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Jul 19, 2001 07:01 PM

Good eats from Midway to Evanston?

  • h

Dear Chicago chowhounds,

I'll be landing at Midway around 8 am on a Sunday morning. Never been to Chicago and won't have a car. I'll have to make it to Evanston sometime in the afternoon after 3 pm.

What would be a good food-route to take? Is there a way to eat my way to Evanston somehow?(Please be very basic about directions)

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. First,
    procure a cta map (on the web at http://www.yourcta.com/maps/systemmap...) study the rail lines. especially downtown and northside maps.

    Secondly, do not eat for a day before attempting this, there is more than enough food here for two folks/two days

    This itinerary while a little convoluted does accomplish the task of not getting too sidetracked (i.e. keeps you moving in the northerly direction) and sticks to the el.

    okay, take the orange line downtown and get off at quincy, go south 1 block to jackson and walk west, cross the river and towards Union Station. On the south side of the street is Lou Mitchell's. This is a Chicago institution famous for double yolk eggs served in skillets and milk duds handed out at the door. A few have said its gone down a notch or two since lou died, but still one of the best breakfasts in town.

    walk back to the quincy street el stop, but this time board the brown line north. get off at "merchandise mart" stop take a second and admire the river, the drawbridge and the merchandise mart- at one time the largest single building in the world and a large source of the kennedy fortune. Beneath the el tracks here is Baba's Place-IMO the best pakistani cabbie place in the city. steam table -$6, very good lamb, fresh naan (now here you can get back on the brown line and take it to the next stop - "chicago" and walk 3 blocks south and 2 blocks west to Mr. Beef on Orleans street at Erie or you can walk 7 blocks north and 2 blocks west) Mr. Beef is not the single best Italian Beef sandwich in the City but it is a pretty good one. Get it dipped and juicy, I like mine with hot peppers too.

    Get back on the brown line at chicago and take it to the belmont stop where you will switch to the red line.

    Take the red line 5 stops to Argyle Street. This is the vietnamese neighborhood of the city. Opt for Pho at pho 777 or Chinese BBQ at Sun Wah (I like the roast duck, other have mentioned the cuttlefish and baby suckling pig here) they are just down the block west on Argyle street itself.

    Hop back on the red line north to Howard street- this is the boundary between Chicago and Evanston and you have to switch lines here to the purple line (north towards linden).

    In Evanston if you are going to Foster, get off and walk 2 blocks west and a block south to get some fried chicken at the Evanston Chicken shack which is very similar to a harolds fried chicken (You might want to search the chicago board for info on that) or if you are going further north to central walk a couple blocks east to mustards last stand and get a chicago hot dog. If you still have any strength left, stagger a few more blocks east to the lighthouse beach and take a dip in the lake.

    Lou Mitchell's
    565 W. Jackson Blvd.

    Baba's Place
    223 W. Hubbard St.

    Mr. Beef
    666 N. Orleans St.

    Sun Wah Bar-B-Q Restaurant
    1134 W. Argyle St.

    Evanston Chicken Shack
    1925 Ridge Ave., Evanston

    Mustard's Last Stand
    1613 Central St., Evanston

    23 Replies
    1. re: zim

      Oh, I just realized Mr. beef and Evanston Chicken Shack are closed on Sunday.

      Also there is probably stuff off the orange line but i do not know it - anyone else want to chime in?

      1. re: zim

        Zim -- Great suggestions!

        What about a stop at Maxwell St? That's on the way from midway to downtown...Check the thread a couple of messages down for details.

        1. re: Seth

          maxwell st is a nice one especially on sunday -you would get off at the roosevelt road (12th street) on the orange line stop and go west about a mile

      2. re: zim

        Wow! Great places! I think our vistor will have a great time.

        I'm also going to try some of these places (that I haven't been to already), especially the Pakistani place!!!

        1. re: zim

          Wow! Thanks for the replies! It's great with such clear directions. Thank God for the El. Now I'm REALLY looking forward to this adventure.

          I'll have to try the fried chicken and the Beef place the next day if it's closed on Sunday. This first day I'll be solo-ing, with a carry on luggage. I wonder if Maxwell's mile from the train would be walkable in that condition? If not, I'll do it the next day, too. I'll have 3 days after Sunday to hit other spots, W/out luggage. Definitely will be looking in the Chicago Chowhound board again for Chicago chow.

          Thanks again for turning my dreaded first day in Chicago into a great expectation!

          1. re: HLIng

            if you do get fried chicken - I prefer mine with extra hot sauce, salt and pepper and make sure to ask them to put the hot sauce on at the counter before they bag it (rather than on the side). the extra time for the hot sauce to soak in and the smell is one of the most evocative things for me. BTW this is take-out.

            Beef, If you are going to make a special trip for an italian beef you should think about going out to Johnnie's in elmwood park for beef and an italian lemonade(this is a trek and requires a car but IMO is worth it) a closer spot - easily accessible by car, but also by bus is Max's on western and bryn mawr -also do a search on this board for "italian beef" I am sure there are other recommendations.

            I forgot about the luggage issue, it would be a haul to maxwell st. market with luggage (especially since the food is on the south side of the market) but sunday is definitely the best day to go, some of the vendors only come on sunday. If you explore the cta site a little there may be abus that runs along roosevelt to the market.

            also I noticed your posts on stinky tofu - One of the few specifically taiwanese restaurants in the city is 5 blocks north of argyle street on broadway (or 2 el stops-bryn mawr and then a block south) you may be interested. i would be interested in what you thought of it as I have never had authentic taiwanese. it has a web site at
            http://www.mei-shung.com/meishung/tai... to help you decide.

            1. re: zim

              The way you have your fried chicken sounds delicious. One question, though, does the batter get soggy if you add the hot sauce to leave-in the bag? Also, do most fried chicken places in Chicago offer hot sauce?

              I went to the site for the Taiwanese restaurant. Didn't really see anything that's "Taiwanese", but then I wouldn't be surprised if they would have a different menu at the restaurant. I'll either call or go check it out when I get there.

              1. re: HLing

                They have two menus. Their food is excellent.

            2. re: HLIng

              If luggage and Sunday opening are issues, may I suggest Demon Dogs, directly underneath the "el" station at Fullerton on the Red Line. I haven't been in a while, but the experience is great for out-of towners looking for a Chicago dog!! Also, the maxwell market with the outdoor vendors only appears on Sundays. The rest of the week its just a bunch of discount stores.



              1. re: Peter

                Enjoyed your post on Maxwell st market. Thanks for the Chicago Hot Dog info. Hope "Demon Dog" doesn't turn me into a "Demon chowhound"....

                1. re: HLing

                  Don't miss the greasy fries at Demon Dogs, (under the El stop at Fullerton). My vote at Sun Wah BBQ (under the El stop at Argyle,) goes to the roast duck.
                  My son has a theory, based on extensive empirical evidence and data sampling, that the best places to eat in Chicago are under El tracks.


                  1. re: joel

                    Joel, Your son's theory that good eats are under the L train seems to be right on!

                    My first day in chicago, on my way to the Red line from the Art Institute I spotted a Goosh Popcorn, on Adams between Wabash and State. I stopped in to get a small bag of caramel popcorn. The girl working there was very friendly and helpful. I found out that Goosh Popcorn is owned by the same owner who owns G&G Fried Fish and Chicken, 4 doors up, closer to Wabash. She said that since this popcorn shop opened, she's been getting her lunch from G&G, because it's just so good.

                    I had to be on my way, but made a mental note of that. On the train to Evanston, I ate a popcorn, and WOW! Was it good! It's the best caramel I've ever had with or without popcorn. I decided I have to try the G&G place.

                    Went to G&G today and ordered Fried Perch/fried shrimp combo. Then thought why not, I ordered some fried oysters, too. There was a huge container of Louisian Cajun hot sauce on the counter that went really well with the cornmeal breaded fried foods. Now, I've had fried oysters at Casamento's in New Orleans, but G&G's was better. The oysters were plump, the batter was perfect in providing the crunch yet not breaking your tooth. The shrimp good size, and fleshy, the perch very fresh. On their menu there's also fried catfish, fried chicken wings, all made to order. For dessert there's Leo's cheesecake(quite good, though I don't know who Leo is), banana pudding, and peach cobbler.
                    If it's any indication, the 20 minutes I was there, all customers were African American women, who all ordered fried catfish.....

                    1. re: HLing

                      I walked by the fish place, and will definitely be trying it soon. One thing though, it's actually called J&J Fried Fish and Chicken.

                      G&G is a Mexican-American place just nextdoor that didn't look nearly as promising.

                      1. re: Michael

                        Thanks, Michael, for the correction! I didn't even see that there was a Mexican place near by. I think I thought it was G & G because the "Goosh" in Goosh Popcorn according to the woman who worked there, is the last name of the owner. So, naturally I assume it was G. OK. For those who hadn't read the previous post, go have some fried oysters, perch, and catfish at J&J Fried Fish and Chicken on Adam between State and Wabash!

                        If you go have popcorn at Goosh Popcorn, please say hello from NYC for me to "Bushla"(don't know how it's spelled, but that's the woman's name)

            3. re: zim

              Fabulous post! Makes me want to try the trip just for the hell of it.

              1. re: zim

                That's a good list zim provided. I'm pretty familiar with these places (except for Evanston). It's probably a blessing that some are closed on Sunday; that would have been an eating marathon few could complete. Still sticking with that basic outline, here are a few comments that could be helpful.

                You’ll probably want to get a one day CTA pass for $5 at the Midway Orange line station. Multiple day passes also available. They are likely, but not certain, to have maps too.

                I still like Lou Mitchell's but am willing to acknowledge it has slipped a bit since Lou's been gone. Only problem is, after one of those omelets you probably won't want to think about food for a while.

                When you board the Brown line at Quincy to go north (toward Kimball), the train is actually heading south. It goes around the loop and eventually heads north.

                Baba's has generally good food but the environment is exceedingly basic: no air conditioning, bathrooms less than spotless (just so you know in advance). They have half portions for $4 which might help you conserve stomach capacity. I ate at Baba's about a week ago and was disappointed to see they now charge 0.75 for tea and no longer have tubs of jalapenos, limes, and raita for the taking.

                Be aware that the "Maxwell Street" market is no longer around Maxwell (1300 S) and Halsted (800W). It is now on Canal (600 W) on either side of Roosevelt (1200 S). Most of the food stands are a block or two south of Roosevelt. Sunday only and accessible by the #12 Roosevelt bus (from Red line or wherever). I really don’t think I’d do it with much more than a backpack. Manny's (for corned beef sandwiches) is right in this area (1141 S Jefferson). It's closed on Sunday though.

                Johnnie’s Beef (7500 W North Av, Elmwood Park) is accessible by CTA. Either the #72 North Av bus west to the end of the line (Harlem, 7200 W) then walk 3 blocks or get off the Blue line at Harlem and take the #90 Harlem bus south to North Av (1600 N) and walk the same 3 blocks. You’ll pass Al Gelato which is not bad (but don’t forget Johnnie’s lemon ice). Quite a haul depending on where you are but I’d say it’s worth it.

                There are some worthwhile places near Midway. Mabenka, a Lithuanian restaurant, is on Cicero at 79th St (7844 S Cicero Av; #54B bus from Midway). Bobak (5275 S Archer Av) is a Polish smorgasbord just northeast of the airport (take the #62 Archer Av bus from Midway which parallels the Orange line). Plenty of other eastern European places around here but those two are probably the easiest on the CTA.

                1. re: Rene G

                  Thank you, Rene, for more chow suggestions and tips on getting around. It sounds like the Maxwell st Market is a must, espcially since I'm not going to be there another Sunday. Any idea how late it's open? I may be able to get my luggage to Evanston and then come back for the Market, unless there are lockers at train/bus stations near by where I can check my luggage for a few hours.

                  Baba's sounds just like some of the China Town "shacks"...Not a problem if the food is good, of course. Thanks for the warning, nevertheless.

                2. re: zim

                  Thank you everyone who helped me eat my way from Midway to Evanston!

                  First off, I didn't sleep the night before. I know, it was suppose to be "no eating for 2 days before", but I didn't get sleep due to the early flight. That didn't help in building a healthy enough appetite for Zim's list, but it still worked out very well.

                  By 8:45 am I was eating at Lou Mitchell's. Was handed the doughnut hole basket at the door when I walked in with my luggage. (I thought Milk Duds were those thing you eat at the movies...) Anyhow I took one. It was quite fresh. The coffee was excellent. got the 2 eggs with sausages. It was crowded on a sunday at 8:45 am. Hard to imagine for a night person such as me.

                  Instead of going to Baba's next, I thought I'd let my appetite come back. Also, the luggage was getting difficult up and down the stairs to the L. I took a bus from Lou Mitchell's to the Art Institute. Check my bag for $1. Walked around in the museum for 2 hours. However, sleep deprivation and museum don't mix well. At this point, remembering that Maxwell St Market is only on Sundays, I took the Red line to Roosevelt, then took the #12 bus to Canal. (perfectly do-able without the luggage) What a sight! Couldn't believe it when I got there. It was probably as long as the ridge the bus crossed getting there! I started looking for food. Saw signs for Tacos: cesos y ojos con Some(only recognized "ojo", eyes), cecita, suadero, lengua, cabeza, cachete...all types of Taco. One place totally denied that they have Ojo taco. Suggested instead that i get beef, or lamb. Sigh. I got Lengua (tongue) which was good, with fresh tasting tortilla. Later I confirmed with a couple that there's Ojo taco. It tastes like brain, the man said. It's very good and popular. Guess I don't look Mexican enough for them to sell it to me.
                  The couple I spoke to said that the favorite amongs the locals is taco with mole sauce, also, the mushroom ones(Hongas?) are always gone before long.

                  At one I got some Oaxaca Tamales. (it's all they do)It's huge, about 5 times the regular size, wrapped in banana leaves. The fillings were chicken and salsa verde. Wonderful cornmeal! They have 4 kinds, the other 3 are regular tamale size wrapped in corn husks. One was bright red, which was suppose to be a dessert tamale. It didn't taste as good, though.

                  After 2 hours of the ruthless sun beating down on me, I took the bus and then train back to the Art Institute to pick up my luggage and head for Evanston. I didn't want to linger any more for fear of passing out from sleep deprivation. The person with the key to the place I'm staying was finally there. I got to Evanston, napped a little. Much better!

                  For dinner I went to Pho 888. I know zim said Pho 777, but across from Sun Wah(first stopped to get some roast duck and beef stew to go) is Pho 888. Maybe they changed names? My friend ordered a Avocado shake. It's delicious! Definitely will become a Crave item. Then we each got a bahn mi, and each a bowl of the pho with everything in it. Super rich broth. I was very impressed with their hot sauce. Never seen them so fresh looking. The one that's slightly more orange in color was fantastic! Somehow, the vinegar taste doesn't linger(a good thing) it just explodes like a flash in your mouth along with the spiciness of the chili. I want a jar to take home! It's the ideal version of the ones that in stores come in a clear plastic bottle with a green tip. When things got spicy, we found that just one little spoonful of the avocado shake totally ease the burning tongue pain. It works even better than a mango lassi does in Indian food.

                  We left full and happy. While on the platform for the L train, I saw another Pho place, called 999. OK, is there then one that's 777 somewhere?

                  I saved a little room for the roast duck when I got home. Indeed, delicious roast duck, everyone.

                  Hope to cover some of the places I didn't get to on the first day!

                  1. re: HLing

                    I am very impressed. You've managed to assemble a fantasy eating day which I (honestly) figured nobody'd ever be able to accomplish, and what's more, done it on no sleep. Congrats! That's some perseverence in the pursuit of good chow.

                    Re: Pho 888 vs Pho 777 -- They are different places. I had a little confusion myself on which one is where since the phone book lists Pho 777 at Pho Hua's address, and vice versa. So Pho 777 is actually further east on Argyle, Pho 888 is a different restaurant. Nice to know it's good though.

                    Way to go, keep the reports coming.

                    1. re: Seth Zurer

                      And don't forget the Pho 999! I wondered if it was an inside joke. I'm looking forward to Zim's (or anyone else's)7/8/9 Pho comparision report.

                    2. re: HLing

                      congratulations and welcome,

                      you managed an amazing amount on no sleep and a horribly hot day for trekking across the city.

                      sorry about the pho 888/777 confusion. to add to the confusion a little more 888 is actually thai binh whose main waitress (linda - 10 years old) was recently in the reader. I like this place too, though not as much for the pho - they have one crab dish (sorry forgot the name but I think it is the only one on the menu) that is very very good. Of the two chili pastes you mentioned I actually like the darker, roasted chili paste very very much, infact it is one of the things I like most about the place.

                      I think at some point I need to do a day of pho 777/888/999 comparisons

                      G&G sounds like a great chowhound find. 1 day in the city and locating underground spots - nice work.

                      rather than write 3 or 4 separate posts, I'll try to put them all here

                      from your other post it sounds like you are in southern evanston. On the same street as Kuni, there is La Rosa (hinman and main) which is a pizzeria/afghani joint that I have been meaning to try out for some time. Also regarding Cliff's suggestions - For my money the better bbq is hecky's a couple blocks further east at green bay and emerson (merle's seems to have more of the suburban crowd, while hecky's has the takeout african-american clientele). If you do go to Hecky's, I am fond of their sweet potato pie. Neither of these is by any means the best bbq in the city, that is on the south side.

                      regarding your question about Hot Sauce and batter on Chicken Shack fried chicken - One thing that Harold's/Evanston Chicken shack does well is the batter's crunch stands up to significant saucing. If crunch is what you are after I'd suggest getting it unsauced and then right as you get the chicken, sauce some of it - your own personal taste test.

                      Also not too far from you, just south of the City/Evanston border are a number of belizean places on clark-which turns into chicago street in Evanston (Tickie's, Flower's pot) and the Affy Tapple factory- you can get a caramel apple or frozen chocolate covered banana at the source. the smell in there is amazing.

                      1. re: zim


                        we always get takeout here. The owner is very sweet, and we usually get a chicken or lamb kabob and a side of pumpkin. The other dishes range from fabulous to merely OK depending on the day, the weather, the stars, who knows :)

                        It is BYO (they are Muslim, but don't mind if you drink there)

                        The Kheer dessert (pistachio cornstarch pudding) is weirdly addictive.

                        1. re: zim

                          Regarding Pho 888, I know what you're talking about when you mentioned the crab dish. It was something kind of Dry Crab??Or was it Fried? It caught my eyes, and I probably should have just ordered it....Next time.

                          I did manage to get to the Evanston Chicken Shack one afternoon, and got one with, the other without hot sauce to go. The problem was, I wasn't hungry!!! But it was the only time I could go by there. By the time I got to them, they were just warm. I thought the hot sauce was a bit sweet. I'd like J&J's hot sauce on that chicken, I think. (sorry, someone pointed out that it's J&J, not G&G Fried Fish and Chicken) I do like the crunch of a fried chicken, and therefore really enjoy Popey's Spicy Fried Chicken that has hot cayenne pepper in the batter.

                          My stay was too brief for me to be able to try all the wonderful places this site mentioned. I never even though to go south on Main in Evanston. My first day there we walked north a few blocks, only to find that a whole strip of the street had been closed due to the power outage.

                          Today, my last day in Chicago, I managed to get a Best's Kosher Hot Dog at the airport when my flight was delayed. It was so good with just mustard, that when I went back to the gate to find that the flight has now been cancelled(!!!) I just felt fortunate that I finally got to try a chicago hot dog.

                    3. IF you make it to Evanston, see my post today to George re places to eat there.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: Cliff

                        Thanks for the list of places. I did make it to Evanston. In fact, I saw Campagnia first thing I got off the Main street stop on the purple line. Also saw the Japanese place (I think the name is Kuni's) and Oceanique. Haven't had a chance to try them yet, but it's good to know that they are good places.

                        By the way, I saw from the Metra train at Davis stop a Wolfgang Puck. Is it a good place? Is the area around Davis stop considered downtown Evanston?
                        Where is the Thai place in purple line/metra terms?

                        1. re: HLing

                          How could i forget Wolfgang. Yes, it's very good. A little rocky when they first opened, but they've settled into a pretty good (if somewhat pricey) groove.

                          1. re: Cliff A

                            NO, no, no, no, no! Why send someone to this overrated, bs billionaire chefs joint? Please reconsider spending your money at places like this. There are so many Mom and Pop joints that deserve attention. It gauls me to think someone is enjoying their kazillionth slice of "Thai-style" pizza when they could be sampling true, delicious Thai for a fraction of the price. Just my opinion but I'm sticking to it.

                            1. re: bryan

                              I'm right there with you on that one!

                              I just can't, *can't* bring myself to enjoy the food of someone who has his own line of awful frozen dinners, and who seems to be quoted on the back of almost every cookbook I buy saying something like, "this is the best cookbook ever." It $eem$ that Mi$ter Puck i$ only after one $pecific thing the$e day$.

                              I echo the sentiment that there are some truly inspired small places in Evanston and in the adjoining part of Chicago. I once lived in Evanston (for a good part of my life), and I don't want to eat the same food there that I can get at O'Hare Airport.

                              (disclaimer: I do eat at Puck's at ORD, because there's really nothing else!)

                              1. re: Michael

                                Forget the stuff in the supermarket. I've had nothing but good meals at this place. Try the bruschetta. It's great. If you don't like the pizzas, order the chicken salad.

                                1. re: Joe Penkrot

                                  It's really not about the food Joe. I've got friends who have enjoyed the rest. and reccomend it but it's just not how I envision spending my food $s. I would rather have my buckage go to Aree and her brother, to the taquria guy who sends 3/4 of his money back to Mexico to support his family, etc. I don't feel like buying Barbara Lazar another gold bidet. It's a political thing. I'm a refugee of the 60s and I want my money to go to the people I feel deserve and need it. Rather than be some trendoid who doesn't have the ambition to go out and find "real" food. Once again, this is just one person's opinion.

                                  1. re: bryan

                                    It's two people's opinions!

                                    1. re: bryan

                                      I happen to think that Puck, Trotter and Legasse are pompous fools. That aside, if someone wants a recommendation about where to eat, I want to tell them without a hidden agenda. If a website called Chowhound isn't about the food, then I don't want to play.

                                      1. re: Joe Penkrot

                                        I very clearly stated the way I feel - which is valid no matter what the forum. I can't see speaking my mind as having a "hidden agenda". I've been on this site for a couple of years now and have never been anything but honest regarding my feelings regarding places. Sorry you don't feel there's room for this here, but I sure do.

                                        1. re: bryan

                                          I went back to the original request to see what started these polemics and to see if I misunderstood. The requester asked about good places to eat between Midway and Evanston. Someone said they liked Wolfgang Puck's.

                                          Apparently, this incited strong feelings and resulted in attacks, not on the food (which I still think is the real issue), but someone's perceived lifestyle.

                                          It's possible to like both the hole-in-the-wall ethnic places and Puck's. I know I do.

                                2. re: bryan

                                  I did happen to eat at Wolfgan Puck before getting all the NO's from fellow chowhounds. Wolfang Puck was a name that rang a bell for me, but I didn't know in what ways.

                                  It was late at night after a full day. We didn't have much choice. So, even though the minute we walked into the restaurant we thought it much like a nicer TGIF, we gave it a try anyway. Had the new BTLA pizza, with bacon, romaine letteuce, tomato and avocado, and the artichoke pizza. We thought there were too much topping, but then, the all important crust in this case was not flavorful enough to stand on its own. Still the meal served its purpose, and it was better than TGIF.....

                                  Speaking of Thai. Earlier the same day I happened upon "Cozy Noodles" on Davis, between Oak and Benson(?) It's a cozy Thai place run by some young Thai people. Got the Fried Tofu as an appetizer, which was pretty good, and a dumpling noodle soup, which had some tasty shrimp dumplings, but over all was just OK. After my meal I asked whether they could in the future make som tom(with real green papaya, not cabbage, as is the case with the other Thai restaurant, Thai Sookdee on Church street) or the extremely hot seafood soup. The young man asked and came back out to say no. The reason I asked, even though I knew I wouln't be in Chicago again in the near future, is that even if they say no now, if enough people asks at this critical stage (I'm pretty sure they've just opened recently) the establishment may consider adding more authentic dishes to the menu. Isn't it true that the customer can and often have a say in what a restaurant offers?

                                  The next night(My last night) in Evanston we had the Tasting Menu at Oceanique on Chicago Ave between Main and Hinman. The courses, briefly:
                                  1)Japanese Breakfast
                                  2)Asparagues w/morels and chives
                                  Fiji Island Tai w/carmelized red onion & Pea tip

                                  Michigan strawbery sorbet

                                  4)Squab with honey sauce, W/fois gras...etc.(fois gras was the only "not so great" item. Here it tasted water down.
                                  5)Chef's Pastry selection(6 different desserts, with bay leave sorbet(nice) and vanilla ice creme.

                                  This is the direct opposite of Wolfgang Puck, of course, and a very nice way to end my visit to Chicago. Each dish was well proportioned, even down to the desserts. (Loved the 3 berry tart, which was nice and nutty)We were able and willing to finish everything. The food was honestly prepared. Nothing outrageous. It made me appreciate the chef for taking the time and energy to create something for us.

                                  So, worry not, my last impressions of Chicago were very positive.

                                  1. re: HLing

                                    You were amazingly ambitions and I, for one, am awed. Hope you come back soon. Question us on Thai and you'll be swimming in fish sauce.
                                    Didn't mean to rant on Puck. But I have strong feelings regarding the crass commercialism. Don't even get me started on Melman - it gets ugly.

                                    1. re: bryan

                                      Swimming in fish sauce? How so? Does that mean there are good Thai eats in Chicago/Evanston? Do tell. I'm no longer in Chicago but my fried will be there for 3 more weeks. If there's a place with real som tom in the area between Main and all the way up to Braeside that's reachable by L or Metra, please let me know. Sorry to be so specific, but my friend, a fellow chowhound, is in a very intense program that doesn't let him out throughout the day. Saturdays and Sundays don't really exist for them.

                                      It would also be interesting to know if, among the Chicago Chowhounds, there is a hands down, unanimous best Thai place, anywhere it happens to be.

                                3. re: Cliff A

                                  This probably should be prefaced by the fact that I have never eaten at Puck's but my two cents are:

                                  1. Why travel to a new city, justifiably famous for its food and local specialties and eat exactly the same food that you could eat myriad other places (and that list is growing)in exactly the same setting you could elsewhere. After all you can go to bombay and get mcdonald's.

                                  2. Because this is a chain the menu items are probably going to be set by a corporate chef/marketing person elsewhere rather than by what is fresh in the market.

                                  3. if you are planning on return trips why not support the smaller local businesses so that they are still here when you return?

                                  4. There are many good other options right in the neighborhood at all price levels. A good match to this type of dining in my mind would be campagnola which the visistor(I'm sorry - I am not sure how to address you - HLing?) mentioned seeing as right off his el stop.

                                  Hewre's the Chicago tribune reviewer's review of Campagnola:

                                  menu link is at: