Planning a birthday dinner can be a pain, whether it’s for yourself or someone else. You probably have ten or more people who don’t like the same things and feel differently about a meal costing more than a certain amount. Don’t make things too complicated. Here are some places where you can get a big group together while making things fun and reasonable.
The Publican is still one of those places we walk away from thinking damn, that was a good meal. The high ceilings, giant communal tables, and boisterous crowd make for a great atmosphere. Take over one of the long rectangular tables and make friends with the strangers nearby.
Dusek’s has range and is “Perfect For” a lot of occasions, birthdays included. The funky atmosphere matches the food, and you can head to Punch House downstairs once you’re done with dinner to continue the night.
Frontier does whole animal service and it’s perfect for groups. Set it up ahead of time so you can plan on ordering everything from a whole roasted pig to a smoked alligator stuffed with chickens. It’ll be different, that’s for sure.
There are great steakhouses in this town, but not everyone can foot the bill for a ten person celebration at Chicago Cut. Don’t ask your friends to do that for you. Instead, invite everyone to Tango Sur instead, because the laid-back, BYOB, Argentinian steakhouse is casual and affordable yet still serves great steaks.
When all else fails, have a big birthday dinner at Quartino – it’s foolproof. Everyone will be happy with the pizzas and straightforward Italian small plates.
Taxim is kind of like the Mediterranean grad school version of Quartino. It’s a little nicer and a little more sophisticated, but the same principles apply. They have a great Greek wine list and you won’t have to worry about ordering that extra bottle.
90 Miles Cuban Cafe
We’ve had countless big birthday dinners for ourselves and friends at 90 Miles. The enclosed back patio is a great place to hang whether it’s winter or summer, and the BYOB policy no doubt helps. And you might not think it, but Cuban food offers something for everyone, even the pickiest of eaters.
Honky Tonk has two things everyone can rally behind: BBQ food and live music. If your group can’t agree on that, then you need new friends.
Bar Takito is serious food, not a hole-in-the wall taco joint. It’s a shared plate Mexican/Central American/South American fusion restaurant with an interesting spin on traditional dishes. But while the food says “serious,” the space is down to get down. The drink menu is twice the size of the food menu, and the drinks are boozy and delicious. It’s a birthday party, right?
The Old Town pizza joint is full of people, pizza, and beer. Those are all the ingredients for a great dinner out with friends. You can even reserve the actual mini camper in the back and make it a real trip.