Weekend visitors looking for suggestions
Greetings, Chicago Chowhounders. Two New Yorkers and one San Franciscan visiting Chicago Sept. 7-9 are hoping to get suggestions for a weekend of interesting and preferably inexpensive eating. (We already are blowing the budget on Charlie Trotter's because ... well, just because.) We're staying on E. Grand Ave. & won't have a car, so places kinda nearby or accessible by public transportation would be best.
If you are free on Sunday morning, think about going to the Maxwell Street market. You will find amazing Mexican food amongst the vendors of socks, dental instruments (who buys those anyway?) and (very) old tools. It is impossible to point you to one food stand, just use your instincts and senses. Do look for any place that makes their own tortillas/other things from masa like empenadas, sopes, etc. The Oaxacan tamales should also be tracked down as should some birria. Finally, do leave room for the freshly made and freshly stuffed churros, a fried dough revelation.
Maxwell street is fairly accessable via public transportation. take the state street subway (el). the state street subway is also known as the red line. there is a stop at grand and state. go south, towards downtown from grand. get off at roosevelt. the maxwell street market will be about a mile west. you will find it from the crowd.
You folks MUST BE real chowhounds...willing to pop for Trotters, but not a rental car. My advice is to venture around the City away from tourist town where you will be staying. Contrary to most vistor's experience, Chicago is wider than 10 blocks from Michigan Avenue. This is good natured chiding to get you to explore...please take it as such.
If you must stay in and around your hotel, visit Heaven on Seven (4 Resturant, Chicago only chain, started by a local boy) for fun Cajun-esq. food and Mardi Gras party atmosphere. A couple of the famous Pizza joints are nearby, see also threads below for Pizzaria Ono. Lawery's does a good job with steak. These are all safe bets you can read about in the tourist mags in your hotel room.
However, I think you will have missed a great opportunity if you fail to visit at least one of our ethnic neighborhoods to do some of your dining. Many are hit or miss, but as the cabbies will tell you there is too much competition in the City for a bad resturant stay around.
As a general note, how about a little more information on the request. So far all I know about you is that you are a New Yorker with a computer and enough money to travel to Chicago and go to Trotters. What else do you like/not like? I think you'll be happier with the responses if you ask more specific questions.
Stay only near Michigan Ave?!? What's the point in that? Yes, we definitely want to go to neighborhoods where we've never been.
We'll be spending some time around the art galleries/studios somewhat to the west (Wicker Park if I remember correctly). Besides VitalInfo's Maxwell St. market recommendation (which we have every intention of taking), we've also gotten suggestions to go to 26th St between Kedzie & Pulaski; Argyle St; and perhaps Division near Western.
For types of food, almost anything interesting & "authentic" (hate that word) is appealing. If it helps as any guide, in the past couple of weeks we've been out for Turkish, Senegalese, Mexican, Italian and Peruvian food.
Friends who visited Chicago recommended Tecalitan, Soul Food (Soul Kitchen?) and Le Bouchon. Additional opinions would be most welcome.
Sounds like you've done all the research you need. I look forward to reading your review of the weekend. I concur with Maxwell (I'm one of the earlier posts to the thread). I also highly reccomend Le Bouchon. I hear Sardine (Sister resturant is also great).
Chicago also has some great Greek resturants in Greektown. I took my cousin last week to sit out on the rooftop of Pegasus...appetizers, skyline viewing and live Greek music softly playing in the background....ummmm (I brought the wrong date). I almost always go to Santorini otherwise.
Have a great weekend.
I would recommend taking a close look at the threads from the last month or so: many of the cuisine types you mention have been discussed at length:
Specific highlights and recommendations:
Instead of Tecalitlan I would encourage you to vist Dona Lolis (see the extensive thread below)if you're up for a long trek. Or, a little closer to downtown, to La Pasadita in Wicker Park (three blocks from Tecalitlan).
Though I haven't been recently Le Bouchon has a very good reputation indeed.
Depending on what you're looking for I would give soul kitchen a mixed review: the creative soul food from this place doesn't taste very soulful: greens were overly sweet, etc. But the fish dishes I had as a main course were very good. But for soul food I would direct you south. See threads on Lem's or Lou and Army's or GLadys' Soul Food.
I would like to reinforce the Argyle St suggestion: I've been enjoying exploring that area since it came up here about a month ago--places like Pho Hua, Pho 777, The duck place and others have been very very good, and extremely interesting.