Chicago Tip Sheet: Culled from this board.
I will be visiting Chicago again at the end of this month. Food, of course, is my main concern. I have done my research and filtered through enormous amounts of information on this board to compile a Chicago Tip Sheet, which I will print out and take with me on my trip. I'll need to stick to restaurants that I can reach via public transportatiion or a short cab ride. So, here is my ultimate tip sheet. Thanks to all of you who posted these great tips!
Have I left anything out in gross error?
Chicago Tip Sheet
1. Breakfast- Lou Mitchell's (the branch at Jefferson and Jackson)
2. Hot dogs - Byron's (under the el on Irving Park)
3. Bergdorf: (have to go there again re. atmosphere) try the house bourbon (aged 15 years)
4. Italian- Tufano's Vernon Park Tap . From Tom Armitage -Tufano's Vernon Park Tap for grilled pork chops and peppers or lemon chicken (stick with meat and chicken; I've had some dreadful experiences with the pasta there) the grilled pork chops and peppers were glorious. Follow by a side visit to Al's for Italian beef (suggestion of Pepper)
5. Polish- the Orbit
6. Mexican: Topolobampo or Frontera Grill
7. Best kept secret- From Seth Ditchik- Try the Savoy Truffle (1466 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago;(773)772-7530). A real chowhound find--$26 6-course prix fixe. No menu; Chef Wendy Gilbert tells you what she's cooking, and you eat it (she'll accomodate vegetarians if asked). And you'll be glad you did. The place is only open Wed.-Sat., and tiny, so reservations are essential. BYOB. Friends took me here last time I was in town on business, and I'm definitely going back next time I'm in Chicago. Remember- NO credit cards.
8. Greek- From Steve Drucker - Santorini's in Greek town. Upscale Greek. moderate price. most everything is good (they do overcook the grilled squid). An absolutely incredible value is the high end cabernet from Greece at about $28--this is an extraordinary steal. Portions are huge. share stuff. And they take reservations. Great soups change daily.
9. Fusion- From Steve Drucker- Blackbird, outer loop. (see elsewhere on this board). Not fusion, not French, maybe new American-although the skill of preparation and ingredient combinations are far more than any other place that calls itself New American. But skip dessert (pricey, small portion, although tasty). I haven't eaten anything so fresh or well prepared since Paris and Barcelona last year. moderate portion sizes, expensive, good value.
Good list. You've done your homework. Recent posts on the Chicago Board, however, suggest that Lou Mitchell's isn't the place it used to be. At Tufano's Vernon Park Tap don't miss the pork chops and peppers, whatever you do. I'd suggest adding Aubriot to your list. I was tipped off to this place by Paul Kahan, the chef at Blackbird. If you go to Aubriot, don't miss the chicken livers with grapes and grape juice if they're on the menu. Ditto for the veal sweetbreads with caramelized salsify. And then there's the onion tart at Le Bouchon. Yum.
Are you going to be in Chicago for the RSNA? If not, you should know that at the end of November the radiologists pretty much take over Chicago hotels and restaurants for their convention. So I'd advise making advance reservations at places like Topolobampo and Blackbird.
Eric Aubriot's foie gras with chocolate sauce is simply seared foie gras placed in the center of a plate, around which is drizzled a thin ring of chocolate sauce--the same stuff that he uses for his desserts. Though not my absolute favorite version of seared foie gras, I think the combination of flavors is quite interesting and works, as, obviously, does Chef Aubriot. It's not on his menu, but ask for it and he will serve it to you.
re: Tom Armitage
Thanks for the extra tips. I guess that I'll have to scratch Lou Mitchell off my list. I don't think that there will be much opportunity for me to go there for breakfast anyway since I have to be at the RSNA convention bright and early each morning! I am especially looking forward to trying Savoy Truffle (if I am able). I'm going to attempt to make reservations very soon so that the crowds of ravenous radiologists don't beat me to it.
I just attempted to call Savoy Truffle to make reservations and there was a message stating that she is moving to 2728 West Armitage and she isn't sure when the move will be completed. She said, "keep your eye on the current location... I don't know what is going to happen, but it is going to be good."
Is that a cryptic message or what?
Instead of Lou Mitchell's, try Tempo Cafe at State & Chestnut in River North Area. We were definitely disappointed in Lou Mitchell's, and always happy at Tempo.
Tempo squeezes OJ to order. Its cash only. And its owned by the same family as Santorini's.
Only one downer: Excellent pancakes come with pancake syrup, not maple syrup.