Where (and what) to eat on New Year's Eve in Chicago
Lamb loin at Trump Tower’s Sixteen (served earlier this year). It may not include lamb, but rest assured that the food will be just a rich—probably richer—at Sixteen's New Year's Eve dinner.
The search for the next exotic hot sauce may well have landed in Northern Africa. Harissa, a traditional Tunisian red chili paste, has been popping up in contemporary cuisine a lot lately, lending complexity with layers of spices like cayenne, cumin and coriander. While chef Frank Brunacci’s lamb loin at Trump Tower’s Sixteen is Pennsylvania-farmed and paired with wild salsify and trumpet mushrooms from the Midwest, he reaches abroad to incorporate heat, plating the lamb with freshly made harissa. (401 N Wabash Ave, 312-588-8030.)
AcadiaThis five-course dinner is followed by a Champagne toast at midnight and a special surprise. (Is it a puppy? We hope it’s a puppy! New Year’s Eve puppy, we love you!). 1639 S Wabash Ave. 5pm–2am (lounge), 6–9pm (dining room); $175 (vegetarian option $125).
AvecFive courses for $65, with an optional $25 beverage pairing. But best of all: reservations accepted! 615 W Randolph St (312-377-2002). Seatings from 5–11pm.
BalsanThis dinner has two seatings: one with a three-course tasting menu, another with a four-course meal with wine and cocktail pairings, a Champagne toast at midnight, and an Ice Belvedere lounge. Guess which one costs more? 11 E Walton St (312-646-1400). First seating 5:30–7pm, $80; second seating 9pm–1am, $185.
BlackbirdBeing modest? There’s a five-course menu. Going all out? Get the nine-course. 619 W Randolph St (312-715-0708). Seatings from 5–10:30pm. Five-course $75, nine-course $125.
BonsoiréeCount down to the New Year with eight mouthwatering dishes. Or, lose count somewhere between the roast pheasant and lamb Wellington. 2728 W Armitage Ave (773-486-7511). 4–11pm; $120.
CarnivaleAny NYE bash without a stilt walker, a magician, a fan dancer, a drag queen, a contortionist, burlesque performers, a balloon drop, and food from the Caribbean, Cuba, Spain, Central and South America really isn’t putting in a solid effort. 702 W Fulton Mkt (312-850-5005). 7:30pm–1am. Average main course: $24.
Charlie Trotter’sTrotter’s dining rooms, cellar and kitchens will be filled with food stations and a dance floor, all in celebration of 2012 (and 25 years of Charlie Trotter’s). 816 W Armitage Ave (773-248-6228). 8pm–1am; $295.
Chen’s Chinese and SushiA Chinese buffet. Fresh sushi. Open bar. Party favors. 3506 N Clark St (773-549-9100). 10pm–1am; $45.
Chicago Cut SteakhouseJazz vocalist Typhanie Monique competes for your attention with a Champagne toast and lobster/filet mignon surf and turf. Reservations required.300 N LaSalle St (312-329-1800). 10pm–2am; $65.
Club Lago“Diamonds are forever, and so is the Lago.” That’s the kind of thing you get to say when your restaurant is about to turn 60. Celebrate with an open bar and buffet. 331 W Superior St (312-951-2849). 9pm–2am; $75 in advance, $100 at the door.
Custom House TavernA five-course prix fixe is offered from 5–10pm, but it’s not until 8:30pm that the jazz band gets started. Party favors and a Champagne toast keep the party going just past midnight. 500 S Dearborn St (312-523-0200). Dinner 5–10pm, $75; jazz 8:30pm–12:30am, $20 cover charge.
DMK BurgerOpen bar, plentiful sliders, a superior hipster playlist, and the unveiling of DMK’s latest and greatest burger at the stroke of midnight. 2954 N Sheffield Ave (773-360-8686). 9pm–2am; $75.
LuxbarSpecial NYE menu? Luxbar doesn’t need no stinkin’ special NYE menu. (But it did book a couple of DJs for the LuxLounge.) 18 E Bellvue Pl (312-642-3400). Open until 1am.
MercaditoFor $45: a special “sharing menu” available for reservations from 8:15–8:45pm. For $55: that sharing menu for reservations after 10pm. For $100: that sharing menu, for reservations after 10pm, with two hours of open bar. It’s an obvious choice, people. 108 W Kinzie St (312-329-9555).
mkMusic from DJ John Young accompanies the four-course meal here, which includes Maine lobster and a Valrhona dark-chocolate bomb. 868 N Franklin St (312-482-9179). Early seating 5:30–7:30pm, $75; late seating 8:30–10pm, $95.
NanaThe five-course meal here comes with suggested cocktail pairings and, at the 9pm seating, live jazz and prosecco. 3267 S Halsted St (312-929-2486). Seatings at 5pm ($75) 7pm ($75) and 9pm ($90).
North PondMake room for a seven-course tasting menu before your New Year’s resolution diet kicks in at midnight. 2610 N Cannon Dr (773-477-5845). 5:30–10pm; $120 ($180 with wine pairings).
The PublicanThe four-course meal is a mere $55, but if you know what you’re doing, you’ll throw on the $30 seafood-tower option. 837 W Fulton Mkt (312-733-9555). Seatings from 5:30–10:30pm.
The Red CanaryThe third annual Bootlegger’s Ball is dropping at the Red Canary, and this year it’s “Vegas Edition.” Expect prizes and two NYE dinner options: “Stardust” and “Golden Nugget.” 695 N Milwaukee Ave (312-846-1475). 9pm–3am; $30–$150.
RhapsodyFirst seating enjoys an à la carte menu or a four-course tasting menu; second seating has the option of a pricier four-course tasting menu or à la carte in the lounge only. A musical performance by Lynne Jordan & the Shivers starts at 9pm.First seating 5–7:30pm, $35; second seating 9–10:30pm, $85.
Roka AkorRing in the New Year with a six-course meal of oysters, lobster and steak; afterward, hang out in the sake lounge until 3am. 456 N Clark St (312-477-7652). Dinner reservations from 5–6:30pm and 8:30–11pm; $128.
Rustic HouseJason Paskewitz’s special five-course tasting menu features veal-cheek ragout and duck à l’orange. 1967 N Halsted St (312-929-3227). 6pm seating $65; 9pm seating (includes Champagne toast) $75.
Shaw’s Crab House (Schaumburg)Live rhythm and blues from the Matt Stedman Band in the Oyster Bar. Champagne toast. Party favors. And—shut the front door!—complimentary oysters at midnight. 1900 E Higgins Rd, Schaumburg (847-517-2722). 9pm–1am.
Sixteen at TrumpBehind the mask is just more lobster and foie gras at this “Venetian Masquerade.” First seating gets a three-course menu; second-seating packs in a ten-course menu (or a six-course menu for those sincerely wishing to make it to the New Year). 401 N Wabash Ave (312-588-8030).First seating 5:30–8:50pm, $135; second seating 9–10:30pm, $235–$340.
Table Fifty-TwoArt Smith’s à la carte NYE menu includes fried green tomatoes, cornmeal-crusted catfish and a Champagne toast (with balloons!) at midnight. 52 W Elm St (312-573-4000). Seatings from 5–10pm.
Tavern on RushWhat does Tavern’s regular dinner menu taste like when you add a Champagne toast at midnight? Find out!1031 N Rush St (312-664-9600). 9am–3am.
TaximChoose from dishes like house-cured sardines and wood-grilled octopus, then watch chef-owner David Schneider smash a pomegranate to spread the seeds of good luck. 1558 N Milwaukee Ave (773-252-1558). Seatings from 5:30–7:30pm $75, 8–10:30pm $95. Live Greek music and dancing 10pm–2am.
ZocaloIn addition to its regular à la carte menu, Zocalo offers two eating and drinking packages with live music and a midnight tequila toast. 358 W Ontario St (312-302-9977). 7pm–2am; $30–$65.