How to Host a Restaurant Shabbat Dinner

Written by: Isadora Baum

How to Host a Restaurant Shabbat Dinner

Food, wine and laughter are three things that I look forward to on Friday evenings, and the easiest way to experience this balance is by bringing together a group of friends, both old and new. By hosting my first-ever Shabbat dinner as an adult, not only was I able to reconnect with people I care about, but I also was able to encourage new relationships and build a greater network.

By mixing both our friends and welcoming budding friendships that were created nearly a week before Shabbat dinner, our eclectic bunch of smiley, hungry faces constructed what my boyfriend Jeremy and I thought to be the perfect table. The joy of hosting boosted our happiness, and it was so fun to see so many of our friends together in one, intimate setting.

Beatrix was the perfect place for our dinner. We sat comfortably at a long table, the atmosphere was lively but not too over-bearing and we were able to apply the credit and split the balance on separate checks.

I get the “crash” on Fridays after work: not all of us can be as enthusiastic as Ross from Friends.

As a Health Coach, I often find that social occasions get put on hold for work affairs, exhaustion due to all the stress those affairs ignite, travel and just simply a lack of ability to see everyone during your sparse free time. Being busy is bittersweet: with success in one realm comes deficiency in another. I can totally relate!

I love checking out some of Chicago’s newest and trendiest restaurants on the weekend; it’s hard for me to cook and clean after a week of work. I tend to enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals during the week, so Friday night calls for a night without cleaning dishes and tons of socializing.

When Jonathan Eisen (OneTable Community Manager) mentioned we could host a Shabbat dinner at a restaurant, I was sold. The excuses, “My apartment is too small” and “I am too tired to cook,” no longer apply. With a $150 dollars credit to spend, it’s easy to gather a group and either plan a family-style menu with the restaurant or allow everyone to order off the menu.

The food was fantastic—we ate hummus, fries, hearty salads and burgers. The drink selection boasted great wines and beer. If I were to do anything different, I would request to bring a Challah. We had pita, but we can all agree, as delicious as it is, it is not the same. I would also see if we could have a specialty wine or cocktail waiting for us as a “cocktail hour” prior to our meal. The extra time would allow the group to meet and mingle and become more comfortable.

Here are my six tips for making a restaurant Shabbat dinner a success:

  1. Before booking, find out if the restaurant has gift cards
  2. Secure A Great Table
  3. Request To Bring A Challah – if you can’t bring your own ask if they can provide you with bread
  4. Ask For A Quiet or Private Area (Basements/Upstairs)
  5. Ask For Separate Checxks Ahead of Time
  6. Plan Light Appetizers and Cocktails To Be Waiting When Guests Arrive

A few restaurant recommendations in Chicago:

  1. Gilt Bar — Request the library room!
  2. Café Ba-Ba-Reeba
  3. Rural Society—Split the meats family-style!
  4. Sapori Trattoria—Head upstairs for less noise!
  5. Quartino
  6. Vivo
  7. Enolo Wine Bar—Can even shut it down for a private party!
  8. Greek Town—Try Pegasus or Greek Islands!

Overall, Shabbat dinner brought my crew closer together, and those budding friendships have officially blossomed. I look forward to hosting many more OneTable dinners in the future!


About the author:
Isadora Baum is an independent Holistic Health Coach, focusing on integrative nutrition, exercise and stress reduction. She is passionate about helping others feel healthier and happier in their own skin. With a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and a certification from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, her knowledge and personal experiences enable her to see the individual as a whole and tailor sessions according to his or her needs. Learn more about her at