Good Deals at Lunch for an Amazing Meal?
I am a foodie visiting from New York City, and work in the restaurant industry. I am looking for a Tru-quality meal (I've heard great things!) at a more affordable price--are there any lunch deals? I've noticed that Tru, Trotter's, and Alinea are all closed for lunch, but was hoping there was a Per Se-like lunch deal out there?
My budget is around $150 for two people--if lunch is an impossibility, would also love dinner recommendations for places as good as Tru, Alinea, etc, without the price tag.
For lunch, I would also highly recommend Blackbird. While it does not have the ambiance of a Per Se/Tru/Alinea, etc., the food is outstanding. If you don't make it for lunch, head there for dinner. It's one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
Another excellent choice would be Topolobampo for Mexican. I always recommend to my NY friends that they get Mexican and/or Thai in Chicago since those are two cuisines that I think are considerably better in Chicago. Topo is open for lunch and dinner. I also love Salpicon for Mexican but it is only open for dinner. Both are upscale.
If you are looking for some excellent Thai food, check out one of the following on the north side of Chicago: Spoon Thai, Aroy Thai, Sticky Rice or TAC Quick. Make sure to request their translated Thai language menus . . . here are a couple links: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=359 and http://www.silapaahaan.com/.
NoMi (at the Park Hyatt) also does a nice lunch and the views are excellent. Another spot with a great location and excellent food is North Pond (overlooking a lagoon in the heart of Lincoln Park). I prefer the dinner menu but lunch is still very good.
Tru and Alinea offer very different styles, but if you want comps that are less expensive, I'll offer the following:
Instead of Alinea, you can try Schwa, but unless you're coming into town in late October or later, you likely will not be able to get a table. It's very creative (more like Alinea) and the fact that it's BYO makes it much more affordable. Moto and Avenues are also more comparable to Alinea and both have smaller tasting menus that are far less pricey. Butter might be a nice alternative in that the menu is quite creative, the food is very good and it is considerably less pricey.
Instead of Tru, head to Everest for the 3-course pre-theater special (Tues-Thur I think). I believe it's about $50 and Everest is outstanding.
I suggest Blackbird. It's open for lunch (at least during the week - don't know about Saturday), and the food is superb. It's one of Chicago's top restaurants. It is not as good as Alinea, because nothing is, but it is very good indeed.
For a less-expensive dinner option, Avenues, in the Peninsula Hotel, has a three-course tasting menu for around $75 per person, which would allow you to sample the truely stellar cuisine of Chef Graham Elliot Bowles. Wine would be extra, of course.