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food ideas near Congress Plaza Hotel...read on

Hi all,
My husband and I live in Indianapolis and decided on a whim to make a two-day trip to Chicago. We are interested in exciting but reasonably-priced food options. We'll eat anything, but I'm a pescetarian (no meat or poultry). Any cuisine is fine, just no steakhouses :) Ideas? We'd prefer walking distance from hotel or other major attractions like the art institute, which we plan to see.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Anyone?? This is a much-needed vacation and I'd LOVE the help. :) thank you.

    1. I'd highly recommend Russian Tea time. It's on Adams just a few doors west of Michigan Ave., which is across the street from the Art Institute. It's Russian (as you may have guessed) with very nice service and a very extensive menu. I don't think there much fish, but there are excellent vegetarian dishes, and all the food is good. Sometimes I just like to get caviar, blinis and vodka! Reservations are often necessary during the height of lunch hour and probably for dinner as well, especially if the Symphony is playing that night.

      1. This sounds excellent! We don't have much (any?) Russian food in Indy :) Is it $$$? We're looking for $, preferably--?

        1 Reply
        1. re: melismak

          Russian Tea Time is not ethnic cheap, but it's not fine dining expensive. It's mid-priced. Apps should be $4-$8, and main dishes $10 to $15, perhaps a bit more.

        2. Pizanos if you want a good Chicago deep dish joint or Oysy on Mihigan if you want good sushi.

          1. I have a few ideas, but first - are you SURE you want to stay at the Congress Plaza? They've had a ton of labor and management issues recently. You should expect to see picketing labor unions outside the front door, although there won't be many people picketing anymore as this has gone on for years now. In any case, I've had acquaintances stay there recently and regret it. Don't mean to scare you, but you might consider something else nearby.

            In any case, some ideas for eats:

            Breakfast at Orange (Harrison and Clark) - about $15pp, what I'd call "whimsical"; i.e., fruit sushi ("fruishi"), pancake "flights", etc.

            Breakfast at Bongo Room (Wabash and Roosevelt) - if you're in the mood for a decadent carbo-load breakfast; banana creme anglaise pancakes, oreo cookie pancakes, etc. Portions are ridiculous but can be ordered in 1/3 or 2/3 sizes (a full serving of 3 is just silly). Less than $15 pp.

            Lunch at Oysy (9th and Michigan) - they have Japanese bento boxes for about $11 that are great. It's a very modern Japanese place - mostly sushi but I've been very happy with their cooked fish items as well.

            Lunch at Heaven on Seven (Wabash and Washington) - southern, Mardi Gras, etc.

            Dinner at the Park Grill in Millennium Park (Michigan and Madison). Don't miss the Millennium Park scene, but you need reservations. Well worth it - fish dishes are very good. Not outrageous but expect $80 min., over $100 with a bottle of wine.

            Dinner at Catch 35 (Wacker and Clark)- my favorite seafood downtown. Much of the menu is done with an Asian accent, though no raw fish. A little more expensive - probably $120 for dinner with wine.

            As you may know, most of Chicago's best restaurants are not right downtown. I'd suggest heading back to your hotel, cleaning up, and grabbing a cab (very easy on Michigan Ave.) somewhere fun for dinner. You might like Green Zebra (vegetarian) or some ethnic cuisine (India House for Indian, Vermilion for Indian/Latin fusion, Opera for modern Chinese).

            Best resource to search for restaurants by type, geography, etc: www.metromix.com.

            Good luck!