With summer technically over, our umbrella-laden outdoor dinners might be in the rearview mirror; however, there are still plenty of dining experiences that are perfect for a socially distanced fall.
Whether you’re an incoming first year looking to impress your classmates with a fun group spot, a second year trying to plan a small group dinner for your club, or anyone in between you’ll find the below five spots a great way to enjoy the fall with your fellow Boothies.
Squad dinner (or a group from your Random Walk that never happened): Recess, located in the West Loop is a massive indoor/outdoor space with an extensive food and drink menu that gives a nod to Chicago politics. While the average age skews more towards post college than post MBA, Recess knows how to keep the good times flowing. Be sure to make a reservation, as the outdoor patio fills up quickly.
Fancy dinner for when the parents visit: Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf (locally known as Bavette’s) has, hands down, is one of the best steaks in Chicago. As their website boasts, this design-focused, French inspired steakhouse combines “fine dining with unabashed fun,” and patrons agree. Bavette’s is definitely a four-dollar sign kind of place, but I promise the silky mashed potatoes and bone marrow appetizer will not disappoint. While not technically outside, Bavette’s takes social distancing very seriously, so you’ll feel safe (and full) while enjoying one of the best meals you’ve ever had in Chicago.
Date night with the Boothie you met in Econ: As the fall quarter starts and Booth couples begin to form, what better way to celebrate your budding relationship than a dinner along the river at Pizzeria Portofino. This al fresca dining spot is a short walk from MPP and offers diners artisan pizzas, fresh seafood, and decadent pastas. With an atmosphere akin to the Amalfi coast (if you’re able to substitute the Mediterranean Sea for the Chicago River) this spot is a great way to spend the evening with your new found love. As an added bonus, Pizzeria Portofino is a part of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group. So, if you save up your Lettuce points this will be a memorable, and economical, night to remember.
Ladies Night!: Big Star, with two locations in Wicker Park and Wrigleyville, is one of the more fun atmospheres in Chicago. The outdoor space under the twinkle lights is the perfect atmosphere to gossip with your fellow Boothies accompanied by a side of Mexican street food and margaritas. While it’s a bit of a hike from our stomping grounds in the Loop, you can make a night out of Big Star, starting with drinks at the bar while you wait for your table then moving to the front patio that’s peppered with heating lamps to make for the perfect GNO.
A last minute dinner before a big Thursday night: When you haven’t made a reservation, but want to grab a filling bite with friends before your Thursday evening festivities, try Ema in River North. This unassuming restaurant located within the Hyatt Place Hotel serves up amazing Mediterranean food in an atmosphere in which you can actually hear your friends. With many tables, you can usually get a spot without a reservation if you come before 7pm. And as with Pizzeria Portofino, rack up your Lettuce points to use at the next Lettuce Entertain You restaurant in Chicago.