10 great holiday party spots in Chicago

From tiki bashes to a butchering demo to hockey games, here’s where to throw a holiday party for groups of friends or colleagues
Photograph: courtesy the Publican
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The festive season is near, which means the pressure’s suddenly on to plan a night that’ll fill your colleagues or friends with holiday cheer. Need some inspiration? No matter your group’s size, interests or price point, there's a great holiday party option, from going on a brewery tour to taking in a hockey game.

RECOMMENDED: Christmas in Chicago

Holiday party venues

Photograph: courtesy the Publican
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Publican Quality Meats

icon-location-pin West Loop

After dark, the West Loop’s butcher shop/cafe doubles as the private event space for its big sister, the Publican. PQM offers a range of multi-course, family-style dinners (42 guest max), and can accommodate up to 125 revelers for standing receptions. Solid options, sure—but for an event that’s truly different, consider an evening that revolves around PQM’s core: butchery. Gather your group around a whole hog or a suckling pig (12-guest minimum), or see how the sausage is made with a butchering demo followed by an intimate chef’s table meal (24-guest max). December private event minimums start at $2,000.

Contact Kirsten Trelenberg, 312-496-0012 or kirsten@thepublicanrestaurant.com

Music, Music venues

The Beer Cellar at Dusek’s/Punch House

icon-location-pin Lower West Side

Party-planning conundrum: On one hand, you’ve got the Old World–inflected charm and simple but beautifully executed fare of Dusek’s Beer and Board; on the other, the uncle’s basement vibe (Paneling! A decorative marlin!) and superb cocktail offerings of Punch House, its downstairs bar. Can’t choose between the two? Good news: Events at the Beer Cellar (max capacity 30 seated, 45 standing reception) combine the best of both worlds, allowing you to put together a party that marries bites from Dusek’s kitchen with boozy punches from its sassy subterranean sister. Want to keep the party going once your event ends? Pop, Batman-style, through the concealed door that links the Beer Cellar to Punch House. Holiday season minimums start at $1,500.

Contact Emma Winter, 312-526-3851 or emma@16oncenterchicago.com

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Restaurants, American

Fulton Market Kitchen

icon-location-pin West Loop

Events of all sizes are on the table at Fulton Market Kitchen, which offers full-venue cocktail receptions for more than 400; private, seated dinners for groups of 12 to 20; and just about everything in between. Details like candelabras and tufted banquettes lend a touch of luxury here, while polished concrete floors and quirky, large-scale artworks keep the ambience from feeling stuffy. The highly customizable food options reflect an outlook that’s high-spirited and global, while the cocktail list includes such winter warmers as the Old, Old Fashioned (the classic made with 10-year-old Henry McKenna Single Barrel) and the Bee’s Knees (a no-fuss blend of gin, lemon, and honey). Pricing varies widely based on date, menus and event style, though cocktail receptions start at around $60/person and seated dinners with drinks begin around $85–$100/person.

Contact Kelsey Del Monico, 312-733-6900 or kelsey@fultonmarketkitchen.com

Restaurants, Contemporary American

Revolution Brewing

icon-location-pin Logan Square

Scads of dark hardwood and a crackling fire set a cozy tone for parties at the Brewer’s Lounge, the second-floor event space (minimum 50 guests, max 130) at Revolution’s Logan Square brewpub. Multi-course food packages, featuring pub snacks like bacon fat popcorn paired with heartier fare like coffee-rubbed roast beef, begin at $50/person (50-guest minimum). Of course, the beer’s the main event; accordingly, drink packages ($30–$55/person) let your group sample their way through Revolution’s iconic fist-shaped handles, while optional brewpub tours ($75/event) provide a peek behind the scenes.

Contact Steph Aksland, 773-828-4032 or steph@revbrew.com

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Bars, Cocktail bars

Three Dots and a Dash

icon-location-pin River North

Sure, it’s a major award magnet, but with its leopard upholstery, tiki glasses and shareable drinks served in novelty conch shells, River North’s Three Dots has a twirl-your-pants-over-your-head kind of vibe. Parties of up to 30 can get let their hair down in the privacy of the swanky, low-lit Bamboo Room, tempering the effects of tiki drink mastermind Paul McGee’s boozy cocktails with Polynesian apps like crab rangoon and pineapple-glazed spare ribs. Bamboo Room minimums start at $750.

Contact April Spencer, 312-610-4205 or threedotsparties@leye.com

Music, Rock and indie

Reggie’s Music Joint

icon-location-pin Downtown

If your group’s more T-shirts and Chuck Taylors than neckties and sparkly clutches, why not forgo the formality this holiday season and instead gift yourselves the good-time vibes of this South Loop standby? Rent the entire exposed-brick-and-music-ephemera–bedecked space for relaxed gatherings of up to 125 (flexible room fee generally ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 applies), or just reserve a few tables for a group of 20 to 90 for just the cost of food and beverage. The food menu here encompasses unpretentious pub grub favorites like wings and sliders, while a 25-strong draft list provides all the liquid encouragement you need to get silly in front of the band. (Food packages start at $12/person, bar packages at $20/person.) Can’t commit to one location? Reggie’s also operates a collection of vintage party buses, many done up in metal motifs, which can ferry your group to an after-party spot or take you on an all-out pub crawl (rentals from $200).

Contact Jody Zagger, 312-949-0120 or parties@reggieslive.com

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Things to do

Chicago Wolves at the Allstate Arena

icon-location-pin Suburbs

A private box at the United Center sounds great and all, but unless Daddy Warbucks is bankrolling your holiday party, it may well be out of reach. Groups of hockey enthusiasts will find a more budget-friendly box experience just a few miles up I-90 in Rosemont, home to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Ten-person suites and 20-person “party decks” offer private game viewing, flexible catering and beverage packages, and even swag like hats. Holiday season suite and deck rentals, including game tickets, limited parking passes, decorations, and basic snacks and soft drinks are $700 and $1,300, respectively. Costs for bar packages and additional food vary, though most price points can be accommodated.

Contact Stefanie Evans, 847-832-1939 or skevans@chicagowolves.com

Restaurants, Contemporary American

The Boarding House

icon-location-pin River North

A wide range of private and semi-private event spaces and satisfying, seasonal cuisine would, in and of themselves, make this multistory River North spot a pleasant pick for a holiday fete. But this is the house that Alpana built (Master Sommelier/ex-Check Please host Alpana Singh, that is), so why not make its wine program the main event? The low, arching ceilings of the Wine Cellar (max 65 guests seated, 100 standing) aren’t just for show; the space also functions as the restaurant’s cellar. For an interactive experience, consider kicking off the evening with a guided tasting led by one of the house sommeliers ($150–$300 fee). Wine Cellar minimums start at $1,800.

Contact Amy Ermatinger, 312-280-0720 or events@bhchicago.com

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Restaurants, Barbecue

bellyQ

icon-location-pin West Loop

Fans of Asian barbecue and pop belters alike will be in their element in bellyQ’s Chef’s Quarters, a private space comprising a dining area and a karaoke lounge. (Lest the latter sound tacky, relax: The entire space is done up in totally tasteful, mildly futuristic neutrals accented with sleek, dark leather furnishings.) Though menus for cocktail-style events (60 guest max) and more formal seated dinners (45 guest max) can be tailored to groups’ tastes, representative bites include Bill Kim specialties like Korean Wagyu short ribs and Thai-style fried chicken. Holiday season minimums start at $1,000.

Contact Kristen Hanes, 312-563-1010 or events@bellyqchicago.com

Restaurants, Latin American

Bar Takito

icon-location-pin West Loop

Featuring tomato-red stools, graffiti and dangling electric-blue light fixtures, the decor alone will put your group in the mood to celebrate. Add brightly flavored bites like suzuki bass ceviche and chorizo-stuffed peppers to the mix (not to mention a margarita or two), and they’re likely to forget altogether that the weather outside is frightful. With three semi-private spaces as well as a full venue rental option, Bar Takito can accommodate groups from 25 to 150. Seated dinners here start at $55/person (including one drink); app and drink packages for cocktail-style parties start at $25/person.

Contact Erin, 312-888-9485 or erin@bartakito.com

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