Whether you’re having a baby, quitting your day job to become a full-time slam poet, deleting all your social media accounts (for good this time), or finally coming clean about who put that sandwich in the VCR 25 years ago, you have an announcement to make. And you’re looking for the right place to make it.
You want minimal hassle and interruption, a reasonable amount of privacy, and the ability to make a reservation. You want the place to be quiet, but not so quiet that other tables can eavesdrop without having to work for it. Of course, the food should also be really good.
Here are the 13 best places in Chicago to deliver big news.
Ema is perfect for groups that need to have a back-and-forth conversation. The service is good without being intrusive, and everything on the Mediterranean menu is great for sharing. Plus, there are plenty of round tables, so everyone will be able to hear your announcement at the same time. Even more importantly, when you finally make it known that you’re leaving your law firm to become a wilderness survivalist, you’ll be able to fully appreciate all the reactions.
If you have exciting news, deliver it at Duck Duck Goat. It’s a fun spot for Chinese food from the same team that owns Girl & The Goat. The lively environment will set the tone for whatever positive update you have to deliver - so bring a group of people, order soup dumplings and goat sausage slap noodles, and let everyone know you finally finished Battlestar Galactica and are ready to discuss what happened in the finale.
This modern take on a traditional French brasserie checks all the big-news-sharing boxes - as long as you sit upstairs, where there’s a speakeasy-like atmosphere. Maude’s is where you go when you want to have a civilized conversation over delicious French dishes like steak tartare and cassoulet. As the night goes on and the place gets busier, no one will notice if your discussion escalates after you and your friends have had a few too many cocktails.
Chicago has a lot of steakhouses, and most of them are downtown. But Swift & Sons is in the West Loop, and it combines everything we like about a traditional steakhouse with everything we enjoy about Fulton Market. So there’s great food and great service, all in a revamped warehouse space. It’s the right kind of setting for telling everyone about the big promotion you just got. Enjoy eating in this neighborhood while you can - you’ll probably be spending all your time at client dinners in River North from now on.
The good news is that you finally discovered your passion for playing spoons and are going on tour with a folk band. The bad news is you’re almost done with medical school. You want your parents to be as excited about this as you are, but a certain amount of skepticism on their part is probably inevitable. Tell them everything at Monteverde. It’s crowded enough that they won’t want to cause a scene, and the Italian food is so good it will distract them from how much money they’ve spent on your many, many years of education. Speaking of which, you should probably pick up the bill.
Marisol is in the Museum of Contemporary Art, but other than the fact that you pass a help desk on the way in, this place feels like a normal restaurant. Not only does it serve excellent food (we particularly like the sunflower hummus and roast chicken with masa dumplings), but the space seems to attract mostly quiet-talkers. So basically, it’s the perfect spot to tell Mom that you’re pregnant. Conveniently, the adjacent private dining room, with its attractive mural, is perfect for a baby shower. You’re welcome.
The Duck Inn is a former tavern that’s been turned into an upscale gastropub, and it’s useful for a few types of occasions. You can go casual and get a duck fat hot dog and/or duck wings, but if you want something fancier, there’s also a five-course chef’s tasting menu. It’s a versatile neighborhood option, and a good place for making any announcement people will want to celebrate with a few post-dinner drinks on the patio.
Mango Pickle is a small neighborhood spot in Edgewater serving Indian food. The seasonal dishes (made with local produce) are good enough to merit a special trip, even if you’re not already in the area. And the comfortable atmosphere, complete with colorful twinkly lights and really friendly service, makes this a space you’ll want to spend time in. In other words, if your big news includes some kind of a long story, this is a good choice.
You’ve been dating your significant other for a while, and it’s getting to that point where everyone in your family is clearly wondering about a wedding. Well, good news - you’ve gotten engaged, so your aunt can finally calm the f*ck down. Tell her (and the rest of the family) at Formento’s, an Italian restaurant in the West Loop. It has a nice, comfortable environment - kind of like a Italian version of a steakhouse - and you can answer all the many questions people somehow come up with on occasions like this over rigatoni and brick chicken. Deal with any remaining follow-ups over dessert.
Big Jones serves New Orleans-style food in a bright and cheerful Andersonville space. They like using really old recipes here, so you’ll find things on the menu like “potted guinea hen circa 1840,” along with shrimp and grits (apparently ageless). They do a great brunch, too, with things like beignets and crab cake benedicts. The charming and upbeat atmosphere makes it an appropriate place to let your friends know that actually, you already eloped.
Sometimes you want a place that’s a little serious, but still not super fancy. Try La Storia, a Gold Coast Italian spot with delicious homemade pastas. This is where to go when you need to tell your kids it’s time for you to sell their childhood home - or give them other news they might not be 100% excited about. It’s quiet enough that you won’t have to repeat yourself, but not so quiet that the tables on either side of you will be able to figure out your new address.
HaiSous is a Vietnamese restaurant in Pilsen with extremely friendly service and tasty, well-prepared food. The dishes are shareable, and the space is set up comfortably for groups. You’ll find things like papaya salad, crispy chicken wings, and mussels in a fantastic coconut broth. This is the kind of place you can bring anyone. Like your grandparents, who will appreciate finding out that their lamp you brought to Antiques Roadshow turned out to be worth $150,000.
The family-heavy Southport stretch in Lakeview is a good final stop before you head to the suburbs. Which means that at any given time you might find yourself eating in a restaurant full of kids. (And their parents.) This Italian spot is no exception, particularly if you’re here earlier in the evening or for weekend brunch. So come here to tell your neighborhood friends you closed on a house in Oak Park. And don’t be too sad - they’ll probably be joining you there soon.