However you planned on celebrating your birthday this year, we bet it didn’t involve being quarantined in your apartment. Maybe you were planning a trip, or having a big party. Or maybe you were planning on keeping it low-key, but now you’re so bored you’ve resorted to throwing elaborate un-birthday parties like the Madhatter. Either way, we put together a list of great restaurants offering takeout and delivery - whether you want a fancy steak dinner, or tacos on your couch. In other words, you have plenty of options to help you celebrate.
That’s right, Chicago’s most famous restaurant is offering takeout. And while dinner here used to require hundreds of dollars and some serious planning to get a reservation, now it’s much more affordable ($42.50 per person, and you can get it the same day). Sure, you’re missing out on the elaborate spectacle that defines a typical dinner here, but you can eat an expertly-prepared duck cassoulet and banana cream meringue tart in your pajamas. Plus, you don’t want a tank of liquid nitrogen in your apartment, anyway.
Next is from the Alinea team, and similarly, eating here used to be an ordeal. First, you needed to wait for them to announce their lineup (they have four different dinner themes a year) and then it was a race to buy tickets to whatever meal you wanted to reserve. But now Next changes its meal weekly (with options like “Mexico City At Home” and “Italia”) and you can order for the next day. There’s also an option to add a cocktail kit from The Aviary.
Prior to lockdown, Bavette’s was a great choice for a wide range of occasions - from anniversaries to impressing visitors to celebrating a particularly nice Tuesday. So it’s not surprising the same can be said for a birthday spent stuck inside your house. The menu is smaller, but it has what matters: excellent steak, truffle pasta, crusty sourdough bread, and the chocolate cream pie - a.k.a. the best dessert in the city.
Are you one of those people who really likes doing sht? Then Siena Tavern’s “from scratch” meal kits will not only give you sht to do, but also will result in delicious pastas and pizza. And if you don’t feel like doing a bunch of work on your birthday, just order from the a la carte section of their menu and have them make it for you.
Etta is one of those restaurants that does a wide-range of things remarkably well. So when it comes to the family meals (with menus that change daily), you can always expect the food to be good. A typical meal might include the focaccia, salad, bucatini with meatball, roast chicken, and red velvet cake - which sounds like a pretty great birthday to us.
Your ideal birthday - even when not mandated to shelter in place - involves mounds of pasta and veal scallopini the size of your coffee table. Preferably while sitting at your coffee table. La Scarola, an old school Italian restaurant, can make this dream possible. Plus, you’ll probably have enough leftovers to last until your next birthday.
On the other hand, if your dream birthday involves a sea of curries on that coffee table, you should place an order with Vajra. Dishes like the shrimp korma and tikka masala will make you glad you were born, and the colorful samosa chaat makes a perfectly valid birthday cake replacement. Don’t forget to get a cocktail kit or some wine and beer to go.
S.K.Y. is our favorite special occasion restaurant in Pilsen, primarily because of the fantastic food. And their “S.K.Y. at Home” menu allows you to pick a meal for two people from their greatest hits. You choose a salad (get the roasted root), main (too hard to choose), and side (same), and everything comes with their black truffle croquettes and cornbread madeleines. It’s a delicious spread and a meal for two is only $39, so you can save your birthday money for that birthday trip you’ll be taking in 2026.
If birthdays (or pandemics) tend to bum you out, you should order from Soule. The outstanding soul food here is basically Xanax. And if you don’t cry tears of joy after eating their shrimp and grits, it’s not your birthday because you’re clearly dead inside.
This year’s birthday was supposed to involve a fancy outfit, champagne, and maybe an Uber driver asking “Are you alright?” as you pour yourself into the back seat. Plans have changed, but you can still channel this energy by ordering from RPM Italian. Play the deep house Spotify playlist, put on some old episodes of “E!”, and order the family meal with housemade bucatini, truffle garlic bread, salad, and the chocolate budino. Get a bottle of Giuliana prosecco too.
If all of the above is true, but you want to replace champagne with scotch and bucatini with steak, order from RPM Steak. (But you can still get a bottle of Giulana’s prosecco).
This Mexican restaurant has been around for over 30 years, so we don’t blame you for thinking it feels like old news. But eating Frontera’s perfectly-cooked carne asada or duck tacos with handmade tortillas on your couch will definitely feel new. Make sure to get their margarita kit, too.
We love the Middle Eastern food at Galit. Therefore we seek out any excuse to eat it and encourage you to do the same. This includes your spider plant’s first birthday or the fact that you’re turning 32 ½ next week, both of which obviously need to be celebrated with creamy brisket hummus, fluffy pita and salatim, and balkan-stuffed cabbage.
Maybe you had a fancy omakase planned for your birthday. We’re sorry that’s been ruined, but hope is not lost. Not only is the sushi at Sushi-san excellent, but getting a san-set (like the Megatron that comes with a selection of rolls and 12 pieces of nigiri and sashimi) is the next best thing. Order a bottle of sake, and make sure to be half in the bag before you start eating - just like getting a wine pairing at Kyoten.
Here’s your new birthday dinner party plan: have All Together put together a fancy cheese plate, and let them select a bottle of wine to go with it. Then order a family meal (like pot roast with roasted vegetables, grilled asparagus, and sourdough) that you don’t eat because you passed out after having too much cheese and wine. (It’s fine - it comes in oven-safe packaging with reheating instructions.)
There’s a reason the chocolate cake at Portillos is unironically served at rich-people’s weddings. It’s delicious. And it, plus an Italian beef and a side of crinkle fries covered in cheese sauce, makes a pretty perfect birthday meal.