option, complimentary midnight toast, and late night fare. A live band kicks into gear at 11:00 p.m. Call 312-329-0400 or visit here to make a reservation.
Scofflaw: One of the coolest, most casual, and tastiest cocktail bars in Chicago is kicking it up a notch for New Year's Eve. Their ticketed event runs from 8:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., featuring hefty hors d'oeuvres, an open bar with a special cocktail menu, a Champagne toast, and music courtesy of DJ Major Taylor. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased here.
JIMMY: From bustling Logan Square bar to clandestine River North nook, JIMMY is another good bet for a boozy New Year's Eve. The bar is offering a special New Year's package that includes a premium open bar with food from David Burke's Primehouse, complimentary midnight Champagne toast, and a live DJ. At midnight, bartender Matt Hunnel pays homage to the Times Square ball by cracking an orb-shaped ice sphere for a Champagne cocktail, which he'll crack at midnight. The package costs $100 per person and runs from 9:00 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. Purchase tickets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
DMK Burger Bar: Keep it casual or go big at DMK Burger Bar, which is offering two unique packages for guests on New Year's Eve. For $65 per person, attendees can indulge in draft beer, boozy punch, cocktails, and passed sliders, fries, and shakes all night long. Or for $2,000 for groups up to 14, you can snag a Double Magnum bottle of Veuve Cliquot, two bottles of liquor of choice, and an enormous breakfast served at 1:00 a.m. with bacon, eggs, sausage, and bagels.
- Matt Kirouac