Clients are like plants – except instead of watering them and placing them in direct sunlight, you need to take them to dinner sometimes. But you can’t just take them to any restaurant. You need someplace that’s nice but not awkwardly formal, and trendy while still being quiet enough for a conversation. It should also have food options that will appeal to just about everyone. Here are 12 corporate-card-worthy spots that meet all these criteria.
RPM Italian has everything you want in a big, sceney River North restaurant. It’s modern and trendy without being obnoxious, and it has fantastic pastas (like the bucatini), along with attentive service. Even though it is an Italian restaurant, it has plenty of non-pasta things on the menu, too – so if you find out on the ride over that your client is keto and gluten-free, you won’t need to worry.
Since Chicago likes making Italian/steak companion restaurants, this is the steakhouse version of RPM Italian. But it’s a little bigger, and has two levels. So you can eat in the main dining room, or you can eat in the upstairs room overlooking the first floor of the restaurant. Wherever you sit, your client has a pretty good chance of using silverware previously touched by Justin Bieber or a Chicago Bear.
Don’t let conservative-looking suits and reasonable shoes fool you. Sometimes a client wants to party. When that’s the case, go to Aba in the West Loop. This place is a scene, but it’s a scene that comes with fantastic food. It’s always crowded, but the space is beautiful, and there’s a huge rooftop patio that’s perfect for hanging out over drinks. Most things on the Mediterranean menu are meant to be shared, so pay attention to your client’s share-plate habits – it might give you valuable insight for future negotiations.