Welcome to New Year's Eve crunch time. With a little more than 48 hours left to get plans in place, it may feel like the time to panic--tickets and reservations have long been flying off the shelves. Luckily, many Chicago spots are keeping options open for last-minute planners, offering up no-cover nights or dinners with tables available for walk-ins. Check out these five options for every type of NYE partier.
If you hate fixed menus
Try: Chant (1509 E. 53rd St. 773-324-1999)
Control-freak diners wary of being cornered into a few choices on a set menu will be right at home at Hyde Park restaurant Chant, which plans to serve its regular a la carte menu as well as save a few tables for walk-ins. New chef Christopher Hora—you might recognize him from the first episode of Food Network show "Chef Hunter"—cooks up dishes such as black mussels with red wine, soy and garlic ($16), Peking duck tacos ($13) and pumpkin curry ($13). 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
If you think champagne is stuffy
Try: Bangers & Lace (1670 W. Division St. 773-252-6499) We seldom turn up our noses at a glass of the bubbly stuff, but New Year's can sometimes feel like a champagne overdose. Plan to head to Wicker Park hot spot Bangers & Lace to raise a glass of Miller High Life (the champagne of beers, naturally) at midnight instead. The bar and restaurant will offer free appetizers from 10 p.m.-midnight alongside a full bar menu. With no cover, expect a crowd--arrive early if you're hoping to snag a seat.
If you want to avoid the craziness altogether
Try: Jam (3057 W. Logan Blvd. 773-292-6011)
It's sad but true: You've been burned by New Year's in the past, and now you're so jaded that you refuse to leave your house after sundown on the dreaded day. Start a daytime tradition by toting a bottle of bubbly to recently opened Logan Square BYOB Jam, where you can nosh on malted custard French toast and other favorites from chef Jeff Mauro. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Reservations not accepted.
If you hate downtown traffic
Try: Simone's Bar (960 W. 18th St. 312-666-8601)
Do you live south of downtown and don't want to bother hauling your group north? Hop over to Pilsen for a no-planning-needed night at Simone's. The 18th Street outpost is open with no cover, serving up Latin-inspired bar eats, a full cash bar and music by DJ Presto.
If you want party perks without the price tag
Try: The Call (1547 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. 773-334-2525) Standard party perks can add up quickly at most spots around town, but LGBT-friendly Andersonville spot The Call is offering its extras at no charge. The bar's '20s-themed bash is no-cover but still includes light appetizers, a midnight champagne toast, favors and a music video countdown featuring the best songs of 2011 for plenty of dancing.