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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!

            1. Folks, we have removed some of the off topic postings on this thread and are going to ask you to refrain from discussing lodging. The focus of this board is where to find great chow in the Chicago area, please help us to maintain the value of this chow resource by only discussing the chow.


              1. If you want seafood and don't want to pay a lot and still have an interesting dining experience, you probably have to get out of the Loop. But that's easy to do. You're not far from the Red Line which runs up and down State Street. Chinatown is only a few stops to the South, and for great Thai/Viet food Argyle Street is right on the Red Line, about a dozen stops to the north. Search "Chinatown" and "Argyle" for lots of suggestions.

                1. Eleven City Diner, at 11th and Wabash, is a new Jewish-style deli. Great for a lunch.

                  1. Hello all :)
                    Thought I'd post an update since you were all so helpful!

                    First of all, hotel was fine. I guess I can't say much more, but all was mostly ok save for a few things.

                    Had dinner at Green Zebra. I have to say, I was disappointed in the value of the meal, although I was very impressed by the creativity of the dishes--for one, I had an eggplant tart with a sort of avocado/goat cheese "mousse" that was fabulous. Better yet, it was a kind of deconstructed tart--it wasn't a round tart with a shell, but more like asymmetrically stacked pieces of very flaky/thin rectangles of tart dough with the broiled eggplant on top. A dollop of the avocado/goat cheese mousse topped it off. There was also a roasted red pepper remoulade on the plate that added the perfect bitterish note to ground the bright mousse/homey eggplant flavors.

                    We also had a coconut "sushi" roll. Also very creative but soooo small. And a buckwheat crepe filled with pureed snow pea and other flavors. It was also very good. I guess I was hoping for more bang for the buck, but I am glad we went! We're just very financially tight due to our place in life academically and professionally, KWIM? DH liked the idea as well, but was starving later. If we could have spared more money for dinner, all would have been fine. Anyway, I plan to recreate the avocado/goat cheese mousse and use it for similar dishes (I love savory tarts)! I consider that a valuable inspiration for my own cooking endeavors.

                    We also had some decent pizza, but because DH was so hungry we didn't have time to search out any of the ones I was hoping to find based on the suggestions, even though I KNOW Edwardo's was close! This initially created some tension--I am much more a foodie than he is!-- but it was fine. (We ate at Exchequer Bar and Grill on Wabash because he claimed that he was about to faint *eye roll* LOL--I thought the crust was tough. Not homemade-tasting IMO. However, I don't think I have ever eaten HOTTER (temperature-wise) pizza in my LIFE! I wish I could find out how to do that at home. It never cooled off while it was on the pan. I make pizza on stones and bake it at 500 degrees...not sure how much hotter it can get without burning the crust!

                    Anyway, so there's my experience. Next time I am taking control and planning every step, no excuses :)