CHIGuide

Where To Book Your End-Of-Year Team Dinner

The best spots for a celebratory dinner with your coworkers.
Where To Book Your End-Of-Year Team Dinner image

photo credit: Neil Burger

It’s holiday party season, and you’ve been charged with finding the perfect spot for an end-of-year team dinner. This may seem impossible—you know from experience that your coworkers can be difficult to please. But you already spend more time with these people than your real friends, so you need to make this as enjoyable as possible. Here are 18 places great for eating, drinking, and bonding over something other than spreadsheet shortcuts and whose L train was most delayed.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Susie Lacocque

Middle Eastern

Lincoln Park

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDinner with the ParentsDrinking Good CocktailsFirst/Early in the Game DatesSmall PlatesVegetarians
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Galit is a hard place to make a reservation. So hopefully you’re one of those companies that do end-of-year dinners in January when places are (usually) easier to get into. Either way, the Middle Eastern food here would be worth scheduling your team feast for after the holidays. It's all fantastic—from the creamy hummuses to smoked turkey shwarma and falafel with funky mango sauce. And the variety of small plates makes it ideal for groups. So send out an email to see if everyone would rather eat here at 5pm on a Tuesday, 10:30pm on a Wednesday, or at a reasonable time in January of 2024.


With plenty of long tables, loud jazz music, and a busy space, Daisy’s in Hyde Park is the ideal spot for a casual team dinner. The po’boys at this New Orleans-inspired spot are the best in the city (though the gumbo and fried chicken are also excellent)—you’ll want to personally thank all eight sandwiches for their incredible contributions to sandwichkind. They come in varieties like fried shrimp, roast beef, and fried green tomato, and all come on crackly bread imported from Louisiana. Plus, ordering their boozy Hurricanes will guarantee a good time.


photo credit: Kim Kovacik

RESERVE A TABLE

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Snagging a Rose Mary reservation can be daunting, especially for a group. But if you book a few weeks in advance, you actually have a shot. This West Loop restaurant has plenty of space for larger parties and is perpetually buzzing with energy from the packed dining room. And with the promise of great shared Croatian and Italian food, you might be able to lure your strictly remote coworkers to meet IRL. There are all sorts of fantastic dishes like creamy stracciatella, smoky cevapi, and perfectly cooked housemade pastas, as well as a long wine list.


photo credit: Jack Li

For an end-of-year dinner that transcends the humble status of “meal” and ventures into “party” territory, head to Provare. This West Town Creole and Italian spot likes to have a good time—which becomes especially clear when complimentary shots are handed to you with the menu. Throw in 2000s R&B jams, dishes like creamy chicken parm or fried lobster tails, plus some tasty cocktails, and you’ll hope none of you have work the next morning. Don’t want the fun to stop after dessert? Privé—the speakeasy hiding behind some very convincing shelves—can help with that.


We get it; not every team gets along. But if any restaurant could end everyone’s year on a positive note, it’s Daisies in Logan Square. The key to finding common ground at this large restaurant is their vegetable-focused dishes and housemade pastas. Once everyone has discovered a shared love of lemony cannelloni with mashed peas or frito misto with herby tarragon aioli, nobody will even remember (or care) who caused Printergate 2023. Plus, it’s so loud even if someone dares to bring it up, you won’t hear them anyway.


Whenever we eat at RPM Steak, we look up at the mezzanine level and wonder which of Chicago’s professional athletes is having dinner there with Jack Harlow. Turns out that anybody can reserve an upstairs table for the night. Consider RPM if you and your coworkers want to go all out and celebrate a year of crushing your corporate rivals. Or if you just like eating really great steak in a sleek and upscale spot. Either motive is acceptable.


This Ethiopian staple in Uptown is the perfect spot for a large team dinner—there are tables easily seating eight or more people, and the food is meant to be eaten family-style. The best thing to order is the chef’s messob, a dish that’s only available for a group of three or more. It comes with a delicious spread of stewed meats, seafood, and vegetables all on a bed of spongy injera. Cancel next month’s three-hour-long team-building all hands and come here instead.


If you’ve always wanted to pretend that you work for a bootlegging operation instead of an accounting firm, first of all, congratulations on the power of your imagination, and secondly, Gilt Bar probably has the ambience for you. It’s dark and feels like a speakeasy, to the point that we have yet to locate a single window or back door—but we’re pretty sure these must exist thanks to fire codes. The menu has lots of stuff you smear on bread, like bone marrow and roasted garlic, plus housemade pastas—and there’s even a cheeseburger that’s similar to the famous one at Au Cheval (which makes sense, since both restaurants are owned by the same team).


This upscale Southern spot is our favorite restaurant in Hyde Park. Not only is the food great, but we like sitting in the airy dining room that’s always packed, but never feels claustrophobic. The menu has small plates like biscuits and pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and entrees like creamy shrimp and grits. It isn’t the lightest food in the world, so make sure everyone knows that the following day’s dress code is “stretchy pants casual."


Communally digging into a giant fried snapper from Tuk Tuk Thai is a great way to remember that your remote coworkers exist in the real world. But if you’d prefer not to see your boss attack a whole fish like a grizzly bear, split any of their curries, noodle dishes, or one of their nine papaya salads. Everything at this busy, colorfully decorated spot is delicious—just know that the food does lean a bit spicy. If their spice level two feels more like an eight, at least you can wash out some of the heat with your favorite six-pack since they’re BYOB.


A foot of snow and perpetual darkness makes a backyard BBQ unfeasible for an end-of-the-year get-together, but that same energy can be channeled at San Soo Gab San. This casual Lincoln Square KBBQ spot is great for a party. Not only because there’s plenty of room in its hazy interior, but because of their incomparable display of over 25 banchan. Regardless of your group size, there’ll be plenty to snack on while you grill cuts of bulgogi and galbi. And if no one in your group feels comfortable cooking, the attentive staff will make sure you don’t end up barbecuing your boss.


The first time we went to this laidback, upscale Bronzeville restaurant, we saw the fully costumed cast of the Bridgerton Experience having a great time. But luckily for your group (and the general public), powdered wigs and waistcoats aren’t a part of Bronzeville Winery’s dress code. There’s plenty of space, an upbeat funk soundtrack, and it’s never so loud that you’ll resort to Slack to chat about how much you like your gnocchi or seared watermelon.


We look for every opportunity to order Sun Wah’s Peking duck feast—it comes with baos, a choice of fried rice or noodles, and a light soup made with the bones from the carved duck. Eating this is a group effort, so what better excuse than an end-of-the-year team dinner at this casual Chinese spot in Uptown. There’s plenty of room for groups in their bright two-story dining space, and sharing a whole roasted duck is an ideal incentive for learning to compromise.


Etta is a BCR (Big Chicago Restaurant), which means you can expect it to be busy pretty much all the time. But it’s somehow still easy to get a reservation here, and this place works well for groups of a lot of different sizes. There are two large bars (one on the first floor and one upstairs), and the dining room has a mixture of booths and tables. Order a variety of housemade pasta and pizzas or the pig picnic (basically a deconstructed pig roast) for everyone to share.


After a year of conference room pizza and celebrations with sheet cakes from Costco, your office wants a real party. When that’s the case, go to Aba in the West Loop. This place is fun and kind of a scene, but also has some fantastic food. It’s always crowded, but it’s a beautiful space with a huge rooftop patio with fire pits. Most things on the Mediterranean menu are meant to be shared, and (most importantly) almost everything comes with the delicious housemade pita bread, which can fit in everyone’s purse—like a party favor.


At the end of the year here in the Midwest, we have about three hours of sunlight a day and that time is spent in the office. If your team is battling a vitamin D deficiency, consider going to Cabra. This place is on the roof of the Hoxton Hotel, and the space is bright and plant-filled. The menu is Peruvian-inspired, and the best things here are the ceviches (the bass with leche de tigre and the duck are both standouts), the tender and spicy skewered beef heart, and the crispy pork shank.


Dinner at The Publican works if you and your colleagues don’t mind strangers listening in on your conversations (save the trade secrets for another time). The gigantic U-shaped wooden communal table has plenty of room for sharing big platters of food, like their porchetta or their excellent whole roasted chicken with fries. And don’t let this place’s pork-heavy reputation steer you away—the menu dedicates as much space to vegetable and seafood dishes as it does to pork.


photo credit: Christina Slaton

This spot is Permanently Closed.

Dusek’s in Pilsen is in a huge, refurbished, very possibly haunted building from the turn of the century, and it has a couple of spaces for private dinners. In the basement is the “Beer Cellar,” a private room you access through a revolving bookcase (yep, that’s right)—and next door is the “Tack Room,” constructed over an old stable. Wherever you choose to eat, an event at Dusek’s will get you a lot of history, as well as dishes like pork chops, roasted sweet potato, and mussels. And ghosts, we’re pretty sure.


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