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Flan de cajeta at Mercadito

New Year's Eve dinners

Scallop sashimi or stuffed dover sole? Find these dishes-and many more-among the seemingly endless options for New Year's Eve dining. Cheers!


312 Chicago 312 Chicago, adjacent to Hotel Allegro, is wishing guests a “felice anno nuovo” with its Italian four-course prix-fixe dinner. Chef Luca Corazzina’s elaborate menu includes dishes like burrata, seared scallops, veal shank, roasted red snapper and 15 desserts from pastry chef Kimberly Schwenke. Hotel Allegro, 136 N LaSalle St (312-696-2420). El: Brown, Pink, Orange, Purple (rush hrs) to Washington/Wells. Bus: 14, 20, 56, 60, 124, 157. Seatings from 5–10pm. $55, $70 with wine pairings.

Ai Ai hasn’t created a special menu for NYE. It has simply taken all of its Japanese offerings—more than 90 items, including sushi—and made them all-you-can-eat. (Note to big eaters: There’s a two-and-a-half-hour time limit to shove all that food in, so work fast or, um, get a second reservation.) 358 W Ontario St (312-335-9888). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Chicago. Bus: 65, 125. $55.

Atwood Café The Atwood Café is used to drawing mobs of tourists and local ladies exhausted from a grueling shopping session at Macy’s; for New Year’s Eve, chef Derek Simcik has created an elegant Champagne and caviar prix fixe that will appeal to both. Whether it’s the bison filet, the foie torchon or the chocolate dome dessert, you’ll find caviar and Champagne in each course. 1 W Washington St (312-368-1900). El: Blue, Red to Washington. Bus: 56, 60, 124, 157. Seatings from 5–10:30pm. $50, $70 with wine pairings.

Avec For tonight only, Avec is waiving its no-reservations policy and offering a five-course prix-fixe. Reservations will fill up fast (especially considering the relatively inexpensive nature of the meal), so act like you’re at Avec in person and shove, kick and scream your way the top of the list. 615 W Randolph St (312-377-2002). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 56, 125.Seatings from 5pm. $50 ($75 with wine pairings).

Big Jones Four courses of coastal Southern cuisine is how Big Jones wants you to bring in 2011, and with choices like corn flour-fried shrimp and grits, turtle soup with quail egg and Niman Ranch sirloin with butter-poached prawns, it shouldn’t be too hard of a sell. Already got dinner plans that night? You’re in luck: Big Jones will be up and running the next morning to serve you New Year’s Day brunch. 5347 N Clark St (773-275-5725). El: Red to Berwyn. Bus: 22, 50, 92. Seatings from 5pm–midnight. $65.

Blackbird Paul Kahan’s minimalist-chic restaurant is as popular as ever, and chef de cuisine David Posey and pastry chef Patrick Fahy won’t be slacking for New Year’s. The duo offers two dinner options: one a five-course, the other a staggering ten-course. 619 W Randolph St (312-715-0708). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8, 56, 125. Seatings from 5pm–10:30pm. Five-course menu: $85. Ten-course menu: $125.

Blokes & Birds If the NYE celebration at this Anglophilic pub is to be believed, the Brits celebrate the new year just like we do (only they do it with a potato dish called "rumplethumps"). The prix-fixe menu here will be served in three seatings, each one more expensive than the one before it even though the menu for all meals will be the same, featuring dishes such as lobster bisque, filet mignon and warm marmalade pudding. 3343 N Clark St (773-472-5252). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Belmont. Bus: 22, 77, 152. Seatings at 5:30pm ($40), 7:30pm ($55)and 9:30pm ($70).

Blue 13 Head to this contemporary spot for Americana food fit to celebrate the fabulous year you’ve just had. Enjoy a five- or seven- course prix-fixe meal with optional wine pairings (in case you really want to get the party started). Those who stick around through midnight will participate in a Champagne toast. 416 W Ontario St (312-787-1400). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Chicago. Bus: 65, 66. Seatings begin at 6pm. Five course: $100 ($150 with wine). Seven course: $140 ($210 with wine).

The Bristol Sick of waiting in line for a table here? Tonight—and tonight only—walk right to your reserved table, where you’ll get a four-course meal featuring a few passed small plates, housemade garganelli pasta with veal and truffles, and diver scallop gratinée. 2152 N Damen Ave (773-862-5555). El: Blue to Western. Bus: 50, 73, 74. Seatings from 6–11pm. $49.

C-House There are three ways to celebrate the end of the decade at the Affinia Hotel. First, a four-course prix-fixe dinner—with dishes like pan-seared foie gras and coconut doughnuts—at C-House. Second, a cocktail-and-snacks party in the hotel’s tiny rooftop bar, C-View. Third, a personalizable hotel room in which to crash. (Though, if you’re just going to sleep, might as well do that at home.) 166 E Superior St (312-523-0923). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 3, 4, 10, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151. Dinner: seatings begin at 5:30pm, $79. C-View party: 9pm–1am, $79. Hotel room: rates start at $219.

Ceres’ Table Using the seasonal and sustainable ingredients Ceres’ Table is known for, chef Giuseppe Scurato has created both a three-course and a five-course prix-fixe menu with which to end the year. 4882 N Clark St (773-878-4882). El: Red to Lawrence. Bus: 22, 36, 81. Seatings at 5pm (three-course meal) for $45 and at 8pm (five-course meal) for $65.

Chicago Cut Whereas most restaurants go to prix-fixe route on NYE, Chicago Cut is keeping it simple. Simply make a reservation (they’re taking them extra late tonight), show up and order from the regular menu or from a special lineup including lobster tail and oysters. Jazz vocalist Typhanie Monique will be in the house, and anyone still eating (or dancing) at midnight will be handed a free glass of Veuve Clicquot. 300 N LaSalle St (312-329-1800). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Merchandise Mart. Bus: 11, 125, 156. Seatings through 1:30am.

Chicago Q If ever a barbecue restaurant were appropriate for celebrating New Year’s Eve, it’s this swanky spot in the Gold Coast. Lee Ann Whippen has created a three-course menu for the evening, which includes choices such as diver scallops with habanero and chiptole cream; apple-smoked Chilean sea bass; and a triple-chocolate cake. 1160 N Dearborn St (312-642-1160). El: Red to Clark/Division. Bus: 22, 36, 70, 156. Seatings from 4pm–1am. $59.75.

Chizakaya A seven-course meal for $35? If you don’t consider that a good way to start 2011, then, well, don’t take a table at Chizakaya. The rest of you can partake in Japanese plates like scallop sashimi with Asian pear; braised pork with quail egg; and green tea yuzu creme brûlée. High (or just medium-high) rollers can opt for sake pairings ($25) or a ten-course menu ($50, $90 with sake pairings). 3056 N Lincoln Ave (773-697-4725). Bus: 9, 11, 77. Seatings from 5pm–11pm.

Cibo Matto Pass up the dance clubs and sports bars and spend the evening dining in style at the restaurant of theWit Hotel. This six-course Italian prix-fixe menu could be just what you need to take your mind off the fact that you still haven’t made a resolution yet. 201 N State St, second floor (312-239-9500). El: Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to State/Lake; Red to Lake. Seatings from 5:30–11pm. $99.

Deca Celebrate the last of 2010 in true classic style at the Ritz Carlton, sipping Champagne, snacking on canapés and indulging in a five-course dinner that includes foie gras torchon, butter-poached lobster and cote de boeuf. Continue the evening with dancing to the Becca Kaufman Orchestra, and end it with a Champagne toast paired with oysters. 160 E Pearson St (312-573-5160). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 3, 10, 26, 66, 125, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151. 7:30pm. $125 ($160 with wine pairings).

DMK Burger Bar Chicago’s answer to In-N-Out, DMK Burger Bar, wants you to start the year with slightly higher cholesterol levels than you ever achieved in 2010. Its Burgers & Booze celebration will feature movies, all-night dancing, housemade cocktails and, of course, lots of burgers, fries and shakes. At midnight, abandon your healthy eating resolution immediately and be the first to try one of the two new breakfast burgers. 2954 N Sheffield Ave (773-360-8686). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Wellington; Red to Belmont. Bus: 8, 76, 77. 9pm; $50 bar seating, $75 all-night table.

B Gemini Bistro Chef Jason Paskewitz has pleased Lincoln Park with his comforting, familiar food, and with a three-course meal featuring items like lobster bisque, rack of lamb and stuffed Dover sole, NYE will be no different. Have an early dinner at one of the first two seatings (6pm, $55, or $8pm, $65) or show up at 10pm ($65) to ring in midnight with food in your mouth. 2075 N Lincoln Ave (773-525-2522). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Armitage. Bus: 11, 73, 74.

Hearty The Hearty Boys delve deep into culinary history for New Year’s, digging up recipes for items like Jell-O salad, deviled eggs, mac-and-cheese and baked Alaska. To drink, they’re eschewing Champagne in favor of punch, which will be served in vintage punch bowls. 3819 N Broadway (773-244-9866). El: Red to Sheridan. Bus: 22, 36, 80, 151.

Le Titi De Paris Yup, they celebrate New Year’s in the suburbs, too. And if Le Titi De Paris is any indication, they do it with class. Titi’s fully French prix-fixe dinner features buttoned-up dishes like shredded duck confit and seared New Zealand venison au poivre. 1015 W Dundee Rd, Arlington Heights (847-506-0222). Lunch (Wed–Sat), dinner (closed Mon). Two seatings: 4:30pm, $89; 8:30pm, $95.

LOKaL Wicker Park’s most mod restaurant/lounge throws a NYE bash that covers all the bases. Food: a buffet featuring goat-cheese risotto, braised duck legs, baked tilapia and more. Drinks: premium open bar. Music: DJs Andre Solaris and David Arem. Tickets: 1904 W North Ave (773-904-8113). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. 8pm–2am. $75.

Mercadito The five-course New Year’s Eve menu at this innovative, upscale Mexican joint includes ceviches, guacamoles and tacos. But it’s still a NYE party at heart, so expect hundreds of balloons and other decorations, as well as a DJ to keep the party going. 108 W Kinzie St (312-329-9555). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Merchandise Mart; Red to Grand; Blue, Green, Pink, Orange to Clark/Lake. Bus: 11, 22, 156. First seating: 5–9:30pm, $50. Second seating: 9:45pm–2am, $60 ($110 with drinks).

Mon Ami Gabi LEYE’s cozy, bustling bistro welcomes the new year by looking back at 2010—or at least the best dishes from 2010. The special NYE menu highlights all of the year’s favorites, and features a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight. 2300 N Lincoln Park West (773-348-8886). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 22, 36, 134, 143, 151, 156. Average main course: $19.

Nia This tapas spot is ringing in the new year with a special five-course prix fixe dinner created by chef James Day. Start your meal with baked egg-and-ricotta and housemade lobster raviolis; finish it with a chocolate-covered port-and-raspberry poached pear. 803 W Randolph St (312-226-3110). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8, 20. Seatings from 5pm–midnight. $55, $80 with wine pairing.

North Pond Chef Bruce Sherman’s approach to celebrating New Year’s Eve: Make it local, organic (if possible) and—above all—decadent. His eight-course tasting menu features oysters, truffled potato ravioli, salt-roasted lobster tail, cheese souffle and, if you get the wine pairing, lots of booze. 2610 N Cannon Dr (773-477-5845). Bus: 76, 151, 156. Seatings from 5:30–10pm; $120, $180 with wine pairing.

one sixtyblue Ahi tuna tartare with pickled jicama. Alaskan king crab legs with cranberries. Housemade linguine. Wood-grilled beef tenderloin. If chef Michael McDonald’s five-course tasting menu sounds like the kind of thing you’d like to eat on the last night of the year, make your reservation stat. 1400 W Randolph St (312-850-0303). El: Green, Pink to Ashland. Bus: 9, 20, 65. Seatings from 5:30–10pm. $95 ($140 with wine pairings).

People Lounge The five-hour NYE package at this tapas lounge includes sangria, draft beers, cocktails and a midnight Champagne toast, as well as a DJ to keep you moving all night long. The restaurant’s menu, with edibles like skirt steak with Manchego, is there when you are ready to take a break. 1560 N Milwaukee Ave (773-227-9339). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. 8pm–1am. $85.

Prairie Fire You can order from Prairie Fire’s regular menu tonight.But with a special NYE menu featuring River Valley Ranch mushroom soup, lamb chops with candied fennel and a cheese course that includes Pleasant Ridge Reserve, why would you? 215 N Clinton St (312-382-8300). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 38, 56, 125. Seatings from 5–11pm. $65.

The Publican Have trouble choosing what to order whenever you go to the Publican? That won’t be a problem on New Year’s Eve, when the restaurant will forgo menus and serve a four-course tasting menu instead. Beer (what—are you really going to drink Champagne at a beer hall?) is extra, of course; so are additional seafood items, which can be added to the dinner for an extra $25. 837 W Fulton Market St (312-733-9555). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8, 65. Four-course meal: $55.

R.J. Grunts The burger shack that started the Lettuce Entertain You empire is celebrating the new year by making its entire food menu half-priced from 4–11pm. Ring in 2011 with the thick, juicy “Gruntburger” or spoonable milkshake with thick whipped cream. Then, toast to money you saved w

ith a complimentary glass of Champagne at midnight. 2056 N Lincoln Park West (773-929-5363). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Armitage. Bus: 11, 22, 36, 73. Average main course: $8.

Sable Kitchen & Bar Wear your favorite swing attire for Sable Kitchen & Bar’s Zoot! New Year’s 2011 celebration. The 1940s-themed evening will feature a swing band, bottomless Champagne bar and unlimited small plates and desserts. Not swanky enough for you? Choose the VIP option, which gives you and your friends a personalized menu in a private dining room. 505 N State St (312-755-9704). El: Grand to Red. Bus: 29, 65. 8pm–2am. $125. (VIP option: $250 per person, 10-person minimum. Call 312-985-0734.)

Sepia If you have the opportunity to choose between the first seating or the second seating of Sepia’s NYE celebration, definitely, without a doubt, go for the second. The multicourse tasting menu is the same for both seatings, except that those in the second seating get a welcome cocktail, an added lobster ravioli course and, to end the meal, petite fours. The second seating also costs $20 more, but seriously? Are you really going to start the new year off by being cheap? 123 N Jefferson St (312-441-1920). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8, 56, 125. Seatings at 5:30pm ($65/$55 wine pairings) and 8pm ($85/$70 wine pairings).

The Southern Got $75 to spend on New Year’s? Here it will get you an open bar, passed apps and a midnight Champagne toast. Not bad. But for $85 you get all that, and guaranteed premium seating. Finally, for $850, you get a cabana, two bottles of bubbly, open bar and snacks for ten. 1840 W North Ave (773-342-1840). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. Seating begins at 9pm.

South Water Kitchen South Water Kitchen’s “New Years Americana” prix fixe features all sorts of selections from the canon of American cookery, such as oysters Rockefeller, stuffed chicken, pork-and-beans and baked Alaska. Of course, every dish has a twist or two—how else do you think foie gras ended up in the PB&J? Hotel Monaco, 225 N Wabash Ave (312-236-9300). El: Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs). Seatings 5–10:30pm. $55, $80 with wine pairings.

State & Lake After you’ve danced the night away and had your share of Champagne, head to theWit Hotel’s restaurant for late-night grub. This special, one-time-only “Diners and Dives” menu features just what you need—greasy, fried favorites—to keep the party going. 201 N State St (312-239-9400). El: Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to State. 11:30pm–2am.

Uncommon Ground Are the packed open bars and loud music of most NYE parties just too passé for you? At the Edgewater location of Uncommon Ground, the focus is all on the food—in fact, during warmer months, some of it is grown in the rooftop garden. Enjoy a four-course meal of locally sourced produce and ingredients, with an optional wine pairing ($20) if you decide you do in fact want to join the common folk and toast the new year. 1401 W Devon Ave (773-465-9801). El: Red to Loyola. Bus: 36, 147, 151, 155. Seatings from 5–10:30pm. $55.

Uncommon Ground Is this year’s resolution to eat more local foods? Get a head start with a NYE dinner at Uncommon Ground, where the food is practically grown on the roof (the Devon Street location actually has a rooftop garden). Listen to the honky-tonk tunes of Chicago’s Sanctified Grumblers while enjoying a four-course menu packed full of organic veggies and meats. Add the wine pairings ($20) to really celebrate your new commitment to fresh foods. 3800 N Clark St (773-929-3680). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 22, 80, 152. Seatings from 5–10:30pm. $50.

Zocalo Forget about a Champagne toast—at this Mexican restaurant and bar, it’s all about tequila. After drinking tropical margaritas all night, throw back a shot of Don Julio to really celebrate the start of 2011. Choose a three-course dinner with drinks (starting at either 9 or 9:30pm, $65), or skip dinner altogether and just choose the bar package (9pm–midnight, $30). 358 W Ontario St (312-302-9977). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Chicago. Bus: 65, 125.

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