by Jessica Terson, Writer
While Chicago may be world-famous for its deep-dish pizza, real Chicagoans know our city boasts a rich culinary heritage and dining spots with intriguing pasts and promising futures. These historic and famous Chicago restaurants have learned from experience how to turn any celebration into an unforgettable affair. Toast to the years still to come at a milestone birthday celebration in a sumptuous wine cellar; pass mouth-watering small plates on a rooftop with sweeping views of the iconic skyline for a rehearsal dinner that will have your friends and family talking; or throw a corporate event in a space that’s hosted celebrities and gangsters alike.
For over seven decades and spanning three generations, Chicago’s oldest steakhouse has been serving delectable dishes to celebrities and locals. Private dining for 10 or more guests is available at both locations (Chicago and Rosemont). The Estate is Gene & Georgetti’s venue designed exclusively for private events and — bonus — it boasts the same cuisine for a memorable party menu. You can be assured that this venue is prepared to meet your celebration needs as award-winning Chicago-based event planner Michelle Durpetti helped in the development of the space. She carries on her grandfather Gene’s legacy by ensuring that the event space provides the same unrivaled hospitality, which means an impressive network of partner relationships and quick response time. The elegant, spacious ballroom easily showcases any aesthetic vision with its neutral palette. We love how the bold red uplighting and snowflake projections at this holiday dinner party pair with interesting, seasonal florals from designer Erin McDonald to reveal the myriad of artistic possibilities of the space.
The Estate by Gene and Georgetti Capacity: 300 (seated) – 600 (standing)
Opened: within two townhouses built in 1896
This Michelin-rated restaurant proves that there’s no need to sacrifice delectable cuisine for an exquisite event space. Located in Chicago’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood, La Storia Ristorante brings “the joys of the table” to every meal. Faithfully following the fundamentals of Italian cuisine, La Storia prioritizes the use of local ingredients. Handcrafted pastas are made daily and bloomed with saffron, giving it a unique floral aroma. Housed in a 19th-century brownstone consisting of two townhomes that were merged with seating spread between two floors, La Storia recalls the historic residencies of a bygone era. The Vintage Room showcases the building’s original detailed woodwork with a library of fine wine displayed on ornate built-in cabinets. The Dearborn Room is equally impressive with mirrored walls and crystal-beaded chandeliers. Private dining menus change seasonally, so guests can enjoy the most fresh Italian cuisine against a backdrop of vintage elegance and luxury.
The Dearborn Room Capacity: 32 (seated)
The Vintage Room Capacity: 18 (seated)
Entire Upstairs Capacity: 50 (seated)
Opened: within 120-year-old Victorian brownstone
The Chicago Chop House commemorates Chicago’s vibrant history from the moment you walk through the doors. This 120-year-old Victorian brownstone boasts over 1,400 iconic photos of famous Chicago politicians and gangsters (who were sometimes one in the same in our city’s colorful past!). Out front, you’ll find a 1939 Buick Touring Car with “suicide doors” hinged at the front in a style not found present day. Even the food captures the city’s dynamic culinary past. Steak is cooked to perfection with in-house butchering and the oldest working twin garland broilers in Chicago. From 20-ounce prime ribs to a 48-ounce porterhouse, the portions are as impressive as the quality. The award-winning wine menu includes more than 650 selections, guaranteeing an unforgettable celebratory toast. Surrounded by hunter green walls and in the warm glow of lantern sconces, guests will want to wine and dine all night long.
Chicago Chop House Capacity: 60 (seated) – 340 (standing)
It’s no wonder The Gage is one of the most fashionable restaurants along the Chicago Cultural Mile. The Gage takes it name from the historically landmarked Gage Group of Buildings constructed in the late 1800s on South Michigan Avenue, in which the restaurant is located. The buildings originally housed three milliners, including Gage Brothers & Co., who created hats for stylish ladies around the world. Today, The Gage restaurant boasts an installation of original early 20th century theater magazine advertisements for Gage hats. Its rustic American fare and award-winning wine program make this chic Chicago restaurant an ideal setting for any celebration. The built-in LCD projector and screen in the Theodore Ascher Room are perfect for showcasing corporate logos or celebratory slideshows. We especially love how the glass doors in the Edson Keith Room provide privacy while still allowing guests to enjoy the lively vibe of the establishment. The tin ceiling brings the historic grandeur of the early 20th century to this timeless restaurant. We appreciate the theming of this “old Chicago” rehearsal dinner, which included cocktails and décor elements from another century. Perfect for both intimate and festive celebrations, The Gage is destined to delight.
Theodore Ascher Room Capacity: 85 (seated) – 150 (standing)
Theodore Ascher Bar Capacity: 60 (standing)
Edson Keith Room Capacity: 40 (seated) – 55 (standing)
Restaurant Buyout Capacity: 220 (seated) – 400 (standing)
River Roast Social House dazzles with some of the most dramatic views of the city. Located in the historic Reid Murdoch Building along the Chicago River, this unique event space belongs to the classic “Chicago School” of architecture. The red brick façade, decorative terra-cotta embellishments, and imposing clock tower attest to the building’s impressive legacy. A two-level riverwalk temps guests outdoors to indulge in the city’s scenic riverfront. The six indoor event spaces are equally inviting with exposed brick and elegant industrial ceilings. Best of all, James Beard award-winning chef Tony Mantuano has created a contemporary American menu to complement the prolific selection of local and Midwestern beers. Meats are roasted and carved tableside for a truly unforgettable dining experience. Surrounded by the glittering lights of Chicago’s cityscape, guests will enjoy this one-of-a-kind dining experience — just like party-goers did at this jewel-toned corporate event from planner Patti Monahan. We love the way Kehoe Designs accented the nighttime city view with luxe fuchsia velvet seating and bright pops of florals, lighting, and décor for a chic full-venue buyout that flowed seamlessly in and out of doors.
River Roast Social House Capacity: 330 (seated) – 450 (standing)
Opened: within current-day Viceroy in 1920s Cedar Hotel space
Michelin-starred chef Lee Wolen and Boka Restaurant Group bring their exceptional American cuisine to Chicago’s Gold Coast with Somerset. Set in the Viceroy Chicago and designed by James Beard Award-winning firm Avroko, Somerset recreates the exclusive feel of the quintessential American country club. The Regatta Room brings friends and family together at its long Captain’s table, while the Upper Deck space boasts dramatic views of the 18-foot brass chandelier and open dining room below. For more dynamic celebrations, visit The Clubhouse for its private bar and secluded balcony. For a truly spectacular gala, experience the Cedar Ballroom. Sputnik chandeliers provide glittering light for heightened elegance. Floor-to-ceiling windows and doors open up to an outdoor terrace that’s perfect for cocktail receptions. We love how this Wish Upon a Wedding summer social included impromptu bubble-blowing on the terrace for a fun photo op against the stunning city backdrop. Full restaurant buyouts are also available for weddings and lively corporate events.
The Regatta Room Capacity: up to 22
The Cedar Ballroom Capacity: up to 100
Full Buyout Capacity: up to 230
Located on the 18th floor of the Viceroy Chicago, Devereaux is Boka Restaurant Group’s answer to an upscale rooftop lounge. Enjoy poolside cocktails and new American small plates by Michelin-starred Chef Lee Wolen. Take in impressive views of Lake Michigan and the picturesque Chicago skyline. The indoor bar is modern and elegant with a shimmering gold ceiling and a variety of eclectic lighting. Perfect for cocktail receptions or posh corporate events, Devereaux offers a flexible, glamorous indoor-outdoor experience.
Devereaux Capacity: 50 (seated) – 150 (standing)
Opened: rooftop of historic Hotel Lincoln, opened in 1928
Situated above the Hotel Lincoln, The J Parker is one of Chicago’s hottest restaurants for an exclusive celebration. This stylish rooftop restaurant gets its name from a little-known, yet pivotal figure in American history: Policeman J. Parker. Notorious for his drinking sprees, Parker was assigned to guard President Abraham Lincoln’s theater box on the fateful night of April 14. He stepped outside for a quick drink at a nearby tavern — and, well, the rest is history.
Now, at The J Parker, indulge in spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. A fully retractable glass roof means the show always goes on, regardless of the weather. The secluded John Wilkes Booth is a perfect space for branding opportunities or a photo spot. A variety of signature cocktails and small bites are available, making this chic rooftop restaurant the ideal setting for a wedding reception or corporate soirée.
The J. Parker Capacity: 65 (seated) – 225 (standing)
Since 1905, the world-famous Walnut Room has been a favorite Chicago landmark. The 17,000-square-foot dining room in the heart of Macy’s department store transports daytime shoppers to a world of regal balls and opulent galas. Austrian chandeliers and Circassian wood paneling evoke the grandeur of a royal residence. The holidays are an especially magical time to host a lavish celebration in the space. The lighted 45-foot Great Tree in the center of the dining room during the season makes for an awe-inspiring backdrop that’s straight out of a fairytale.
Walnut Room Capacity: 630 (seated) – 1000 (standing)
Italian Village is a monument to both the dynamic Chicago dining scene and the American Dream. In 1924, Alfredo Capitanini emigrated from Florence to Chicago and worked as a dishwasher and cook until he opened his own restaurant. Three generations later, Italian Village is home to three distinct restaurants in one spectacular location. The Village is a private dining room set in a 19th-century village, replete with a blue-sky ceiling and twinkling starlight. La Cantina evokes the warmth and coziness of a wine cellar, while Vivere boasts imaginative, dreamlike décor. The swirling architectural lines, stained glass and brass fixtures suggest the theatrical, making the restaurant ideal for creative events.
The Village Capacity: 15
La Cantina Capacity: 120
Vivere Capacity: 125 (seated) – 170 (standing)
Opened: within the old Pump Room space, opened in 1938 in The Ambassador Hotel
Located in the heart of the Gold Coast, Booth One draws its inspiration from the illustrious former tenant: The Pump Room in the former Ambassador East Hotel. Run by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, which ran The Pump Room from 1976 to 1998, Booth One recaptures the glamor of the Frank Sinatra era with giant booths and waiters dressed in elegant tuxedo jackets. The signature lights in the main dining room are inspired by ethereal champagne bubbles, while the rooftop terrace boasts sweeping views of the Chicago skyline. With several event spaces to choose from, Booth One is a luxe, modern setting for your unique, personally-historic celebration.
The Emerald Room Capacity: 16 (seated) – 30 (standing)
The Gallery Capacity: 40 (seated) – 75 (standing)
Booth One Capacity: 175 (seated) – 350 (standing)
For over four generations, Pompei has been serving authentic Italian cuisine in Little Italy. It’s no surprise that you’ll find a devoted following here night after night. Since its inception, Pompei has been a community favorite. It’s also a perfect place for fun kids birthday parties, rehearsal dinners introducing out-of-town friends and family to authentic, vintage Chicago, and casual corporate gatherings. La Stanza di Pompei is a private, full-service banquet room and can accommodate up to 100 guests. The Café is an enclosed-glass space ideal for intimate gatherings, while the beautiful Jut’s garden offers guests the opportunity to dine alfresco. Best of all, a retractable rooftop ensures a weatherproof evening of delicious food and entertainment.
The Café Capacity: 25 – 40
Jut’s Capacity: 25 – 80
La Stanza Di Pompei Capacity: 25 – 100
Honorable Mention (just too good to leave out):
What this space lacks in physical age, it more than makes up for with Chicago history on display. A collection of rare art and artifacts allows guests to explore Chicago’s vibrant heritage. The foyer features mahogany wood from the original Pump Room and two 1920s ballot boxes used for real Chicago mayoral elections. Marvel at an 1880s pencil sketch of famous Chicagoan and map publisher Andrew McNally, as well as the exquisite Raoul Varin prints. Peruse Chicago treasures such as The Chicago Daily News Register in The Red Room Library. Get acquainted with some of Chicago’s most notorious scoundrels with the “Scoundrels & Rogues” collection created by local caricature artist Chuck Senties.
The family-owned metropolitan restaurant expresses the glamour of a bygone era in a modern space. The Red Room’s glossy red lacquered walls and rich wood to create a sumptuous backdrop for your next exclusive event. We especially love how this Great Gatsby-themed rehearsal dinner captures the sophistication and vintage appeal of this remarkable restaurant. Three more event spaces to choose from guarantee a perfect fit for celebrations of all sizes.
Red Room Capacity: 60 (seated) to 75 (standing)
Tortoise Supper Club Capacity: 200 (seated) – 275 (standing)
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